Tours usually begin with the Naveti Haveli (now the State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur), on the main bazaar. Duck through the metal gate to the right of the bank (no charge) for a look at Mandawa’s most entertaining murals, including well-preserved images of a bird-man attempting to take flight, the Wright Brothers’ aeroplane, a man using a telephone and a strongman pulling a car.
A ten-minute walk west from here brings you to an interesting cluster of buildings centred around the Nand Lal Murmuria Haveli. The murals here are relatively modern, dating from the 1930s and executed in a decidedly flowery and sentimental style, perhaps influenced by contemporary European magazines, with images of various Venetian scenes, George V, Nehru riding a horse and the legendary Maratha warrior Shivaji. Next door, the sun-faded Goenka Double Haveli (not to be confused with either of the other Goenka havelis nearby) is one of the largest and grandest in Mandawa, with two separate entrances and striking elephants and horses on the facade.
South of the main bazaar, the Gulab Rai Wadia Haveli is one of the finest in town. The south-facing exterior wall is particularly interesting, with unusually racy (albeit modestly small) murals depicting, amongst other things, a Kama Sutra-like scene in a railway carriage. The interior of the haveli is entered via a grand ramp, with Belgian-glass mirrorwork over the finely carved door leading into the zenana (women’s) courtyard.
Immediately south of here lies the almost equally fine Laxmi Narain Ladia Haveli. The zenana courtyard boasts naïve paintings of a plane and a steamship, along with a cannon being pulled by horses and a tiger attacking a centaur. Some 100m further south, the unusually large Chokhani Double Haveli consists of two separate wings built for two brothers; look for the miserable British soldiers and chillum-smoking sadhu facing one another in the recess at the centre of the facade.