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Old 25th February 2010, 20:09   #1
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Default Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan

Inspired by folks here, I planned a road trip thorough Rajasthan in mid- Feb '10. Had done a smaller trip to Karwar and Goa in my Indica V2 pertol last year but decided to double the distance now that we had a brand new Xylo in hand. What follows is my humble attempt to peice together a travelogue. I had compiled this on the go on my laptop at the end of each day so there might be some confilct in the tenses!!

Day 1 :

Bed Tea in Mumbai, Breakfast in Valsad and Lunch in Ahemdabad and Dinner in Jaisalmer!

Left Mumbai at 3.30am as decided and advised by HV Kumar (had taken a route advise on this forum back in Jan). Had tanked up 48 liters the pervious night. Moved up onto the Mumbai - Ahemdabad higway in quicktime, was doing an average of 75kms per hr till 80 kms before Vadodara where we got caught in a traffic snarl, learnt from the locals that this was a routine thing before a toll booth..wasted 1hr 10 mins in there at around 8am...had tea and biscuits at a small dhaba

Traffic snarl before Vadodara from my rear windscreen
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-traffic-jam-vadodara-highway.jpg

Stopped just before Ahemdabad on the BP petrol pump and asked for a full tank since the tank was near empty. It came to another 48 lts for 500 odd kms so got an average of 10kms. I guess it was the speeds that I was doing all through screwed the average.

Speeed
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A jain temple near vadodara
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The pump also had a food court, so we decided to have a light meal of dosa's and idli's at around 11.30am

Now for some route info...just before entering Ahemdabad, there is an exit named "Himmatnagar, Udaipur and Delhi". Take that exit and move towards Himmatnagar, Mehsana is around 100 kms from here. Road is 2 laned which gets a bit congested in the city for a couple of kms, then fly onto Mehsana, from Mehsana move to Deesa which is around 26 kms, after Deesa we had 2 options to take the longer route to Tharad or the shorter one to Dhanera, the locals told me to take the shorter one as the road is similar. Well, its not bad, a few potholes here and there but overall ok. We made quick time to Dhanera, it was around 3.30 and our stomachs were growling but there are absolutely no proper dhaba's along the way, just some nameless shacks which looked quite shady.

Road onto Dhanera from Ahemdabad....all green
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On entering Dhanera we finally came across a decent place. I guess it was called Hirani (that was what i could make out from the gujju text). Kallis was murdering Dhoni and co at Nagpur. The guys at the restaurant told us to go 1 km further down upto Kargil restaurant and then take a right to move to Sanchore (there is RTO check post 3 kms down the road for reference) Barmer was around 200 kms from this place. From Sanchore, its a ramrod straight road to Barmer. The miles flew by and and it was 923 kms on the odo by the the time we reached Barmer it was 5.45pm and we were on the road for 14.5 hrs and 963 kms with absolutely no fatigue.

Road onto Barmer from Sanchore....beginning of the desert
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Our first desert sunset...
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Told wifey that I could become a member of the 1000 kms club if we drove onto Jaisalmer the same day...she was game. Spoke to Nachana Haveli (had booked the place from the coming day). They said he would get me a nice room with a hot bath. Moved onto Jaisalmer which is 150kms from more cracked the 1000 mile barrier and celeberated with a ice cold redbull. The road is awesome but narrow with rare oncoming traffic. Made it Jaisalmer and with a bit directions from the locals reached Nachana Haveli at 8pm...1100 kms on the Odo....

Relaxed a bit and then moved out to Trio which fort is stones throw away fron Nachana Haveli and had a Royal Safari soup...(the menu said its a unforgettable exprience)...well..It was nice, garnished with rice and chicken and tasted a bit like rasam...but I forgot all about its taste once I had the Laal Maans...washed it all down with a Kingfisher...Gates at most Jailsamer hotels seem to close down by 10.30...so we went back to Mahendra Mahal...slept the moment we hit the bed.

