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Old 19th October 2016, 13:20   #1
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Default East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan

Preface

30th of September : The birthday of yours’ truely came in with the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya which is usually observed to occur (almost) seven days before the Durga Puja which heralds the advent of Goddess Durga, the goddess of supreme power. It's a kind of invocation or invitation to the mother goddess to descend on earth which also brings in the mood for fun, frolic and festivities in the entire state of West Bengal. Some rejoice with family and friends and enjoy the grandeur of the Durga Puja Celebrations whereas some nomadic travellers to the likes of myself, plan to hit the road.

But, this time hitting the road was for a purpose. My Kiddo now is 7+ Months old and we had to visit our Native place Nawalgarh in Rajasthan for his hair giving ceremony called ‘Jharula’ (pronounced as Jhur-oo-laa) wherein small strands of hair is cut and offered to the God & Goddesses seeking their blessings and marking the inception of the next generation of the family. I must say that this entire affair works out to be the most expensive Hair Cut in one’s life; and that too at the very beginning !!

I must say that both our children Ishanvi (our 5 year old daughter) & Mivann (our 7 month old boy) have been exposed to road tripping since an early age and thus for them to be in the car for longer hours has not been a problem so far. You can refer to my previous Travelogue which briefs on their experience of a Road Trip to Sikkim wherein I have enlisted the essentials to be carried when travelling with an Infant also. Link : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...kkim-baby.html (Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby)

Which Car was the question ? We decided to give the Figo a rest for this trip as we had lots of luggage to carry with us which could not have fit into the boot of the Figo. Thus, we decided to take the ETIOS for it's first Road Trip as this car is mainly our domestic workhorse and it very seldom sees Highways. A good change for everyone !!

Who all would go ? Initially my parents were supposed to travel with us, but it did not materialize. Thereafter, a couple friend were supposed to tag in, but that also did not materialize. So, finally it was just the four of us - Ishanvi (our 5 year old daughter), Mivann (our 7 month old baby boy), my wife Eshita and myself. Hats Off to my wifey Eshita - the Superwoman, who without any second thought said yes for the road trip having known the challenges of managing both the kids together, while I would be driving.

What's the plan ? The prime agenda has been mentioned earlier. However, the holidays due to the Durga Pujas needed to be utilized in a good way. We had a rough sketch of how we wanted our trip to be like. However, we did not make full proof reservations anywhere. Though some reservations were made, but they were kept flexible for changes. There was a lot of change in plan on the go and I would like to share the itinerary as we ended up doing it :

DAY 1 : 01-10-2016 : Saturday : Kolkata to Kanpur : 1,044 Kms
DAY 2 : 02-10-2016 : Sunday : Kanpur to Jaipur : 558 Kms
DAY 3 : 03-10-2016 : Monday : Jaipur to Jhunjhunu and back to Nawalgarh : 240 Kms
DAY 4 : 04-10-2016 : Tuesday : Navalgarh to Jaipur (Via Ghoriya, Jeen Mata, Piprali, Khirod) : 284 Kms
DAY 5 : 05-10-2016 : Wednesday : Rest Day at Jaipur : 35 Kms
DAY 6 : 06-10-2016 : Thursday : Jaipur to Jaisalmer : 609 Kms
DAY 7 : 07-10-2016 : Friday : Jaisalmer to Tanot to Longewala to Jaisalmer : 288 Kms
DAY 8 : 08-10-2016 : Saturday : Jaisalmer Local Sight Seeing + Sam Sand Dunes : 120 Kms
DAY 9 : 09-10-2016 : Sunday : Jaisalmer to Jodhpur : 297 Kms
DAY 10 : 10-10-2016 : Monday : Jodhpur to Kothar Village : 182 Kms
DAY 11 : 11-10-2016 : Tuesday : Kothar Village to Udaipur (Via Ranakpur & Kumbhalgarh) : 189 Kms
DAY 12 : 12-10-2016 : Wednesday : Udaipur to Jaipur : 437 Kms
DAY 13 : 13-10-2016 : Thursday : Jaipur to Neemrana and back (for Work) : 315 Kms
DAY 14 : 14-10-2016 : Friday : Jaipur to Agra : 270 Kms
DAY 15 : 15-10-2016 : Saturday : Agra to Varanasi : 602 Kms
DAY 16 : 16-10-2016 : Sunday : Varanasi to Kolkata : 715 Kms

Total Distance Travelled : 6,185 Kms
Total Toll Paid : Rs.4,355.00


A couple of teaser pictures to start the Travelogue : Padharo Maare Des : Our Native Ancestral Haveli in Nawalgarh

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2349-2.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2442.jpg

DAY 1 : KOLKATA TO KANPUR : 1044Kms

The bags were packed and all the requisite essentials were made ready i.e.- Food Bag, Medical Kit, Car Tools & Essentials and some necessities for the Kiddos and we were ready to Roll. We departed from our residence in South Kolkata at around 06:00am in the morning.

Filled the Colled Glove Box of the ETIOS with fruits, refreshments and Yakult (the energy shots) :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2174.jpg

Luggage was dumped to the brim top of the boot of the ETIOS :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2176.jpg

Our first quick stop was near Tonpchanchi :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2178.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2182.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2186.jpg

The stretch between Aurangabad & Varanasi was in total mess with clogged toll booths and jammed highways :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2184.jpg

While being stuck near Sasaram, saw Hot Samosas being fried by a local dhaba and was just perfect for the moment :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2187.jpg

The Varanasi Toll did no good to the cause and the held up was more than enough to my liking. Stuck there for around 2 hours drained the energy with which we started off from Kolkata and famished us for the remaining part of the day. However, once we cleared the Toll, there was no looking back. We had no hotels booked for Day 1 and thus headed straight to Handia for the time being and thought we would take a call then; either to stay at Allahabad or let the destination for the day be Kanpur.

It was around 6:00pm that we reached Handia and we judiciously decided to move onto Kanpur with no hotels booked yet.

Enroute Kanpur :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2190.jpg

We had shortlisted this Hotel called "The Millionaires Suites" which was very easily accessible from the Kanpur Elevated ByePass by just taking a diversion from it and luckily saw that the rooms were available on Booking.com for the same. Called up the hotel directly to get a better impromptu deal and at around 09:00pm we reached our Hotel.

Our Night Hault for Day 1 @ The Millionaires Suites :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2194-2.jpg

My review of the stay at The Millionaires Suites : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...r_Pradesh.html

The day went off all driving, covering around 1044Kms in a span of 15 Hours (Door to Door including the Traffic Hold Ups) and all that we required was some good food and a good night's sleep to end the day well. However, the problem was that the children were all charged up once we reached the Hotel. Nightmare begins

DAY 2 : KANPUR TO JAIPUR : 558Kms Via Agra, Bharatpur & Fatehpur Sikri

Good Morning to Kanpur !!
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2196.jpg

He was in awe when my daughter said that Kanpur was the place where Vibhuti Narayan Mishra & Tiwari Ji reside !! Characters of the TV Serial "Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain" - thanks to her grandparents !!

