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Old 13th October 2010, 16:01   #46
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Default Jaipur:The City of "Tips"

Next day morning,breakfast was in the hotel.It was the usual business hotel fare,the eggs,the dosas,the parathas-the usual eat all you can affair!But kept us going for a late lunch.

We decided to hire the hotel cab.Traffic within Jaipur is chaotic to say the least and directions are pretty poor.We drove via the Birla Temple,Albert Hall Museum and our destination was the Jal Mahal.

The Birla Temple

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The Albert Hall which was constructed by the Sawai to welcome Prince Albert!!Talk of extravagance!

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The Pink City Buildings

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The Hawa Mahal

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The Jal Mahal is no more accessible to the public.It is only a photo-opportunity place now.Thanks to the rains,the lake was full though dirty.The Trident is bang opposite the Jal Mahal.We did our customary photo sessions and decided to go on towards the Amer Fort.
Thanks to the bountiful rains that RJ enjoyed this year,all the water bodies all over the state were full to the brim.A sight that brings joys to everyone's eyes.

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-355_1.jpg

Prior to coming to Jaipur,I always thought that Amer fort & Amber Fort are two different forts,but our guide for the day enlightened us that both are the same place.Amer in Hindi and because the colour of the fort walls were amber,the British preffered to call it as Amber fort.

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-363_1.jpg

The fort is situated on the Jaipur-Delhi highway and is approximately 10kms from the city center.Road is horrible.Infact I did not find a road,wonder where all that parking money and entrance money that is being collected is going to?

Before you know it,you see the gigantic and maginificent Amer Fort rising to your left.In front of the fort is the Maota lake.It is a water body that one needs to cross to get into the fort(typical of how forts were made to prevent enemy invasions).

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-366_1.jpg

The parking places and the whole place was filled with people and cars and camels and elephants.A shocking difference to the Mehrangarh experience where everything was so orderly and disciplined.Anywhere we went to in Rajasthan,people kept telling us that Mehrangarh fort
is the best kept,cleanest and most disciplined of forts today and I fully began to appreciate and support those statements after seeing the state of affairs at Amer.

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-372_1.jpg

We were thanking our good judgement of deciding to hire a local cab as we would have never made it to the fort if it wasnt for the skills of the chauffeur.Since we had hired the hotel cab,there was a hotel guide included in the price.The guide was waiting for us and he took
us through so many small roads and before we knew it we were at the entrance of the fort.

A Photography Wonder

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For the benefit of people,there is also an elephant ride from the Maota Lake to the top of the fort.It is priced at INR900 per person.We did not do it,but in case you are interested then it is available.The Maota lake was seeing water to its brim apparently after 30 years!!We were definitely lucky!

The Saffrom Garden as seen from Amer Fort

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We got down at the parking and walked into the fort.Entry fee was a princely INR50 and a further INR 75 for the camera.The fort has begun to come away and maintenance seemed very poor.But it is quite a humongous structure and with a great view of the road below.There is
also a Great Wall of China look alike opposite the fort which runs all over the Aravalli range of mountains.

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-407_.jpg

A matter of interest here is that there approximately 450 functioning temples around the Amer fort.Almost every family had a family there.Another interesting thing is that the royalty of the region discourages the skilled workers of the region from leaving the
place.For the skilled workers,it is a no-tax place and they are forbidden from selling their land around the fort,reason that in case they do sell it,then hotels would begin mushrooming all over the fort area adding to the already existing confusion.

A Meera Temple

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From there we headed to the Rajasthan Small Scale Industries emporium,ended up buying some souvenirs.bedsheets,etc.The materials were world class,though the people tending to you tend to get very pushy and want you to buy anything and everything from there.
By the time we left the fort it was time for a late lunch,and we headed to a restaurant near the Jal Mahal.Interestingly enroute we saw a hotel named Raj Palace,which apparently is the most expensive in Jaipur,as per the driver.Though I did not see any merit in it,maybe others
here might know better.

