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Old 5th February 2017, 17:47   #1
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Default 5,278 km drive across 7 States - Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal & more

Chapter 01: Prologue

I have been accused of many things in my life – not being a fan of movies is not one of them. But this thread is not about my love of movies. It is not even about Tarantino or Nolan (who we should be thankful to for they permit us to breathe the same air they do). It is not about Kavi Pradeep (well, at least not entirely). It is about my wife and me going on a drive in January.

Among the most romantic things you can do with your beloved, a long drive ranks right up there – far above a visit to the mall and only slightly below chartering a plane to spend a weekend in Paris. At least one half of the previous statement is true. The other half is aspiration. A road trip is somewhere between aspiration and truth. It is also a long drive in the truest sense. Word.

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In the Elantra, it appears the road merely changes colour every once in a while as she glides over the rough. This was somewhere around Mhow.

So why invoke the greats in this travelogue? An accusation was made by a dear friend that I seem to end my logs in haste. While there is reasonable merit in the accusation, the fact remains that the end of a trip is usually just about getting home. And there is only so much one can write about getting home. But I am a man who does not scoff at a challenge. I thought about it for exactly two minutes and then it hit me – non-linear narration. That way I rush through the end during the middle of the travelogue. And who is better at non-linear narration than Tarantino and Nolan?

I am not sure if I will be able to pull this off. But, hey, nothing ventured nothing gained.

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We ventured this far to gain this much

One of my favourite songs growing up is from the movie “Jagriti” – Aao Bachcho Tumhen Dikhaayen… (Come kids, let me show you…). And all through this trip, the song was on my lips. Even when we were on the final leg of Nagpur to Hyderabad. I had travelled much, seen so much that only the lyrics of the inimitable Kavi Pradeep could ever completely encapsulate the experience.

Uttar mein rakhwali karta parvatraj virat hai (In the North protects the mighty king of mountains)
Dakshin mein charnon ko dhota sagar ka samrat hai (The king of seas cleanses the south)
Jamunaji ke tat ko dekho Ganga ka yeh ghaat hai (Look at the banks of Yamuna and the ghats of Ganga)
Baat-baat mein haat-haat mein yahaan nirala thaat hai (In every deed and every place there is a uniqueness)
Dekho yeh tasveerein apne gaurav ki abhimaan ki (Look at these pictures of our fame and pride)
Iss mitti se tilak karo yeh dharti hai balidaan ki (Apply this soil on your forehead for it is the land of sacrifice)

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The route: 5278.5km Drive across 7 States in 11 Days – the journey is definitely more important than the destination

Last edited by lucifer1881 : 5th February 2017 at 17:56.
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Old 5th February 2017, 18:00   #2
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Chapter 02: The Boring Bits

The most aggressive part of the drive was covered on day 01. 940km or thereabouts between Hyderabad and Omkareshwar. Took about 13.5 hours of driving with stops only made for fuel and nature’s calls. However, special mention must be made of the road between Betul and Khandwa. It is a peach of a mountain road with amazingly great tarmac and little to no traffic. We took this route on our return from Ujjain as well.

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Omkareshwar - Om Namah Shivaay!

For navigation, we relied completely on google maps. They were spot on for the entire journey including last mile points of interests. They worked fabulously in the mountains, a place where GPS usually has trouble. They helped bring down the drive duration by up to an hour or two each day. 4G connectivity was also good throughout.

Almost all toll gates on National Highways were FasTag enabled (L&T managed tolls being the exception for the most part). State Highways’ toll gates had option of payment by credit / debit cards or mobile wallets. Rajasthan had the best roads of the lot – their major district roads rivalled national highways in other states. And for the first time in all my road trips, courtesy google maps, I drove on a road built under Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojna.

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5,278 km drive across 7 States - Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal & more-img_1814.jpg
Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojna. Somewhere near Beawar.

It was a fascinating experience driving through the hinterlands.

