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Old 15th January 2016, 12:54   #16
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

13 Nov - Jaisalmer - Longewala - Jaisalmer local

This day was dedicated for local Jaisalmer sightseeing which also included Longewala war memorial or Yudh Sthal. From a tourism standpoint, the fort, the Patwon ki Hawali, the two army war memorials (one in Jaisalmer and the other in Longewala). From cuisine standpoint while in Rajasthan do not miss the “Lal mash” (mutton curry). Of course, for the veggies there is “besan ka gatta”, “danamethi”, “Gunwar ki fali ka saag”, “lauki ke kofte” and not to forget the daal Bhatti churma – which is quite rare to get (yes surprise surprise – very few places had it). There are a ton of sweets also – “imerti”, “ghever” etc. We certainly tried a few.

Anyway, back to the sightseeing. Soon after breakfast some of us departed for Longewala. A few decided not to go. However, I had to. Longewala is about 110 kms west of Jaisalmer towards the border. In fact the border is 15 kms from here and this is amongst the last outposts. Besides being made popular by the movie “Border”, this small sleepy place has now has the war memorial.

Again, 25 years ago, when I had first seen it there were several more military vehicles and captured/destroyed tanks. Now there are few. Over the years, army units have taken away some souvenirs and some others are placed in various cities. At Longewala, there are trenches, an army RCL jeep, a couple of Pakistani Sherman tanks, an old truck and two memorials. The army also shows a 20 minute video which is quite popular. The mere fact that on the day we visited, as many as 30 plus vehicles were there and more than 150 people, shows the interest it has generated amongst tourists. Thankfully, there was a modest sense of cleanliness.

For those interested in a little bit of military history. The battle of Longewala was an important landmark in the 1971 war with Pakistan. At Longewala was posted the Alpha company of 23 Punjab infantry battalion. The company commander, Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri (later Brig) had fortified his location and supremely motivated his men for any misadventure by Pakistan. Although short on weaponry strength, he still had Light Machine Guns (LMG), Medium Machine Guns (MMG) and L16 81mm Mortar, and one Jeep-mounted RCL. The nearest air support was Jaisalmer and the artillery support was from 170 Field Artillery.

Pakistan launched an attack by their armour division marching up hundred plus tanks. In the intervening night of 4 December when the tanks arrived at Longewala they were held by the brave soldiers of 23 Punjab and by dawn the Hunter aircrafts from Jaisalmer arrived to complete the “Turkey Shoot”. In all 37 tanks and dozens of infantry vehicles were destroyed. Pakistan army eventually retreated and this became a turning point in the 1971 war. Not just was this episode an important landmark in war history in India but generals and field commanders from various armies across the world came to see, know and understand the tactics that were used by a small contingent of 120 foot soldiers against an armoured division.

This war memorial was inaugurated in Aug 2015 and has become popular with the tourists. At the Yudh Sthal the army also shows a 20 minute documentary. Some pictures from Longewala Yudh Sthal. And the last couple of the drive till there. It is serious desert and no mobile connectivity.

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While the road was good but it was very remote and barely a soul in sight.

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Last edited by Rajain : 26th January 2016 at 15:42.
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Old 15th January 2016, 13:19   #17
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

13 Nov - Jaisalmer - Longewala - Jaisalmer local...contd


We came back to Jaisalmer by lunch and after lunch went out to check out Patwon ki Haveli

This Haveli is really the highlight of Jaisalmer town per se. Some very intricate architecture. Amongst the largest havelis in Rajasthan, the Patwon ki Haveli are a cluster of 5 havelis. They took almost 55 years to build. The intricate architecture, the fine paintings and beautiful jharokas.

The first among five of these havelis was commissioned and constructed in the year 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa and is the biggest, most grand and ostentatious. It is understood that Patwa, a rich man and a renowned trader of his time could easily afford this. He ordered the construction of separate stories for each of his 5 sons. These were completed in the span of 50 years. All five houses were constructed in the first 60 years of the 19th century.

Some pictures to do justice. Hawkers were also there. So, to break the monotony, just some shots of the items on sale.

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We returned after the usual flee market and general walk through the lanes.

Although Jaisalmer is not worth more than 2 days but we had decided to stay a day extra here – just to take it easy and relax. All of us had driven a fair bit by now. The vehicles were performing well, no issues reported and above all the health of everyone was good.

Before starting any long journey, I open and read the manual with interest about the section that informs the user about the service centres. This might be of some interest, that although all major cities I drove through had at least one (if not more) Maruti service centres, Jaisalmer had only one and that too with an asterisk. This one would undertake minor repairs only. Thankfully none was needed but given how way into the desert one is, it reminded me of the 15-20 years old Gypsy ad of Maruti where two young men driving a gypsy ask a local if there is a Maruti service station in Leh. Of course, the drive towards Longewala reminded one of how remote some areas are. After a while even mobile connectivity was lost.