After lunch,we decided to go to the City Palace.This is the old city area of Jaipur within the Pink City.We decided to go with the audio guide.Entry to the palace was steep with a 75INR per head and a steep camera entry fee as well.

At the entry was a big con job in connivance with the palace officials.As soon as you enter the gate,there is a group of around 3-4 people who stop everybody and direct you in the direction of a photographer and forcibly make you stand in front of a Palace cutout.They tell you its a free photog gift from the palace.Everyone believes it and gets them clicked
and they tell the people to collect the picture on their way out.

The city palace was not all that appealing to us.We did a quick running tour of the place and the palace officials did not make our life any easy.Every 5minutes the turbanned palace employees kept running into you telling you that you could click pictures with them for a price,that they could show you around.It got onto us so much that we decided to do a running tour and get out of the palace.We saw another couple in a heated argument with the Mr.Turban because he had clicked their picture in their camera and he now wanted a tip for it!!

After winding up our palace walk,we reached the exit and decided to get our "FREE"photographs.We walked into their office a place called Digital Studio and gave them our token and they showed us our photograph and then told us its priced at INR300 per copy.So much for the free photography and the welcome gift cock-n-bull story that was
presented to us and all the other people entering the palace.When we told them what was the free and welcome gift part to it,the person at the counter tells us,they never told us its free photograph,it seems they told us the photograph can be "CLICKED" free.We did not take the copies,we had already paid a princely entry fee for the camera.It is a big con job and
the driver later tells us that all those photographs are later used by the various studiosin the city to portray their advertisement,because knowing tourists would never come back and would never know where their pictures are being used.To see that all this happens with the connivance of the palace staff is downright disgusting I felt.

City Palace & the residence of the Jaipur royalty in the background

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The Jantar Mantar is in the same area as the city palace.We decided to give it a miss because it was getting too hot and the experience within the palace left a very bad taste.We decided to head back to the hotel.Enroute the driver was telling us of how he felt Jaipur has degraded over the years and felt it was a rip off in the name of tourism.

With a heavy heart,we had to agree to whatever he said,because we too felt that the place just lacked sincerity and honesty.Right from the doorman at a hotel to the palace staff to the shopkeepers everybody measures and sizes you up to see how much can be extracted from this particular person.Jaipur is a city of Tips.Anybody and everybody expects a
tip,something that we just did not experience anywhere else in Rajasthan.

We got back to the hotel and crashed for a while.The morning was stressful and except for the Amer fort,there really wasnt anything worthwhile to see or enjoy.It is sad to note that the city and place lacked a certain character and simplicity which was so synonymous with the rest of the state.Every second person you met at the places of interest was a tout with some shortcut to offer to you to see some place.

If all this was not enough,in the evening,I had all the more reason to be saddened by the state of affairs in the city.I had to tank up for our drive the next day to Udaipur.The hotel was situated on Tonk Road and I wanted to use my credit card so that I could save up on the cash which I would anyway need for fuelling up on the highways.I was grossly mistaken.I went in and out of approximately 8 pumps and everyone had a different reason varying from Machine breakdown,line out of order,chargeslip over,person does not know how to use the machine(can you believe it),finally i got a pump attendant who was ready to take the
card albeit with a frown on his face.

After this met up with Dhiraj (TBhpian-Deky) at his place.It was a nice meet for around 15minutes.Discussed on what to expect the next day on the drive especially conditions around Ajmer & Pushkar.And his tips and advises were absolutely spot on.

Got back to the hotel and decided to call it a night.Next day was something that we were eagerly looking forward to and we wanted to put our Jaipur experience behind us.After having visited Jaipur,we realised why so many people advised us to give Jaipur a miss and instead
spend more time exploring other places.Nevertheless we still did get to see the magnificent Amer fort,but frankly we were looking to leave the city at the earliest!

Coming Up: Jaipur-Udaipur via Ajmer & Pushkar
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Old 13th October 2010, 16:11   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BurningHeart View Post
Brilliant narrative. And very handy reference, if I ever wish to get there. Thanks a ton for sharing.

