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Old 15th January 2010, 16:46   #16
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Default Day 3 (28/12/2009)

Today we say good bye to Bikaner. We did not see much of Bikaner. But what little we saw, we liked the place. The fact that it is not overcrowded with tourists helped. When we planned this trip, our main destination was Jaisalmer. We added Bikaner and Jodhpur to the list, partly to reduce the driving time to and from Jaisalmer, and partly to have a brief look at these two places, so that we can make a visit in future again, with more time in hand.

Breakfast completed, we settle the hotel bills. Time to leave. Last few shots of the hotel.

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As you come out of the hotel, you go left. Jaisalmer Road is one-and-a-half kilometers ahead, you have to turn right from a roundabout, I think it was Urmul chawk. Fill up fuel just after coming out of the hotel.
Waiting at the roadside while fruits etc are being picked up for the journey.
Though this photo does not quite capture it, the autos in Bikaner are very strange shaped, reminds me of caterpillar for some reason.

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Soon we take Jaisalmer Road. There were some construction work going on, probably some flyover. After going a little further ahead, we discover that vehicles can not go any further. We had to backtrack, and take a detour through a small lane and then a crowded road to meet the highway a few kilometers ahead.
Finally we are on NH15 at 12:15. Road absolutely dead straight, some vertical bends, but no horizontal bends as far as eyes can see.

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About 45 km out of the city, we find a board that says ``Sri Kolayat Lake 6 km”. We are curious how does a lake in these parts look like. So we take the diversion. Soon we reach this `lake'.

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There is a small temple on one side ...

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and a few houses built around the lake. . .

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There were not too many people to be seen, but there were a few beggars. Which tells you that people come to pay visit to the temple.

On our way back, we find this brick kiln on one side of the road. We were happy to be able to show our daughter something that we don't see too often, and something she hasn't seen at all.

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Back on NH15 again. Road was superb. We could comfortably cover 170 km in the next two hours.

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Again a couple of houses in the middle of nowhere.

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Shortwhile after crossing Pokhran, we take a break.

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Have some fruit salad.

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After a half-hour break, we resume again.
Waiting at a railway level crossing here.

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With the sun going down, visibility on this straight west facing stretch was a bit of a problem.

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So we stop and take a few snaps.

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Finally, we reach Hotel Desert Moon shortly after 6 o'clock. After dumping the luggage in our room, have a cup of tea sitting in the first floor verandah on the front. Vyas Chhatris are right across the road.

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A Kiwi-Indian couple, Lois and Chanesar, runs this hotel. Chanesar comes and joins us there for a chat. We arrange a Jeep safari to Sam the next day through him. We will be taken there around 3 in the afternoon. Sam is 45 km from here. There we take camel rides to some spots on the dunes, later come back to one of the resorts, have tea/snacks and enjoy some song and dance program, have dinner and the Jeep will bring us back to the Hotel. It would be Rs 1000/- per head, including everything.

As it gets dark, sky takes a superb hue. With streetlights coming on, it looks wonderful.

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We freshen up, decide to have an early dinner, go to the rooftop dining area; and there it is, the `Sonar Kella'.

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Zoom in a little.

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At the dinner table, we meet a Swedish couple. They are planning to stay for a couple of days in Delhi on their way home. We suggest some places they might go to. We continue chatting for a while and retire for the day.

Next day is going to be a relatively busy one. We will explore the Fort area, and then the visit to the dunes. This was going to be the first ever camel ride for us. In the camel breeding farm in Bikaner, though we did not take a ride, we watched closely some of the other visitors take the ride, and I must say it did not inspire too much confidence. Plus, if you have read this post (Gurgaon - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Bikaner - Gurgaon) by gd1418, you are bound to be a little nervous. So we all are excited and a little tense too.

Last edited by Rehaan : 16th January 2010 at 20:23. Reason: Title date change on request.
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Old 18th January 2010, 16:40   #17
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Default Day 4 (29/12/2009)

I get up quite early and get ready. Instead of waiting for the others, I decide to utilize this period and go for a walk to the Fort.

The Vyas Chhatris bathed in the morning sun.

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As I proceed towards the Hanuman Circle, there are all kinds of hotels, reastaurants and tour organisers on both sides of the road.