The next day was the long drive from Jaisalmer to Jaipur.

Last edited by Rajain : 25th January 2016 at 11:31. Reason: Spelling
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Old 15th January 2016, 22:51   #18
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Default Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and More - 9500 kms across South, West and North India

14 Nov – Jaisalmer to Jaipur


This was a rather straight forward drive. We went via Jodhpur and it was approx. 620 kms. The stay in Jaipur was booked at Hotel Arya Nivas. The highways in Rajasthan have almost always been good. There were no surprises on 14 November either. At Jaipur a few more friends were to join and they had flown in earlier in the day and already checked in. A couple from amongst us were to depart on Sunday/Monday thus having completed a week.

The stay at Arya Nivas was good. Although the hotel looked old it really was not as old. The architecture and layout was made in a way to reflect a bit of old world charm. The rooms were nice and the restaurant also received good reviews amongst our group. After a long day pretty much everyone retired.

Just a couple of pictures along the way-

Sunrise

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Using the toilet tent along the highway

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15 Nov – Jaipur sightseeing

After a quick breakfast we set out. To attempt seeing Jaipur in one day (since we were departing for Ranthambore on 16th to arrive before 2 in time for safari) is a tall order. Jaipur has so much to offer, so much to see, so much to soak in and above all, from the ladies perspective, so much to shop.

It being a Sunday the traffic of the bus loads of tourists was huge. With the result that some of us spent at least 2 hours below the Amber fort and I actually returned to be at Jal Mahal and the better half spent time shopping. The entire hill road just short of Amber Fort was full of vehicles and not an inch of parking space. While the traffic cops were trying to do their best but given the sheer volume of people who arrived to see the fort they seemed rather helpless.

Some pictures of the Amber fort from the road

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India is a far more desirable destination in the tourism map of the world than it was 2-3 decades ago. I, for one, have always believed that we are lucky to be born in India with the varied nature – desert, jungles, beaches, big rivers, forests, plateau, marshy land, the rich flora fauna and a 5000 year old civilization. One can’t think of any other country where all of this is on offer.

Jaipur was all decked up for the Resurgent Rajasthan Partnership Summit. So, one expected it to be really clean. Parts of it were. The parts that I guess the delegates would take. The rest was probably left untouched. The area around Jal Mahal was not very clean. So, with a rather unsuccessful attempt at Amber I came to Jal Mahal. So, some pictures of the place with the camels and elephants and not to forget a sadhu

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Jal Mahal, the Mahal in the water was looking serene and the water also attracted lots of birds. Prominently, the Stilt, the Ibis, the Heron, the Cormorant, the Black Kite amongst others. Enjoy the pictures -

Stilt

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Heron

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Heron again

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Stilt in flight

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Heron about to land

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Stilt in flight

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Common Teal

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Heron with a catch
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Egret with a catch
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Coot

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Little Egret

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Cormorant and Egret

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Stilt again

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Old 15th January 2016, 23:07   #19
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

15 Nov - Jaipur Sightseeing - contd



More pictures of the winged beauties from the Jal Mahal water body. I spent almost 3 hours here while the better half was shopping. This also meant we got separated from the rest of the group. Though we were to later join them after their Amber trip.

This also meant that due to the massive traffic, we did not get to see much of Jaipur. However, I was to come back within a couple of days to be in Jaipur and soak in it yet again.

Enjoy more of the birds at Jal Mahal. Seen Cormorant, Egret, Black Kite, Stilt, Shell Duck (perhaps), Common Moorhen and Collared Dove

Cormorant
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Black Kite
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A beautiful island full of winged beauties

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Common Moorhen

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Intermediate Egret and Cormorant

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Ruff

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Stilt and Heron

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Ruff again

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Egret

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Collared Dove

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Egret in Flight

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Heron in Flight

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Collared Dove again

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Heron

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Brahmini kite

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Wagtail

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Brown Headed Gull

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Egret with catch - full sequence 1

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Egret with catch - full sequence 2

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Egret with catch - full sequence 3

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Black kite
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Old 15th January 2016, 23:34   #20
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

16 Nov Jaipur - Ranthambore and safari till 18 Nov


The next morning we departed from Jaipur and reached Ranthambore. Google maps shows 2 ways of getting there – one is via Agra highway and then some village and the other (and far better) is Tonk Road and then Sawai Madhopur.