BH.
Thanx BH for taking time out to read.The last two parts are coming up in a short while from now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Ranjit,
This has been a fantastic travelogue, good reading and waiting for you to complete the log. Planning for a similar trip for this year end Dec 19th to Jan 1st to be precise. Hats off you have done it in a M800 my respect for the car goes a couple of notch higher.
Would you be kind enough to share the itenary/hotel rates with me as it would give me sufficient time to do the planning and booking. Slightly concerned when you mentioned that end of December will be crowded & rates going high.
Well,Xmas-NY is peak season any place and especially RJ.Its a bad time to travel in terms of hotels as their tariffs go through the roof and RJ is predominantly a foreigner's tourist destination more than an Indian tourist's destination,and its holiday season for people in the west.

The flip side to this is that RJ can only be explored in the winters thanks to the searing heat(we were just plain lucky that it was raining during hte off-season and so the temperatures were very low)

I shall send you a pm with all the details and the excel sheets,that should help you make up your mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AvonA7 View Post
Excellent trip, keeping an eye on your thread, went through twice and loving it.
Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience with us
Thanx Avon for reading!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sriswe View Post
Ranjit,

Very informative log indeed. Loved your narration and the audio guide part. As someone else already pointed you seem to stay in real good hotels which makes the trip more memorable.

Thanks,
Srinivas.R
Thanx once again Srinivas.we just wanted to ensure very good hotels thats all and a detailed research on tariffs etc on the internet ensures one gets decent enough tariffs!Just uploaded the Jaipur section and the Udaipur section to come up in a few hours time.
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Old 13th October 2010, 19:04   #48
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6th Leg:Jaipur-Udaipur

Route: Jaipur-Kishengarh-Pushkar-Ajmer-Nasirabad-Bhilwara-Chittor-Udaipur

Distance: Approx 475kms

Time taken: Approx 9 hours


This was yet another drive day for us.Early breakfast and got out of the hotel and said our goodbyes to the "Tip"City.From the time we left the hotel room till the time we got into the car,there were innumerable hands stretched out saying 'Aapki Marzi".Phew lets get out!!!!

Getting out of Jaipur was easy as it was pretty early around 730 and we were staying close to the NH8.Within no time we were on the GVK Expressway and whizzing on it.The whole road was filled with Innova cabs and Indica cabs taking people out on their Discover Rajasthan trips I presume.We passed by the Birla International School on the Expressway.Quite an institution I must admit,though in the middle of nowhere!We got out of the expressway and continued on nH8 towards Ajmer.For people going towards Udaipur,please note that you must take a left onto the NH79A which is a 4 laned highway and part of the GQ.NH8 is the old traditional 2 laned highway to Udaipur and runs alongs many
ghat sections.

The moment we left the expressway,the nh8 brought us back to reality with low quality roads and huge potholes thanks to all the marble-laden trucks that were on their way to and from Macrana.

As we were nearing Ajmer,we saw a board positioned which read Take right for Pushkar and there was some road construction activity in progress.We took the right and this was going to be our most scary and most dreadful stretch of the entire 6000km drive.Roads began to
progressively get bad and very soon we realised that this was some kind of a bypass route to Pushkar by avoiding Ajmer town.A new 4 lane bypass is under construction from NH8 till Pushkar,but that is nowhere near completion.So we had to rely on mud roads and huge ghat sections.We were on a road which had board saying NH89.

After a while we had to pass under a bridge and there was water-logging of upto 5feet there.There was no way my car could pass that and the most despairing fact was that there was no alternate route.There was a field nearby and a local told us to take that field and go on the field.My hands were so sweaty because this was totally unknown land and we were driving on an unknown road,we went on the field and suddenly we see we have to cross a hillock on a mud road.I gathered all my courage and decided to take it head on and go along.Luckily for all of us the car cleared it with no problems.