Last edited by lucifer1881 : 5th February 2017 at 18:03.
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Old 5th February 2017, 18:15   #3
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Chapter 03: Royal Rajasthan

Part 01: Chittorgarh

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Laka Nahargarh Palace - our stay in Chittorgarh

Sometimes I do surprise myself with my choice of hotels. While this was 35km away from the Chittorgarh Fort, it was a perfect choice for a stay.

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Boat Ride to the Hotel

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The Palace at Night

Chittorgarh. The name has always conjured up images – of warriors in battle, of their fair maidens performing Johar, of historians running out of platitudes. And then I finally visited it on this trip.

Yeh hai apna Rajputana naaz ise talwaaron pe (This is our Rajputana that prides itself on its swords)
Isne saara jeevan kaata barchchi teer kataaron pe (It has spent its entire life in warfare)
Yeh Pratap ka watan pala hai aazaadi ke naaron pe (This nation of Pratap has been brought up on ideals of freedom)
Kud padi thi yahan hazaaron Padminiyan angaron pe (Thousands of women jumped into fire here)
Bol rahi hai kan kan se kurbaani rajasthan ki (The sacrifice of this land speaks)
Iss mitti se tilak karo yeh dharti hai balidaan ki (Apply this soil on your forehead for it is the land of sacrifice)

The above lines give me goose pimples. Every. Single. Time. And as I stood in the courtyard of the fort one evening with these same lines running through my head, each hair stood on end. Then I sat through the sound and light show. For the first time in my life, I could fully comprehend the enormity of Jauhar and Saka. It was as if the 13km walls of the fort preserved every event for posterity. Every stone had a tale to tell – of valour, beauty and devotion – for this fort was home to Rana Sanga, Rani Padmini and Meera Bai.

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Chittorgarh Fort - Sound and Light Show

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Temple in the Fort

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Vijay Stambh (Victory Pillar)


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Rani Padmini Mahal

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One of the many water tank inside the fort

Last edited by lucifer1881 : 13th February 2017 at 16:43.
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Old 13th February 2017, 16:53   #4
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Chapter 03: Royal Rajasthan

Part 02: Jodhpur


Our second tryst with Royalty was Jodhpur. Meharangarh Fort deserves a sound and light show of its own. It does not have one. It has an audio guide. We reached the fort a little late in the evening, which meant we missed out on the audio guide (they have a strict closing time when it comes to issuing the equipment).

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At the gate of the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort

The fort is one of the best maintained monuments I have come across. It is wheelchair friendly, has barricades to prevent people from getting too close to the precipice, and has more than enough toilets and refreshment points.

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Mehrangarh Fort

Post the visit to the fort, came the mandatory shopping at the Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) market.

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The Ghanta Ghar Market

Interesting anecdote here. We are shopping for some of the famous Rajasthani spices at one of the shops. The shopkeeper gets into a discussion with us on demonetisation and is all praise for the government for having the guts to implement it. He espouses the virtues of going cashless. Then the time comes for payment and I ask him if he will accept card payment. His response, "Sir, please give cash." Absolute facepalm moment if ever there was one.
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Old 13th February 2017, 17:10   #5
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Chapter 04: Divinity

They say you visit only when the Dargah calls you. It must be true. Ajmer was never in my list of places to visit. While planning this trip, I was looking for a city that was the right number of driving hours away from Amritsar. I chanced upon Ajmer – it was about 4-5 hours from Chittorgarh. That put it right in the sweet spot to depart from Chittorgarh around 2pm after visiting the fort, and to start from Ajmer at 6am the next morning to reach Amritsar before sundown.

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Badnor House, our hacienda for the night

After checking in, we visited the Dargah. It is quite something else.

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At the Dargah

Our respects paid, we found a brilliant place for dinner.

Next stop Amritsar. We found a place called Ranjit’s Svaasa on Mall Road (pronunciation “Maal” road for the uninitiated). From a location perspective, it was brilliant. Everything of interest was a short rickshaw ride away (I usually don’t use my car for sightseeing in cities during a road trip mainly because I don’t like the hassle of parking).

