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Old 1st November 2015, 15:01   #1
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Default Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto

A trip to Rajasthan had been on the cards for a while. We planned to visit in December 2014, but that did not materialize. With 10 days of Dussehra school vacations starting October 17, we decided to visit Rajasthan during this time.

I've always enjoyed doing long drives, and could not think of any mode of travel other than by car - my 6 year old Punto with 87K on the odo.The travellers were me, my wife and our 2 twin kids aged almost 5 years.

We utilized the services of the Central Hotel Desk(CHD) run by hvkumar , http://www.hivayking.in/ . No hotel booking was done in advance. All hotels were booked on the move, usually a few hours in advance of reaching the destination. This worked out really well for us and gave us great flexibility during the trip. I was also spared of doing all the hotel research and booking . I prepared an initial route plan that was reviewed and finetuned by hvkumar. A big thanks to HVK for the excellent support he gave us throughout the trip.


This is the route we finally took https://goo.gl/maps/UbYDXZ6zYxH2 :

Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto-route.jpg

Day 1, October 17: Bangalore - Pune - Thane.

Day 2, October 18: Thane - Nashik - Dhule - Palasner - Manpur- Lebad - Ratlam - Chittor.

Day 3, October 19: Chittor - Udaipur.

Day 4, October 20: Udaipur local sightseeing.

Day 5, October 21: Udaipur-Kumbhalgarh-Ranakpur-Jodhpur.

Day 6, October 22: Jodhpur-Jaisalmer

Day 7, October 23: Jaisalmer-Ramgarh-Longewala-Tanot-Jaisalmer.

Day 8, October 24: Jaisalmer-Bikaner

Day 9, October 25: Bikaner-Jaipur

Day 10,October 26:Jaipur sightseeing

Day 11,October 27:Jaipur-Chittor-Ratlam-Dhule

Day 12,October 28: Dhule-Thane-Mumbai-Pune

Day 13,October 29:Pune-Bangalore

Most Rajasthan tours encompass the "circle" - Chittor - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jaisalmer-Bikaner-Jaipur, and ours was no different.

The entire distance was about 6000km. For planning a Rajasthan trip, the RTDC website is a great place to start. Go to the "Package Tours" section where they have itineraries starting from 6 to 13 days. I customized their 10 nights/11 days itinerary to meet my requirements.

There was a Fiat check-up camp organized a few days before the trip, and I got my car checked at the camp. Changed the air filter as well. These were the list of items I carried with me on the drive : Spare fuses, about 200ml of spare engine oil I had with me, portable tyre inflator, pressure gauge, tubeless puncture repair kit, pliers,spanner set,screwdriver set, M-seal. We also carried mediclaim cards, PAN card, power bank,usb charger and cables, dashcam.

I withdrew 30K cash before the journey. Went to bed early at around 8pm for an early morning start.

History has never been my forte - most of the travelogue will be photos, routes taken and the road conditions.

Last edited by sdp1975 : 3rd November 2015 at 10:06.
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Old 1st November 2015, 15:31   #2
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Day 1 , October 17 : Bangalore-Pune-Thane. 1050 km

Overall road conditions were excellent. Some diversions between Satara and Pune. Some uneven road surface after Chitradurga.


An early start is always the key to travelling long distances. My preferred start time is 4 am - anything earlier means less sleep. Woke up at 3 am. Refreshed myself, had a bath and bathed the kids as well. Had some slices of bread with tea,loaded the luggage in the car, and started at 4:15 am. I stay on Bannerghatta road and the NICE road junction is about 6km from my place. Reached the NICE road junction at 4:30 am. Paid 120/- toll and reached the Tumkur road exit in about half an hour. From there , took the tollway to Neelamangla and then NH4 towards Tumkur.

The road till Tumkur is 4 lanes and in good condition. From Tumkur till Chitradurga is about 150km of 6 laned highway in excellent condition. Early morning traffic was sparse and we reached Chitradurga in less than 3 hours. The toll gates thankfully had less queues. From Chitradurga the road is 4 laned . The road surface is uneven and we had to slow down a bit.

