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Old 17th September 2015, 19:01   #1
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Default 3 Friends & The Desert Triangle in Rajasthan

"Here we are again, to achieve something bigger. We have had experienced cold mountains, now let's have a taste of hot sand. 3 Idiots set out to conquer the Thar Desert in Wagonr R."

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Prelude:

It has not been even a month since our last road trip, and we want another one. In last trip, we got much more than what we had expected. Yet this desire for another. But this time it should be properly planned well in advance. And it should be long in both, distance as well as duration. We did not spend much time on deciding the location, which was the famous, Desert Triangle in Rajasthan. Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur forming a triangle, a 4 day trip, 2000 kms - nothing better to quench the thirst.

It was much more than a trip. It was the last trip in college with friends. One last ride? Nah! Not the end, we will go for more after college. This time, everyone who came to know of our plans, wanted to accompany. But we had only one space. Which remained vacant as my cousin backed out at the last moment due some emergency. A trio visiting the desert triangle.

It would be a 2000 km long drive, asked my parents, who were strongly against taking Wagon R which had done almost 1.4 lakh kms but were not ready to give Xcent. Anyway, I assured them our Wagon R is aging but not yet old. We are a bunch of 3 mechanical engineers, we would sort out problem easily. Moreover, Maruti service centers are not difficult to find.

Time to make some checklists. The road trip checklist was made with the help of a very useful forum discussion at Team-BHP: Essentials of Long Drive (A Guide on Essentials of a Long Drive). Then there was a gadget checklist along with a personal checklist. We kept trying for a DSLR and a tripod till last hour but one simply does not lend his DSLR. Never mind, we told ourselves, we have got good phones, cybershot camera, and my Nexus 10. Also, I bought a Car DVR (average quality) and a Jopasu Car Duster. Jumper cables, fuses, washer fluid, charger and other cables were collected, all tyres checked and the car visually inspected for any faults. The car battery died 2 days before the trip because of lights being left on for 3 hrs. The car refused to start by pushing and had to be jump started from another car. But a trip to Chandigarh was sufficient to make sure it was fully charged.

The proposed route:

10th, from Patiala to Bikaner. 478 km (8 hr)

11th, visit the city and reach Jaisalmer by night. 329 km (4.5 hr)

12th, visit the city and reach Barmer for night stay. 159 km (2 hr)

13th, visit Barmer city and jodhpur city and stay in jodhpur. 203 km (3.5 hr)

14th, reach Patiala. 658 km (11.5 hr)

Total distance: 1827 km

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The hotels were shortlisted but not booked because the number of persons were not decided till the last hour before departure. Also, since it was an off season, we could get better choice after bargaining.

Enough of the prelude, let's come to the trip.

Day 1: Fri, 10th April

Route: Patiala - Bathinda - Hanumangarh - Bikaner
Target: Reach Bikaner for stay.


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We departed from our college by 2 pm but left the city by 4 pm because some stuff had to be bought, already late by 3 hours. The roads throughout the trip were double laned with sufficient space for 2 heavy vehicle. And the condition of roads couldn't have been better except a 70 km stretch somewhere between Suratgarh and Bikaner, a 60 km stretch between Churu and Hisar and a 60 km stretch in Punjab near Samana which was an amalgam of butter smooth road and dangerous surprises. The bad stretch in Rajasthan was because of fresh road being built, completely filled with bumps and rebounds, and the one in Punjab was due to negligence of Punjab Govt. The worse thing about the experience on these stretches was that we had to sail through them late at night with trucks and highbeams to add to our misery.

Few pics while enroute:

Customary selfie!

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Roads

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No Guranti!

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1,40,000 Km touched, YAY !!!

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We booked a room in Hotel Manglam (link) on our way. We were completely out of energy when we reached the hotel at 2 AM. The staff was courteous and lead us to our room with our extra bed. We rested for a while and refreshed. The room was air conditioned and very comfortable. Searched for hotels in Barmer and Jaisalmer. Surprisingly we found only one hotel in Barmer which was way out of our budget. Also there was not much to see in Barmer and thus the came the change of plans. We would stay in Jaisalmer for 2 nights which would give us one full day to explore Jaisalmer and nearby area. Though for the sake of completing the triangle, we will go Jodhpur via Barmer from Jaisalmer.

Spacious, Cool, Comfortable: Hotel Manglam

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A very peaceful sleep after such a rough day.

Last edited by Ashir : 23rd September 2015 at 14:17.
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Old 22nd September 2015, 21:45   #2
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Day 2: Sat, 11th April

Route: Bikaner - Phalodi - Jaisalmer
Target: Roam around in Bikaner City and reach Jaisalmer for stay.