By lunch we all had reached Sawai Madhopur and checked in at Sher Villas, our place of stay in Sawai Madhopur. This property, somewhat on the outskirts (and it is not such a big town anyway) has options for regular rooms and there is also tented accommodation. Perhaps, in the entire stay – Boheda Palace (Udaipur), Mandore Guest House (Jodhpur), Tents (Sam Dunes), Zostel Helsinki (Jaisalmer) and Arya Nivas (Jaipur) this was probably the lowest in terms of creature comforts and overall neatness. The place did make up on other parameters - huge well-kept lawn and courteous staff. The food was also good enough. Well, one might argue that going to a wildlife sanctuary does one need great comfort – well in a sense a modest degree of cleanliness is certainly needed. However, what will take the icing and the cherry and the cake in a wildlife sanctuary – spotting the big cat – so did we?

Several years ago, I think 2000-2001 (over new year) I was at Ranthambore in my last visit. I had spotted three tigers back then. So would I be lucky this time?

Ranthambore, as some of you would know, has an old fort about 4 kms inside till where you can take your personal vehicle. However, the safari booking has to be done online and in advance. There is also a current booking. We had planned long time back and actually had made online bookings 90 days in advance (its anyway open 90 days ahead of time).

Any visit to a wildlife sanctuary would be worth the time. Even if it is the same animals you see, they will have a different background, a different emotion, a different mood and different habitat. While, one can go on writing about the experience of a safari but perhaps each picture taken in a jungle - is worth a thousand words.

The birds I could get to see were Open Billed Stork, Spoon Billed Stork, Laughing Dove (?), Black Headed Ibis, Darter, Spot Billed Ducks, Owl, Cormorant, and Wool Headed Ibis.

Let the pictures do justice.

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Cormorant

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Turtle in the distance

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Darter keeping a watch

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Darter in flight as the Egret watches

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Darter again

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Ruddy Shell Duck

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_4813-1280x853.jpg

Open Billed Stork in flight

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The stork and the crocodile in the far end

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Darter splashing through as the crocodile watches

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Cormorants

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Crocodile relaxing

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Sambhar deer

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The langur...There were calls

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Yes, the Royal Highness was on the prowl. This was not the best shot. I have seen one on the prowl and have about a similar shot from Kabini.

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_4952-1280x828.jpg

The owl

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Rufous Tree Pie - loads of them

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Stork in flight

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The Black Billed Stork and the Open Billed Stork

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A pair of Black Billed Stork
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Old 15th January 2016, 23:58   #21
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

16 Nov Jaipur - Ranthambore and safari till 18 Nov

Every time you come out of the jungles you feel wish I ha seen this and wish I had seen that. I have often gone to jungles wishing I see animal A doing this or with such a background and so on.

For the first two safaris we came close to the lord of the jungle but not very close as to get a full close up...will I be successful today? While this is certainly a good question, however, for me a jungle is not just the big cats and the majestic walk (which I must say is icing on the cake) but I also love the flora and fauna. I have sometimes found myself standing and taking multiple pictures of a tree trunk or a particular bark. So, pardon my indulgence as you will see a unique tree photo as well.

More pictures from the jungles -

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5119-1280x853.jpg

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5127-1280x853.jpg

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Apparently this male sheds his horns after mating. We watched him do so for half an hour

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Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5195-1280x853.jpg

The Wool Necked Stork
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Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5251-1280x853.jpg

The Jungle Babbler
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A couple making it out
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The Woodpecker
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The Pied Kingfisher
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Attached Thumbnails
Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5422-1280x853.jpg  


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Old 16th January 2016, 00:21   #22
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

16 Nov Jaipur - Ranthambore and safari till 18 Nov


Having done two safaris by now and having heard every other person spot the big cat I was beginning to feel more optimistic. So, will I get lucky on the next safaris. Read on

In the day I drove to the fort and just wanted to be as close to the jungle as one can be. One often spots animals on the road in Kabini or Bandipur. You never know.


More pictures -

The road going towards the fort in Ranthambore
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The fort
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While returning
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Wild Boars at a water point

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Don't miss the winged beauty in the woods

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There were calls again - animals were on full alert

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Heron trying to perch itself on the sambhar deer

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At the water point all animals were alert. There was a hushed silence. The forest guide told us there were three tigers in the vicinity. His Royal Highness was somewhere closeby.

Some pictures as we stood there waiting for him.

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Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5634-1280x853.jpg

A crocodile at the water point

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The Serpent Eagle keeps a watch

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5692-1280x853.jpg

And so does the Kingfisher

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_5695-1280x853.jpg

And it was not long before we could sight him at the distance.

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After stopping, looking, sitting and walking again, he came and sat some distance away looking at what the fuss is all about

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Since we had just started the safari there was enough time and we waited patiently before he walked around and came close enough for a good close up shot before walking away into the grass again.

