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Old 6th November 2014, 19:54   #1
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Default Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

17th October, Day 0


“Rajasthan? Oh hello? Solo? You mean alone? All by yourself? You won’t even get train tickets now and flight tickets would be way too expensive I bet !”

I give a smile.

“Oh no..don’t tell me you are planning to go all the way to Rajasthan in that Bullet. Why? Why alone? It will be really hot and humid, and that 'Kawach' (read riding jacket) that you wear over your shoulders will make you sweat badly.”

I ignore all this and start packing.

“Do you even know Rajasthan is one of the most romantic places in the world? You will be the only person in the history to have gone there alone.”

Duh? Don’t angry me !

“By the way where are you heading to?”

Finally a question that interested me. I reply “To see the vast expanse of the Thar Desert”. The grin in my face was enough to convince my friend how I care a damn about the romance and the weather. And how badly I wanted to ride all the way to see the desert.

“Bleh” she muttered, I guess.

Peace.

Yes I was on my way to see the Great Indian Thar Desert and since the plan was finalized a day ago, I could not really tell all my friends where I was heading to.

I had been to Rajasthan on a previous occasion and I had visited the lovely towns of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Chittorgarh, but due to time constraints we could not go to Jaisalmer. So this time around I just concentrated on Jaisalmer and the Thar Desert. With a few extra hours in hand, I could also do a short stint to the Little Rann of Kutch. The Rann is something spectacular, way too different from anything I ever saw. I wish I could stay a day atleast to witness the beauty of the Rann in its entirety.

Any travelogue without pictures is injustice to the readers, so before I start the travelogue let me share a few pictures of Jaisalmer, the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch.

Google Maps showing the route taken in the trip

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-roadtrip.png

The lovely golden city of Jaisalmer

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1882.jpg

The mighty Jaisalmer Fort, also known as "Sonar Kella"

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1836.jpg

Somewhere in the Great Indian Thar Desert

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn2011.jpg

The arrow straight roads in Western Rajasthan, this one between Tanot and Longewala

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn2042.jpg

Sand Dunes

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn2110.jpg

The Desert and the Ship of the Desert

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn2136.jpg

My beloved Classic 500 Desert Storm and the Little Rann of Kutch

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn2240.jpg

Yours Truly riding a camel in the desert, a customary pic

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn2138.jpg
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Old 6th November 2014, 22:42   #2
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Prologue:

It had been just 3 months into my first job and I realized that the year 2014 will come to an end soon and I need to utilize my leaves. So during the Diwali week, I took a few days off from work. Coupled with the Diwali holidays and Sundays, I got a cool 9 day leave. Perfect for a nice motorcycling holiday. But where?

Now the plan begins. Beaches? Coastal Maharashtra, Goa, Gokarna? Nah I have rode to Puri so my Enfield has seen how a beach looks like.

Mountains? Yes Definitely !!

But again where? Mahabaleshwar was just too close to call it a longish motorcycling holiday. The jungles of Shimoga and Amboli? Hmm maybe !

I even thought of riding all the way to Munnar and Ooty but having been there multiple times during my engineering days, I did not really feel like taking the plunge.

The plan was to leave Pune on 18th October and get back by 25th October with 26th October (Sunday) as a buffer day/rest day.

Finally after some researching, I concluded that I will ride to Gokarna, Amboli, Gokak and Hampi. But during a casual search on Team-BHP’s travelogue section, I came across fellow BHPian laluks’ travelogue to Rajasthan. Wow the sand dunes !

Now I knew I have taken my Enfield to the beach in Puri, the wildlife sanctuary of Jaldapara in North Bengal, the mountains of Bhutan and North Sikkim, the tea gardens of Dooars. It had seen them all. But desert? It got me thinking !

It got me thinking. There must be something on the minds of the designers when they came up with an Enfield model called Desert Storm. They must have been visualizing the sand dunes and the vast expanse of the deserts and would have come up with the stunning Desert Storm color and moniker.

That was it. I knew where I was heading to. Rajasthan.

A quick text message to laluks followed with a list of queries and doubts. But I got a very quick and detailed reply from him. A big thank you to you Sir !!

Last edited by //M : 6th November 2014 at 22:44.
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Old 6th November 2014, 23:33   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by //M View Post
"Do you even know Rajasthan is one of the most romantic places in the world? You will be the only person in the history to have gone there alone."

Duh? Don't angry me !

I did Jaisalmer solo.

If one likes driving the roads in Rajasthan are a pleasure to drive. Looking forward to the travelogue and some amazing pictures. I am sure you would have clicked the fort at night!
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Old 7th November 2014, 09:30   #4
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

18th October, Day 1


My B-school has a Mumbai Chapter meet every year where in the alumni of our institute meet and have a blast once a year. 18th November was that day. So no matter how much I would have tried to do a longish ride on Day 1, I had to resort back to staying in Mumbai for the night. After all, meeting friends and seniors from college after a long time feels special so I really did not want to miss this reunion.