Truth be told, the main objective of this trip was to visit the Golden Temple. It was on our radar in 2009 when we did Ladakh but due to certain reasons it had to be shelved. Our last road trip was towards Bhutan. This trip was planned with Amritsar in mind. And it was planned properly for a visit to Harmandir Sahib.

We left our hotel much before sunrise. The rickshaw dropped us off at a point post which we had to walk. And it was a lovely walk indeed.

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The walk to the temple

Then we reached the temple gate. The complex is massive, made of white marble. It exudes its own aura.

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The Temple gate

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I have never seen prettier escalators. While there is no phrase in any language such as "As pretty as an airport", with due credits to Douglas Adams, there is a case for a phrase "As pretty as the Golden Temple escalators."

Once you reach inside the temple, it is an entirely ethereal experience. The Golden Temple nestled in the middle of the water appears like a shining jewel.

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The Golden Temple before sunrise

We had timed our visit perfectly. The Ardaas was on. We found a place to sit about 50 feet from the granth. As the Ardaas went on, night slowly turned into day. Only thing that mattered was this place in this moment. Everything else faded into oblivion.

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The Golden Temple as the sun rises

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Japanese Koi in the Temple Kund

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The Temple gate during the day

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Around the Golden Temple
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Old 13th February 2017, 17:18   #6
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Chapter 05: Freedom

Invoking Kavi Pradeep again:

Jallianwala bagh yeh dekho yehin chali thi goliyaan (Look at Jallianwala bagh for it is here that the bullets were fired)
Yeh mat poocho kisne kheli yahan khoon ki holiyaan (Don’t ask who played the holi of blood here)
Ek taraf bandooken dan dan ek taraf thi toliyaan (On one side were the guns, on the other people)
Marne waale bol rahe the inquilaab ki boliyaan (Those dying were chanting cries of freedom)
Yahan laga di behenon ne bhi baazi apni jaan ki (Here even the women sacrificed themselves)
Iss mitti se tilak karo yeh dharti hai balidaan ki (Apply this soil on your forehead for it is the land of sacrifice)

We have all read about it. We have seen the movies. We have heard tales. But only when you enter the gates of this hallowed place do you grasp the sheer brutality inflicted upon an unarmed peaceful gathering. You begin to understand the various battles fought for the freedom we take for granted today. You become more thankful to the times you are born in, as you bow your head in obeisance to the martyrs.

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Jallianwala Bagh

Freedom comes at a high price. It costs even more to defend it.

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Border Security Force – the largest border guarding force in the world

To a casual observer, the daily ritual at the border is amusing. A casual observer does not know of the wars in ’47, ’65, ’71, and ’99, and the on-going proxy war since the ‘90s. To anyone with a slight understanding of geo-politics, the ritual is much more than jingoism. It is a reminder of what may have been if the situation were different. It is a reminder that the city with Sikhism holiest shrine is a stone-throw away from Lahore. It is a reminder that without the BSF, well, one even shudders to think…

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Approaching the border

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The Wagah Ceremony

It is an elaborate show that the soldiers on both sides of the border put up. As you get lost in the grandeur and spectacle of the ceremony, somewhere in the nether regions of your brain another Kavi Pradeep classic starts to play:

Ae mere watan ke logon, zara aankh mein bhar lo paani (O people of my country, thou shall tear up)
Jo shaheed hue hain unki, zara yaad karo kurbaani (As you remember the sacrifices of the martyrs)

Last edited by lucifer1881 : 13th February 2017 at 17:20.
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Old 13th February 2017, 17:27   #7
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Chapter 06: Snow

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” Not Kavi Pradeep but Frank Sinatra.

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On our way to Dalhousie

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This is when you thank the brilliant person who invented automatic climate control

The road to Lake Khajjar was closed – it was under 5 feet of snow, we were told. We spent some time in the market during the day. Had our fill of good food. Walked around a bit. And then as the sun set, made our way back to our hotel.

I had mentioned in one of my earlier logs that a night at Orchha was the most bone chilling I had ever had – the Swiss tents were no match to the cold front rising from the Orchha river across the street.