Seems to be a battle scarred one

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Some more parting shots before I left the forest

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The Kingfisher
Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6017-1280x853.jpg

We had seen this Serpent Eagle a day before keeping a keen eye at the proceedings...he was still as vigilant the next day
Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6023-1280x853.jpg

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Old 16th January 2016, 01:05   #23
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

18 Nov – Ranthambore to Jaipur –

This day I drove a family to Jaipur. They were taking a flight back to Pune and I stayed back in Jaipur. After everyone had left – it was once again a feeling I have been used to ... to be away from home two thousand kilometres away and all on my own. I spent the evening completing the rest of Jaipur which I had missed a few days ago.

First, I went through the city palace.

This palace was built in 1729 by Sawai Raja Jai Singh II. Jaipur city is a grid based city and credit to the Maharaja of the time to have thought about town planning. Well, India does have a reasonably good tradition of town planning. The Harappa civilisation is one example from really primitive age.
Two architects namely, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, the chief architect in the Maharaja's court and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob are credited with designing the city and its urban layout.

Earlier the king used to stay in Amber but later shifted to Jaipur town due to shortage of water and perhaps it being more central. However, he would lose out on the height advantage.

However, in the first war of independence, the Maharaja sided with the British and perhaps the age of battles between neighboring kings came to an end.

The city is painted pink and is also known as the "Pink City". This was done to honor Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII).

The present royal family stays in the palace.

Coming into the city, it was, as mentioned, all decked up for Resurgent Rajasthan Summit hosted by CM Vasundhra Raje. Some pictures of the city. At one of the crossings, the Maharaja's collection of cars was on display -

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Some more shots of the city before I reached the palace, including a drive past Hawa Mahal -

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From here I drove to the city palace. Enjoy the pictures -

This was actually a painting but looked so real

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Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6100-1280x853.jpg
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

18 Nov - Jaipur Local Contd...


More pictures from the city palace

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6101-1280x853.jpg

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6104-1280x853.jpg

A puppeteer was playing his craft

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A canon and various palkies

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Slowly it became dark. Enjoy the well lit palace. The picture above and the picture below. Same location with and without the lights

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As I drove away from the city palace...

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6197-1280x853.jpg

I had asked someone in the city palace if I could go and see the Amber fort. The response I got was a unique blend of feeling. Now, what are the chances someone asks such a question. What are the chances that someone may want to visit the fort at night.

I asked again since I felt my question not fully sink in. Well he called someone over and they both discussed and finally the two wise men informed me that no one goes to these kind of places at night since there would be ghosts! The other guy said Chudail also. The next pieces in the conversation -

me - so which direction should I head?
they - where are you staying?
me - at Arya Nivas
they - go left, right, second left etc
me - this is the direction to where?
they - to Arya Nivas
me - no no. I was asking for directions to the fort
they - are you sure you want to go inside the fort at night??

After this amusing conversation I headed in the direction of the Amber fort. There is also a light and sound show there but I was keen to get inside. From the cops I learnt that it is indeed open but hardly anyone would be inside.

So, would I meet any ghosts inside? Stay tuned.

Last edited by Rajain : 19th January 2016 at 20:31. Reason: Added detail
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Old 16th January 2016, 01:42   #25
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Default Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and More - 9500 kms across South, West and North India

18 Nov Jaipur local

So, with directions from google I arrived at Amber fort. Sought more directions and I was informed one can take the car right up to the gate. Sure I drove the Ertiga straight up to the gate of the fort.

On the way Jal Mahal at night

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_6198-1280x853.jpg

Sure enough – and forget any ghosts the place actually has home guards securing the place and some odd renovation/regular maintenance. Soon enough I was enjoying the fort going from one mahal to another. The time was close to 9 pm. Let pictures do justice to the beautiful fort lit up in amazing lighting.


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The fort is indeed open for night viewing. Very few people know it and even lesser come to see it. Make the most of it. I loved walking around on my own. In the day, a just a couple of days ago, there was so much rush that I could not come to see it.

So, what next?

Coming up..a visit to my roots in Haryana.
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Old 16th January 2016, 09:01   #26
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

19 Nov Jaipur

The next couple of days were spent in Jaipur where I ended up attending the Resurgent Rajasthan Partnership Summit.


20 Nov Jaipur - Gurgaon - NCR

After attending the Resurgent Rajasthan Summit I drove to Gurgaon to join family. This completed one long leg of the journey. Gurgaon/Jhajjar has family and the entire clan actually stays there.

So, as they say in Haryana -

"Deshan mein desh Haryana
jit doodh dahi ka khana"

(Amongst states there is the state of Haryana - where the main diet is milk and milk products)


I was to stay on till 5 Dec. The next several days in NCR meant a fair bit of travel within the NCR towns. I travelled to Jhajjar/Bahadurgarh/Chandigarh/Delhi (multiple times). One day while going to Jhajjar I took my camera along. This day we had planned to go to “Dhaur” (the village where I come from – in short mera goan mera desh). There was some village function and a short visit to our ancestral haveli. Some pictures from the village

At the village on the road between Jhajjar and Beri in Haryana

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Our ancestral haveli (it will be 100 years next year)

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This is a unique personal visit. The red memorial is my dad's memorial. The pink one is grandfather's. The one in the middle is grandmother's.