I got up late and started from Pune at 9 am. Bikers do not have the privilege to ride on the Mumbai-Pune expressway so I continued on the Old Mumbai Pune Highway. It was a weekend just prior to the Diwali holidays so there was a mad rush to Lonavala and Khandala. Not surprisingly I was stuck in a massive traffic jam in Lonavala but thankfully I negotiated traffic in good time. The benefits of riding a motorcycle !!

Just after the Khopoli exit, I could feel the heat waves. The Mumbai climate is just so humid. And then just before entering Panvel, I got stuck again. A massive traffic jam which got irritating with people honking at each other and abusing each other for no reason. Being on two wheels, I got off the road from the left side and could negotiate atleast a kilometer long traffic jam slowly. But still it took a lot of time. Plus there was way too much traffic in Panvel.

Now I was not aware that a certain JNPT bypass road exists which bypasses Panvel. So I continued to Panvel and beyond. Panvel to Airoli took me 2 hours, way too long by any standards. By the time I reached Airoli I was exhausted. I crossed the bridge and rode towards Mulund, took the JVLR and reached Jogeshwari. I was sweating badly by then. The Pune climate in comparison is pure bliss. By 3 pm I reached my destination for the day. I was putting up at a friend’s place in Goregaon East.

Later in the evening, we all went to the Alumni Meet, partied hard. But I made a mistake.

I planned to leave Mumbai the next day and ride upto Ahmedabad but since it was a party and since I was meeting a lot of friends after a long time, we just kept on discussing the good old college days and how our jobs have made our lives miserable and less social. What we did not realize is the amount of Mr.Walker which kept creeping in as we shared our thoughts.

The result?

…to be continued

Route Taken: Pune – Lonavala – Khopoli – Panvel – Mumbai

Total distance: 184 kms

A stunning statue of Lord Ganesha on the outskirts of Pune
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Somewhere around Lonavala and Khandala
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A part of the expressway from Khandala to Khopoli on which two-wheelers are allowed
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To all his fans, a village named after Rafa !!
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1796.jpg
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Old 7th November 2014, 12:21   #5
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Dear Behram,

Sure thing, this time it was almost a sudden plan so could not really discuss but next time surely.

I am glad you quoted me on that particular sentence. Well, my friends were complaining of their jobs, not me.

Regards,
Arunabh

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Old 7th November 2014, 12:58   #6
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Quite a long teaser to what seems to be an awesome travelogue.

I am still drooling at the arrow straight road. It will be worth driving from Bangalore just for that.
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Old 7th November 2014, 14:06   #7
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

19th October, Day 2


The result? I got up at 11 am the next morning with a pretty bad hangover. I tried all the nimbu-paani and the likes to cure the hangover, but it did not help. My plan of riding all day went for a toss. The next best thing was to plan something exciting with my friends as it was a Sunday, everybody was free and very much in the party mood. So we all met up, roamed around the city, had a delicious lunch at Britannia’s in Ballard Estate. With a stomach full of Biryani and Chocolate Mousse, we all got back to Linking Road as the ladies of our gang wanted to do some quick shopping.

I slept early that night.
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Old 7th November 2014, 16:10   #8
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Arunabh bhai, I'm glued to this thread. Solo motorcycle journeys have always had a very sweet and divine charm to it. Especially, when the companion is a Royal Enfield. Your signature also rightly says so. The brilliant photos only do the job of increasing my anxiety. Bring it on all in full force, brother.
And yes, whats with this mandate of Romance & Rajasthan. I don't really get this philosophy. Anyways, good that you were unwavered by all these comments.

Aah, and this happens to be my 100th post

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Old 7th November 2014, 16:26   #9
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

20th October, Day 3


My alarm did not wake me up at 4 in the morning. Dayyum !

I was late. I got up at 6.30, immediately jumped out of the bed and could leave my friend’s place only by 7.30 am. Since I was putting up at Goregaon and it was still quite early in the day, I did not face any traffic issues while exiting Mumbai. I crossed Borivali, Dahisar and Vasai in no time and marched towards Ahmedabad.

It got really hot and humid during the day but since I was riding solo, I was doing good speeds. I stopped for brunch somewhere just before Vapi.

Vapi lies somewhere between Daman and Silvassa connecting both the Union Territories so I was expecting some mad traffic there. Thankfully there was none. I could reach Navsari much faster than what I initially thought. Soon I bypassed Surat but I was worried about the traffic snarls that take place daily at the Bharuch bridge. I approached Bharuch and thankfully there were no traffic issues. I was happy that I was doing good speeds so I decided to take a longish break somewhere between Bharuch and Vadodara to rest the body from the scorching heat. After a 30 minute long break, I rode down to Vadodara.