After a few kilometers again waterlogging and there seemed to be a small route through a village to bypass this waterlogging stretch and guess what was happening.The local kids had blocked that road with big huge boulders and were demanding money to let cars pass.I tagged behind a local RJ registered car and once they came to the point,they began shouting ranting and raving and they moved the stone,and in one go we also just went by before they could put the stones back.

It took almost 1.5hours to cover a stretch of 45kms,before we began seeing Pushkar in front of us.Suddenly we were stopped and a gate closed and there was a demand of INR35 as entry tax into Pushkar.No idea what was going on here and we were swarmed by so called "Brahmin
Guides" who promised to take us inside,show us around,give us hotels and what not.We just were not interested.We told them no and went our way,they began chasing us in their bikes and I had a hunch that they would be waiting for us near the temple.

A Bathing Ghat at Pushkar

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Pushkar town is downright dirty and there is no road in the whole of the town.Its one big MESS.Nothing else.Something akin to the Pandas of Puri in Orissa.

Inside Pushkar Town

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We found our way to the temple and as I had guessed,the gang of guides were waiting for us.We did a quick decision and decided not to get down from the car itself.We offered our respects from the car and decided to drive away.The touts came running after us,some of them were cursing us saying that we wouldnt get out of pUSHKAR.Gosh I just couldnt believe what was going on around us.

Pushkar Entry Dwar from Ajmer town side

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We zoomed away towards Ajmer and we realised our folly.We should not have taken the bypass on NH8 instead should have continued till Ajmer and then taken the Ajmer-Pushkar road,which passes through a ghat and is an excellent road.What a torrid time we were having!

The Dargah from a distance

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We drove on and took the road to the Dargah at Ajmer.A new road has been constructed till the base of the hill.We reached the base fine and we were again surrounded by the same old tout business and narrow roads and huge traffic jams.We realised we were getting nowhere and so immediately backed up and drove away as we had to reach Udaipur by evening.Again paid our respects from the base and went our way.

These two incidents are perfect examples of how touts and so called guides convert holy and spiritual places into their playgrounds and create havoc with people coming from outside.

Ajmer town is pretty congested and very crowded.We asked a cab driver and he told us to get onto NH8 to Udaipur,he was trying to convince us that it is a far better road as opposed to NH79-NH76 combo.However we werent convinced enough.We had decided to take the 4 laned highway as we didnt want to get stuck in traffic and lose on time.NH8 is shorter in distance and takes more time as it runs through ghat sections and is a 2 laned highway.

We took the road to Nasirabad and before we knew it we were on NH79.The drive was a breeze and after a while we saw boards advertising of Midway Bhilwara which was 50kms away.We decided to have a lunch stop at the Midway and it was worth it.Excellent food,good rest
rooms and it is attached to a BP Pump.It comes onto your left towards Udaipur.

After a 30minute stop for lunch,we were on our way and clocking speeds of 100kph and very soon we crossed the town of Chittor.Enroute we passed several cloth factories which had their factory outlets at the gates of their factories selling shirts & suits.

We reached Udaipur at 530pm.A total of 9hours of which we lost a precious 2-2.5 hours circumventing Pushkar & Ajmer.An experience which we would never forget.

Since we landed up a day earlier in Udaipur,we had planned to spend an extra day at Jaipur which was cancelled following our not so great Jaipur experience,our reservations at our actual booked hotel were not available,hence we headed towards our place of stay for the night-The Trident,Udaipur.

Trident Entry & thats our lady standing in basking in all the glory!!

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Warm & Cosy room at Trident

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The Trident itself is a big huge garden by itself!Entry into Udaipur was easy and we found the people also very welcoming and eager to help.What a welcome change from the morose and annoying Jaipur.

Chauffeur & Navigator waiting for some food after the day;s drive!

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The Evening Look!

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We were already falling in love with Udaipur and the temperatures were just so very pleasing!No wonder they say Udaipur has romance in the air.The lakes were full to the brim and Pichola was looking as beautiful as only Pichola can!

