Did a road trip recently. Visited the great Rajasthan. This is a brief account of the places we touched, the little that I saw and some random stuff.
@r_kb arrived, as usual, late by about 12 hours (which is a huge improvement)
It was not decided as to where we’d be headed – till late in the night, it was mutually, non-verbally assumed that it would be somewhere towards the hills.
Wanted to do some new place this time – so probably somewhere in Himachal?
Jaisalmer has always been a fascination in my head – with legends of drivers placing a brick on the accelerator and folding their feet (ok, that basically means looong, straight, traffic-free roads). But Jaisalmer would be a bit too much – that’s far far away. Technology comes into play – a few google maps, google searches later it did seem a good destination. And so it was Rajasthan. Now since we are going Jaisalmer, we’d probably have to go via Bikaner. A few routes were scanned, a few reviews read and destination Bikaner it was – early next morning.
Day 1 route – Gurgaon – Bikaner – about 350 kms
Woke up at around 0730 hrs, packed bag & got ready in about 30 mins. Just as we were off to Bikaner from Gurgaon, it came to me a few things that I’d forgotten. Anyway, first stop was Mc Donald’s Manesar – had that shitty burger – no really, it was shitty and I really don’t plan having that ever – it actually messed up my throat more than anything. The drive to Bikaner was pretty good all through – except a very bad patch of 50 kms, which was due to our bad choice of route. Those 50 kms took about 2 hours to cover & were a real downer. Reached Bikaner at around 2000 hrs, went to a hotel near Junagarh fort – Metro hotel. Went out for a stroll in Bikaner – it’s a city I’ve lived in for 2 years, although I was too young to remember anything – had some paneer kofta (pakodas/pakoras) bought some rasgullas. Nothing much left for the day.
Day 2 route – Bikaner – Jaisalmer – about 330 kms
Woke up to find Raghvendra in the room. Checked out of the hotel, went with RR to his office. Got started out of the city of Bikaner at around 1400 hrs. Now this was one of the best drive of the entire trip – the roads were very much like they had been legendized – straight, almost zero traffic, nice – you see, I’m not really used to such roads.
Stopped over at a dhaba to have some delicious food. Witnessed an awesome sunset on the way – couldn’t really capture it well. We were about 20 kms from Jaisalmer when a bike rider came along (we were at about 75-80kmph) and slid his business/hotel card inside while elaborating the facilities of his stay-palace. Reached Jaisalmer at about 2130 hrs – no bad patch on the road at all.
RR had arrangements made in a hotel – Priya hotel – put our stuff there. Went to the hotel lawn where there was local folk songs being played by these very talented artists. 4-5 members in that group and they could all play all the instruments – i was amazed. Nothing much to do post that, tomorrow would be spent in Jaisalmer.
Day 3 – Jaisalmer – the Golden city
Woke up late (which, I tell you, kills the trip when you are travelling. Raka, however, claimed to have woken up early and gone out for a stroll ) – breakfast done, we headed off to the Jaisalmer fort – Sunargarh fort.
Jaisalmer was all yellow stone. Everywhere. The fort is majestic, and I’m told is the only one which people still live in. After circling the fort a few times, cause we got disoriented on the way out, had to search for the famous Bhang shop that raka had seen on Nat Geo. Had a glass each and headed off to jawain sa‘s handicraft showroom – had nice, tasty lunch there. Ajit bana was there and then after a while we headed to the sand dunes – no, not sam - it’s too polluted and commercialised we were advised. Windmills were all along the way. Reached the village where we had a refreshing cup/glass of tea. Camels had arrived and atop them we headed to the sand dunes (not trot, just walk).
Witnessed another awesome sunset – walked on the sand, headed back to the village. A colourful folk song, dance program awaited us. Mutton was being cooked by RR. I came out a few times to sit on the sand and see the bright lit sky. The night went long, with dance by our party. Headed back to the hotel late in the night. Woke up late next day.
Day 4 route – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur ~ 300 kms
It took us exceptionally long to get ready for the road and after saying good byes to the nice people, we started on our way to Jodhpur. Had a few stops on the way – to see the migratory birds that we spotted on way, for lunch at ashapurna restaurant, another stop to see the birds at a pond. And then came a patch of bad road that took us a while to get over with. What did we witness on our way – Yep, another sunset. Finally reached Jodhpur at about 2030 hrs.
Since we planned leaving for Udaipur the next day, went off to see Mehrangarh fort. What a majestic fort it is – Huge. RR wanted to show us a place there – OTR, on the rocks – nice concept & beautifully designed. Loafed around for a while, headed to Hotel Regent palace where we’d be staying for the night. Raka was on hot water diet.
Day 5 route – Jodhpur – Udaipur ~ 270 kms
Started the day with a few teas and we were on the road by 0900 hrs. First stop was after about 40 kms, for Mirchi vada, kachori & tea. Awesome mirchi vadas & kachoris & the tea! Next we stopped at this place called Om bana bullet baba mandir
- legend has it that there was this guy ‘Om (bana)’ who died in an accident on his bullet in ’88. The Bullet, however, would start up automatically occasionally! – after the bullet changed a few hands – from Police to family of Om bana to a new buyer – and still kept its weird phenomenon of starting up automatically, it was decided to create a sthapana for it. And thus a temple/shrine exists for this Bullet motorcycle.