Comparatively it was going to be a shorter drive today and we were relaxed. Got ourselves and everything ready to start the day. We checked out of our Hotel at around 09:00am and thought that we would indulge ourselves into an appetizing breakfast with some Local Kanpur Stuff.

Finally we landed up here :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2201.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2203.jpg

The famous Laddoo(s) from Kanpur :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2204.jpg
My daughter being a fan of Chhota Bheem, had a good share of the laddoos to her quota

"Baajre ke Khet" in UP :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2206.jpg

My Navigator for the first half of the day :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2211.jpg

Our first quick stop for the day was at Firozabad, mainly for the convenience of a ladies restroom :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2214.jpg

In order to head to Jaipur, we had to cross the Agra City. We entered Agra at around 12:30pm and made our way through the city to get onto the road to Bharatpur/ Jaipur. It was scorching hot outside and just what was required was a quick refreshment like Coconut Water.

The "Thelawala Daabwala" outside the Agra City Premises :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2219.jpg

Mivann also having his share of Coconut water :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2217.jpg

Ishanvi too :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2218.jpg

We again hit the highway to Bharatpur :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2221.jpg

And again stopped at this outlet to buy the extremely famous "Panchhi Petha & Dalmoth" for us and for our relatives in Jaipur :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2222.jpg
Finally we set sail from Agra PIN Code at around 02:30pm without doing any sight seeing as we planned to do that on our way back to Kolkata on our return journey

With Fatehpur Sikri on our left, we just waved it good bye and moved on as our kids are too small to understand it's significance :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2223.jpg

The road now was getting better and better towards Jaipur :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2228.jpg

However, bad luck strikes and we find that the NH was closed due to some local VIP movement and all the traffic was being diverted from Dausa to some inner road which leads to Jaipur. It was via Aandhi-Ramgarh. The road were pretty isolated and narrow with not much traffic on it; though very scenic indeed.

The following pictures are of the Dausa-Aandhi-Ramgarh stretch :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2242.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2246.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2247.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2251-2.jpg

We were staying with my Aunt (Masi) in Jaipur who resided in Kings Road, Nirman Nagar which was off Ajmer Road for which we had to cross the entire city of Jaipur in peak traffic hours, which in a way was good in order to get rid of the mess for the next day. Finally, we reached our destination at around 06:30pm in the evening

A much required In-House Mechanized Foot Massage to end the day :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2253.jpg

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Old 8th March 2017, 17:28   #2
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DAY 3 : JAIPUR TO JHUNJHUNU TO NAWALGARH : 240Kms

We woke up late and spent the morning in leisure with family. We relaxed and had our lunch and packed up to leave for our native place Nawalgarh. But before that we had to visit Sri Rani Sati Dadi (our Kul Devi's) Temple in Jhunjhunu which is further 45 Kms from Nawalgarh. We usually visit Jhunjhunu every year by taking a flight to Jaipur and thereafter cabbing it. This year was no different, just that we would be driving ourselves. With known roads of the Reengus-Sikar Expressway, the Maxxis 205/55 R15 tyres on the Etios were raring to hit the tarmac. Finally we departed at around 03:00pm from Jaipur.

Ravana(s) being made for the festival of Dussera :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2257.jpg

A quick stop over for some sugarcane juice on the expressway (a mechanized system was what drew our attention to it) :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2262.jpg

It was raining and we were loving our drive :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2288-2.jpg

Found the outskirts of the Jhunjhunu town to be water logged :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2288.jpg

Further deep in more water logging in Jhunjhunu; very unlike Rajasthan :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2294.jpg

The temple of Sri Rani Sati Dadi - "Jai Dadi Ki" :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2298.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2301.jpg

We offered our prayers and left for Nawalgarh by grabbing some Hot Chaat from the local food stalls :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2306.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2308.jpg

Home is Home. We reached our Haveli at Nawalgarh by around 09:00pm and it was rest time now. We decided to sleep in the common sitting area called the "Baithak Khaana" :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2317.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2318.jpg

Some pictures of the Haveli at Night :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2321.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2323.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2324-2.jpg


DAY 4 : Nawalgarh-Jeen Mata-Khirod-Nawalgarh to Jaipur : 284Kms

Good Morning to Nawalgarh :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2351.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2336.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2348.jpg

The langoor in our premises :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2328.jpg

The National Bird in our premises :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2334-2.jpg

It was going to be a long day for us and a tiring one as well as we needed to do a series of visits in various temples in and around Nawalgarh wherein we had to conduct the hair giving rituals of our son Mivann. We woke up early in the morning and got ready for the day's job. Had an early breakfast and left for the Temple Visits.

Drove around 65 Kms to reach the Jeen Mata Temple via Goriyan :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2357.jpg

A snap of the Etios with the slightly hilly surroundings :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2362.jpg

Beautiful drive :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2364.jpg

We had to go to Khirod from here which was another 55 odd Kilometers. However, we managed to mess up with the directions (with Google Maps not working) and landed up in a isolated desert and did not know where to go. The human GPS also could not do much as there was not even a single soul on that stretch apart from some cattle and Camels. Which then was a nightmare, now seems to be the most memorable part of the trip. We finally found our way through the town of Piprali and landed up to Khirod Beronath Ji Mandir. Sharing some snaps of the episode.

How do I ask him to give me way ? :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2368.jpg

Which way to go now ? :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2372.jpg

Oh .... finally some tarmac :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2377.jpg

Piprali town - A common sight in Rural Rajasthan where the band leads the way and the women follow; all blocking the roads :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2380.jpg

Cannot click photos in Khirod Bheronath Ji Mandir, so just this snap :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2383.jpg

Now another 15 Kms to Nawalgarh : Ramdev Ji's Temple :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2385.jpg

And then to the Mahamaya Durga Ji Temple in Nawalgarh :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2391.jpg

Back to our Haveli for the last bit of offering of Mivann's hair and prayers seeking the blessings of God and our Forefathers :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2403.jpg

Our quota of pilgrimage for the trip was taken care of and we were now all set to enjoy the remaining part of our trip to the fullest and explore Rajasthan to the crux.

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Old 8th March 2017, 20:47   #3
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Continued : DAY 4 : Welcome to our Haveli @ Nawalgarh


We had a sumptuous lunch at our Haveli and I took a stroll of the recent developments. Taking your through some pictures of our Ancenstral Haveli (named Haveli 1) and the recently bought Haveli (named Haveli 2).

Our little dining area :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2406.jpg

Having shared some pictures of Haveli 1 previously, just adding some more to it :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2408.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2412.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2426.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2427.jpg

Thakra Ji who takes care of the day to day affairs :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2454.jpg

Pictures of Haveli 2 which has been recently purchased and is undergoing some restoration work as well :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2430.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2432.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2435.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2437.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2446.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2449.jpg

Munim Ji with his subordinate doing some inspection of the place :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2440.jpg

Bidding a Goodbye to our roots at Nawalgarh with a Momentary Snap :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2457.jpg


DAY 5 : REST DAY @ JAIPUR


Woke up to a stormy rainy morning at Jaipur and all our plans of taking the children for some sight seeing seemed to be gone with the wind. Anyways, as previously mentioned that we usually visit Jaipur every year, the local sight seeing could have been done later on as well from the children's point of view as me and my wife have done the local sight seeing on various previous occasions.