The Aravalli Range as seen from the room

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We had a gut feel which was quite the opposite to what we had in Jaipur and we knew this was going to be a grand culmination to our RJ sojourn.

Father & Daughter going to check on the car!!Aall Izz Well

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An early morning Walk

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Coming Up: Leela Palace Udaipur/Lake Pichola/Nagda


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Old 14th October 2010, 09:55   #49
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You have exposed the dirt behind the shine of Rajasthan, so true.
I found the car parking area in Amer Fort a total mess.
I also took the "short-cut" to Pushkar. There was a rasta roko on the road because some truck had capsized and injured/killed some villager, so I had to divert on some dirt roads. I promptly sank into 1 feet of loose desert sand and had to dig my Matiz out!
Pushkar is also another nightmare for car parking and the narrow roads mean traffic jams.
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Old 14th October 2010, 12:39   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
You have exposed the dirt behind the shine of Rajasthan, so true.
I found the car parking area in Amer Fort a total mess.
I also took the "short-cut" to Pushkar. There was a rasta roko on the road because some truck had capsized and injured/killed some villager, so I had to divert on some dirt roads. I promptly sank into 1 feet of loose desert sand and had to dig my Matiz out!
Pushkar is also another nightmare for car parking and the narrow roads mean traffic jams.
Yes so true about the parking at Amer.That Pushkar bypass is a nightmare and is ruled by goons and touts.The most interesting part is that this "Yatri Kar"(pilgrim tax) is not levied on people who come from Ajmer through the main road,this is only levied on the people who come to Pushkar via this bypass and the whole thing looks very shady and more than anything else,it is a place for the touts to fall upon hapless unsuspecting out of state vehicles and harass them.Pushkar is one of the dirtiest places we saw in our entire drive and rains only added to the attraction!!!

I guess Jaisalmer & Udaipur had the friendliest of people and the entire flavor of RJ can be experienced in these two places,even the people here were so proud of the history of their land and their Maharanas.
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Old 14th October 2010, 13:26   #51
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Breakfast was excellent as one has to expect.We pounced on the idlis & dosas.We were dying to eat them at the end of a 2 week hiatus from them!You can keep an idli/dosa away from a Malayali but you cant keep a Malayali away from an Idli/Dosa,they would invariably go smelling and hunting for it!

Non-availability of coconut I guess is the reason behind the coconut chutneys being made of dessicated coconut!!

The Dosa Hunters

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After a wonderful breakfast we decided to explore the Trident,it has a huge area all for itself and there is a place within the Trident acres called as Bada Mahal.

The water from the Lake Pichola inside the hotel compound!(Rains)

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It is a nice little walk through the green acres of the hotel beside the Lake Pichola.Bada Mahal was an erstwhile hunting palace for the royalty of Udaipur.The royal kings used to come to Bada Mahal from the monsoon palace(Sajjangarh) to watch the wild boar fights which were organised for the kings.It is a small hunting lodge and the place is looked after by a person named Roop Singhji.There is an interesting story behind Bada Mahal.The Oberois bought over the land where the existing Oberoi Udaivilas & Trident Udaivilas stand today & the Oberois decided to retain the Bada Mahal as an exclusive place with access only for the guests of the two hotels,Roop Singhji is around 86 years and still looks fit as a fiddle and has high regard for the Oberois.

The Trident & The Oberoi Udaivilas are situated next to each other and the Bada Mahal separates the two compounds from each other and there is access to both the hotels from the Bada Mahal.

The Oberoi Udaivilas as seen from Bada Mahal

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The Bada Mahal is also a sanctuary for wild boars,deers & peacocks.You find them all over the place.It was a lovely little find for us.

The Deers in the park

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After spending a couple of hours there and watching the peacocks,one peacock even gifted our little lady with a couple of feathers,we decided to head back to the room and shift to our originally intended place of stay in Udaipur which was The Leela Palace.

A Peacock surfaced from nowhere!