It was around 2.30 pm by the time I reached Vadodara. Now again, there was an issue. No two-wheelers are allowed in the amazing Vadodara-Ahmedabad expressway so I had to take the other old highway. Now I must mention it, currently this road has more diversions than the number of kilometers on it. Add to that some crazy truck traffic. It got really annoying to go through the diversions. I reached Ahmedabad two hours later. I stopped for tea and thought of covering some more miles upto Mehsana today.

I took the well laid out Sardar Patel Ring Road to avoid entering into Ahmedabad. I took the Gandhinagar exit and continued to Mehsana.

By the time I reached Mehsana, it was dark. I checked into a hotel, took a nice shower, had a sumptuous Gujarati Thali for dinner and slept early.

P.S: From Vapi to Mehsana, there are atleast a dozen highway motels named after the famous Hotel Decent of the Jab We Met fame.

Route Taken: Mumbai – Surat – Bharuch – Vadodara – Ahmedabad – Mehsana

Total distance: 657 kms

The Bull reads the mile readings and prepares itself for the long ride
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Somewhere along the NH8
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Stopover for brunch near Vapi
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NH8 near Daman and Silvassa
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Somewhere near Surat
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One of the many "Hotel Decent's" along the highway
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Crossing Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat
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Magical figures !!
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1806.jpg

Last edited by //M : 7th November 2014 at 16:28.
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Old 7th November 2014, 21:18   #10
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

21st October, Day 4


It was sometime last year when I saw Satyajit Ray’s Bengali masterpiece, Sonar Kella. The story revolved around a little boy from West Bengal who had memories from his previous birth, memories about Jaisalmer Fort, which he fondly remembered as Sonar Kella, or the Golden Fort.

So today I was very excited riding from Mehsana to Jaisalmer as I had never been to this part of the country and the very thought of seeing Sonar Kella by the end of the day made me glee in delight.

I left Mehsana at 4.30 am without any delay. The cool morning breeze was actually on the colder side. But it was a welcome respite from yesterday’s heat waves. I reached Palanpur and was lost for directions. However, a kind soul helped me with the direction to Deesa. I reached Deesa by 6 am and stopped for tea at a roadside stall.

Now I don’t feel really good to mention this, but I was chased by a few dogs at Deesa. While I was sipping tea and admiring my Desert Storm parked by the teashop, some dogs came barking at me, probably the riding jacket and knee guards looked a little intimidating to them. I am generally scared of dogs. While I chose to ignore them, one of them jumped forward and tried to attack me. I started running around but thankfully the chai wala observed it and came to my rescue by shooing the dogs away.

Phew…what a respite !

I swung my leg over the saddle and kickstarted the Desert Storm. I saw the dogs at a distance. I revved it twice with a thought “Huh now catch me” and left. The dogs chased me for a moment but the Desert Storm zoomed away towards Dhanera and the dogs decided to turn back towards the tea shop.

I crossed Dhanera and reached Sanchore by 8 am. I was actually feeling cold due to the cool breeze. So stopped again for chai. Thankfully there were no dogs around.

The Sanchore-Barmer road sees minimal traffic and has a very smooth surface. Riding my Enfield on this road made me feel like Indiana Jones riding a horse over some arid land with shrubs around. I reached Barmer by 10.30 and stopped for brunch. I was very hungry. I rode for almost 6 hours surviving on chai, paani and cookies. So the piping hot aloo paranthas at Barmer did well to serve my gastronomic desires.

From here, Jaisalmer was just 160 odd kilometers away. And from here to Jaisalmer lies a road that is arrow straight for almost 90% of the distance. I could see a lot of sand around. Yes, I was approaching the Great Indian Thar Desert. I smiled under my lid. My Desert Storm would have smiled too, at its homecoming.

Well technically the Desert Storm’s homecoming would be Chennai and Oragadam but the desert is where it belongs to. Like I was born in a town, but my heart lies in the winding roads of some mountains. Ditto with the Desert Storm.

Well jokes apart, I was marching towards Jaisalmer and there were quite a lot of windmills around. Western Rajasthan has a fair number of wind farms. I stopped for clicking a few pictures and I could see camels around. Yes I was in the camel land !

It was way too hot but the humidity was less so I was not really feeling tired or exhausted while riding. Soon I reached Jaisalmer and the Sonar Kella was visible from a distance. Wow I said to myself. Exactly the same as in the movie !

I went near Sonar Kella and there were lot of hotels nearby. I chose one which had a good parking space. The owner of the hotel was very interactive and friendly. His warm hospitality overshadowed the lack of amenities in the rooms. But for a solo traveler and a bachelor, the hotel room was spacious and comfortable. I took a nice shower and went out to see the golden city of Jaisalmer.