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From Hanuman Circle, I turn towards the Fort. The route I take is through a narrow market. Shops are still closed. It is too early for them.

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As I come out of the market, I get a glimpse of the Fort.. .

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and this.

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Entrance to the Fort is a few meters ahead, to the right.

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Inside this main entrance, there is some parking space and shops on both sides.

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I was getting late for breakfast. So instead of going in further, I turn back, this time not taking a different route.

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Those are the Vyas Chhatris again, with our hotel and another one on the right foreground.

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One of the things I loved about Desert Moon is its location. The surroundings are so peaceful, away from the hustle and bustle in the vicinity of the Fort. Jaisalmer being a small city, everything is at a walking distance. So you are not too far from the action either. By the time I come back, everyone is ready. We go up to the terrace, have breakfast and start towards the Fort again, this time all three of us.

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When we reach the Fort, it was considerably more crowded.

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On one side there was this small girl doing all kinds of balancing tricks on a rope.

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Jaisalmer Fort is very different from any other Fort I have seen so far. People actually live inside the Fort – houses built in the olden days are still very much there and people have been residing there for several generations. In some sense it is like any other residential area in the city. As a result, you see all kinds of traffic, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and even cars inside the Fort.

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There are small houses, alleys, courtyards; and just like in most other places in India, cows and dogs coexist peacefully right in the middle of all these.

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We reach a place where there was this old person singing away happily with his instrument. He said his instrument was 150 years old, passed on to him by his grandfather.

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Close by, there are two canons kept and you get a good view of parts of the city.

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As you turn back after you are done with the `city view', you discover you are right above (well, almost) someone's house.

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Small alleys...

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flanked by shops, restaurants and normal households..

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give the place a unique flavour. We just loved going round and round those alleys. I could spend the whole day doing just that. We couldn't though, on this day. My daughter had picked up some dust/smell she was allergic to on our way to the Fort. She was constantly sneezing and was not being able to enjoy it much. For such eventualities, I normally carry rhinocort, a nasal spray. But you have to anticipate and administer it before you get exposed to the allergen. And we hadn't. So we came out, gave her a cetrizine tablet from a medical shop, and went to a restaurant named `Trio' that many in this forum had recommended, in order to have an early lunch and hoping that the sneezing subsides.

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We were told that they serve lunch after 12:30. which was still a good half-an-hour away. So we came out, saw one Haveli close by and entered only to find that it is a Haveli converted to a hotel.

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So back to Trio again. By now it was nearly 12:30 and groups of people had started pouring in. Had lunch and came back to our hotel to have a bit of rest before starting off for the dunes.

(to be contd.)
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Old 19th January 2010, 09:20   #18
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Default Day 4 (Contd.)

Started for the the dunes at about 3:30. There was a Jeep ready in front of the hotel. It looked in very good condition, almost new (It was bought just 5 months back, I later learned). But there was no number plate, none in the front, none in the back! When I asked Karim, the driver cum guide, he just casually said, the number plate has to be fitted. I asked, do the Police or the Army/BSF not say anything? "No one says anything" is the reply. In an earlier trip a few months back to a place near Jhansi, I was shocked to see several cars plying on the highway as well as in the towns without number plates. I had thought such things probably only happen in parts of UP/MP. But here too! And this is a vehicle that operates fairly close to the border with a country we do not share the greatest of relations with.

In the Jeep, another family of three who were also staying in the same hotel, joined us for the safari. When we went to the Camel Breeding Farm in Bikaner two days back, we had watched very closely people taking camel rides, in particular, how to manage when it gets up or sits down. My daughter was very apprehensive, in fact outright reluctant to go to the dunes because we have to do camel ride there. The other family accompanying us had a small daughter – so at least my daughter now had someone to play with, and this cheered her up a bit. So we were happy.

