Padhaaro mahro desh!!


After a long long time, I’m finally back to share yet another travel and this time it was the longest drive till date , spanning over 4 states and over 5000kms of blissful drive . All planned , the car loaded with luggage/eatables, and everything else we left on the morning of sept 11 at 4:30AM sharp to Navi mumbai

Day-1

Stats
Bangalore – Navi mumbai
Distance – 997Kms
Hotel – Hotel Apex (Navi mumbai)
Travel time – 15:15 hrs

The road up to satara is in a beautiful condition and one can drive as fast as his wits permit or as fast as one dares ;-). Overall though the roads are just stupendous.DSC_0162_v1
En-route we stopped to admire the money wasted by our Govt on something that hardly sees light, a great view nonetheless.

I Halted at navi mumbai because I knew that by the time i reach that place it would be relatively late and hence i would avoid the traffic also if i left early morning the next day i would beat bombay/pune city traffic as well. Bombay was just going to be a pit stop so we just had a cup of nice masala chaai (Masala tea) and hit the sack after a long long drive.

Day-2

Stats
Navi mumbai -> Udaipur
Distance : 770kms
Travel time : 15:30hrs
Road Conditions : Beautiful

I never expected to take so long to drive 770kms especially since i had covered close to 1000kms the previous day but little did i know that gujrat truck traffic was going to hit me hard.
I reached Baruch within no time and soon after started encountering heavy traffic. Although i hated zig-zagging across traffic I was left with no choice but to do so and when one is doing high speeds doing so is really not advisable but had no choice.One more thing to note is the traffic at the tolls from the mumbai side is really heavy as well, especially the Ghorbundar(western express highway) highway/tolls.
So all in all it was a relatively slow pace and finally reached Udaipur at 8:30PM .

Day-3 (Udaipur and around)

The previous night we had inquired about places to see and decided on what all to cover for the current day . Since our hotel was centrally placed with almost all the tourist spots at a stone throws distance we could have very well walked if the temperature was on our side but we decided to take the car as it was 38C at 9AM.
I quickly tucked back into the hotel and we settled down for breakfast by 10AM. 

We ordered just 1 paratha ,dahi and aachar for breakfast hoping to not eat too much as we didn’t know the quality of the food and didn’t want to fall ill.
The guy brings us the paratha and we eat a slice. Almost immediately my wife exclaims, Can we have 3 parathas each please, and make it fast 
Well that’s about the food quality at our hotel . It was really amazing.
We left straight to the first spotsaheli02HDR-01_v1, Sahelio ki

Next stop was the famous Lake Pichola, around which the lake palace of udaipur has been built. Its a disgrace to the might kings and viewers alike as i saw pretty much everything thrown into the water. I dont understand when Indians will really take a serious consideration about their heritage. Anyway after rambling about it for a while we sat there to enjoy the view.
waterfrontHDR-03_v1

By the time we finished a round of the city (yes the entire city can be covered in 30-45mins) but we took a good 3:30 hrs to stop and photograph pretty much everything on the road.
Soon after it was baking hot and returned back to our hotel which took a few mins and had a nice sleep after another round of parathas.
we hoped to go to the Udaipur palace by evening . We were so exhausted after contineous drives and another round of walking in the sun we just didn’t get up till 4:30. We woke up and had Tea (Rajastanis make good masala chaai) and left by 4:45.

Just as i pulled my car out , the hotel owner steps out and
Owner : sir aap palace ja ra he hai ?
me : haan
Owner : vo tho paach me hi bandh karthe hai.
me : hmm, yaha monsoon palace bhi hai na?
Owner : yes sir
me : teek hai, thanks.

(And this decision turned out to be a good one indeed)
The monsoon palace is about 13kms from our hotel and that’s when my trusted MIMI (our pet name for MMI) took us through roads that were so narrow , i could barely fit my car. I wanted to override MIMI by i didn’t know any routes to do better so blindly followed it with a promise that we would never take the same route again.

We reached the monsoon palace by 5:30PM and were taken aback by the cool breeze and after having spent a sweaty morning and a totally stressful 13kms drive up to the palace all i did for a few mins was to take in the breeze!!
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After a well spent day in udaipur we reached our hotel and after another round of parathas we just hit the bed with more things to come the next day. Here i must admit that though one might get a bit too accustomed to eating parathas 3 times a day, the taste was such that we really didn’t bother at all. RJ so far had treated us well.

Day 3
We had previously planned to leave to chittorghar early and i estimated a total time of 6hrs including the travel and time to be spent in the fort.
Before hand i had info that its not going to be an easy trek as its the Largest fort in india. Knowing this we quickly had breakfast and left our Udaipur hotel at 6AM .

Background
Chittorghar, also called Chittor is about 115kms from Udaipur and houses the largest fort in india . Its been held by nearly 55 kings and covers a massive 691.9 acres
So quickly fired up my beloved MIMI and set bearings for chittor
The beautiful NH-76/NH-79
DSC_0482_v1

I must say that the roads by large in RJ were just too good . Most of the NH and SH were in really good condition and even State highways connecting the most interior parts of RJ were in great conditions. Honestly driving in RJ was too easy, roads were that good.