Our usual pitstop for breakfast is Kamath before Ranebennur, located aside the A1 Reliance bunk. Reached there at about 8:30 am and tanked up at the Reliance bunk. Completed a typical South Indian breakfast comprising of idlis and dosas, and started again at around 9:15 am. Reached Hotel Amar before Kolhapur around noon, had lunch and started at 2 pm. Messaged HVK on whatsapp and he booked a service apartment at Thane.

Roads beyond Satara though good, had several diversions and high traffic on the roads. This slowed us down. As we approached Pune, the afternoon traffic started building up till the Pune-Mumbai expressway. By the time we hit the expressway , it was almost 6 pm and we stopped at one of the food joints on the expressway for early dinner. Started for Mumbai, crossed the city using HVKs excellent Mumbai bypass guide . By the time we reached the apartment at Thane, it was almost 9pm. Crashed in bed at around 10 pm.

Day 2, October 18: Thane - Nashik - Dhule - Palasner - Manpur- Lebad - Ratlam - Chittor , 850km

Roads average till Palasner, excellent beyond.

Started from Thane at around 7:30 am. 4 laned roads , but they were uneven. Heavy truck traffic. There were rumble strips every few km, and broken patches that appeared out of nowhere, making progress slow. We stopped for breakfast at Udupi veg , about an hours drive from Thane. NH3 improved after Dhule and significantly after Palasner. However , we were greeted with stansdtill traffic at Badi Bijasan Mata Mandir,Sendhwa around 3:30 pm. Several km of still traffic due to rush of devotees at the temple. Crossed over to the other side of the road and got stuck again. Traffic finally cleared in about an hour. Had dinner at a roadside dhaba. HVK suggseted a night halt at Ratlam but I pushed till Chittor, reaching after midnight.

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Old 2nd November 2015, 10:50   #3
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Day 3, October 19: Chittor sightseeing, then to Udaipur,110km

Had breakfast at the hotel and visited Chittor Fort in my car. The entry to the Fort is very steep and uphill. Took a guide for 100 bucks. The Fort is huge and the guides take you around in the car. Entry tickets are 5/- and car parking is 25/-. Descendants of staff still reside inside the fort.

The first visit was to Vijay Stambh built by Rana Kumbha.

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Intricate carvings on the pillar.

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Next was Suraj pol, a gate facing the sunrise. The gate has been renovated recently.

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Rani Padminis Palace.
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A temple and lake next to it.

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We finished the fort in about 1.5 hours. Returned to our hotel, had lunch and started for Udaipur via NH76, about 110 km away.

NH76 is an excellent 4 laned road. Messaged HVK on the way to book a hotel. The hotel was located at old Udaipur, next to Lake Pichola. Drove through the narrow roads of old Udaipur and reached the hotel at around 4pm. The previous 2 days had been quite hectic. Took a couple of hours rest , and visited Fateh Sagar Lake in the evening in an auto.

Lake Pichola in the evening.
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Fateh Sagar lake.
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We had dinner at the hotel and the view was great.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 11:44   #4
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Day 4, October 20: Udaipur sightseeing

The City palace was less than a km away from the hotel, and we decided to walk down.

Jagdish temple on the way .

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Performers at Jagdish temple.

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Next was the City Palace. Entrance tickets are 250/- , and 250/- for camera. We hired a guide for 200/-. Although not cheap, the Palace is very well maintained and is the main attraction in Udaipur.

A cannon at the entrance.
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Entry to the Palace, with the royal emblem featuring the sun god on the top.

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A Ganesh idol right after the entrance.
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Various parts of the Palace.

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Rana Pratap with Chetak.
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Lake Palace view.
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Royal carriage at the Palace museum .
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This took us about 1.5 hours. We then hired an auto for sightseeing other places in Udaipur.

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Old 2nd November 2015, 11:59   #5
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Day 4 , Udaipur ,Contd.