After about half-an-hour's drive, we reached a place where there were lots of camels waiting, and some dunes were visible at a distance. So time to ride the camels now. I will be on one camel with my daughter, and my wife would be on another. We mentally rehearsed all the technique again, and sat on the camel; my daughter in the front and me behind her. It was a wee bit scary when the camel got up, but we managed somehow. What was scarier however, immediately after getting up, the camel set off at a brisk pace. Every moment it seemed like I'd fall down. I tried at the top of my voice to convey to the handler to slow down the camel; but the handler of our camel was actually a little kid and he paid no attention whatsoever to whatever I had to say. Somehow I clung on to the handle in the front. My daughter, meanwhile was quite comfortable in the front seat. After about 10/15 minutes, realization dawned upon me that if I haven't fallen till now, I probably won't after all. Became a little adventurous and released the handles and sat straight. It actually was much better this way. Since I was bending over in an attempt to hold on to the handle in the front, my waists were getting somewhat stiff and were not absorbing the undulations properly. Now that I sat straight and relaxed a little, it was much better, and soon I actually started enjoying the ride. Mustered enough courage finally to take out my camera from the pocket.

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Just as we were enjoying the ride, the camels stopped. The place was crowded. We tell the handlers to take us further, where it is a little less crowded. We go a little forward and stop again. It is still crowded, we want to go further. But they are in a hurry to go back and get new set of tourists. Neither side was willing to budge. In the process, instead of enjoying the surroundings, we were wasting time and energy in arguing with them, so eventually we give up and release the camels.

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You can see some of the resorts there.

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Meanwhile my daughter was busy playing with her young companion.

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Nearly time for the sun to go down. End of yet another day.

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The camels along with their handlers were back to carry us to the resort.

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This time we were actually looking forward to the ride. But it didn't last long. Instead of taking us to the place where we had taken the camels from when we came, they took us to the closest point on the road.

If you have a car, and are interested only in going to the dunes and watching the sun set, cheapest option would be to drive down to this place, park your car, and then either walk or take a camel ride to the dunes. Once you are done, come back, and drive away in your car. It would be free, if you walk, and I think Rs 400 or so per camel if you take a camel ride. Each camel can take two passengers. So it would be basically Rs 200 per person if there are even number of people. The roads till here are very good, so no worry there.

Our guide Karim now takes us to a resort. There is an open space inside. The middle part is for the dancers, there are a few circular rows of mattresses and cushions placed around. We are among the early birds, manage to get front row seats. Slowly all the seats get filled up. They serve tea and poha as the performance starts. There were songs, and dance. Among the two girls who were dancing, one was particularly good. Next morning when we went to the Fort again, My wife said she recognised her face in one of the RTDC posters displayed.

Had dinner around 9. We actually wanted to watch the show till the end. But we were told it would go on till about 11, and the other family with their little kid wanted to get back to the hotel. So somewhat reluctantly, we came back. But overall, it was a great day. The highlight undoubtedly being the camel ride.

Talking about camel rides, let me recount what was probably the most hilarious moment of our trip. This happened in Bikaner, in the camel breeding farm. As I had mentioned earlier, visitors were taking camel rides, and we stood there for a while watching closely, so as to prepare ourselves mentally and technically as well. A lady in her late twenties or early thirties perhaps, together with her partner at the back, sat on the camel. All set. The camel would get up any moment. Everybody is watching, and the two on the camel have their upper body slanted backwards in anticipation and look tense. Suddenly a cellphone rings. Someone in the crowd calls out: "there's a phone call for you". The handler somehow manages to keep the camel seated. And this person hands the lady her cellphone. Seated precariously on the camel, she holds on to the camel with one hand and takes the phone with the other: "hello,... I am taking a camel ride now". From what we could make out, the other side was persistent. So she continues: "look, I am on a camel now... (louder) I am sitting on a camel right now. Will talk to you a little later". But the person on the other end was not about to give up so easily, for, as we soon find out, he/she was desperate. We hear this lady continue: "what? rice? ok, what.. yes, open the cupboard, . . . no no, not that one, the one on your left.. yes, can you see a blue container on the back?" and so on goes the detailed instruction to the desperate soul in search of rice in her kitchen.
I have found cellphones extremely helpful and convenient to the user on many occasions. I have also found cellphones a big inconvenience and irritant, mostly to people around its user. But never before have I seen a cellphone provide so much entertainment.
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Old 30th January 2010, 11:45   #19
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Default Day 5 (30/12/2009)

After a fairly hectic day, we take it easy in the morning and get up a little late. Today we were planning to have our breakfast somewhere in the Fort. So after completing usual morning rituals, we head for the Fort.