After having a foot in mouth incident here is what i’d like to say.
Rajastan is filled with morons who drive less and honk more. Udaipur/jodhpur/jaisalmer anywhere i went the city dwellers be it a taxiwalla or a BMW owner just sits on the horn the whole damn time. So please be careful.
2.) Highways in Rajastan have more of wildlife than human life so you will always find cattle, peacocks, bulls, dogs more than anything else and these folks just come out of nowhere. I cannot stress enough to be careful while driving at high speeds on these roads. Please be very careful.
3.) Always be on your guard especially on the highways as you cannot predict things like what happened to me and the worst part is that these guys dont even acknowledge their mistake.

Moving ahead, we reached the beautiful fort of chittorghar
Background
Chittorghar, also called Chittor is about 115kms from Udaipur and houses the largest fort in india . Its been held by nearly 55 kings and covers a massive 691.9 acres
So quickly fired up my beloved MIMI and set bearings for chittor.DSC_0528_v1

DSC_0582_v1

Finally after an eventful drive to chittor and a splendid time there we headed back to our hotel in udaipur . Thankfully no further road incidents on the way back. I would always suggest chittor and a place to be seen if you are anywhere near udaipur . Its a magnificent place with a lot of history.

We reached our udaipur hotel by 2PM and wanted to go to the palace directly but lack of sleep and lack of food was making us really tired so we decided to sleep till 3:30 and go.
We ordered rajasthani thali to our room ate and slept by 2:30 and promptly woke up at 3:30 .
Ordered a cup of coffee and finished it to leave at 4:00PM.

Fired up MIMI again and this time to the udaipur palace and there was something different i did.
I took a turn towards a narrow lane and fired up MIMI (which i would find out later to be a big mistake), my beloved MIMI calculated the route from that direction and asked me to drive on.
Happy that MIMI was helping us i rolled down the windows and stepped on the A pedal and within 5 mins MIMI took us through the narrowest lanes i had ever seen in my life.
It was so narrow that my car could barely fit between the array of shops in between and i thought NOT again god. But even if we had to there was no way i could turn back
So just hoped that no one kisses me and made true. After a heart wrenching 20min drive across the narrow roads with ample stops and a few reverses to let the traffic flow we finally reached here
DSC_0741_v1

What a beautiful palace this is . One must really see the vastness and the architecture to truly believe the quality of workmanship.
I was really mesmorized by the stone carvings .
One particular decor that struck me was the dome carvings at the entrance and this dome is a good 60Ft from the floor level . I just couldnt fathom how in those days they managed to get up there and carve out beautiful designs.. Too good

After having spent a good 2 hours there as well. We finally bid good bye to Udaipur and its beauty and retired to our hotel for a well deserved sleep by 8PM.

The fun starts now, Next stop Jodhpur”

Bags packed again, breakfast at the hotel skipped again, with the bearings set to Jodhpur we hit the road again at 7AM. Our pit stops based on heavy demand from in laws and parents was to visit the Ekling ji (30kms from udaipur), srinath ji (nathdwara) then on to jodhpur. this turned out to be one heck of a drive. Hoping so our first stop was Ekling ji temple and we decided to breakfast on the way and reached the g ji temple by about 8:30AM only to find out that the temple does not even open till 11AM. This was not going to work for us so we decided to give it a pass and continue the drive towards nathdwara.Here the trouble starts, my beloved MIMI showed us the route from ekling ji temple to nathdwara via NH-8 and having knowing that its a NH we were really happy to go there but this road is totally amidst the mountains and soon after we started we hit the ghat section and its just a 2 lane route. The progress was terribly slow but the route was with amazing roads so we didn’t lament much and we reached nathdwara by 12:30PM .
It was 43C and will full of sweat we began our 1/4mile hike to the temple , huffing and puffing and amidst insane crowd (in off season) we reach the temple only to find out that the darshan closed just 10mins before our arrival.
hmm what can i say , we followed our track back, turned the AC to full and drove off in sadness.
Looks like the gods were not done with us yet, for i dont know what i did but we ended up driving from Nathdwara to Jodhpur via RJ, SH -49 , where for a while MIMI was up and alive after which even she gave up.
All we could see were proper Rajasthani villages, there was nothing but females carrying water on their heads , males sitting idle and discussing about god knows what, beautiful green pastures and corn all around.
As far as i counted we crossed nearly 9 rajastani villages and ended up driving in ghats at an inclination of nearly 55 degress .
All my josh of driving in leh were coming true. Just that instead of snow and cold temperatures we witnessed trees, sand and heat

So finally we managed to reach jodhpur after a terrible 8 hours or so.. We were just exhausted but the drive was something i never thought i would do.
Beautiful village scenery and after a bit of rest in jodhpur i was really cherishing the drive on these roads. Take this route only if you have ample time or else don’t

Jodhpur and around….

We checked into hotel “jagat vilas” one of the best homestays that i’ve spent nights in (hotel reviews at the last).
After spending a good 2 hrs simply chit chatting with the owners we were sort of rejuvinated and decided to go to the market for some shopping by 8PM.