Trio
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First view of the Jaisalmer fort from Trio
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Day One done!!!
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Old 25th February 2010, 23:07   #2
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member of the 1000 kms club if we drove onto Jaisalmer the same day
That is a great way to express the drive!

Any reason why you took the Himmatnagar route to Mehsana, and not the shorter one via Kalol? (that would have been 4-lane all the way too).

Looks like the Deesa-Dhanera road remains in the same condition as it was many years ago despite that all other roads in the neighbourhood are superfast highways!
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Old 25th February 2010, 23:21   #3
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That's a huge distance covered in a day. How does the Xylo feel at 150 kmph?
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Old 26th February 2010, 10:26   #4
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@HVWell HV, took directions from a traffic cop just before Ahemdabad who directed me to that exit. The road is fine though not as fast as an expressway. One does feel the start of desert territory starting after Dhanera.@SmartcatThe Xylo holds amazingly steady at those speeds. I stretched her upto 165 on the speedo often, its a real highway car.
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Old 26th February 2010, 11:04   #5
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that sunset pic looks stunning. waiting for the rest of the story
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Old 26th February 2010, 11:16   #6
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Excellent start Nikhil. Yes, as a petrolhead, it feels great to be a member of 1000 km a day club. Looking forward to more..
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Old 26th February 2010, 16:43   #7
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Welcome to the 1000Kms club man!

Even I and a friend of mine, spent an evening relaxing at the rooftop restaurant at Nachana Haveli enjoying Junglee Chicken with bottles of Kingfisher. Your post has me feeling nostalgic now.
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Old 26th February 2010, 20:56   #8
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Default Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan

Day 2

The room we stayed at for the first night was called Mahendra Mahal, quite fancy, the walls were of ancient jaisalmer stone and we were told that no cement or any other material was ever used in building the 300 year old haveli. Its linked by a unique block linking technique as are all other haveli and even the fort in Jaisalmer.

Mahendra Mahal at Nachana
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I think stone rooms get real chilly and it was freezing by the time we woke up. The "razais" or blankets are very cozy and it was a task to get out of bed. Woke around 8ish and had a nice american breakfast of eggs and toast. Hired a local guide through the hotel. We visisted Nathmal Haveli, Patwon Ki Haveli, Salem Singhri Havli and finally the jain temples inside the fort. City views from the fort are lovely and the stone sculptures on the haveli facades and jain temples are awe-inspiring. One wouldnt be able to make out that the carvings are in stone and not wood. The intricate jaali work is simply brilliant.

Nathmal Ki Haveli Facade
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Patwon Ki Haveli Facade
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Bhang Shop just outside the fort
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Jaisalmer Fort Facade
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One thing you notice in Jaisalmer is the abundance of cows, all over the place and in every narrow street and they are really huge with even bigger horns!!

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The jain temples have an amazing array of sculptures and its essentially a 5 temple complex. There are 6,666 (its not a typo) idols of the 5 jain munis all over the complex in the same pose, just different sizes and colors. The complex has a lot of pillars inside the temple and each pillar is carved differently. It has umpteen number of Apsaras in different dancing poses and also some stuff similar to Khajuraho...

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This is a recurring sculpture in all jain temples in Rajasthan. Has one head, 2 arms and 5 bodies in different poses.
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Kinda like Khauraho...there were some more too!!
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-khajuraho.jpg

The kings and queens palaces too are close to the jain temples and have intricate carvings and facades. There is a Durga temple just ouside the palace where ritual sacrifices were carried out under the gaze of the king.

Kings Palace inside the fort
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Queens Palace next to the Kings palace. Notice the small windows for the queens to peep out.
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Durga Temple
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There was a unique cooling system in here...these holes in the walls emit really cool air..how no one knows!!
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Coming out of the fort, there is a authorised bhang shop,bought a few cookies and traditional bhang for the upcoming holi. Will update you on the aftermath...