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We reach the place where the old man was singing yesterday. But he was missing today. There was a restaurant close by that we had spotted yesterday that was not crowded and had a nice view of the city. It is called “Shanti Restaurant”.

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We order breakfast and sit down. There are no other customers. The person taking our order tells us that they do not keep anything semicooked or half ready - they prepare everything fresh after getting the order, so it will take a little time. We are in no great hurry. So fine with us.

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After some time, he brings us grilled sandwiches, mixed fruit porridge and chocolate pancakes that we ordered. As he had said, It was all fresh, quality very good, and reasonably cheap. We are quite impressed, and decide to make another visit for dinner, if we happen to be nearby that time.

We then roam around the lanes, deciding again to skip the more crowded parts like the Jain temples etc. We also do some shopping.

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We come back to Desert Moon briefly, and leave for our next destination today, the Kuldhara ruins. One has to take the road to Sam, the same road that the Jeep took yesterday. At about 12 km, there is a small board with “Kuldhara” written on it. Take a left turn and Kuldhara is 5 km ahead on this road, on the left. There is a small gate. You have to buy tickets here. I tried to locate the ticket counter, but there was none. There was a person sitting on the ground, who I thought was either a beggar or perhaps a vendor selling something. It turned out he was indeed selling something, entry tickets. Ticket prices are minimal. Rs 10 per adult, and you can also drive your car inside, paying another Rs 50 for the car.

We took the car inside, parked it at some place and proceeded on foot. Rows of houses, or remains of them on one side, and something like a temple visible in the distance.

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As we proceed, we find another family, an elderly lady among them, coming from the opposite direction. They are utterly disappointed. They warn us: do not go; there is nothing, absolutely nothing. There is not even an idol in the temple.
I feel very amused. It is precisely this `nothing' that I have come here to experience. But who will explain it to them! We just keep quiet.

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But we could not continue for long. It was around 2 o'clock, the sun was quite strong and there was hardly any place to hide. Daughter and wife both refused to continue further because it was too hot for them. As it is, you have to go by what SWMBO says, and in this case I had two of them lining up against me. So I had no other choice but to return back. We even skipped Khaba. Next time we come here, I think I will send them shopping, and come visit this place alone.
(note: SWMBO=She Who Must Be Obeyed. Picked up the acronym from another thread here. Liked it so much that couldn't resist using it.)

Next in line was this fossil park, where there are wood fossils from 180 million years back.

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It is in the opposite direction. We come back to Jaisalmer and take the road to Barmer. This park is right on this road, on the right side, 17 km from Jaisalmer. You have to buy tickets right after you enter the compound. Tickets are very cheap, so cheap that I do not even remember the amount any more. Less that Rs 10, I think. After buying tickets, you drive for about a kilometer and reach this place where there are a few shades, and some wood fossils kept in enclosures under those shades.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_152416_cimg2817.jpg

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The whole place is absolutely deserted, with nothing else visible anywhere close. Almost no other visitors. In the entire 45 minutes that we were there, we saw just two other families.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_153020_cimg2821.jpg

Fortunately for me, SWMBO senior took a liking to this place.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_153128_cimg2823.jpg

And SWMBO junior, even though she was getting a bit bored, kept herself busy playing with some prehistoric stones.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_152114_cimg2815.jpg

We left the fossil park at 4. Came back to Jaisalmer. From Hanuman Circle, turned left, then took the first right turn into Ramgarh Road. For the hotel, you have to turn right from this road a few hundred meters ahead. Instead, we headed straight. A few kilometers ahead on this road are the Suzlon windmills.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_163636_cimg2824.jpg

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Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_164154_cimg2828.jpg

These are all part of a 9.8 MW wind power project. Wind power is a major source of electricity in these regions.

(to be contd.)
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Old 30th January 2010, 12:04   #20
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Default Day 5 (30/12/2009) (Contd.)

Next back to the hotel, leave the car there and head for the havelis. These havelis were the residences of the rich and the influential. We wanted to see the Patwa ki Haveli, which supposedly is among the best here. After some asking around for directions and walking through the lanes and bylanes, we reach Nathmalji ki Haveli, which is very well known for its architecture.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_180632_cimg2831.jpg

A little further ahead is Patwa ki Haveli.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_181730_cimg2832.jpg

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It was nearly time to close down; we quickly buy tickets and get in.