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From that day onwards the trip was relaxed and the focus was to enjoy the rajasthan food and the roads. Assured by the hotel manager that the roads from here on are smooth, we left hotel with high spirits. Directly went to Junagarh Fort. I don't know what we expected from the fort but we found the tour boring. History is not of our generation's taste. A few pics in the fort-

Junagarh Fort

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27 Kg Sword!!

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Inaccessible Garden

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The tiny bed on which the King slept! What ??

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Spoon that pushes mustache aside while eating!
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One thing of our interest was this aeroplane!

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Bikaner Namkeen Bhandar and the restaurant above it was recommended to us for good Rajasthan food. And it was near the fort in main market. 3 dal baati churma for each one of us, a lot more than our diet and we knew we won't need to worry of food for the day at least. Though we enjoyed the meal, we were not able to figure out the proper way to mix oil, sugar and churma.

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Visited another fort, Lallgarh Palace. It was actually a luxurious hotel and we spent few minutes in the palace garden for some photographs.

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Left for Jaisalmer at about 4 PM. I'll let photographs to speak for the rest of the day.

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Last edited by Ashir : 23rd September 2015 at 14:18.
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Old 22nd September 2015, 21:47   #3
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With filters, Wagon R

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Me Posing, lol

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Wagon R drinking juice, third time in trip

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Some Hotel at outskirts of Jaisalmer

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Reached hotel, Bansuri Deluxe, by 11PM. A very relaxed drive with no fatigue at all. The hotel was good but the room was not at all what we expected or saw in photographs. We were told all the other rooms were booked. Also the intercom phone was not working and we had to call reception via mobile even for an extra bed. Anyway it was good enough to sleep and at least the bathrooms were clean.

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Day 3: Sun, 12th April

Route: Jaisalmer City and nearby
Target: Jaisalmer Fort, Sand Dunes


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A total relaxed day with only a few places to visit. We kept Jaisalmer fort for evening. Though we wished for a desert safari in Thar but it was way out of our budget. Anyway, even having one complete day for the city, we were short of time. We left hotel by 3 PM! We had our morning bed tea at 12PM. Though I woke up at 9, my buddies never wanted to miss even a second of the blissful sleep. I utilised this time to look for places to visit in and around the city. Got a list made for good restaurants. Also stumbled upon an abandoned village, Kuldhara, 15 min detour from Jaisalmer - Sam Sand Dune road. Searched through team-bhp forum for any less popular but worth visiting sites nearby, but found nothing as such.


Before leaving hotel, we booked a room in resort, Fun World Resort, for next day in Jodhpur. Since we had no time to roam around in Jodhpur city, we thought of spending one night in lavish, without overshooting the budget.


After such efforts to finally leave the hotel, we were again forced to wait because of a punctured tyre. We were thankful for the puncture, since we got a safari booked while changing the tyre. Our hotel had their own provisions for the safari. After a lot of bargaining, we settled for only a safari in Thar without any camping and cultural events for mere Rs 1000. But we had to reach the location by 5 PM if we wanted to complete the safari. We paid a quick visit to the fort without going inside and had lunch nearby. Would revisit the fort at night to admire the view of city at night.

Deceiving exteriors

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Picked up the repaired tyre and set off to Sam Sand Dunes for safari. But couldn't resist the picturesque scenery of windmill farm on our way, especially when it was our first experience. So here come another wave of photographs...

Roller Coaster ride

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Windmills!!!

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Entry restricted, but no sign board

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Old 23rd September 2015, 13:47   #4
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Our cover photograph

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Mechanic at work

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One and only LEGO Stand for photograph!

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Windy, difficult to focus on stand!

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After this not only we were late for safari, but we would also miss the beautiful scene of sun drowning in the dunes! Thanks to the roads, we were not late enough. The camp was at the last after crossing all other camps, just at the point where the 2 lane road changed to a single lane. Indian ship of the desert, the White Thar, was waiting for us to leave immediately.

The beginning of the safari was marked by enjoying the fast wind in semi-open Thar moving in triple digit speeds on the road then switching to comparatively slow rocky and dusty drive on the sand dunes which we had wished for. A short stop in desert for the sunset and to get a camel ride. And the return was backtracking the experience. Throughout the drive, we were literally on the edge !!! Thanks to the DVR we had recorded the complete safari.

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Sand Dunes!

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Our ship of the Desert, White Thar

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Sunset

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We could not visit the abandoned village as it was closed by the time we reached. We drove directly to the Fort. Going through the small streets inside was nothing different from going through old city with tight roads, except for the fact that the houses were built inside the fort and were of the age of the fort. We drank a glass of cold coffee in the shop at the end of the street, sitting on terrace adoring the beauty of the city lit with lights. Had dinner and watched first episode of Games of Throne in our room to end the exciting day.