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Patwon Ki Haveli is also a complex of 5 haveli's built by 5 brothers. The interiors of the main haveli have been refurbished by the current owner about 70 years ago. The sheesh mahal and the various other rooms are a opulent to say the least.

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Huge tanks to keep stuff...looked like giant hand grenades to me
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Finally we moved into Mandir Palace which is a heritage hotel as well as the current maharaja's abode and is just next to Nachana Haveli. It have very intricate jalli work on its facades, huge halls and murals and nice antiques.

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All this walk up and down the fort was exhausting but worth every step but since it was a nice chilly day, no sweat.It was almost 4pm by the time we were done and we discoverd that all hotels had closed for lunch, including trio and our own place finally we got into a indo-tibetian place..had momo's and ker sangri( a veg rajasthani dish of beans and stems of a particular plant)...tasted like heaven to our hungry souls!!! Came back to Nachana to change and rest a bit.


Then we decided to go to Vyas Chatri which is also called sunset point but guesss we rested a bit too much and reached there after sunset. We drove a bit further on and saw a huge number of windmills with a board pointed to Suzlon!!

If you look closely, you can see my wife at the base of the windmill...
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In the evening we decided to walk back to the fort to take in some night views, saw a wedding procession on the way, a typical affair with 100 baraatis prancing in the narrow lanes and music blasting out through a makeship console. Then suddenly 2 cows barged into the narrow lane and chaos reigned, thankfully the grooms horse didnt panic and all was well.

Moving on we climbed (yeah its a steep incline) the fort and went to the city view point for a night view of the city.Its a fabulous view.
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Then we decided to have dinner at "8th of July" restaurant but turns out its a veggie place, well me and wifey are strict non veggies when on vacation so we skipped the place and went back to Nachana for a traditional non-veg rajasthani thali and a beer. We were quite spaced out and decided to call it a day...

By the way, if you catch this guy somewhere on the fort, spare a miute to listen to him..he is hialrious, sings english songs in rajasthani folklore tunes!!
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05545.jpg

Tomorrow we are off to the desert safari....
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Old 27th February 2010, 09:08   #9
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Default Re-attaching photos that didnt get uploaded in the earlier post.

Mahendra Mahlal at Nachana
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05354.jpg

Nathmal Ki Haveli Facade
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Patwon Ki Haveli Facade
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Govt. authorized bhang shop
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Jailsalmer Fort facade
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Kings Palace inside the fort
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05461.jpg

Queens Palace next to the Kings palace. Notice the small windows for the queens to peep out.
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05463.jpg
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Old 27th February 2010, 12:40   #10
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It is damn irritating to see those ugly electricity lines marring such wonderful facades. Photographers nightmare.
The cavernous room of Mahendra mahal is cool. Would have been fun had you and your wife dressed up like kings and queens in that room! You should have set your cam on timer and joined her in the photo too!
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Old 27th February 2010, 13:09   #11
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Rajasthan through a lens, lends itself to an amazing colour imparted through dresses, glasses, trinkets and bangles. Add to it the richness of the houses show on the doors and long walkways!

All this + Electricity wires (MX6, thats my problem too. Every place I try to avoid this and end up getting some strange angles of the snaps! Any way I am a point and shoot (PAS) photographer plus add these strange angles ! It makes those snaps really funny, often leaving one guessing, where was the photographer!)
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Old 27th February 2010, 14:02   #12
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yes..you guys are right but the electrical wires and poles in a way lend life to the place, after all this is the only living fort in India.
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Old 27th February 2010, 17:26   #13
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Quote:
It is damn irritating to see those ugly electricity lines marring such wonderful facades. Photographers nightmare
I agree. That's why I didn't put up that photo on my thread.

Electricity wires - nothing can be done. But one can remove people from the photo frame by getting as close to the facade as possible and click looking up. Gets rid of strangers from the frame, and the facade pic looks stylistic too.
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Old 3rd March 2010, 23:18   #14
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Default Day 3 : Desert Storm...