Had a cup of nice homemade coffee and then visited the market but unlike what we know most of the shops were already closing and the temp was still hovering at 36C @9PM.
We couldn’t take it anymore so simply came back and bunked for the night.

The next day we had nice home made parathas mehrangharat our homestay and started our drive to Meharnghar fort and just around the corner of this fort is the “Jaswant thada”, a burial for all the fallen Rajput kings from 13th century till date. The architecture of this place was also wonderful and we forgot the heat altogether.

So as usual after all the hike up to the fort and a after rounds and rounds of photographs my wife started to reach here boiling point with me and my camera, so save both of us, I decided to get back to the homestay and wind up and go to the Jodhpur palace later in the evening .
We came back had lunch and had a nice sleep till 5PM, woke up and had coffee as usual and went to Umaid Bhavan palace .

Here is what we saw!
upalaceThis was a really beautiful palace where the current Raja of Jodhpur lives and the left portion is the kings official residence , the center portion is a public museum where we are allowed and the right portion is made a hotel.

This is the shortest we stayed in any palace in the whole trip. just about 1.5 hrs (that’s because i wanted to take photos). Ideally one would not spend more than 15-20mins as there is really nothing to see.
So we were out of the palace by 6:30PM and my wife wanted to shop again for some amarapalli jewels , we went to a showroom and while i reviewed photos sitting on the couch my wife picked up a few things and were came out by 7:40.

Our homestay owner had told us that there is a hotel (forgot the name) beside the Balsamand lake where one can have a roof top dinner with a really beautiful view of the Mehranghar fort and we couldn’t miss it for anything. So i Parked my car at that amarapalli showroom itself and took an auto to this place.

mgharnight

Now that’s what i call a dinner time view! 🙂
Fully satisfied with the view (if not with the dinner menu) we retired to our homestay by 10PM .
next day, it would be another 300 odd kms to our Final destination , Jaisalmer!!

Jalisalmer
With our final destination in sight we ,the bangalore based IT couple were extremely happy to have done nearly 90% of the journey (one way, at least).
I dont know how but all that heat just vanished in a moment and we were just dancing in joy at our jodhpur homestay knowing that we were soon going to reach the last of our destinations.

Anyway so we had an extremely heavy dinner the previous night and hit the sack and woke up leisurely at 8:30AM. we started to take this journey almost too easy because i had prior reports that the roads are amazing and it would not take more time.
We breakfasted at our Jodhpur homestay, bid the extremely humble hosts a nice good bye and hit the road by 10:30AM

roadAlmost all through the way we saw Army presence and the roads were just too good and we maintained a really good speed. At times the MID was showing an Avg speed of 83kmph but due to many stoppages for photo sessions it finally came down.Arrow straight roads with sand on either side and small desert shrubs to blow a relatively cool breeze into your heads we were just enjoying our drive on these roads. With such good roads even my wife tried her hands at the wheel. 😉firing

I was so happy about reaching Sam that i was Firing away with all the might and that’s when i saw this. So since both of us were Firing i overshot this and had to make a U-turn to get a snap .
We had already booked for the night at Sam in one of the Swiss tents..
jai1 jai

Again as usual we were dripping and huffing and puffing we managed to get into one of the thatched huts with a decent fan/cooler (we decided to switch to the swiss tents later in the night as the small fan kept there was not helping us cool down).

After a full 30 mins under the cooler and after a nice shower we were rejuvenated and had a cup of masala chaai.
Agenda for the evening was
1.) Camel ride and sunset
2.) Rajastani folk dance at our stay
3.) stay in the swiss tent.

I didn’t take photos of the folk dance as it was not appealing to us. So we just watched it and dined and later hit the sack.
After another round of satisfying trip to sam we retired in our swiss tent with the view to reach Jaisalmer city the next day.
We woke up early by 7:30AM and sitting on the wooden recliner outside our tent we sipped our masala chaai, perhaps the most Westerly chaai we had in independent india!!.
samfinalWe packed and settled the bill to leave for Jaisalmer city by 8:30AM.
Enroute stopped for another final set of Sam photos.
I stopped the car in the middle of the road ,wheels turned my wife clicked one last picture.We reached our Jaisalmer hotel (about 45kms from Sam) by 9:20AM and rested for a while .

We had prior knowledge that Jaisalmer is a very small city (roughly 3kms either way) and covering the whole city would take just 1 evening so we leisurely had nice breakfast comprising of aloo parathas ,dahi and lassi (we dont even remember how many lassis we’ve had in this trip).
And left for sight seeing by 11AM.

First stop, Jaisalmer fort and inside.
Architecture of jain temples within the fort and patawon ki haveli pics.

jaisal2 jaisal3 jaisalmerSo finally the trip comes to an end and with a smile we retired for the night knowing that in 2 days time we will be back to home sweet home.
What a wonderful trip it has been and next time its going to be even bigger!!

The full set of pictures can be found on my Flickr account.
the sets include http://www.flickr.com/photos/shampavman/sets/72157635748851564/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shampavman/sets/72157635748828363/

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