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OMG Who is sitting at the TOP!!!

Kuldhara

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From top of the fort

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Old 23rd September 2015, 14:03   #5
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Day 4: Mon, 13th April

Route: Jaisalmer - Barmer - Jodhpur
Target: Reach Fun World Resort in Jodhpur via Barmer


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Nothing new for the day. More dessert, more windmills, butter smooth road and the search for restaurant. We left hotel by 11 AM without having breakfast. Though were waiting for the breakfast we ordered in hotel but after an hour of wait when checking out we were told our order was canceled because of lack of staff. The experience in this hotel was no where close to any other guesthouse with only a bed, ac and bathroom. Poor service, as the small staff present was busy watching IPL instead of listening us. But anyways we were hungry and to add to our misery, we couldn't find any restaurant for the next 1.5 hours while enroute to Barmer.



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Only proper restaurant on road in between Jaisalmer and Barmer

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We took a detour from highway to get a close look to a mysterious industry spotted near Barmer. It was JSW Power Plant. Were bored of the straight endless road, thus the detour.

JSW Power Plant, approach road

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JSW Power Plant

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Small road parallel to NH-15

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The Barmer city was like any other city with nothing special. Had lunch and continued towards Jodhpur.

Last time spotting Wagon R, in this trip

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Inside Fun World Resort. Very Spacious

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It was a tiring day with not much excitement. Reached resort by 7PM. Besides being a resort, it also had a small water park inside. We had booked super deluxe rooms but they were actually independent huts! The room was very spacious unlike that in Jaisalmer. And the service was comparable to any 5 star hotel even after having limited staff and a pool party going on! Yes there was a pool but was booked for the party till night. Took some snacks and watched 2 more episodes of Games of Thrones while having dinner in our room. We were informed that the pool was free for an hour after which it will be closed for maintenance till morning, but we were so engrossed in watching GOT that we didn't want to give even a minute pause in between. Kudos to Airtel for its seamless 3G coverage in Rajasthan.

We hit our bed early since next day was supposed to be very hectic with a very long drive.

Day 5: Tue, 14th April

Route: Jodhpur - Salasar - Hisar - Samana- Patiala
Target: Reach Patiala safely.


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Longest drive in one day, I have had till then. Left the resort by 11 AM and an hour later, approx. 50km, we got a call regarding our useless camera left behind! Already late, we rushed back to get the camera wasting another 2 hours. Since the resort was at outskirts of the city, towards Jaisalmer, we had to cross the complete city. Though, the traffic was no where close to Delhi, but it was still of high density. After taking camera we took a route circumscribing the city saving us more than 30 minutes.

So, instead of 11hr and 650 km drive, it became 13hr and 750 km drive. More photographs -

Just outside Huts in Resort

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Last photograph of the trip

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The roads were close to perfect till Churu. A few km after crossing Churu, the highway was intermittently under repair for broadening of road. Moreover, it was dark and there was no sign or warning for diversions.

We were losing energy and required to have dinner, but we were not able to find anything enroute. The closest town was Rajgarh but even after going in-depth of city, we didn't find anything. Rather, while going through the town at 8 PM, it looked as if it's 12 AM with deserted roads. When we found a small roadside restaurant just after the city, we found we had less than Rs 100 after we had payed for last fuel tank fill up! The next stop would be Hisar and we need to get there fast, since we didn't want restaurants to be closed by the time we reach there. Thankfully, the Haryana Govt. has maintained the roads in top shape, we reached Hisar easily. Drove directly to McDonalds and “God” that burger never felt tastier. Completely recharged, we continued our journey.

After entering Punjab, we started encountering patches of rough road, again. This time the potholes were large enough for car chassis to touch ground. And after such bumpy rides, the car finally started to show symptoms of failure. The car would momentarily switch off which could be felt by increased effort in steering, headlights losing intensity, music player restarting etc. It was related to battery, but I tried to ignore it. We had a stop somewhere between Sunam and Patiala for water, but the car refused to start. It showed no sign of effort when trying to start, as if the battery is disconnected, but everything worked fine when kept off ignition! The battery was charged, but felt discharged. Anyway, jump started the car with the help of jumper cables we carried with us. The actual problem diagnosed later on was the loose connector at positive terminal of battery.

Reached Thapar University by 3 AM, but I didn't feel much exhausted unlike the first day of the trip. Though, slept for more than 12 hrs!

It felt like we had accomplished an achievement, and we actually had -

”The Beginning of a Journey of Road Trips”

Last edited by Ashir : 27th September 2015 at 09:47.
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Old 5th October 2015, 18:38   #6
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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