Considering the weather and the fact that the Etios also deserved some well deserved rest, we thought it was a better idea to be chauffeur driven in my Uncles VW Vento 1.6 Diesel.

The Etios parked (see the articulation of the wheels) and the Vento awaiting us :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2568.jpg

Mivann having some moments with Masi :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2459.jpg

Me with the Kids :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2471.jpg

We wrapped up with breakfast and considering the weather we decided to visit 'The World Trade Park' which is a state of the art Mall of Jaipur, so that we could be indoors and spend some time chilling out :

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2560.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2545.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2559.jpg

Ishanvi in one of the play areas :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2489.jpg

A momentary snap :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2514.jpg

Donuts Time :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2519.jpg

Some afternoon indulgence over lunch :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2534.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2540.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2537.jpg

We ended the day with some All Time Famous "Aloo-Pyaaz ki Sabzi from Sharma Dhaba" of Jaipur and decided to remain indoors and have some cherished time by arranging the right ingredients for a in house family get together as the next day we had a reasonably long drive of 600+ Kms to Jaisalmer.

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Old 9th March 2017, 10:47   #4
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DAY 6 : Jaipur To Jaisalmer : 609 Kms (Road Via Ajmer, Beawar, Bar, Jodhpur, Pokhran)


Considering the fact that there was agitation between India and Pakistan and that on the 19th of September 2016, the military confrontation between the two countries had begun, our family and my aunt in Jaipur was against us planning the trip to Jaisalmer. There were surgical strikes from India and everyarmy deployment on the western border was at Red Alert. However, we gathered local information a day before and everything seemed to be fine and thus decided to go ahead with our plans.

It was going to be a long day and it was at around 08:15am that we started from Jaipur and headed towards Ajmer. We tanked up in Ajmer at around 09:30pm and headed straight to the Small town of Beawar.

The confusing junction - One needs to keep to the left lane and take the left exit to cross over the highway :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2582.jpg

The roads kept on becoming better and better with time :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2585.jpg

Changing landscape and we stopped for a quick diaper change break :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2589.jpg

From the town of Beawar one had to get into a town called Bar (also spelt as Barr) to move onto the Jodhpur bound Highway. The roads from Beawarto Bar and onwards are not expressways, rather are slightly narrow town roads. It is in Bar, that you get the Best Pyaaz Ki Kachori & Mirchi Vada with tea at the New Jodhpur Mishtaan Bhandar in comparison to the entire of Rajasthan. You will not miss this small outlet in Bar as everyone knows about this place. It's a must stop !

Yes, this was our breakfast stop at 10:45am :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2590.jpg

The Chillies of Rajasthan :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2591.jpg

Bar onwards, the road from Bilara to Jodhpur and Jodhpur to Shekhala is under construction and also damaged in many patches. There is continuous road widening work going on in some stretches as well. We were greeted with slush, water logged, dusty, sandy and rough roads on this stretch. In some places you need to give way to the oncoming traffic by understanding the need of the hour as there is no police or local civilian help to guide you. Wrong interpretations lead to bottlenecks on this stretch, so you light signals work the best here instead of horns.

A picture of some part of the road :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2599.jpg

However, amidst this there are some good stretches as well which do not last long and finding shelter on Rajasthan Highways is such a serious pain that one keeps on driving through the highway without spotting a single tree beside the highway where you could take a short break in the scorching heat and cool off by taking a leak by giving the shrubs what they crave for the most.

Luckily after a long time we found one :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2597.jpg

As we were parked, there was a Police Jeep which came and parked beside us and asked us if everything was fine or not. They saw my vehicle being a WB registration and enquired about our whereabouts of being in Rajasthan. They were very friendly and told us that if required they could escort us to Jaisalmer as well. A very good gesture from their part, but we refrained by saying "Sir Kolkata se yahaan tak aa gaye, ab Jaisalmer kitni door hai !" to which they smiled and shared the Local Police Helpline Number with us and said that they could be contacted in case of any issues. Kudos to Rajasthan Police !!

At around 02:30pm we reached this place called Shekhala and spotted this resort on the Highway named Marwar Resort where we decided to stop for lunch. There are many Dhabas in and around Shekhala, but they take a lot of time to service your order and you end up spending double the time for food.

This place seemed like a boutique resort and they said that they could serve in 10 Minutes, thus we had our lunch here :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2600.jpg

Must try the Papad with Mix Vegetables preparation :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2601-2.jpg

Yummy in the Tummy and I am energized :
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The Etios also takes a break :
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The road from Shekhala towards Jaisalmer is as crisp as it can get :
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Just when we were exiting Shekhala, I came across this dune to my left. Saw an unmade road running parallel to the highway and I thought to myself that taking a left U Turn into that road would lead me to the dune. My wife was dead against this idea of mine and I was in no mood to follow suit. Went ahead with my plans and yes the road did lead us to where the dune was and we had our first taste of the dunes in this place. I guess it is because of this/ these dunes that many resorts engulf that area in and around Shekhala for tourists who want to be away from the hustle and bustle of Jaisalmer.

Sharing some random snaps of this place :
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The Bolero follows us on our descent from the dunes :
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We cross Pokhran at around 04:15pm which is the place where India's first Underground Nuclear Test was done and headed straight to the Jaisalmer War Memorial which was on our route to enter the city of Jaisalmer. At around 05:15pm we reached the gates of the Jaisalmer War Memorial and to our luck it was open. We thought that it might be closed due to the recent Red Alert announced at border areas, but no they were very much open.

The Warrior Cafe at the Jaisalmer War Memorial :
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Ishanvi was pretty intrigued by what she saw and we just briefed her as much we could :
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Sharing some pictures of the Jaisalmer War Memorial in no particular order :
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Sunset at the War Memorial was beautiful :
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The Etios sun-kissed at the War Memorial :
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It was very touching to see families of many soldiers at the War Memorial who had come to meet them as the situation was delicate between India and Pakistan and that if War was to be declared, this could only be their chance of meeting the soldiers prior to the war. The soldiers (one of them who was also our guide) told us that their bags was packed and that their battalion was ready for war in case they received the green signal from the authorities. They would just lock up the War Memorial and move on to attend to their duties. Such and many such stories were shared by them and we were extremely touched and proud of our Soldiers and our Army. Jai Hind !!

We now moved on to our Hotel in Jaisalmer - The Gulaal. A link to my Review of our stay at the Gulaal : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...Rajasthan.html

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Old 9th March 2017, 13:30   #5
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DAY 7 : PART-I : Jaisalmer to Longewala & Tanot : 288Kms


As per the news channel, we got to know that the Chief Minister of Rajasthan along with the Defence Minister of India were destined to visit Jaisalmer today for a meeting with respect to the current unrest. We thought to ourselves that it would be best to exit Jaisalmer in the first half of the day and head towards Longewala and Tanot instead of being in Jaisalmer. The idea worked well for us and we altered our plan and we departed our Hotel at around 10:00am after breakfast and headed towards Tanot first which was a 125 Km drive from Jaisalmer.