The auto took us Chetak Smarak, Fateh Sagar Lake, Saheliyo ki Bari, lunch at the well known Krishna Dining , where we had Rajasthani meals. Then we did some shopping, followed by a boat ride in Lake Pichola.

Chetak Smarak.
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Lake behind Chetak Smarak.
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Saheliyo ki Bari - a garden built by the royals.

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Boat rides in Lake Pichola start from Dudh Talai. Views from the boat.

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We returned to our hotel at around 4pm. In the evening we visited Bagore ki Haveli for the well known cultural song and dance program. Tickets were priced at 60/- , cameras at 100/-. The 1 hour show from 7-8 pm was truly spectacular, and is a must see in Udaipur. Ticket counter opens at 6:30 - be there earlier on rush days or else tickets may get sold out.

Evening view from the ghat next to Bagore ki Haveli.

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The cultural song, dance and puppet show. Truly spectacular.

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Returned to the hotel after the show , had dinner , and retired for the day.

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Old 2nd November 2015, 12:18   #6
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Day 5, October 21. Udaipur-Kumbhalgarh-Ranakpur-Jodhpur,310 km

Had breakfast at the hotel and started for Kumbhalgarh. NH76 is 4 laned, and then you have to turn off to SH32 which is 2 laned in good condition. Beyond Saira the road is dusty and patchy for a few km , good thereafter. Kumbhalgarh is placed atop a hill, and involves an uphill ascent after Saira.

Reached Kumbhalgarh at 11 am. One has to climb up the ramp of the fort. Unlike Chittorgarh where a major part is in ruins, Kumbhalgarh is in much better shape. Amongst all forts I visited in Rajasthan, I found this the best. There are temples inside the Fort complex. I'll let the pictures do the talking.
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Day 5, Contd. - Kumbhalgarh-Ranakpur-Jodhpur

We completed Kumbhalgarh in about an hour and half and proceeded to There's a short-cut to reach Ranakpur from Kumbhalgarh. Once doesn't have to go all the way to Saira and take a U-turn. Instead, take a right turn a few km before Saira. The road is narrow but in good shape. However, the descent is extremely steep. Doing the other way ( ie from Ranakpur to Kumbhalgarh) via this road is not recommended, and the usual route via Saira should be taken.

Ranakpur is a spectacular Jain temple with exquisite marble work and carvings.Visitors are allowed from 12-5 pm. Cameras are allowed inside, but photography of the main idol is not allowed. Carrying food,water,leather items and mobiles inside the temple is prohibited and can be deposited in a safe outside. Camera fees are 100/-.

There are apparently 1444 pillars supporting the temple, and the sculpture work on the marble is truly intricate and magnificent.

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We completed seeing the temple in about an hour. Had lunch at a Dhaba outside, and started towards Jodhpur via Falna-Pali-Jodhpur. The road till NH14 is 2 laned and in good shape. NH14/NH65 are 4 laned roads in great shape all the way till Jodhpur. Messaged HVK to book a hotel on the way , and reached Jodhpur in the evening.

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Day 6, October 22. Jodhpur sightseeing, followed by Jodhpur-Jaisalmer,310 km

Had breakfast and checked out from the hotel. Reached Mehrangarh Fort at around 9:30 am. This day was Dussehra, and the Fort was really crowded. Purchased tickets ( 60 /- for entry, 100/- for camera, 300/- for guide). We even had a glimpse of Maharaja Gaj Singh and the Queen who visit the Fort on Dussehra.

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The Maharaja and the Queen alighting from the Land Cruiser.

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Palanquins in the fort museum.
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The marble coronation seat.
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A cannon inside the museum.

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Body armor that weighs 70 kg !

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View of the City from the Fort. Jodhpur is called the Blue City.

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We completed seeing the Fort in about an hour and half. We skipped Jaswant Thada and proceeded to Umaid Bhavan Palace. Part of the Palace is a hotel, part of it the private residence of the Maharaja, and the rest is a Musuem that is open to visitors.