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Gift to the little lady-A peacock feather:

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Check Out was smooth and quick and we quickly left the place for The Leela Palace,which expected to be quite an experience.We had been looking forward to this.

Coming up :Udaipur on Day 3 & Day 4
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Old 14th October 2010, 16:14   #52
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Our check in to The Leela was an experience by itself.

We drove our car till the Dudh Talai jetty and from there we were taken by the hotel boat to the hotel.Quite an amazing way to enter the hotel.The Leela is on Lake Pichola alongwith The Taj Lake Palace and The Oberoi Udaivilas.

The hotel was a palace by itself.Huge & amazing with every room facing the lake.

The Room

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The Lake Pichola from the Bed & Udaivilas at a distance

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Sunset on Lake Pichola

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We decided to spend the evening within the hotel itself and indulged in the usual photo sessions.

The Hotel Courtyard

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The Monsoon Palace also known as Sajjangarh Palace at a distance on the mountain

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The City Palace & Hotel Shiv Niwas

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The Taj Lake Palace

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The Jag Mandir(The place for all celebrity weddings that take place in Udaipur.Again under the royal family's custody).A story goes that a few months back the lake was bone dry and there was a marriage in the Jag Mandir.All the cars etc were driven till the hotel and in the night the drivers went off to sleep in the hotel.In the night it rained non-stop for over 5 hours and by morning the entire lake was slushy and partially full with water and it seems the drivers had a terrible time getting their cars back.That should give one an idea as to how soon the lake fills up!

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-623_1.jpg

Some more pictures of the hotel's external facade

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-626_1.jpg

The Boat Jetty

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-636_1.jpg

The Lighted and Decked up Leela from the Lake

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-637_1.jpg


The next day we decided to visit the Shrinathji temple @ Nathdwara.It was a quiet drive to the temple along NH8.It took us around 45 minutes to the temple.We made it in time as the temple was about to close for the afternoon.People visiting Nathdwara,be sure to check the temple timings as the temple opens and closes around 5-6 times in a day.So ensure you are there when the temple is open.

Parking as usual was chaotic and we were warned earlier at the hotel itself that there are no special darshans etc at Nathdwara but would be approached by people promising special darshans etc for a cost.As expected from the time we alighted from the car till the time we got into the temple door,we were pulled in various directions by so called guides,priests,etc promising us of VIP Darshan,Special Darshan,they were telling us they have tickets for VIP darshan and they all wanted nothing less than INR 1000,not that we were interested but nevertheless we still wanted to know to what extent the con was going on.

The interesting part at the temple is that men & women have separate lines and cannot enter the temple together.Now thats a point these touts keep haggling with you about,they tell you that they can take both together inside,which in fact just cannot happen as inside the temple it is pretty orderly as compared to the chaos outside.Cleanliness and hygiene are big concerns in and around the temple.We managed to get through our darshan in around 20minutes of time inspite of all the rush.

History goes that during the Mughal rule time,this particular idol of Shrinathji was brought from Mathura to Dwaraka in Gujarat and then again it was whisked away from Gujarat to Nathdwara to protect it,a reason why the people coming to Nathdwara are primarily Gujaratis.
On our way back,we decided to stop by Eklingji temple which is still under the royal family of Udaipur and the present Maharana still visits the temple every Monday.But unfortunately by the time we reached Eklingji it was closed for the afternoon.We did not want to do any more forts so decided to give all the forts in the vicinity a miss.

Immediately after Eklingji towards Udaipur,on your left side you would find a temple in its ruins.This is the Nagda temple,which was run over by the Mughals especially Aurangzeb.All the temple architecture is in ruins and the idols can all be observed to be destroyed and defaced.This is a protected monument now and is under the ASI now.

Ruins of Nagda

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We got back to Udaipur for a late lunch.Lunch was at a nice little restaurant called 1559ad.(www.1559ad.com) Had a good Rajasthani lunch and headed back to the hotel for a well earned siesta.

Evening we went off to see the Jagdish Mandir.An amazing temple I must admit,again under the custody of the royal family.