This was, however, my first brush with fresh snow. I was prepared. The temperature was only 3.5C. 3.5C was just a walk in the park during my four years in Pilani, a town which has possibly the largest temperature differential between summer and winter anywhere in the world – it comes to a neat half-century. Yes, -2C in winter and 48C in summer. But I digress.

The bottom line is that I was prepared. I had my winter clothing. I was a rock star.

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Lucifer turns parrot

But no preparation was enough. By the time night fell, the cold had already seeped into the body’s core. We changed rooms. That did not help. We got a bigger heater. That did not help. We got extra blankets. That helped. Somewhat. After a few hours of cold sleep, we woke up early and were out of Dalhousie at 5:30am.

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5,278 km drive across 7 States - Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal & more-img_1770.jpg
Our resort at Dalhousie
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Old 13th February 2017, 17:30   #8
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Chapter 07: Epilogue

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Foggy drive between Ajmer and Amritsar

My wife and I have been on multiple road trips. We have driven through the mightiest mountains, forded through rampaging rivers and wrestled through the thickest jungles. This trip was a relatively easy one in comparison. No elements to battle. No adversity to overcome. No heart in the mouth moments.

Does that mean it was any less fun? Absolutely not! Was it more fun? Absolutely not!

Each road trip is unique. Each provides you with an experience like no other. Each gives you a perspective you never had. Each teaches you something more about yourself. But every road trip has one thing in common – the magnificent machine that makes it possible.

She is your companion. She is your saviour. She is your lover. She gives you all she has. She takes it when you push her that bit harder or when you miss a pothole or two. She becomes one with you. Your day begins with her engines roaring to life. It ends with her turning in for a few hours’ rest. As she munches on the miles, you come to a reaffirmation for the umpteenth time – here, in this moment there is no one else you would rather be with.

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The odometer at the end of the journey - 5278.5km
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Old 13th February 2017, 17:34   #9
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th February 2017, 19:04   #10
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Default re: 5,278 km drive across 7 States - Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal & more

Nice trip log. Thank you.

How come you missed out on Pushkar? Yes, Ranjit Svaasa is a nice place. What about eating joints in Amritsar? Please do expand each of these places by giving more information which will help others. Take your time and give out details. Did you taste mawa kachoris in Jodhpur?

Chittorgarh is an amazing place. So are other forts. Jodhpur and Udaipur are beautifully managed as they are still with Maharajas.
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Old 14th February 2017, 14:01   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
...How come you missed out on Pushkar?
Was never on the radar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
What about eating joints in Amritsar? Please do expand each of these places by giving more information which will help others. Take your time and give out details.
Am not a big foodie but on the recommendations of friends, visited Kesar Da Dhaba for lunch. And had Kinno juice post dinner at one of the innumerable juice centers one finds in the city. Also had Kulfa for dessert. This was rad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Did you taste mawa kachoris in Jodhpur?
In Rajasthan, I flipped out on the Laal Maas and Ker Saangri. Did not try the kachoris.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Chittorgarh is an amazing place. So are other forts. Jodhpur and Udaipur are beautifully managed as they are still with Maharajas.
Touche!
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Old 15th February 2017, 07:50   #12
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Default Re: 5,278 km drive across 7 States - Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal & more

Beautiful write up Rohit with some well captured pictures.

I am glad that your elantra is really going stong.
How much on the odo?

Last edited by ecosport rules : 15th February 2017 at 07:53.
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Old 15th February 2017, 17:23   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecosport rules View Post
Beautiful write up Rohit with some well captured pictures.

I am glad that your elantra is really going stong.
How much on the odo?
140k as you can see on the last picture posted.
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Old 15th February 2017, 22:00   #14
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140k as you can see on the last picture posted.
Apologies!!Somehow missed it
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Old 16th February 2017, 19:37   #15
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Default Re: 5,278 km drive across 7 States - Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal & more

Excellent write-up. Enjoyed the pics a lot! Thanks for sharing.

Did you have to drive through the ice? Would like to know your experience regarding that and if you had taken any precautions.
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