Note : No Foreigners (meaning a person who is not a resident of India) are allowed to/in Longewala and Tanot and thus the roads are pretty empty and filtered from the cabbies on the road. Also, not many Touristy Indians are aware of this place and thus usually do not pay a visit to this place either.

For enthusiasts like us, it is a blessing in disguise and what else can we ask for while on a road trip. With respect to safety, yes the roads are isolated and it is advisable to do this sector in broad daylight. However, there are army vehicles which are stationed at frequent intervals (some hidden behind the bushes as well) and patrolling is usually on, by some army vehicles.

Some pictures of the stretch between Jaisalmer and Tanot which was just mesmerizing :
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We reached the Tanot Mata Mandir at around 11:45am to offer our prayers to the Goddess and seek her blessings. Sharing some information gathered from Wikipedia and witnessed the same on our visit :

Quote:
It is said that during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Pakistani Army dropped over 3000 bombs targeting the temple but not even one exploded! The Pakistani Tank regiment was stupefied and kept shelling but not one bomb exploded. After the war the Pakistani General actually asked his counterpart in India about this incident and on knowing the story of the power of the temple that apparently protected the area he asked to see this place. This request was granted and the Pakistani General actually went to the temple and paid his respects and acknowledged the supernatural happening.

After the war the temple management was handed over to Border Security Force of India on their request and to date the temple is maintained and manned by the BSF soldiers. The temple has a museum which has collections of the unexploded bombs that were shot by pakistani tanks.
I would let the pictures do the talking :
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Langer being served in the premises by the Army People :
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Me with the Kiddos :
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As I said earlier, very difficult to find shelter under a tree in Rajasthan - They also prove the fact and know where to head to :
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Our next in the agenda visit was to the Longewala Yudh Sthal which was another 38 Kms from Tanot on a narrow road with no inhabitants what so ever on the entire stretch. All one can see is sand, sand and sand all around !!

SHaring some pictures eroute Longewala from Tanot :
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Is that a mirror image ? No, not really !! Even they love this stretch of road :
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Longewala has the War Memorial of the Indo-Pak War which was fought in 1971 on which the Bollywood Multi Starer Movie named BORDER was made. In fact in the Longewala Audio Visual Theatre they show how the Movie was Conceptualized keeping in mind each and every character and occurring that actually took place during the War. Hats off to the Indian Army !!

Sharing some pictures of the Longewala War Memorial :
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It was very heartening to find a soldier from Bengal operating the Check Post at Longewala. They were not issuing permits to vehicles to visit BP609 - the International Border due to the sensitivity at the border and this it was a bad miss for us. We tried all our sources from Jaisalmer as well without much help. Now we headed back to Jaisalmer which was around 110Kms from Longewala expecting the VIP movement to have got over and to our luck it was over and we breezed back to Jaisalmer.

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DAY 7 : PART-II : The Golden City of Jaisalmer : Local Sight Seeing


We reached Jaisalmer and immediately headed towards The Chandan Shree Restaurant to savor some local delicacies :
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The typical Rajasthani Thali :
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We now headed to the main attraction of Jaisalmer. Yes, the Jaisalmer Fort which is also called the Sonar Quila as it is build with massive yellow coloured sandstone walls. This is the largest living fort (where people reside) in the world today and has got the status of being A World Heritage Sight from UNESCO. The Fort is a city by itself within the city of Jaisalmer and can be seen from most parts of the Jaisalmer city.

In Jaisalmer the Kings used to be called 'Mahrawal' and that is how mostly the guides address tourists these days. To make things faster and understand the heritage of the fort we opted for a Guide who would walk us through the main sections of the Fort where the Palace of the King & Queen has been preserved as a museum. It was a brilliant experience indeed. There are too many pictures and I am just sharing a few important ones here.

The Sonar Quila from amidst the Fort :
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The King's Palace :
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Mahrawal Jaisal Dev Ji after whom the city is named :
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The King's Room - Notice the Robe :
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Gangaur Mata in the Queen's Palace :
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Handcrafted Model of the Jaisalmer Fort :
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The Patwon Ki Haveli being seen from the Fort :
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The point where Indian Railways ends in Western India :
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A Family Picture :
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The lanes and alleys within the Fort :
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Bats filled in many areas of the Fort. This lot was at the Exit Door and local children were playing cricket with them by testing their arms and throwing tennis balls on them in order to see their reaction. Too much fun for my liking :
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The ambiance outside the Fort is indeed a very colourful one and just ads to the charm of the heritage !! One has plenty of options to choose from - Handicrafts, instruments, puppets, bed covers, bed linen, carpets, daris' etc.

A local shop outside the Fort :
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"If music be the food of love, play on" :
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From here we drove closeby to the Patwo Ki Haveli. Parking was not a problem though the approach road was very narrow and bustling with autos, bikes, cycles etc. For someone who is not fond of the alleys of Benares, it is advisable to walk.

Question : What is Patwa ?
Answer : A Patwa is a person who is merchant of valuables like pearls, gems, stones, gold, silver etc.

Jaisalmer is all about Havelis however this particular one is very special as this not just one Haveli, instead it is a cluster of 5 Havelis. All Haveli have different craft work on their sandstone walls which differentiate them distinctly inspite of being joint. The walls of Patwon ki Haveli were encrusted with stunning mirror work and beautiful paintings all around with 60 balconies in them.

The entrance to the Kothari Patwa Haveli :
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The Balconies where you can see the mirror work :
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The building :
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A handicraft store near the Haveli where our guide wanted us to buy these but we refrained from doing so. Though the stuff was very pretty to look at, but was very expensive as it was said to be made from rocks which still remain under the soil of Jaisalmer. The myth about them was interesting but not good enough to lure us to buy them :
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From here we headed back to Gulaal, our Hotel :
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The common area in the Hotel :
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Our Suite Room at the Hotel :
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The swimming pool inviting us and we plunged in :
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Feasted on some Laal Maans which is a delicacy in Jaisalmer at our Hotel's open to the sky candlelit restaurant :
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Sorry for the bad picture quality as it was taken from the mobile camera in a very dark surrounding

The sitting on the terrace restaurant from where we enjoyed the view of the lit up Jaisalmer Fort :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_2729.jpg

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DAY 8 : The Golden City of Jaisalmer (Local Sight Seeing) and Sam Sand Dunes : 120Kms


We got to know that our cousins from Kolkata was also in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan since the last couple of days and we planned to meet them today. They had flown to Delhi and taken an Innova in Self Drive from their residence in Delhi and were in Rajasthan for a Road Trip. Their itinerary was almost similar to ours.

So we lazed around in our Hotel upto breakfast and planned to meet them and spend the day together. They had 3 kids on board and we were thrilled that the kids together would be having a fun filled time.