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-646_1.jpg

We did not do the customary City Palace visit as we had had enough of palaces and forts in the past 14days!.For informations sakes,a major part of the City Palace has been converted into a hotel by the HRH Group and the remaining part is the residence of the present Maharana.We drove through the town and found the town to be extremely clean and welcoming.People very non-intrusive.Udaipur was looking lovely with all the lakes full to the brim.People were telling us that with this rain,the lakes would stay full for the next 6-7 years,since Udaipur is a valley surrounded by big mountains on all sides,so all the water from the mountains keep gushing down into the lake.

I cant stop myself from mentioning this,but in all probability we must be the first & last people staying at the Leela and coming in a Maruti 800.Our lady held its place of pride among the fleet of Nissan Teanas(the hotel cars),the mercs and the bmws!Quite a moment!

Next day morning,after breakfast we took the customary boat ride to the jetty where our car was waiting for us,all cleaned and washed courtesy the hotel!We would have loved to stay on and on and on,the Leela just made Udaipur that much more special for us!.

Coming Up: Udaipur-Ahmedabad-Shirdi-Hyderabad

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Old 14th October 2010, 16:19   #53
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I am absolutely drooling at the hotel rooms. They are totally awesome.

I am sure you paid a packet for these hotel rooms. Would be interesting to know the accomodation cost for this entire trip?
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Old 14th October 2010, 19:30   #54
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What a marathon TL, excellent narration.Thanks for sharing an amazing experience with details of routes and places.

All hotels are very well chosen and every details will offer a great deal of help the travellers to RJ and hats off to your lengendary chariot, which accompanied you without a complaint.
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Old 14th October 2010, 23:09   #55
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7th Leg:Udaipur-Ahmedabad
Route: Udaipur-Ratanpur-Himmatnagar-Ahmedabad (NH8)
Distance: Approx 268kms
Time taken: Approx 4 hours

After a late breakfast and an even later check out we finally left Udaipur at 1pm and got onto the NH8 directly.It was easy getting back onto the NH8 from Udaipur.The road was good and the initial 30-40 kilometers was a ghat section and so couldnt make good progress.Our earlier plan was to drive till Surat and stay the night at Surat and from there head towards Shirdi and then onwards to Hyderabad.

But then for the first time our plans on the trip had to be changed.A friend who does Surat-Shirdi regularly told us that the Surat-Dhule-Shirdi route and the Surat-Saputara-Nasik routes were both very bad after all the heavy rains that the regions had received.We did a rethink and then decided that it was not worth taking a risk with a small car if the roads were bad and plus we had a baby onboard as well and a breakdown was the last thing we wanted!

So we changed our plans and decided to head back to Mumbai,stay for a couple of days and then head to Shirdi and then onto Hyd.With a late departure from Udaipur,we decided to stay the night in Ahmedabad.We stopped for a very nice dhaba called Neelgiri Dhaba before Ratanpur.We also saw that there was heavy crowds at Shamlaji!

The roads were excellent till Gandhinagar,after which the two laned NH8 was all broken up and it took almost an hour to cover a distance of 25kms.We took the ring road and the SG highway and decided to stay the night at Country Inn & Suites by Carlson at Thaltej off the Drive-in road.The hotel was a nice cosy place ideal for a night stopover,and was well populated by petrol stations and restaurants.

Some random pictures of the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-677_1.jpg

From"Aadab & Bagunnava" Land to Land of "Khammaghani"(Hyd to Rajasthan by M800)-rajasthan-680_1.jpg


Next day morning the hotel gave us a packed breakfast and we hit the Baroda Expressway at precisely 550am and we exit the EW at 650am,from thereon it was the same old NH8 with heavy to moderate traffic.We did a stopover at a Sankalp restaurant in Vapi,restaurant was nice but food was pathetic!

After that we reached the Vapi-Ghodbunder section and it was pure nightmare in a small car with potholes everywhere and uneven surface.After going through all the travails we finally reached home at Borivali around 2pm.