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We spent about 45 minutes here and then reached Jaisalmer in the evening. Roads till Jaisalmer are via Pokhran on NH114 and NH15. 2 laned excellent roads with sparse traffic. As we drove towards Jaisalmer, the land topography started to change slowly . The desert and it's vegetation could be seen on the roads. HVK had booked a hotel for us earlier in the day ,keeping the Dussehra rush in mind. We had lunch on the way and reached Jaisalmer in the evening.

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Day 7, October 23. Jaisalmer sightseeing

Had breakfast at the hotel and drove to the Fort ,which was 2 km away. Jaisalmer fort, like Chittorgarh, have many people living inside it. Some have even converted their houses to hotels. The guide told me that there are 20+ hotels inside the fort. 80% visitors are Bengalis as per the guide , who was quite fluent in Bengali.

Jaisalmer is also nicknamed the "Golden City". View of the Golden City from the Fort.

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There's a Jain temple inside the Fort. Cameras have to be paid for inside the temple. Unlike Ranakpur, this isn't white marble but sandstone. The carvings and sculptures are truly intricate and breathtaking.
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This is Mukul's Bari - from Satyajit Ray's movie Sonar Kella.

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The fort took over an hour to cover, and we started for Longewala and Tanot.

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Day 7,Contd. Jaisalmer-Ramgarh-Longewala-Tanot-Jaisalmer-Sam Sand Dunes-Jaisalmer,300km.

We took the road towards Ramgarh and then a left at Ramgarh for Longewala. The road till Ramgarh had few vehicles, and from Ramgarh to Longewala had hardly any.

Ramgarh-Longewala road. Good 2 lane road with sparse traffic.

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We had to enter our vehicle and personal details at the BSF checkpost at Longewala.

Longewala Battlefield.
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The captured tank and jeep from Pakistan.

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My elder son. He loves being in the front seat.

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Road from Longewala-Tanot is single lane, in good shape. Desert all around, hardly any vehicles.

The green signboard - left towards BP 638, right towards Tanot.

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Karni Mata temple,Tanot.

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We had some kachoris and sweets at the Army canteen at Tanot. There are no proper restaurants at Tanot. While returning from Tanot , we had lunch at Ramgarh. The first 20km from Tanot-Ramgarh was not in very good shape. Several single lane stretches, and gravel tracks. After lunch , we started for the Sam Sand Dunes, about 50 km from Jaisalmer. Roads were excellent. Kuldhara also falls on the way to Sam, but we could not cover it due to lack of time.

The moment we landed at the parking area, several people came to us for camel rides and jeep safaris. We hired a jeep that would take us a few km inside the desert. At the desert we had a camel ride and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. The area around Sam has a large number of desert resorts.

Sunset at Sam.

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Dunes in the desert.
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The Thar DIs are used here for desert rides.
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We returned to our hotel in the evening, and retired for the day. Next day we would travel to Bikaner and visit the Jaisalmer war memorial on the way.

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Default re: Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto

Day 8, October 24, Jaisalmer war Memorial and then Jaisalmer-Bikaner,300km

The Jaisalmer war memorial is a few km from Jaisalmer towards Pokhran. Entry tickets are 25/- each. We reached around 8:30 am and started to explore the place.

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After about 45 mins, we started for Bikaner via Pokhran via NH15. Roads were again excellent, barring a few bad patches. Had lunch on the way.

We went directly to Junagarh fort and reached there around 4pm. Entry tickets are 50/- , guide charges are included in the entry ticket. The guided tours are conducted every 15-20 mins in batches.Cars can be taken right inside the fort - we had actually kept our car outside not knowing this. The Fort is well maintained, and I'll again let the pictures do the talking.

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We went to the RTDC hotel and checked in. In the evening , we visited KEM road, the main market in Bikaner. Bikaner is well known for it's namkeen. We bought some namkeen from one of the shops on KEM road, and had some mouth watering jalebis as well. We returned to our hotel and called it a day.