First, it was the Jaisalmer Fort. This is probably the only Fort in India where people still stay inside the fort walls. There are apparently 700 famiies who stay inside the fort. So I rode my bike right into the fort. While admiring the architecture and riding in the narrow roads, I bumped into Natwar.

Natwar who?

Natwar is a tourist guide who stopped me to admire my bike and said it totally blends with the golden city and the golden fort. Thanks Natwar, I completely agree to that. I asked Natwar if he can show me the places of interest to which he immediately agreed.

Firstly we went to see the Raj Mahal inside the fort. Entry ticket fee is Rs 50 and camera charge is Rs 100. However, I realized I had only 1000-rupee notes in my wallet thanks to the ATM machine. So Natwar quickly paid that money and told me “Saar aap baad mein de dena”.

Natwar showed me the Diwan e Khaas of the Palace, the various guns, swords and shields from the Raj-era.

We then got into my bike and went to see the Gadisar Lake nearby.

We then proceeded to the Patni Havelis.

After a long day, it was finally time to thank Natwar. I asked him for his fees.

He had spent 2 hours showing me the lovely city of Jaisalmer so I was expecting him to charge me handsomely. However, he refused to take any money from me. I was surprised and asked him to atleast take the camera fee and the individual ticket fee that he had paid for me to which he agreed. I got change and gave him a 500 hundred rupee note. He returned me 300 rupees. Rs 150 was for the entry tickets, and he had charged me Rs 50 for the last 2 hours. That was quite less than what I expected. So I asked him “Bass pachas?" to which he said “Saar chai pila do…hamari kamai aapki Bullet mein ghoom ke hi ho gai”.

Wow this guy was really impressed with my Desert Storm. I thanked him again while we both were sipping tea at a tea-stall nearby. I dropped him back to the Fort and left.

I got a tankful of petrol for my Enfield as the next day I was supposed to go to Tanot, Longewala and Sam. This route had no fuel stations except one at Ramgarh. So a tankful of fuel was a must.

Then I went around town and sampled amazing Rajasthani Lal Maas, a local mutton preparation. It was delicious, ekdum finger-licking good !

While taking a stroll around the fort, I see a Government Authorized Bhang Shop. Hell what was that !

I went inside the shop. A guy, who is known as “Dr.Bhang” by everyone, welcomed me. He showed me the menu, I was shocked. Now bhang is nothing new for anyone who has been grown up in a place like Ranchi. Holi is the time when everyone gets sloshed after drinking a lot of bhang by usually convincing others “Shiv Ji ka prashad hai bhaiya…pi lo kuch nai hoga”.

So after drinking a glass full of lassi with bhang, I was in a state of happy high. Dr.Bhang showed me testimonials from his customers, mostly Europeans who loved his preparations.

Soon it got dark and I got back to the hotel, had a great time discussing motorcycles and traveling with Mr Ajay Singh, the owner of the hotel before retiring to bed.

Route Taken: Mehsana – Palanpur – Deesa – Sanchore – Barmer – Jaisalmer

Total distance: 509 kms

Somewhere between Deesa and Sanchore
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1807.jpg

Gujarat-Rajasthan state border
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Somewhere after Sanchore
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Lovely stretch of road from Sanchore to Barmer
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1813.jpg

I stopped to click a pic of my motorcycle
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1819.jpg

This truck wale paaji was more than happy to pose along
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Camels !!
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1823.jpg

Windmills !!
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Arrow straight road from Barmer to Jaisalmer
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Stopover before Jaisalmer
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Desert !!
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1829.jpg

The golden city, Jaisalmer
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1830.jpg
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Old 8th November 2014, 09:04   #11
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Some pics of the Jaisalmer Fort and the Raj Mahal.

People of Jaisalmer have a good sense of humor
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Jaisalmer Fort
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Old 8th November 2014, 09:29   #12
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Touring on heavy bike is a pleasure that all the sprint bikes just cannot match. Looking forward to next "episode"
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Old 8th November 2014, 15:08   #13
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Some pics of the narrow lanes and the marketplace inside the fort walls.

Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1899.jpg

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Lots of restaurants inside the fort walls offering spectacular views of the city
Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1903.jpg

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Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch-dscn1911.jpg

Salam Singh Ki Haveli
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The bylanes in Jaisalmer
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Jaisalmer is a city of warm and friendly people
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Old 9th November 2014, 11:09   #14
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

What luminous pictures!
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Old 10th November 2014, 10:43   #15
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Default Re: Desert Storm'd into the Thar Desert and the Little Rann of Kutch

Some pictures of the golden city taken from the terrace of the Main Palace in Jaisalmer Fort.
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