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Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_182428_cimg2836.jpg

Could not take too many pictures here, as I would have needed long exposure shots which was difficult because time was too tight and there was still a steady flow of visitors.
This is from the terrace of the Haveli.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_183820_cimg2840.jpg

Next in the agenda is dinner. We had skipped lunch, as we had a late and heavy breakfast. Though we had fruits etc during the day, we were quite hungry. Going by our breakfast experience, we decide to go to Shanti Restaurant again.
As we expected, the place is empty, we take a table facing the fort wall, giving us a great view of the city.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_190654_cimg2841.jpg

We place our order and continue to enjoy the calmness around us and the view before us.

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Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091230_190744_cimg2843.jpg

From this point, things start going wrong. By now we were really getting hungry. When you are that hungry, you can hardly do justice to other faculties of the brain that has to do with appreciating beauty and stuff like that. That's what happened to us. Our food was served after two hours with one item still missing. When we finished what was served, this item was still nowhere to be seen. At which point, we lose patience, cancel this remaining order, pay for the rest, and leave. Rather unfortunate end to a very good day overall.
I would still recommend this place, but only after you have had dinner somewhere else. Just come and sit for a cup of tea, and enjoy the view. While we were waiting for our food, another small group of 3/4 people came and ordered coke/pepsi. And that was served after 20 minutes! So even if you order just a cup of tea, I am sure you will get plenty of time to sit and enjoy the view.
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Old 6th February 2010, 19:54   #21
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Default Day 6 (31/12/2009)

Last leg of our trip starts today. After breakfast, we will start for Jodhpur and then depending on what time we reach there, will make our subsequent plan. Since there is nothing planned for the morning, get up a bit late. The sun is already out. As I get up, I can see the Chhatris from my bed, through the window.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_075038_cimg2848.jpg

We get ready. My daughter is still in the bed, and shows no interest in getting up. We decide to give her a little more time to sleep, and decide to go explore the Vyas Chhatris meanwhile. The entrance to the Chhatris is from the other side, on Ramgarh road. And it is not clear to us whether the gates would be open at this time. So instead of going there, we decide to just scale the wall and take a shortcut.

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Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_081838_cimg2865.jpg

Hotel Desert Moon.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_085144_cimg2866.jpg

After coming back, we quickly get ready and pack up. This is the little kid who was with us in the dunes. They were also leaving for Jodhpur today.

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There are a few chairs and a divan kept in the corridor just outside our room.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_095052_cimg2874.jpg

It is a two storied building, well actually a three storied one. What looks like basement from the front is the ground floor from the other side, where the owners stay. In the first floor, there is a nice space in the front facing the Chhatris where you can sit and relax with a cup of coffee or a glass of unmentionable.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_095138_cimg2875.jpg

Right now, there is no railing – so you have to be very careful if you have a small kid with you. Chanesar said they plan to put up something there. This hotel is quite new, I think they have started just a couple of years or so back. They are still giving finishing touches to various parts.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_095216_cimg2877.jpg

After completing breakfast, as we wait to settle the bills, I chat a bit with Chanesar. Ask him, what can we see on our next visit here. He says, he'd take us to Tanot next time, and to his village. After settling the bills, and buying a few items and filling up petrol, we set off for Jodhpur a little after 11:30. Till Pokhran, the route is the same that we used while coming here.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_130606_cimg2878.jpg

This is a road where vehicles go at 100+ speeds. We talk of road safety, seat belts, air bags. But those are all for a select few. Look at this vehicle here, look at the support at the back. This is how a majority of our fellow indians in rural areas travel.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_130646_cimg2879.jpg

After Pokhran, the road surface was not as good, but still much better than most places in India, and traffic volume was again very low.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_131522_cimg2882.jpg

Normally depending on the road surface, traffic volume and presence/absence of localities and other such factors, I decide on a speed I am comfortable with, and try and maintain that. If someone is going slower, I would overtake him. I do not care if someone else is going faster and overtakes me. I think most people on the highways do the same. But there are a few who do not like to be overtaken. This red D'zire was one such.

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Problem was, he was going a little slower than me. But as soon as I come close to him or overtake, he would floor the accelerator and go right ahead. After a while, again I would catch up, because he was not really maintaining a higher speed. Again seeing me closing in, he would go faster. Even this is fine. But it is a problem when you have started the process of overtaking and the other person starts accelerating. This happened several times with this car.