Mivann lazing on the beach bed beside the swimming pool :
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The Hotel Premises :
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My wife Eshita with the Kids :
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We set sail and strolled around Jaisalmer - The Fort Again :
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Some handicraft shopping at the Emporium :
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We joined our cousins at their Hotel - The Welcome Heritage Mandir Palace (where the shooting of Sarfarosh was done) and had a quick lunch with them and headed to Bada Bagh. Cenotaphs aka Chhatris constructed in memory of the King. This place has been sited in many Movies though is not very popular with the tourists. It was a good picturesque visit indeed !!

Bada Bagh :
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The kids posing :
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Finally a good click of ours (thanks to Bro) :
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My Etios wanted to pose as well :
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From here we headed to the Kuldhara - the abandoned village !! It is said that in the 19th century this village was overnight abandoned by the inhabitants of this place. Now, this place is supposedly haunted and you are not supposed to enter this place post sunset. Though I do not know whether this stands true or not as they are reconstructing it and making it look abandoned by redoing the place. Though the newly made restorations do not give it an abandoned look by any means. I think this is an over rated tourist spot and an over kill for me.

The entrance to Kuldhara village :
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The roads to the village. Beware of loose sand patches here as your wheels might get stuck in some place :
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Some random clicks - Where does this looks abandoned and haunted ? :
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We now took off for Sam Sand Dunes as the Sun Started to Set. We had no prior booking with any of the tents and just decided to take it as it comes. Though some registered vendors (Travel Agents) at the Jaisalmer Fort have some very decent packages to offer, we opted to look for a vendor at Sam Sand Dunes itself. To our luck, we parked our vehicles near the K.K. Resort & Camp in Sam and met with Mr. Amar (M # 9414393786/ 9649636515) of Amar Tours & Travels who organizes Safari and packages for visiting Sam Sand Dunes. He gave our entire group a very good deal and we went ahead. He got his Mahindra Thar Di and we all got loaded onto it to explore the massive dunes at Sam.

Sunset at Sam is always special :
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The tyre marks of the Jeeps :
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The group posing with the Thar :
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A Thar (DI) in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan - posing after doing the massive and thrilling slope down :
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A Toyota Fortuner was there for some Sand Bashing :
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The Camel with a colourful Robe :
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Serene Sam :
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The girls leading the way and we followed :
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This Trio opted for a Race on Camel Backs :
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We paid extras for this activity but was completely worth it as the kids had lots of fun - though officially this is prohibited

A private Thar CRDe at Sam :
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It was getting dark and we had now had to head back :
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We came back to Jaisalmer and hit this cosy restaurant near the back gate of the Fort named Jaisal Italy for Dinner :
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I guess the name suggests the cuisine one can get there

The eldest of the lot with the youngest of the lot :
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The Jaisalmer Fort in it's full bloom under the moonlight :
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On our way back to our hotel we happened to see these Kulfi & Milkshake Vendors on the roads in clusters and we could not resist ourselves the indulgence. It was indeed awesome and different to what we usually have. A must try indeed :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_3268.jpg

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DAY 9 : From the Golden City of Jaisalmer to the Blue City of Jodhpur (with Local Sight Seeing) : 297Kms

It was a Sunday and we had to leave for Jodhpur today. But I first had to fix up the horns of my Etios. On the previous day, one of the horns in the Etios was malfunctioning and we got it checked once with a Jaisalmer Local Electrical Mechanic beside our Hotel. He tuned it and after 10 mins it again was playing foul. So I decided to replace the horns with a Set of Hella Chrome Horns which was readily available there. The horn was doing fine until we started from Sam. On our way back, both the horns stopped working and I thought to myself that it must be a Fuse issue. However, by the time we returned to Jaisalmer the Mechanic had shut shop and today being a sunday he was enjoying his Sunday Siesta at his home. I had no option but to do some DIY. The Fuse box of the Etios is located behind the Speedometer and to check and replace the fuse, I had to disintegrate the Speedometer portion of Dashboard which in itself was a tedious task. Saw the fuse to be cut off. There were extra fuses kept in the car and I immediately replaced the faulty fuse with a higher ampere fuse and the horns were functional once again. We lost an hour in our hotel doing this DIY.

Finally we had breakfast and freshened up to leave Jaisalmer at around 09:30am. The roads to Jodhpur were known as we had reached Jaisalmer through this road and the 280+Km drive seemed preety relaxed on this stretch now. By around 02:00pm we reached Jodhpur and headed straight for the Jaswant Thada.
Quote:
The Jaswant Thada is a cenotaph located in Jodhpur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh of Jodhpur State in 1899 in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, and serves as the cremation ground for the royal family of Marwar.
Camels on the highway to Jodhpur - a random click :
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At the entrance of Jaswant Thada :
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The Etios posing at Jaswant Thada :
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With the cenotaphs in the backdrop :
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The Jaswant Thada is also known as the Taj Mahal of Rajasthan as it made with white marble with wonderful workmanship. The pictures hereunder are self explanatory as to why it has been named so :
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Very peaceful and serene :
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The Mehrangarh Fort was visible from here and was located very close by and we drove down to the Fort. Though parking was available there in abundance, getting into the parking lot was a mess. The Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest Forts in India which houses many palaces in it. The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan and worth a visit. I believe this is the only fort to have an elevator which takes you to the top of the fort and one can walk one's way down with pretty ease which makes the visit more pleasurable and less stressed. It is well organized set up where all charges and fees (including elevator and guide charges) are to be paid at the counters, the revenue of which goes directly to the Royal Family who maintain the Fort till date.

The Mehrangarh Fort Entrance :
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The Blue City of Jodhpur :
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The question is Why Blue ? - This blue color paint is mixture of Limestone and Copper Sulphate (which is available in plentyin Jodhpur) mixed in water and applied directly to the walls inside as well as outside homes thereby copper sulphate imparting its Rich Blue color. Also, Blue color have been associated with Lord Shiva and the Brahmin Caste painted their houses as blue, in order to stand out amongst the masses and come to the notice of the king. Jodhpur now being named as the blue city, I have heard that all houses are supposed to colour their terrace blue. Do not know if that is to be true though.

Inside the Mehrangarh Fort :
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A Family picture thanks to our guide :
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"All that glitters is not Gold" - but this definitely is :
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Happy faces make your day :
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The Sheesh Mahal :
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One can spend hours at just gazing at the workmanship of these balconies :
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Jaswant Thada as seen from Mehrangarh Fort :
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We called up The Umed Club which is affiliated to a Club in Kolkata where we are members and got hold of a booking there and headed straight to the Club to get some rest and grab something to eat. It was spread in acres and was a massive set up. Thanks to the guidance from the His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji who himself is a very active patron of the club, the club has managed to maintain it's repute of being one of the most elite clubs in India. Even the rooms we got were huge suite rooms which were around 700+ Sq.Ft. in measure.