KEM Road.
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Bikaneri Namkeen .
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Default re: Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto

Day 9, October 25, Bikaner-Jaipur, 330km. Visit to Bapu Bazaar at Jaipur

We started for Jaipur from Bikaner. I wanted to visit the National Camel Research Centre close to Bikaner for my kids, but it opens for visitors after 2pm - had to give it a miss.

Road conditions to Jaipur were overall very good. There were a few diversions, some parts of the road were being relaid. Most of it was 2 laned, and 4 laned towards the end. Had lunch at Sikar. Reached Jaipur at around 4pm. HVK had booked a room for us.

With the evening free, decided to visit Bapu Bazaar in an auto. Bapu Bazaar is well known for clothes and textiles. A very colorful market, and you have to bargain aplenty. My wife purchased a shawl and some bangles. We returned to the hotel , had dinner at a nearby restaurant, and went to bed.

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Default re: Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto

Day 10, October 26, Jaipur, local sightseeing.

I had traveled to Bapu Bazaar in an auto rickshaw the day before, and struck a deal with him to show us the major attractions in the city. We started at 9:15 am.

Our first visit was the zoo, where we didn't spend too much time.

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Opposite the zoo was Albert Hall Museum There was a school carnival going on the day we visited.

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The next visit was Hawa Mahal. We stopped to take some photos here.
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Next was Amer Fort, a major attraction about 11km from Jaipur. The climb to Amer is done in jeeps, available for around 300/- .We hired a guide as well. The fort is quite impressive - the photos speak for themselves.
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Sheesh Mahal inside Amer Fort.
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A large cauldron used for cooking.
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Kids enjoying the auto ride.
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Views of Amer fort from the approach road.
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After completing Amer, we had lunch right outside the Fort. Post lunch, we visited Jal Mahal on the way.

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Next was the City Palace and Museum .

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Musicians performing inside the City Palace

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Default re: Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto

Day 10, Contd.

More views of the City Palace.

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Our next stop was Jantar Mantar , right opposite to the City Palace.
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Our last visit was the Birla Mandir. It was close to 5pm and we returned to our hotel, where we had an early dinner, and went to bed for the long return home.

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Day 11,12 and 13 - Return from Jaipur-Bangalore with stopovers at Dhule and Pune.

The last 3 days were spent in the return journey. The first night halt was at Dhule. The second one was at a relative's place at Pune.

Day 11,October 27 : Jaipur-Chittor-Ratlam-Dhule, 850 km. Excellent roads. NH8 from Jaipur is 6 laned and excellent condition.

Day 12,October 28 : Dhule-Mumbai-Pune. 500km.

Day 13,October 29 : Pune-Bangalore , 850 km.

We reached home at 1 am on October 30, completing our 13 day journey to Rajasthan.

Some points and observations I would like to add :

- Watch out for cattle on the roads in Rajasthan.

- People are very warm and hospitable towards tourists. Never had any untoward or unpleasant incident anywhere.

- Coffee up North is very light and no match for the typically strong coffee we get in Bangalore . I missed my daily coffee !

- Roads and tourist infrastructure are excellent. If you have a fast , well handling car, you will enjoy the drive.

- During shopping , we hardly noticed any price difference between shops. Prices of quilts were the same in Udaipur and Jaipur.

- I would recommend taking the autos for local sightseeing. We took one at Udaipur for 700/- and another at Jaipur for 1200/-.
They can take you around faster when there are several places to visit, and also avoids the hassle of parking and finding
directions.

- Hire a guide at the forts. For around 200/- , they will take you around and explain the history and various artifacts of the fort. In places like Jaisalmer, doing without a guide is really difficult as one may get lost in the maze of gullies inside the fort.


Approximate expenses for the trip :

Hotel : 23 K
Fuel : 15 K
Shopping : 10 K
Toll : 5 K
Food : 12 K
Misc ( local transport,tickets, guides,etc ): 5 K

Total : 70 K.

Thanks for reading. I enjoyed as much in writing the travelogue, as I did in doing the trip itself.

Last edited by sdp1975 : 3rd November 2015 at 10:08.
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