We reach Jodhpur in a little over three hours. But then we have to ask around a bit to find our hotel, Indrashan Guest House. This was not really a hotel. Mrs and Mr Bhavna Singh and Chandrasekhar Singh have converted their residence into a homestay. Theirs is a typical Rajasthani construction. There is a central courtyard, surrounded by rooms on all sides. On one side is the kitchen. There are a few chairs and sofas kept here, and guests can use this space to sit and chat with others, and also to have tea/coffee or breakfast/lunch/dinner. Mrs Singh shows us to our room. We put the luggage in the room, freshen up a bit, and come down to the courtyard for a cup of tea, before going out. Where to go today was the question. As we come to the courtyard, we find a few others already there. Mrs Singh tells us we can not go to the Fort today, because by the time we'd reach, it would be nearly time to close. After some discussion with the others, we decide to go to the National Handloom Corporation for some shopping, and leave other things like Fort etc for tomorrow.
We take an auto instead of the car, to avoid potential parking problems. Handloom Corporation has 3 (or was it 4) floors, different floors catering to people of different sex/age. We spend about two hours there, do some shopping and take an auto back. Rest for about an hour in our room. This was Dec 31. From our window, we could see people have already assembled in the central courtyard. Soon we also join them.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_220858_cimg2898.jpg

By the time we came down, dinner had already been served. On the left is the kitchen, and on the far side is the dining table, which is used to serve meals. People normally use the chairs in the courtyard rather than sitting at the dining table. Its a fixed menu buffet meal, bit on the expensive side, Rs 350/- per head for a nonvegetarian meal, but it was very good. I do not know whether it was Dec 31 special, or is it similar everyday. Next day, on recommendation from Mrs Singh, we had gone to a restaurant, Kalinga, near the rail station. I found the meal at Indrashan much better than at Kalinga.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_220918_cimg2899.jpg

There was a small fire put in the centre, and we keep chatting away, waiting for the new year.

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What we liked best about Indrashan was this courtyard. It was so nice and cozy. And the gathering did not seem like it was in a hotel or a guest house, it was as if you are in a friends place. There was something about the atmosphere that is very hard to explain.

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My daughter is feeling very sleepy. In such situations, she is normally too happy to go back to her room. But she also liked the place very much. She was not willing to go back to the room – wanted to be there with all the rest when it was twelve o'clock.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20091231_232742_cimg2909.jpg

Finally, it is 2010. Everyone wishes happy new year to one another, shake hands and hug each other. After some more time, we slowly disperse. Next day is again likely to be hectic. We need some rest.
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Old 10th February 2010, 14:29   #22
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Very nice write up and pictures mate keep them coming... How was the weather there at that time. I had planned for a complete Rajasthan Trip in 2008 but unfortunately came back from Jaipur! in December. (My grandmother had an attack). She is alright now ;-)
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Old 10th February 2010, 15:43   #23
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@akp. This is how a majority of our fellow indians in rural areas travel.

I've travelled by those in Gujarat. They used to call them as Chakda.
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Old 10th February 2010, 17:52   #24
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Originally Posted by akaushik View Post
Very nice write up and pictures mate keep them coming... How was the weather there at that time. I had planned for a complete Rajasthan Trip in 2008 but unfortunately came back from Jaipur! in December. (My grandmother had an attack). She is alright now ;-)
Thanks, akaushik.
The weather was fabulous at the time we travelled. We had never been to these places earlier - we thought it would be very cold in the desert, so packed a lot of wollens. But it was not too cold. If anything, it was a bit warm if you are out in the sun for long. But then there is almost always a nice cool breeze.
Too bad that you could not complete your trip in 2008. But since you are in Delhi, planning another one shouldn't be a problem.

Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
@akp. This is how a majority of our fellow indians in rural areas travel.
Exactly my point. We are among those select few who can afford cars, with all the safety equipments. Most people in our country do not have a choice - they have to put their life at risk even when they want to do something very basic like going from point A to point B.
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Old 14th February 2010, 10:31   #25
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Default Day 7 (01/01/2010)

Mehrangarh Fort – that is the only place that is fixed in today's agenda. From what we have learned from others in the Guest House who have already been to the Fort, it should take half a day. For the remaining half, we have two options: either go to a few other places in the city, like say the Umaid Bhawan Palace, or to go for a village safari. We are inclined towards this latter option. But then, we haven't made any arrangements yet, and we do not have much idea as to how long does it take. By the time we will be through with the Fort, we won't have too much time left. So, if it is a day long affair, we can not do it. At breakfast table, we ask our host Mr Chandrasekhar Singh about a possible safari. He tells us he knows someone who can take us for a village safari. It would take about three hours, so starting at around 2 pm should be fine. He also suggests that we take our own car rather than going by a Jeep, as the places that one is taken to are doable in a car, and one saves some money this way. If we go by a Jeep, the charges would be about 1400, and if we take our car, and this person accompanies us, it would be Rs 650/-. And anyway, if I do not have to leave the car unattended in conjested places for long periods, I always prefer taking my car rather than being driven. So the plan is finalized. We will go to the Fort right after breakfast. The guide will come to Indrashan at around 2 o'clock and wait for us. As soon as we are back, we can start for the safari.

For the Fort, we take an auto instead of taking our car. Mainly because, one, we might save time reaching the Fort, as we do not have to find our way around, and two, more important, we can enjoy the Fort peacefully. If the car is parked outside, there would always be a slight worry in my mind, as I do not know the place well enough. The auto charges us Rs 100, a bit high considering that the distance is just about 7 kilometers. Soon we are near the Fort.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20100101_103632_cimg2912.jpg

We come closer, to a place beyond which three wheelers are not allowed. We leave the auto here and walk towards the Fort.

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Time to buy tickets. Tickets cost Rs 25/- per head, and there is also a charge of Rs 75 for the camera. Mrs Singh had asked us to take audio guides rather than going for human counterparts. We initially decided to take one audio guide, as we thought my daughter wouldn't want to use one, and if both of us are busy listening to the audio device, she would get bored. So my wife would use it, and I'd give my daughter company.

Waiting to collect the audio device.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20100101_105324_cimg2921.jpg

When you are given a device, they keep an identity card of yours (eg driving license) as deposit. Once you finish your audio tour, you return the device and get back your id card.
When you get the device, someone explains how to use it. This person was explaining in a highly dramatic tone – my daughter is amused by the way he is speaking. I was a bit too slow to react – I should really have recorded his voice.

Year end trip to Rajasthan: Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Delhi-20100101_105826_cimg2922.jpg

Now my daughter was curious – she took the device from my wife and tried it – and she seemed to like it. She said, she also wants to use one. So we take two more of those - one for each of us. The audio guides cost Rs 150/- each, but as we found out, they were worth every penny and a much better option than going for a human guide. If you go for a guide and are lucky, you may possibly get someone good, but generally what happens is, the guide is in a hurry to finish the tour and get a new customer – so you are always chasing him rather than enjoying the place at your own pace. Also I am very skeptical about what these guides tell you, because what he says is just between him and the visitor, and there is no way to check that it is not complete crap.

The audio tour starts.

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Marks of cannon balls. Details in the picture that follows.

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The Fort management has put many such people at various parts inside the Fort complex to perform.

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You can see the old city here. Quite prominent is the blue colour associated with Jodhpur. But I wonder how much of this blue here is natural. I mean the extent of blue in this part of the city visible from the Fort is much more than any other part of the city that I saw. Made me feel that this has somehow been arranged by the Fort management, for the visitor. I have to admit that I do not have any evidence, I might be totally wrong.

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The path leading you to the inner part is quite steep and also has a sharp turn. This is all meant to throw the enemy off guard.

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Somebody told me once that these turns as you enter some fort are almost always a right turn, as that is when the right hand movement of the enemy coming in gets a little constrained, and it becomes easier to attack them. Sounds very logical, but do not know whether they really designed the entrance keeping this in mind.


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He is there for illustrating to the visitor the use of hookah. If you are an avid smoker, can not hope for better job satisfaction.

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Among the advantages of an audio guide is, if you want to listen to some part again, you can do that.

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Yet another palanquin, must be a special one, going by its gold plated body and plenty of glass area.