Our stay at Jodhpur :
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The Club Premises :
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Tennis Court at the Club :
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Sharing the link to my Review of our stay at the Umed Club in Jodhpur :https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...Rajasthan.html

The only thing which remained pending for us in Jodhpur was a visit to the Umed Bhavan Museum which closes down by 05:00pm and we were in no mood of any further museum hopping and indeed were very late and that the cut off time had elapsed. However we had something else in mind to cover up and make the visit to Jodhpur more memorable with some icing on the cake !!

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Continued DAY 9 : Blue City of Jodhpur : The visit to Umaid Bhawan


What is so special about this visit to Umaid Bhawan Palace ?
The Umaid Bhawan Palace is the world's largest residency named after Maharaja Umaid Singh Ji, grandfather of the present owner and His Highness of Jodhpur Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji. The palace is divided into 3 portions :
  1. The Residence of Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji
  2. The Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum which is open to public from 09:00am to 05:00pm
  3. The Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel which is run by Taj and is acclaimed as "The Best Heritage Hotel in India"
Considering the above, you must have understood by now that he were definitely not invited by the His Highness of Jodhpur over dinner

In fact, my uncle in Jaipur is very well connected with the Taj Group and fixed up an invitation for us from Taj wherein we could visit the Hotel and see the grandeur of the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel at night. This property is not open to public for walking in and that one needs to pay an extremely exorbitant cover charge on per person basis along with having a proper reservations with the Hotel. There were 3 check point as we drove into the Palace with high security and at every check point we were enquired about our visit and our invitation was confirmed by the management to the security staff to let us in.

Thanks to uncle that this was made complimentary for us and the reception we got from the Taj Management was simply outstandingly superb and mind blowing !! One of the management guys was designated to take us around the entire property and made us look around the unseen portions of the Palace which only the King's guest or the residents at the Hotel can avail to see which was indeed a treat to the eyes.

Taking you through to the Grandeur of the Umaid Bhawan Palace at Night :
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A couple of family pictures taken by the Taj Management :
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The portrait of Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji on one of the Walls - This artwork is with pieces of natural wood only :
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One Last Shot :
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With wonderful memories and a lovely hosting from Taj, we moved on for dinner to one of the most famous restaurants in Jodhpur called Gypsy. They serve the best Chaat and one of the most delicious Rajasthani Food in Jodhpurwhich includes - Sanger Ki Sabzi, Gatte Ki Sabzi, Dal Baati Churma etc. We thought it would be a better idea to get our dinner packed from here and relax at the club accompanied by the forbidden ale and that's exactly what we did.

A picture of the Gypsy Restaurant from across the road :
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DAY 10 : PART-I : Jodhpur to Salawas @ Pukhraj Durry Udyog : 24 Kms


Our plan for the day was to visit Bera enroute which we planned to visit this place called the Pukhraj Durry Udhyog about which we had researched. This place was located in a small village called Salawas which is 24 Kms away from the city of Jodhpur where 48 Families Work in a Co-Operative Module with almost 1 Loom to each family and are engaged in the process of making Durries meaning Carpets. It has existed since the past 25 years and the Pukhraj Family has kept the weaving industry alive from one generation to the other in this region. So this was a must visit for us as we wanted our daughter to see how they were being made.

The roads to Salawas are extremely narrow roads as it is off the highway and the Human GPS works the best here or else you will get lost in the alleys of this village as the junctions all look the same.

The entrance to Pukhraj Durry Udhyog :
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Thisman just handles the loom so flawlessly and easily that it is amazing to watch him at work :
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Their accommodation :
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The durries spread open under a tree for displaying it to buyers in natural daylight :
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The workers making their lunch :
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A family photo in a colourful background :
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A Rajasthani Click :
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After an amazing experience of seeing how durries are made and we started off for Bera which was our next destination and our hault for today's night; we moved on.

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DAY 10 : PART-II : Salawas to Kothar Village @ Bera : 158 Kms


Never heard of this name Bera ? The plan to go to Bera was conceptualized almost a year ago from now when we came across this documentary on TLC about Bera - A small town in Rajasthan where Leopard & Mankind lived together without harming each other. Yes, it is not a sanctuary or a reserve. It is a natural habitat amidst the Aravalli Range present in Rajasthan close to the Jawai Bandh Dam. On more research we found the perfect accommodation in the Kothar Villagewhere Mr. Shatrunjay Pratap Singh would be our host. He is a passionate photographer, a leopard lover and a conservationist and resides in the property which he has build up for his guests in order to give them the experience of a lifetime. The following YouTube Videos are self explanatory.







We just loved what we saw online and after a few telephonic discussions with Mr. Singh, Bera Safari Lodge was affirmed to be our hideout in Bera for the purpose of Leapord Sighting and enjoying what nature had to offer. Sometimes, it's very important to go off the beaten path in order to learn and experience more.

So, after Pukhraj Durry Udhyog, we headed towards Sumerpur and then to the Jawai Bandh Dam. The topography of the place kept on changing as we drove through and small rocky hillocks were observed all around us with instructions in some places of not to get off the car as the place was supposedly inhabited by the Leopard - so called the Tendua in this region !!

Approaching Bera :
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Staring right at us :
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The Jawai Dam :
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Posing before a beautiful backdrop :
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GPS signal was lost and Google Maps could not identify the place inspite of saying "You have reached your destination". We called up Mr. Singh and he sent his Gypsy to escort us to the resort. Oh !! It was a complete off road track where I had to wade through rocks and flowing streams. Sorry for not having pictures to share for that.

The gypsy escorting us :
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A good 3-4Kms into the off road track, we reached our resort :
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Mr. Singh had kept lunch ready for us and we were just in time for the afternoon Safari. We all filled our appetite with some well cooked home food and freshened up in order to board our Safari Vehicle for our 1st Safari in the Perwa Region of Bera int the Mahindra Thar Di :
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The National Bird alongside with the Peahen :
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The rocky hills :
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Even Mivann was in the quest of the Tendua :
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Ishanvi was also all excited :
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Hell Yes, the group of Tendua(s) obliged and welcomed us graciously. Leopards are very shy and intelligent animals indeed :
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After an exhilarating Safari we reached our property which looked gorgeous :
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Our abode for the night :
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The link to my Review of our stay at the BERA SAFARI LODGE : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...Rajasthan.html

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DAY 11 : PART-I : 2nd Safari in the Pola Region of Bera


Woke at around 04:00am in the morning for the 2nd Safari tothe Pola Region of Bera. Thanks to the rooms having 2 washrooms which made it convenient for us to get the kids and ourselves ready in time for the safari. It was pretty chilly in the morning and we were carrying some woolens with us for this part of the trip to keep us warm.

