Lying just off NH-11, FATEHPUR is the closest town in Shekhawati to Bikaner, 116km west, and a convenient place to stop en route across the Thar to or from Jaisalmer. The town itself is fairly run-down and its accommodation uninspiring, but it does boast several elaborately painted mansions.
Fatehpur's most celebrated haveli is the Nadine Le Prince Haveli (daily 8am–7pm; Rs100), an 1802 mansion restored to its original splendour by its current owner Nadine Le Prince, a French artist. Some local aficionados complain about its restoration – with large-scale repainting of murals, rather than the simple cleaning and preservation of existing art – but the overall effect is undeniably impressive.
Several further fine havelis lie clustered nearby. Next door on the west side, the Saraf Haveli boasts fine exterior murals, while opposite the expansive Devra Lal Haveli. (closed to visitors), is fronted by unusually elaborate arched porches, their undersides covered with well-preserved medallion portraits.
Northeast, the imposing Jagannath Singania Haveli (also closed to visitors) towers over the main road. Most of the exterior paintings have faded, though the smaller western facade around the back still holds some fine paintings of elephants and other subjects. South from here, the Geori Shankar Haveli is the polar opposite of the Nadine Le Prince Haveli, dilapidated but hugely atmospheric, and still inhabited by impoverished local families.
Just east of here, the small but exquisite Mahavir Prasad Goenka Haveli was built in the mid-nineteenth century by a Jain merchant, Mahavir Prasad. The inner courtyard is beautifully painted, and the first-floor room is dazzling, its walls and ceiling decorated in the finest detail with myriad colours, gold leaf and mirrors.
Just off NH-11, the modern RTDC Hotel Haveli (Tel:01571/230293; Rs301–1000) is the town's only plausible hotel, though its large and light rooms (some with a/c) don't quite compensate for the dodgy plumbing and general air of neglect.