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This picture does not convey at all what we saw. There was, in a glass cover what looked almost like a small painting. You come close and look at it very carefully - you find this; such fine work with threads. Along with this macro shot, I really should have taken a normal shot also.

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Handle of a sword that belonged to King Akbar.

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Just like many batsmen are very fussy about their bat and its grip, people used to be very particular about their grip, weight, shape of their sword.
Swords of different shapes and sizes.

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Her Highness.

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Some of the more beautiful parts, with intricate work.

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But you can not go in; though it's a bit disappointing, from preservation point of view, probably the right thing to do. As soon as you allow people too close, people will start touching all over, spoiling everything much faster.

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Protecting the Fort from enemies.

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The blue city again.

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Another beautiful room.

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Carved screens that you see in many Forts and Palaces in India. You can see what is outside...

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but people on the other side can not see what is behind those screens.

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Forgot what this was. Some kind of meeting hall, I guess.

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Listening to some history again.

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Finally our audio tour is over. Among the three forts that we saw during this trip, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, I think this is the one that has been `marketed' the best. Even though I found the Bikaner Fort more impressive, and Jaisalmer Fort had a charm of its own that no other Fort I have seen has, the trip to this Fort was so much enjoyable - I think chiefly because it has been presented to the visitor so well.

We return the audio devices and get back our id card. There were a few people selling durries. There were also these equipments to show how they weave those durries. But it was lunchtime and they were away somewhere having lunch. So we saw just the machines.

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There is a small restaurant inside, Mehrangarh Cafe. We go in and occupy a table, with the intention of having a quick lunch and head back. We were already late. Our guide would be waiting for us at Indrashan. But this cafe was terribly understaffed. After several minutes, we get a menu card. Since getting things quickly is our priority, we decide to order thali, or whichever can be served fast. But we are told, in a tone as if we were being done a great favour, that nothing can be served in less than half an hour. We get up and leave, because it was really getting late. Lunch can wait. We come out, take an auto to Nai Sarak, where we pick up a few pakoras from a shop we spotted last evening just adjacent to the Handloom corporation. Take another auto back to Indrashan, and have those pakoras sitting in this auto on the way.
When we reach back, it is already 3 o'clock. Our guide, Dipak, has been patiently waiting for us. Though we had already told Mr Singh before we left for the Fort that we might be a little late, it never is a good feeling when you make someone wait for too long. Anyway, in another 15 minutes we were off again for the second part of the day, the village safari.

(to be contd.)
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Old 14th February 2010, 17:25   #26
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Good stuff sir. I had planned a similar trip with friends, but they all chickened out.

Do include a cost summary in the end.

Thanks a lot sir.

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Old 14th February 2010, 20:06   #27
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Originally Posted by EssYouWe View Post

Good stuff sir. I had planned a similar trip with friends, but they all chickened out.

Do include a cost summary in the end.
Thanks, EssYouWe.

Yes, all the related details are coming at the end, which is just two more posts away. Hope to finish them by this week.
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Old 15th February 2010, 00:06   #28
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Brought back so many memories. History being captured so beautifully. I am originally from Bikaner and Nanihaal is Jodhpur. Did you try the infamous Rasgullas and Bhujia ?? Nice to see that they are improving the infrastructure as well as the hotels.
Awesome Thread mate !
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Old 15th February 2010, 18:40   #29
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Originally Posted by ATL_BOY View Post
Brought back so many memories. History being captured so beautifully. I am originally from Bikaner and Nanihaal is Jodhpur. Did you try the infamous Rasgullas and Bhujia ?? Nice to see that they are improving the infrastructure as well as the hotels.
Awesome Thread mate !
Thanks ATL_BOY.

Bikaner is a nice place that we loved, and would like to go back again sometime.

We did try some bhujia at our hotel, whose owners, the Bikaji group made their fortune in bhujia business, and are diversifying into hotel and other things now. As for Rasgullas, I've been brought up with rasgullas in Kolkata, so the thought of trying it somewhere else didn't even occur to me, to be honest.
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Old 15th February 2010, 21:41   #30
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AKP - The blue you see behind Mehrangarh Fort is part of the old city. The Indigo was not only used to keep the houses cool, but they say it also acts as an insect repellent. Like most forts Mehrangarh has some really good stories to it.
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