Day 3

Woke up around 8.30, had our breakfast and went out to the fort to get a bit of shopping done. Bought some artifacts and trinkets, roamed around the market a bit and came back to Nachana for lunch. We had junglee maans, it tastes as it sounds...rustic and earthy.

Bairisal Mahal at Nachana Haveli
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The King of Nachana in his coveted Jeep
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A neat balancing act!!
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And a neat balancing act from me too!!
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It had started to get very windy and dusty out in Jaisalmer and by the time we started for Sam at around 2.30 it was more like a sand storm. We covered the 40 kms of desolate isolation in 30 mins. Entered the Prince Desert camp, it was quite isolated and very windy, the sand was swirling all over the place.

Prince Desert camp...invaded by sand at Sam.
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Our tent was basic and neat with an attached bath but the sand was all over. It was initially an unique experience to be in the middle of a raging sand storm, we could not take off our glares for a even a moment, after some lolling in the sand near the tent we started for the desert safari at around 4pm

On the way to the edge of Thar...Sam. This is much better visibility than we had in reality
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05780.jpg

Me and wifey were to share a camel name 'Michael Jackson' and I was quite apprehensive since the weather was bad and the camel seemed irritated too...I was just hoping he wouldnt break into a moonwalk with me on his back

View from over Michael's head!
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05786.jpg

Guess, he has Michael's nose!
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-dsc05788.jpg

Well, somehow we got onto it and started out. I guess, a camel ride is only enjoyable for the first 2 minutes and sitting 10 feet high on a swaying ship of the desert in the middle of a sand storm was definately not my idea of fun but once we reached the dunes, it was exciting to see the sea of sand and we went nuts clicking pics unmindful of the sand. The sand dunes rising and falling like waves formed an amazing vista.

Well...tragedy struck...my sony took in loads of sand and conked. In a moment of sheer genius I decide to click pics from my canon handycam and guess what, it conked off too...they made all sorts of noises but refused to start. Looking around we saw others meet the same fate. I was restless but somehow played the part and completed the safari by 6.30pm after watching the sunset.

Sand in the camera!!
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Desert Sunset!!
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The camp guys had abandoned the plans for an open air performance and dinner and had created a huge dinner tent for the cultural programme due to the sand storm. Coming back to the tent we called our hotel in jaisalmer and asked them if he knew a sony/canon service station. He said he would check if there was a repair guy around. I decided to trek it back and check for myself so we literally flew back to jaisalmer covering the 40kms in around 20 mins.

We roamed a few shops but decided against giving the cameras to an unexperienced hand. Someone advised us of a good repairman and a canon service centre in Jodhpur. We decided to suffer for a couple of days in silence without a camera since we were supposed to go to Jodhpur after 2 days anyway and drove back to Sam, we could see streaks of lightening in the sky on the drive back in the dark.

The cultural programme was on, we sat through it watching others clicking away away to glory and that made me even more sad. Anyway we had our dinner (there was a group of foreigners in attendance and the food was awfully bland). Dejected, we went tried to go off to sleep but we were totally soaked in sand, the bed, the bathroom, our cell phones, the laptop everthing was invaded by the super fine desert sand.

Somehow we managed to shake off the stuff and doze off. Somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up to a mild clatter on the tent canopy, the wind died down and amazingly it started drizzling...desert rain!!! ...very surreal, the sand developed small craters and it looked lovely. The drizzle died down quite soon and then it got even more cold...freezing is the apt word but the night sky was a view to die for....it formed a canopy of zillions of stars from horizon to horizon...most amazing sight I had ever seen but couldnt capture and so the night passed.
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Old 4th March 2010, 17:12   #15
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absolutely beautiful looking trip. will be in rajastan in a couple of months on my bullet.
good going!
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