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In the village

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I could not take the vehicle to the fields as with rains the kutcha road had developed deep craters and slush had filled up. Maybe another time.

Commuting through Haryana on another day I stopped by at Sultanpur lake and enjoyed clicking the several birds that had arrived here. Saw a variety of birds - Painted Storks, Ibis, Pelicans, Cormorants and Darter. Deer and Antelopes were also grazing. I have worked on 5-6 pictures here to remove atmospheric haze -



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Old 16th January 2016, 11:45   #27
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Default re: Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India

22 Nov - 5 Dec - Haryana, NCR Delhi, Chandigarh

There were multiple trips locally and nothing much to write home about.

One sees development all around. I recall my first trips being tucked away in the rear of a Jeep with dad driving through the Sher Shah Suri marg then a 2 lane road. Today it is 6 lane in some places and 4 in almost all of it.

While in Gurgaon I also took the vehicle for a complete check up and wash at Prem Motors in Sector 14. They were all amused that I drove a fair bit of distance. Several customers also asked various questions. There were curious looks for the roof top box. One Customer Relations person came and took pictures of the car! I also got wheel balancing, alignment and rotation done. This MASS is open from 7.30 AM and remains open till 11 PM. Great working hours. They missed one piece in the wheel rotation - when the front tire was sent to the rear they did not reduce the tire pressure with the result that left front tire had 29, left right had 33, left rear had 29 and left right had 33 psi. This meant there was a slight left pull and I got to them to fix it the next day.

The car getting a well deserved wash.

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_7451-1280x960.jpg

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_7450-1280x960.jpg


My nephew had decided to come driving across the country to attend a wedding in Kochi. He had recently purchased a Scorpio. The route we decided to do was – well not the shortest but certainly a scenic route. Gurgaon-Jaipur-Udaipur-Ahemdabad-Vadodara-Mumbai-Pune-Goa-Mangalore-Kochi. At Mangalore I decided to branch off from him and headed to Bangalore via Sakleshpur-Hassan. I had toyed with the idea of driving to Kochi also but decided against it. He come over to Bangalore a few days later, spent a few days with me here and then headed back north via Hyderabad-Nagpur-Jhansi-Agra-Gurgaon. He just took a 2 week vacation from his office to go on a long drive. Yes I am happy to report, the ‘keeda’ has gone to the next generation!

6 Dec - Gurgaon - Udaipur

7 Dec - Udaipur - Pune

8 Dec - Pune - Goa

9 Dec - Goa - Mangalore

10 Dec - Mangalore - Bangalore

13 Dec - Bangalore - Mysore - Bangalore


Over the next few days we drove at a leisurely pace. He was driving his Scorpio and I was enjoying my Ertiga.

I drove solo with the nephew mostly 30-40 kms ahead. At Udaipur we stayed at an army accommodation. At Pune the stay was with friends. I have seen most cities along the way and so only pictures of the vehicle or some scene on the highway from the journey -

At toll gate Shahjahanpur

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Somewhere in Rajasthan between Jaipur and Ajmer

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The milestone says it all

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As the sun was coming down on our drive between Gurgaon and Udaipur

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Parked at Udaipur after a long day

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Exiting Rajasthan the next morning

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The wonderful road between Udaipur and Himatnagar

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Somewhere between Udapur and Ahmedabad

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Between Pune and Kohlapur

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On the Pune - Bangalore highway 1

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On the Pune - Bangalore highway 2

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On the Pune - Bangalore highway 3

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On the Pune - Bangalore highway 4

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Just after the turn towards Amboli Ghat (the right turn from the Pune-Bangalore highway)

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The forest area on the way to Amboli Ghat

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See that old milestone for Goa - looks like an old border pillar

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A beautiful section of the road - driving towards Goa

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Driving through a rather deserted section of the hill road in Goa

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And then some deserted sections in the less frequented parts of Goa

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Not a soul in sight - even the water is motionless

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Not very good roads but very pristine landscape

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Driving through Goa the next morning

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Default Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and More - 9500 kms across South, West and North India

9 Dec - Goa Local and

Goa - Karwar - Mangalore


Although we used to stay in Pune back in 2001 but did not drive to Goa from Pune. Instead we used to take the Goa Express train back then. This journey was different. After Kohlapur we turned right towards Amboli ghat and headed towards Goa. I had never done this route before. This route too was very scenic. From Bangalore I have done a number of routes – via Karwar, via Mangalore, via Belgaum, even via Khanapur. The Amboli Ghat route was also very scenic and after a while rather desolate. No sweat though. At Goa we went for dinner to Baga beach and the next morning did a bit of sight seeing – the church of Bom Jesus and Colva beach before heading to Karwar.