A few stops were made when we spotted a pond or lake, which were many on the way to Udaipur. The route to Udaipur is different with hills, jungles, lakes marble-cities. next major stop was at Srinath ji temple, which was closed when we reached there, at about 1400 hrs – and we were told that it’ll open at 1600 hrs for only 15 mins. Tried some street food, which was being highly recommended by users on foursquare – Mirchi vada was quite different here, with the outer layer fluffy & no masala inside. There was a bhang wala right next to where we were eating, so Raka & me had a glass each. Raka wanted more and had another. Now we wanted to reach Udaipur asap – it was not very far from there.
After visiting haldighati & getting slightly de-routed, we reached Udaipur via some villages, narrow lanes at about 1630 hrs. Thanks to RR, we stayed at an awesome place – Karohi haveli - had evening tea, like a sir – went to the rooftop to see the great sunset. Raka was uneasy and people around assured him it was the bhang that he had and his condition only worsened as the night progressed. Had drinks and dinner on rooftop restaurant, with awesome view of the awesome city of Udaipur. The day was well spent.
Day 6 Udaipur – the city of lakes & palaces.
Came back to the room and then Raka & I headed to the city palace. It is huge – would take about 3-4 hours to see it completely. I just wrapped it up in about 90 mins and waited outside for raka – rr & vivek joined in the waiting – raka couldn’t be contacted, of course. When he finally did come out, had a beer and then planned to go Sajjangarh fort – the one that’s atop a high hill. Vivek took over as our guide for the city.
Drove to the fort – it’s really really high up (slope would be crazy) – gazed for a while and then to Fatehsagar Lake – chaupati for lunch. Had nice pav-bhaji and really good cold coffee. Kids were jumping/diving into the lake – a nice sight. Back to Karohi haveli and then I just wanted to take a walk in the city.
Went to Bagore ki Haveli - saw the daily-festival that happens there from 1900-2000 hrs. It was quite interesting and so non-boring, unlike what I’d initially thought. I’d recommend that to anyone going to Udaipur. Sat next to the lake for a while and it was time to head back to Karohi haveli. Roof-top drinks, dinner – a lot of babble about heading to Daman & diu next morning (you know, those plans, energetic-ambitious plans that need little push once you are a few drinks through – Mr. Nataraj pumped us enough to agree that we’ll leave tomm morning – possibly via Gir forest). Vivek insisted that we go Sheraton discotheque – at 0100 hrs. Went, it was over they said. Sat down near the bank of the lake – I’d say that was the most beautiful spot of the city where we were sitting – or maybe it was the OH molecules. Anyway, the day was quite nicely spent in Udaipur.
Day 7 – Udaipur – Chittorgarh – Bhilwara ~ 150 kms
Of course the last night’s plan did not materialise, woke up late – naturally. Breakfast was had at Karohi Haveli and then we were on our way out of Udaipur. The roads were fantastic. On the way Raka proposed and we agreed, that we visit Chittorgarh – it’ll take an hour extra maybe.
Raka and I picked up a beer and rr was on wheel. Chittorgarh fort is the biggest fort i’ve seen – to see it entirely would take about a week. Visited a few monuments there – Vijay stambh being the most prominent one. RR went to a few temples. Did the alto-safari in the deer habitat and by the time we came out it had been about 3 hours in the fort. On our way back decided to stop for another 15-20 mins to see another beautiful sunset. Another great sunset this was.
Had raka put the sun in his mouth. And off we were from the majestic fort of Chittorgarh.
Bhilwara is not much of a distance from there and the plan was to get to Jaipur by night – say around 9 would also be fine. Well, after a few stops, reached Bhilwara – at about 2030 hrs. Met Monu at RR’s mausi’s place. Then the drinks started at Deep sa’s place. And then it dawned that we’ll not be driving any further today – which seemed a bit logical too. Had Old monk and awesome chicken – I actually overate and knew it. Woke Monu up to drop us back to his place. The day was done.
Day 8 – Bhilwara – Jaipur – Gurgaon ~ 500 kms
Started off early at around 0900 hrs from Bhilwara. Stop 1 at chaans – and then stopped at rr’s relative’s workshop on the way. Tea was had and then off to Jaipur. Reached Jaipur at about 1300 hrs, and raka had convinced me that he had to be dropped there and I was to continue the route to Gurgaon alone. Stopped over after Jaipur for final tank-up. This was the 6th. The route back was fine except for the diversions after every few kilometers. Reached Gurgaon slightly before 1700 hrs – the trip was done.
The trip was as I had imagined or rather better – great roads, great stay, hospitable people. Different . Hukm, bana, sa, kachori, kofte/pakode, mirchi and lot more.
Given the technology of things today, the map of photo-location looks good.
Didn’t intend this post to be this big and this – but now that it’s been written, it’ll be posted.