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Old 7th November 2011, 14:57   #16
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Sudipto da,

Nice write up and excellent photos. Keep them coming.

I can never imagine myself driving all the way to Rajasthan. How many days did the whole trip take ?
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Old 7th November 2011, 15:15   #17
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Amazing photographs. Smelled of a relaxed and fantastic drive around the "badlands". Can you post a map of your route. How were the road conditions?
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Old 7th November 2011, 15:24   #18
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From Kumbhalgarh we started off for Jodhpur. Today we will go as far as Jodhpur and on the way will be Ranakpur.

It was sad saying goodbye to Kesar Lal, our cook and caretaker at the forest guest house. After a session of group photography we started off. I must say here, although the guest house looks innocuous, it sits at the top of a short but awfully steep mountain road. But I could negotiate quite well going up and down as well.

At the Badal guest house of the Rajasthan forest department

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The road from Kumbhalgarh to Ranakpur is a very pretty and picturesque mountain road full of bird life. I didn't have the time to do any birding there. My priority was reaching Ranakpur as early as possible.

Ranakpur (named after Rana Kumbha who apparently funded the construction of the temple) temple is located in a beautifully peaceful locale, as most Jain temples are. Entry to the temple is allowed anytime but if you want to enter the main temple with a camera you have to wait till 12 noon. We didn't have that time at our disposal so had to be satisfied with capturing the views from outside only.

Details of Ranakpur temple

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A minor temple next to the main temple but equally exquisite

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The same temple with the ladies of the team

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A small view of the main temple

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One of the security guards at the temple. I clicked him more for his turban

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Detail of the window of the temple

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Devotees going to the temple

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Devotees to the most important Jain temple

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The Ranakpur temple has strict dress code and it is mentioned clearly that revealing dresses are not allowed !!! They have however given a solution to the problem. You can hire decent clothes from their office.
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Old 7th November 2011, 15:32   #19
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

@ Mitrajdeep - We started on 2nd October and came back on 14th. But it was a bit rushed. Wish I had one more week.

@ Dot. I will tomorrow. I am not too good with taking screen shots but if you plot the names I gave on the first post in google map you can get it. It looks like a lasso and indeed a journey through the badlands but absolutely nothing happened to us anywhere - touchwood. The main 4-lane highway is excellent upto Udaipur except short stretches which one can afford to ignore. Ranakpur to Pali was really bad. Rest is just fine. Next really bad stretch was near Dehri on Son in Bihar and then in West Bengal.
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Old 7th November 2011, 18:47   #20
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

From Ranakpur we moved along the state highway upto a place called Sanderav. The road is quite in bad shape with innumerable bumps. From Sanderav one comes across NH that goes towards Pali and then left turn to Jodhpur. The NH from Sanderav to Pali is also not in any good state of repair. But Pali to Jodhpur is fairly decent, pothole less road.

Jodhpur 30 km, coming in from Pali

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In Jodhpur we checked into hotel Inn Seasons just in front of HSBC in Ratanada. This hotel is also excellent and we got a preferred rate through my wife's bank. Since we would go out the very next morning to Osian, we had to rush out to Meherangarh fort right after checking in.

Exterior view of Meherangarh fort

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To do complete justice to a fort like Meherangarh and the museum in it you need to spend at least one full day. Regrettably we had a few hours only. So here are a few hurried shots of Meherangarh fort, which was easily the most pretty fort of our trip. But then the kings of these forts never had to really fight the Moghuls and could afford to spend on ornate designs.

Ornate jharokhas of Meherangarh fort

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Jharokhas looking over at the courtyard below

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Details of the jharokhas

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Door going from one courtyard to the other

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One would think it was made of cast iron. But this is cast in stone

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View of the blue town from the fort

Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta-town_2119.jpg
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Old 7th November 2011, 19:03   #21
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Excellent pictures and nice narrations! You are very much an inspiration for me. Please continue with your travelogue. I am glued before my computer for more.
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Old 7th November 2011, 19:13   #22
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

What a trip plan - some of the least-travelled places in Rajasthan!
Your photos are outstanding as usual, and I think you must start a thread on only your bird photographs itself, from different parts of India. In our pursuit of monuments and landscapes, the normal lensman misses this huge variety of bird life in India!

Any reason why you did not take the Udaipur-Nathdwara-Haldighati-Kumbhalgarh route - is it because the NH76 towards Pindwara is a better road?

Maybe taking the Ranakpur-Nadol-Nimbara-Pali route would have been better than the Sanderao route that you took to Jodhpur?

Can you also add the telephone numbers and indicative tariffs of the hotels (look like great choices!) you stayed in, if possible? How did you select them - online or word-of-mouth? Any tips on getting discounts and negotiating better rates?

Would love to have an indicative drive timing for each day, and see your log book too!
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Old 7th November 2011, 19:20   #23
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

We spent just one afternoon and evening in Jodhpur visiting Meherangarh fort and a few saree shops. Next morning we were off to Osian. Mini-desert 60 km away. This was not a part of our original tour plan.

In Kumbhalgarh we had met the manager of Club Mahindra - another Bengali guy and extremely friendly. Among the advices he offered me was a trip to Osian. His point was in Rajasthan you cannot afford not to see sand. If you are not going to Jaisalmer you should at least see Osian

Using his connections, he organised a night in Camp Thar, which is a nice property. Although it is mighty expensive at Rs 7000 per night, using Biplab's connections we got it for Rs 1500.

Here are some photographs of Osian.