Following the other safari jeep :
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In this Safari we were not lucky enough to spot any Leopards, the varied species of birds we a pleasure to find :
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Home of the Leopards :
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The Safari Jeeps posing :
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Mr. Shatrunjay's Cottage Residence at the Bera Safari Lodge :
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Our cottage with our Etios parked right before it :
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DAY 11 : PART-II : Bera to Udaipur Via Ranakpur & Kumbhalgarh : 188Kms


We returned back to the property from the Safari and our Breakfast was ready for us ! What a treat ! Mrs. Singh personally took care of our food requirements and we shared some good moments together with the Singh family, including their twin kids. Frankly speaking, we had plans to go back to Jaipur today. However, after detailed discussion with Shatrunjay, we decided that Udaipur was closeby (a 2-3 hour drive) and we must visit Udaipur. However, the alternate route to Udaipur (which is way much longer) sounded more interesting which was Via Bali, Ranakpur & Kumbhalgarh and definitely a more fun to drive and a scenic route. That is the exact reason for which enthusiasts are out for road tripping. With all the ingredients being correct for the day, we set sail for our onwards journey :

At the Jawai Bandh Dam :
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These are available in abundance on the streets/ highways in this region. These are 4-5 times the size of a cucumber and belongs to the same family. Very watery and sour in taste :
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The Ranakpur Jain Temple : (Could not take much snaps)
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Oh No ... a Bad one !! I guess this is not a 4WD or else it could have manged it's way out :
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Winding hilly roads of Ranakpur :
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Arrow straight with a gradient :
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A lot of greenery on this stretch in between Ranakpur & Kumbhalgarh - did not feel as if we were in Rajasthan :
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From Ranakpur, we had to drive to Sayra in order to connect to the road which leads to Kumbhalgarh as the connecting short road between Ranakpur & Kumbhalgarh had broken down and all the cars were taking the detour. None the less, more hill drive and a more scenic one.
Enjoying the scenic drive we reached the Kumbhalgarh Fort which has a wall over 38 km long, and is said to be the second largest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China and the second largest fort in Rajasthan after Chittorgarh Fort.

There is a very good canteen near the entrance and we had our Lunch there. Unfortunately, there were many gates (just for human entry) on the way up to Kumbhalgarh Fort through which we could not trespass the Stroller of our infant and after sometime, we planned to opt out from seeing the entire Fort as it was getting inconvenient for us to leave the stroller behind and move on.

Some pictures from Kumbhalgarh :
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Etios posing with the Fort in the backdrop :
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Some random clicks between Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur :
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We had no reservations in Udaipur and shortlisted The Lakend Hotel for our stay which showed as available on online App based Hotel Reservation Portals. However, on enquiring directly with the hotel, we were informed that there were no rooms available. In the meanwhile, I called up my cousin (whom we met in Jaisalmer) as he was already in Udaipur today and enquired about where they were put up. They were staying at The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace in Udaipur which overlooked the Fateh Sagar Lake and was a Heritage Property and we joined them for their company for some fun times together, yet once again.

The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace :
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Hot Tea awaited us :
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Sunset from the Hotel :
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Mivann in his notorious mood at the hotel :
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We had no plans for the day and planned to stay indoors, enjoy the property and relax at our Hotel itself.

The review of our stay with the Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace at Udaipur :
https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...eview466218500

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DAY 12 : Part-I : Local Sight Seeing in the City of Lakes - Udaipur


We did not have much time in hand; just today's day as we had planned to go back to Jaipur in the evening today. Time was less and there was too much to see in Udaipur. We woke up early and started early with the daily chores. We had requested our hotel for a Late Check Out at around 3:00 to 04:00pm which they had agreed upon. So we just got ready and partially packed up and left our luggage in our hotel room and moved on.

Sunrise at Udaipur as seen from our room :
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View of the Fatehsagar Lake from the Breakfast area :
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Simply gorgeous :
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What is a visit to Udaipur without being to the Udaipur Vintage Car Museum for a Car Enthusiast like us. The collection is housed in the original former Mewar State Motor Garage, a glorious setting for such a fine assortment of vehicles. The bougainvillea - coated Garden Hotel and Restaurant, a property of HRH Group of Hotels, Udaipur, is also contained within the garage’s grounds. The semi-circular motor garage with its forecourt is housed within a greater courtyard, creating a pleasant hideaway from the bustle of the streets. One of the original Shell petrol pump is not only still standing, but also in a usable condition. The motor garage itself was built at a time when the only cars in town belonged to the Mewar State Motor Garage and the present day surroundings make this garage as wonderfully stylish as it must always have been.

Posing with my Etios at this Historical Place :
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Sharing some random clicks of the beautiful vintage machines :
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A click alongside the only Ford in the collection - My Figo would have loved to be here to meet it's predecessor :
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This SHELL Pump is said to be still functional :
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We were contemplating of going to the Udaipur City Palace or not as we were in no mood of seeing any more palaces or forts having had an overdose of it in this trip. As it was close by, we went ahead and drove inside. The parking area was in a mess with too much traffic within the premises of the city palace. We decided to show our backs and took a U-Turn to the exit gate of the City Palace.

Though could manage to take a couple of pictures of the Palace :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4029.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4031.jpg

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Old 11th March 2017, 16:39   #13
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DAY 12 : Part-II : Local Sight Seeing in Udaipur "The City Of Lakes" and the drive back to Jaipur : 437Kms

We headed straight to the Fatehsagar Lake where most of the activity was. It was daytime and was hot. We decided not to expose the children too much under the scorching sun and thus decided to take a Speed Boat Ride in the Lake instead of a crawling cruising sail. I guess, it was a wise and the correct decision as we all simply loved the experience !!

Sharing some snaps of the beautiful Fatehsagar Lake :
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Our ride was ready and so were we :
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This is Hotel Lakend where we wanted to stay !! It has an infinity swimming pool overlooking the lake and costs lesser than Lalit Laxmi Vilas as well. A bad miss for us thanks to our impromptu schedule :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_3959.jpg

Wind in my hair and a smile on my face :
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A family Picture before the lake :
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There were Horses, Camels & Horse Carriages alongside the Lake which take you for a spin along the lake. We opted for the Horse Carriage as it was very sunny. The carriage ride was a very good experience indeed. It was only me and my daughter who went for this ride as my wife was feeding Mivann in the Car parked at the Lake.

The Camels also enjoying the view :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_3969.jpg

The Chaat Chaupati of Udaipur. Though we did not indulge in any, one can give it a try for sure :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_3970.jpg

The Etios posing before the Fatehsagar Lake :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_3980.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_3981.jpg

We headed back to our Hotel in order to Pack Up and settle our bills as it was getting late. We got back, freshened up, packed up and transferred the luggage to our car's boot. On checking with the Locals, we found out this nice little place named 1559 A.D. Restaurant which is pretty famous in Udaipur where we planned to have our late Lunch. This place was very very close to our hotel and we did not waste any further time.