Some pictures-

The Church

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The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.

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We spent a few hours in Goa and later moved to Karwar and had lunch at a new place that had opened just a few weeks prior. Its right on the beach.

Post lunch we had a short walk at this nice beach.

At Colva beach
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Enroute Karwar

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A new restaurant has opened on the beach in Karwar. North Indian fare and very clean. And the best part, the beach is right next.

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Still at the sea level

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After moving further south of Karwar, after soaking in Goa, we headed to Mangalore, our stop for the night. We had booked ourselves at Ginger, which really never disappoints. On the way I came across a place in the hills where there seemed to be a ‘kill’ of some sort. Several birds of prey were hovering around and so what would I do. Well, park the car, take the camera out and start taking pictures. Some more pictures.

Black and Brahmini Kites

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The vehicle parked at a small ghat section where these birds were hovering

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We stayed overnight at Managlore Ginger which was easy to find on Google maps. At Mangalore, I toyed with the idea of further driving till Kanya Kumari. After having driven so much a few hundred kms more would be no sweat anyway. However, decided against it.

10 December
Mangalore - Bangalore


With a good rest next morning we moved towards Bangalore. We passed through the Shiradi ghat and reached the beautiful Sakleshpur. I am happy to report that the Shiradi ghat road is well maintained and in good condition.

This day I was to get home. However, that was not the case in terms of ending the journey. After a relaxed breakfast I headed back driving at a leisurely pace. I generally kept in mind a target of 6 PM or so to get into Bangalore. In hindsight, I should have stopped by at Belur. Nothing much to write home about except a chance meeting at a Café Coffee Day with a cyclist who was touring Karnataka on his cycle. We chatted up and after knowing about my journeys he took a picture and I headed to my destination for the day. Just a couple of pictures of the day.

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Somewhere on the highway, just before sunset this picture of life in the rural areas.

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However, the journey was not to end at Bangalore. There was another side trip thrown in...stay tuned.

Last edited by Rajain : 27th January 2016 at 14:58.
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Old 18th January 2016, 01:47   #29
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13 Dec Bangalore - Ranganthitu – Mysore – Bangalore.

My nephew who had branched off from Mangalore heading down further south to Kochi had arrived in Bangalore and wanted to go see Mysore. We drove out in the morning but he had to meet someone on the outskirts, a meeting that lasted almost the full day. So I drove off and within 2 hours reached Ranganthitu. I have been there multiple times. This place also, never disappoints. I came across several birds. On my way back I picked him up. Pictures below –

The Painted Stork, the Pelican, the Crocodile, the River Tern, the Spoon Billed Stork, the Pied Kingfisher, the Marsh Harrier, the Egret, Open Billed Stork, Darter, the Heron, the Bat, the Cormorant and a couple of birds I could not figure out...the place is full of winged beauties and has some wonderful light as well.

The beautiful and elegant Painted Stork in flight

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The Spoon Billed Stork in Flight

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The Bat

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The Egret

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The Cormorants

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The Pelican with a catch and a splash

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Open Billed Storks

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Spoon Billed Stork

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The Night Heron

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The Pelican with Nest Material in flight

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The Open Billed Stork

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The Beautiful River Tern

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The Stone Plower and in the background the River Tern

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The Little Egret

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The Stone Plower again

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The Wagtail and Egret in the background

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How close can you get to the River Tern

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Open Billed Stork

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A crocodile

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The Marsh Harrier

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The Pied Kingfisher

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Another crocodile - up close. Can you count the teeth?

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A Pelican in flight

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This is not a shot I would recommend - I went down to the water level to take a different angle. Well, the water is infested with more than a hundred crocs! Plus I was within a few meters of this croc. IN the end I got the picture I wanted -

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A Pelican in flight around the golden hour

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And while in the vicinity Mysore palace deserved a shot

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After picking him up, we returned by late evening and finally I parked my vehicle for the last time in this long journey back home in the basement.

Coming up next a vehicle review, the review of the hotels and other logistical stuff.

Last edited by Rajain : 26th January 2016 at 15:59.
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Default Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and More - 9500 kms across South, West and North India

13 Nov Bangalore-Ranganthitu – Mysore – and Back at Basecamp Bangalore


Closer home at NICE Road

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_8221-1280x853.jpg

With a bit of a heavy heart, as I parked the car for this time on 13 Dec in the basement parking of my apartment, one word came to my mind – respect. Respect for the heritage, culture, diversity, flora and fauna of our great country. Our country has so much to offer and so much to see. You realise hoe little we may have seen and how much more there is to see.