The road to Osian - the site of that famous Sonar Kella scene: "kata ki era bechhe khay ?"

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Camp Thar is nothing but a series of luxury tents in the middle of the desert

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Moonlit Camp Thar. We were the only guests

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Two ladies with their respective wards

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The little girl looking back at her herd of sheep

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We saw at least 20 Indian peafowls outside the camp on the village road

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Peafowls from every angle

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She is the reason why he has to dress up and dance and do what not

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Five faces in Osian. Only one is grinning. Guess who

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Old 7th November 2011, 19:48   #24
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Thanks Rahul and HVK. I took the Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh route on the advice of the DFO of Udaipur, whose department was my host in Kumbhalgarh. He said going via Nathdwara (I had asked him about it) is a lot more detour and totally unnecessary.

The route to Jodhpur was decided on the advice of the jeep driver who took us to the forest core area. I cross checked this route with the driver of the manager of the Club Mahindra resort in Kumbhalgarh (the Bong connection ;-) who said yes this is the best route to Jodhpur.

I am yet to decode what my wife wrote during the trip on our diary. I have all the details though. I shall definitely do it and let you know.

Regarding choice of hotels - we used a variety of methods to book. In Benares we stayed in Meraden Grand that gave me a corporate discount as our managers regularly use it during their visit to the city. It is 4-star but charge us Rs 1800 only. In Orchha we were pre-booked through MPTDC. It is a complete rip off. In Bundi we stayed at Kasera which we short listed from the Lonely Planet book on Rajasthan. I wouldn't advice anyone to stay there because they charge Rs 20 for a chapati and Rs 125 for plain daal !! Udaipur happened by accident. We were phoning various hotels and were being told that they were all full. When we saw this hotel we first rang them up and then my wife just barged in. The parking lot looked very attractive.
Kumbhalgarh was of course forest bungalow booked through a friend who is a Rajasthan cadre senior IFS officer. Rahul Bhatnagar is the DFO who ultimately gives the permission to stay there. Very friendly person, again with a Bengali wife ;-)
Jodhpur was through my wife's bank HSBC at a discount. Inn Seasons is just across the road from the HSBC branch in Ratanada. Osian was through the connection of the Club Mahindra resort manager in Kumbhalgarh. He is extremely well connected in the hotel trade in Rajasthan and got this for us within a few seconds. Jaipur was through a friend's friend who works there. La Grand was the name of the hotel. It is walkable from Hawa Mahal. In Agra we stayed right on NH2 in hotel Bhavna. This is not practical if you want to see Taj. We just wanted to spend the night and start early next morning for Benares. This was suggested by our sales manager in Agra. Decent hotel with plush interiors but low on the pocket.
I have all the numbers. Will put them up later.
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Old 7th November 2011, 21:15   #25
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Sudipto-S-Team, fantastic travelogue and amazing pics. Looks like you are seriously into birding. The bird-snaps are fab!
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Old 7th November 2011, 21:36   #26
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SDP - thanks for your appreciation. Yes birding has grown into a big passion (and a huge hole in the pocket) over the last couple of years. It is very addictive.

However, on a self-drive family trip it is very difficult to mix birding with driving and seeing places. Also non-birders are bored when you suddenly stop the vehicle, take out the camera, lens, tripod, sound recorder and then spend close to half an hour while they sit idle doing nothing.

But moving at 80 kmph on a state highway if you come across such a sight, what do you really do?

A grey francolin crossing the road - somewhere between Jodhpur and Osian on the state highway

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Had to get down and shoot them down with the camera

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Looks like a lady delicately playing the piano


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Old 7th November 2011, 21:41   #27
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Fantastic, brilliant presentation. Shall keep an eye on the entire travelogue. Can you please post the route/time for the distance covered. Photos are excellent 5*
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Old 7th November 2011, 22:04   #28
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Avon, thanks for liking the trip report and the photographs. I must thank everyone else too who made this into a 5-star thread right away. I didn't expect this. Thanks once again.

My average starting time would be 8 am. And the latest that I reached a city was Jaipur (starting from Osian). I think that was 7.30 in the evening or so. But that is more because I had to find out the hotel in that maze of a city and the hotel guy knew nothing but to say, "kisi se bhi puchh lijiye. Bata dega", which of course is a blatant lie. No one knows how to give directions to an outsider. So I spent close to an hour and a half driving in the unknown city at the end of a long day at the wheel.

I reached Bundi in the afternoon and had enough juice left to rush to the fort that afternoon itself. Same was the case with Jodhpur also. Reached in the afternoon and rushed out to see the fort. I would have preferred to do these two towns with more time and in a relaxed manner.

After a couple of days I shall put up a basic log of my journey. But here is a crude map of my 4500-km trip.

I hope this map makes sense

Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta-map.jpg
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Old 7th November 2011, 22:08   #29
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Orchha is a quiet little place...
We stayed at MPTDC's Betwa River Retreat and took the luxury tent.
Coincidental, but did you stay in one of these tents?
Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta-dsc01859k100.jpg

This is from December 2007. We did get a substantial discount (IIRC 15%) off the regular rates when we booked personally from MPTDC's offices in Delhi, rather than booking online.

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Old 7th November 2011, 22:30   #30
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Default Re: Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta

Dada,

Wonderful TL!!! You followed me to Banaras and beat me in posting pictures of Orchha.

I followed you to Udaipur as well. Thanks for your help in changing our route from east coast to West coast!!

Keep your TL coming. We are glued.
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