Lunching at 1559 AD Restaurant :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4032.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4033.jpg

It was past 04:30pm and we though to ourselves that we must leave for Jaipur now. However, there was one thing which was pending in our To Do List for Udaipur. My daughter wanted to visit the Saheliyon Ki Baari meaning the Garden of the Maidens in Udaipur and I did not have the heart to let her down. Parking was a problem here as the place was overcrowded with cars and buses filled with tourists. So, I decided to stay back in the car (parked in double line with consent from the cops) with Mivann and let my daughter and wife have a quick stroll through the Gardens. Some Wiki Information on the Saheliyon Ki Baari :
Quote:
Saheliyon Ki Bari was laid for a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. The gardens set below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar Lake have beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant- shaped fountains. These fountains are fed by the water of the lake gushing through ducts made for the purpose. As per the legends, the garden was designed by the king himself and he presented this garden to his queen. Actually, the Queen was accompanied by 48 maids in her marriage. To offer all of them pleasurable moments away from the political intrigues of the court, this garden was made. This patterned garden used to be the popular relaxing spot of the royal ladies. The queen with her maids and female companions used to come here for a stroll and spend their time in leisure.
Sharing some random shots taken by Eshita at this touristy place :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4036.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4038.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4041.jpg

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East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4045.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4051.jpg

At around 05:00pm we finally started our journey for Jaipur bidding Udaipur a Goodbye. We wished we had another day in hand to explore more of Udaipur. May be some other time for sure as this place deserves another visit in leisure. None the less, the decision of coming to Udaipur was indeed a good one and our thrilling time here was cherished.

The tunnel bidding goodbye to us :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4054.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4055.jpg

The drive back to Jaipur was a very spirited one thanks to a HR registered Volvo XC60 which made way for us through the highway and we just followed without even bothering to look at the speedo of the Etios. At 09:15pm, I remember being at my Aunt's residence in Jaipur clocking 395Kms in just about 4 Hours 15 Minutes to which even my relatives were astonished; so were we. The roads were fantastic and the "Jugalbandi" with the Volvo was super fine as we complimented each other throughout the drive.

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Old 11th March 2017, 17:54   #14
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THE RETURN JOURNEY : ALWAYS TOUGH ON THE HEART AND THE MIND


DAY 13 : Jaipur to Neemrana and back (for Work) : 315 Kms

I had a meeting to attend in Neemrana and did a to and fro Solo drive that day as my family stayed back with my aunt in Jaipur and all of them along with my sister who was down from Bangalore had a fun filled day amongst themselves. I caught up with them in the evening over dinner.

DAY 14 : Jaipur to Agra (with the visit to the Agra Fort): 270 Kms

We started from Jaipur at around 11:45am and had planned to stop over for the day at Agra. It being a friday, the Taj Mahal would have been closed and thus we would have to restrict ourselves only to visit the Agra Fort today. A note of the Tourist Guides in Agra. They will throw such figures at you that you will be taken aback. However, you can negotiate well with them and tag them along in order to see things faster and understand better. They take you through the crowd by using short cuts which they are aware of, so it comes in handy.

A family (DSLR) selfie :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4093.jpg

Getting out of Jaipur :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4094.jpg

Some pictures of the Agra Fort :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4101.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4111.jpg

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East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4120.jpg

Taj Mahal as seen from the Fort :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4137.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4123.jpg

Eshita with the children "Mumma Time" :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4140.jpg

Again, we had no reservation in Agra as well. We saw the availability online and called up Hotel Crystal Sarovar Premier in Agra and negotiated well with them to get a good deal for our stay with them in their Taj View Rooms on an AI Basis.

Reached the Hotel :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4159.jpg

Their Sky Grill & Bar was to die for which housed the Terrace Swimming Pool along side it :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4181.jpg
We relaxed for sometime in the pool and then proceeded for dinner

The On the House Puppet Show was organized by the Hotel on the terrace itself :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4204.jpg

The Etios parked in the Hotel's parking lot :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4207.jpg

The review of our stay with the Crystal Sarovar Premier :
https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...eview466253796

DAY 15 : Agra (with a visit to the Taj Mahal) to Varanasi : 602 Kms

We planned to visit the Taj Mahal as early as possible to see the Sunrise. We drove down to the Taj Mahal parking area and booked up a two way 'Tonga Ride' (Horse Carriage) which would take us to the gate of the Taj and drop us back to our car on our return as well. The time was just right and we saw the Taj Mahal in the early hours of the day. My daughter had been telling me to take her to see the Taj Mahal since the past 2 years and somehow we were unable to formulate the required plan. However, she was the happiest of the lot amongst us and was super excited to see the Taj Mahal. It was for her that this plan of stopping over at Agra (for a night hault) was made or else we would have moved ahead.

Sharing some pictures of the visit to the Taj Mahal - Rightly one of the wonders of the world :
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What can you see ? A Face ? Who is it ? : Albert Einstein !!
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A different perspective of the Taj :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4269-2.jpg

We went back to our Hotel with fond memories of the Taj Mahal. They were about to wrap up the buffet breakfast for the morning and we were just about in time for it. What timing indeed. We finally departed from our hotel at around 11:45am for Varanasi and reached The Benares Club in Varanasi at around 07:30pm. Again we had kept an open reservation with them being affiliated members with the Club and we easily got a room for ourselves. There was an event at the club and the ambiance was very colourful and lit up. There was special Menu for the day as well and were feasted to some authentic Benares Chaat (from the best vendors in town) and some North Indian Cuisine over dinner.

The Benares Club premises :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4271.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4272.jpg

Visiting Varanasi and not indulging in the ever famous "Malai Gilori" and "Banarsi Peda" is out of the question :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4277.jpg

East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4276.jpg


DAY 16 : Varanasi to Kolkata : 715 Kms


It had to be an early morning start as my daughter's school was scheduled to reopen on the following day and we could not afford any day of any sort today. It was a perfect morning and I targeted to catch up with the Kolkata bound Group (consisting of BHPian SouraC, BHPian Arindam and Non BHpian Rana) who had gone to Himachal and had done a night hault at a petrol pump somewhere after Mohania after being stuck in the Benaras Toll Traffic for over two hours on the previous night. We almost started off at the same time in the morning and they were around 80-90Kms ahead of me and to make up that time, there was only two options; either they go slow or I go faster than usual. The timing was such that we met up at the Khalsa Dhaba in Dhanbad for Lunch and thereafter proceeded independently to our respective homes. Always a pleasure to catch up with Like Minded Enthusiasts !!

The John Denver Song played and rightly so perfect for the moment as we entered Bengal :
Life is old there, Older than the trees, Younger than the mountains, Blowing like the breeze
Country roads, Take me home, To the place I belong


The Newly Opened Panagarh ByePass which saved a lot of time :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4273.jpg

A parting shot at Shaktigarh "The place of Lengchas" in West bengal :
East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan-img_4275.jpg

Rajasthan has lots to offer and completing the whole of Rajasthan in one trip is close to impossible unless you are on an indefinite getaway. The places which remain for me in my list is Mount Abu, Ajmer Sharif, Ranthambhore and Bikaner which we will do in parts as and when we visit Rajasthan by taking shorter road trips from Jaipur itself.

I know the travelogue has been a pretty lengthy one as prefer penning down details which I personally would love to read and come across some time later in life. Wouldn't mind the kiddos reading them as well as they grow older

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 12th March 2017 at 10:21. Reason: Changes
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Old 13th March 2017, 10:01   #15
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Default Re: East-West drive to the native land : Toyota Etios from Kolkata to Rajasthan

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing such happiness & colours on Holi!
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