The word respect also resonated with regard to the vehicle. Not easy to get but with almost 40 days on the highways, through a variety of terrains, with fully loaded in some places and just me in most, there were several things that impressed me about the Ertiga –


Reliability – The proven Maruti engineering. Won’t let you down. If the vehicle has been well taken care of, it will not leave you stranded anywhere. This was one big reason for me to buy a Maruti Suzuki.


Handling - This is a lovely vehicle. It has car like handling and a MUV space flexibility. The weight, steering, body roll, the nimble footedness - all make for a wonderful ride quality and the vehicle comes up full marks on it.


Comfort – The longest driving day was almost 16 hours. I really did not feel tired. In fact after living out of a suitcase and being on the highway for so long, one thing got me up every morning – was the motivation to drive more.


Flexibility - This one point scores the most. This vehicle can accommodate anywhere upto 8 people (including a couple of kids/infants). The seating options can be 2 main seats, and rest all flat, 3 seats and rest all flat, 4 seats and rest flat, 5 seats and still lots of luggage area. Quite literally, the vehicle is very flexible and very useful in terms of optimum utilisation of space.


Stability – Almost all the time, I drive at 110-120 kmph. The vehicle felt stable (including the additional Thule on the top). I also went at higher speeds sometimes to do some catchup and obviously I was driving it slower also.


Brakes – Totally inspire confidence. Although I must say, at least from a vehicle standpoint there was never an occasion for hard braking but for speed breakers there were a few times. Brakes are very good. Holding high speeds and being able to brake when necessary certainly inspires confidence.


Economy – After having driven petrol (Opel Corsa Sail) for 13-14 years the diesel economy is certainly welcome. The stats for the journey are below. In short, it gave a best of 23 kmpl (steady speed of 80 kmph, no AC in an early morning drive between Jaipur and Gurgaon). The lowest was 15.75 kmpl (local Delhi – with AC and in a bumper to bumper traffic). Overall it was approx. 18.40 kmpl. The fuel tank capacity is pretty good to give me 625 or so before low fuel warning would come and another 125-135 before it comes to a standstill. That is approx. 750 kms without a refill.


Support – Believe me when I say that this one aspect is really important. A few years ago I had driven from Bangalore to Chandigarh when the Opel needed a fuel pump replacement and it was not available thus putting back my trip to Leh. The Maruti service support inspires confidence like no other. There are service centres all over the place.


Rattles - Some people call this the rattlesnake. I can say with personal example, after this long a journey, not even one rattle. There were all sorts of highways, village roads, kuccha tracks, desert roads, hill terrain roads, camel tracks and in some places no roads at all, the vehicle not bat an eyelid. It took all of it and more – all of it with the confidence that it was built to tackle all this.


Engine - While buying this vehicle I had an impression that a 1.3 ltr DDiS may not do justice to this vehicle. I have felt this before and felt it again in this drive - this engine is more than capable and is fun to drive. There is no dearth of power, I took it through steep inclines, village tracks, broken roads, knee deep water, slush, ghat sections, desert sections - what not. The engine has enough grunt and more. I also have a RD tuning box and it is at P1 setting. It remained exactly there. Very satisfied with the engine.


What equipment did I missed the most -

Bluetooth handsfree - Without doubt it was a Bluetooth handsfree intuitive interface with full call history etc

Rear Camera - Though not so much but I wish it was there

Automatic Climate Control - I am getting spoilt by our Xcent. The Xcent has this and it is so comfortable.

All Wheel Drive - This is a wish. I never felt the engine to be underpowered. However, having a AWD is just confidence inspiring


Essential Statistics


Over all total kms 9565
States/UT – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and Goa.

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-20160106_140013-1280x960.jpg


Approx fuel cost – 28,800

Tolls – All national highways and several state highways were all tolled. I think I would have paid about 5600-5800 in tolls.


Hotel Review



I would recommend the following places of stay from a family perspective –


Zostel Helsinki House
Opposite Nagar Pallika Bera Road,
Jaisalmer 345001 Oh +91-2992-251248/ 251249;
email info@hotelhelsinkihouse.in Website hotelhelsinkihouse.in


Hotel Boheda Palace
Kalaji Goraji, near Lake Palace Road
Udaipur, Rajasthan, 313001, India
Mobile: +91-9929998881
Phone: +91-294-2424414
E-mail : info@hotelbohedapalace.com
http://www.hotelbohedapalace.com


Hotel Arya Nivas
Behind Amber Towers
Sansar Chandra Road,
Jaipur - 302001
Phone :
+91 (141) 4073450
+91 (141) 4073400
+91 (141) 2372456
Fax :
+91 (141) 2361871
E-mail :
info@aryaniwas.com
aryahotel@gmail.com
http://www.aryaniwas.com


Mandore Guest House
Dadawari Lane,
Near Mandore Garden,
Mandore, Jodhpur - 342006, Rajasthan
Reservation: +91 98291 47470
+91-291-2545210, 2571620
Email - contact@mandore.com
Website - Mandore.com


Hotel Sher Vilas
Near Booking Office,
Imli Wala Turn,
Housing Board Road,
Sawaimadhopur,
Rajasthan 322001
Ph +91-85277 53199
Email shervilas@gmail.com
website shervilas.com


Ginger Hotel
Near Infosys
Near Chowki Junction,
Kottara,
Mangaluru,
Karnataka 575006
Phone:+91-824 666 3333
Email - reservations.mangalore@ginger.com


Ibis
D 266 TTC Industrial Estate,
Turbhe,
Navi Mumbai, 400705
Tel. +91-22-61576666
Fax. +91-22-61576699


Skylark Resort
4th ward, Colva Beach,
Colva, Goa, Pin : 403 708
Tel: 91-832-2788052, 6483528
Mobile: 91-9823285517, 9623909784, 9860003091
Res: +91-832-2788167
Fax: +91-832-2788052
Email: skylark_goa@sancharnet.in,
info@skylarkresortgoa.com
http://www.skylarkresortgoa.com/



Essential Stuff in Car

1. Car jack, I also have a bottle hydraulic jack
2. Medicine kit - basic first aid and some medicines
3. Tool kit - far more enhanced than what came with the vehicle
4. 30 Ltrs of water (depending on pax) I subsequently bought another 60
5. Tire pressure monitoring gauge
6. Tire inflator/Tow rope/various tools/small ropes
7. Spare headlight bulb - 90/100 Philips H4
8. Chatai/Mattress/Toilet tent
9. Basic dry rations - biscuits, juices, milk, tea material, fruits
10. Torch plus extra batteries, Lantern plus extra batteries
11. Camping gear - Tent, sleeping bag and two chairs
12. Umbrella, raincoat, water proof bag
13. Mobile chargers, laptop chargers, battery, camera charger, power bank
14. Hand sanitizer, old newspapers, tissue paper, trash can
15. My trusted camera gear
16. GPS Sat Nav, car charger
17. Note pad/Pen/Stapler
18. Photocopies of DL/RC/Pollution cert/Insurance paper
19. Originals of the above, spare car key
20. Travel iron and induction water heater
21. Music in pen drive, CDs/MP3 and in phone (in case the car player fails!)
22. Car cooler (optional - in case you have - its a good thing). We even kept breakfast warm in it
23. Car manual with highlighted phone number of MASS in the cities I was passing
24. Small rice cooker, prestige induction, basic utensils
25. Last but not the least - chocolates and Electral/ORS



Disclosure -

1. No animals or birds were harmed during this travel
2. The emission met the current pollution standard prevalent in our country
3. For the entire journey I did not swear at anyone and there was no instance of road rage
4. All close-up pictures of any person were taken with their permission
5. The forts and palaces were full of people. Hundreds and hundreds of people. Busloads of foreign tourists. The pictures don't reflect the rush but that is because the picture has been taken in a way to get the maximum amount of the monument.
6. While in forest/national park/wildlife sanctuary/bird sanctuary area additional precautions as well as local requirements were followed. Natural habitat was not disturbed. No deo, no music, no bright colours, no disturbing the foliage for a better picture etc.
7. The use of plastics was limited to those absolutely need be. Even where they were used, they were not disposed off and were actually brought all the way back.
8. The extra spot lights were never used within city and were in fact covered. They were used only on 4 or 6 lane highway (never even on 2 lane highway)
9. Traffic police stopped me a few times. There was no instance of being on the wrong side of the law and all interactions were usual check and let go.
10. Safety of the travellers (and others on the road), being conscious of the carbon footprint, enjoy the drive, soak in the royalty, breathe fresh jungle oxygen, remember the roots and discover our rich heritage were the essence of the drive.


Additional Disclosure -

So far I have not posted any of my pictures. I am not so much a personal picture person. Just for the record, finally its me -

Somewhere on the highway between Jaipur and Ajmer, Rajasthan

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-dsc_7562-1280x853.jpg

And somewhere close to Sakleshpur, Karnataka

Forts, Palaces, Wildlife and more - 9,500 kms across South, West and North India-20151210_124242.jpg

In the opening post I have written some words for India and left it open ended with "to be completed..."

I am completing those lines here




INDIA

For me...

India is tricolour,
she is my pride

India is what I feel,
in every stride

India represents
huge cultural dome

India assimilates
this diverse home

India is my dharma
India is my karma

India is what I live
and can die for.




With this last update, I officially close the travelogue.

Hope you enjoyed it.

May God bless India

Jai Hind

Rajain

Last edited by Rajain : 27th January 2016 at 18:01. Reason: Spelling
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