Some Pictures of the Sea Link

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After a couple of days stay at Mumbai,we headed out to Shirdi.We took the conventional Mumbai-Thane-NH3-Igatpuri-Nasik-Sinnar-Shirdi route.
The NH3 has road widening work in progress at several places in between Thane & Shapur after which it eases out.Roads are in excellent condition after that.Kasara ghat is a delight to drive on,one of the spectacular sights that one can hope for!

A CCD Outlet attached to a HP Pump before Kasara

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Pictures on Kasara Ghat

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Kasara Ghat-Low visibility at around 11am!

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We decided against taking the Ghoti-Sinnar bypass as it has been always bad,so decided to go through Nasik.Stopped for breakfast at a new hotel named Express Inn (http://expressinnindia.com/index.aspx) at Nasik entry.Food was good and not very expensive.After that very heavy traffic till Sinnar.

4laning is in progress in between Sinnar & Shirdi,so for a distance of around 30kms,the roads are all dug up,after which it evens out.Reached Shirdi around 1pm with a 7am departure from Borivli.We were staying at the Shraddha Park in Shirdi.We landed up in Shirdi on a Thu so had our own doubts about the rush factor,but luckily we decided to go in the evening between 7 & 8pm and not much of a rush.Darshan was good.Shirdi too you find touts promising you of VIP Darshan and special darshan etc.Religious commercialism at its best!

The hotel was excellent,should easily be the best in Shirdi now that the Sun-n-Sand has begun to regress in quality!

Next day morning we left Shirdi around 9am and took the route via Nagar-Karmala-Tembhurni-Solapur-Hyderabad.Shirdi to Nagar is all potholed for around 20kms from Shirdi,after that the road improves.Nagar has improved leaps and bounds and is home to the MIRC regiment of the Indian Army.It even has Domino outlets!!(If that was a sign of development!!)

The Nagar-Karmala road was excellent and so was the Karmala-Tembhurni,after which we reach the NH9.NH9 is in shambles and I have already cried enough about it at the beginning!I sincerely hope NHAI sits up and takes notice of the state of NH9 until then it is a back-breaking drive for all the Hyd-Pune Volvos and other cars.

Thus ended an adventurous and interesting drive and a big thanks to our very own Maruti 800!& thanks to you for taking the time out to read this travelogue.

PS: For those interested in knowing if I did any changes on the car,well the only change that I did was that I replaced all the 4 tyres with Goodyear Tubeless and upsized them to 155/65.I have always been paranoid of punctures and thats the reason I changed them.Other than that no changes whatsoever!I also carried a small compressor with me incase I began to lose air.The one that I could connect to the cigi lighter socket!

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Thank You & hope to meet you soon with yet another interesting Travelogue soon!
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Old 14th October 2010, 23:17   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
I am absolutely drooling at the hotel rooms. They are totally awesome.

I am sure you paid a packet for these hotel rooms. Would be interesting to know the accomodation cost for this entire trip?
Thanx Avi.Well the expense did not actually go through the roof.We had planned the same itinerary last year in December and the cost was so damn prohibitive that we decided to do it in offseason and the rates at some places had fallen by more than 50%!I shall send you the comprehensive excel sheet and you should have an idea with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maximus. View Post
What a marathon TL, excellent narration.Thanks for sharing an amazing experience with details of routes and places.

All hotels are very well chosen and every details will offer a great deal of help the travellers to RJ and hats off to your lengendary chariot, which accompanied you without a complaint.
Thanx a ton for reading Maximus!Yes it indeed was a marathon!
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Old 15th October 2010, 08:32   #57
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Thanks for the updates on many roads in West India.
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Old 15th October 2010, 11:55   #58
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Thanks for the updates on many roads in West India.
Heres a quick update of most of the major roads,and I dont expect them to change condition till end of Nov or Dec!

Hyd-Solapur(NH9): All broken up.Craeters after Zaheerabad till Solapur.

Solapur-Pune(NH9):Good roads till Indapur,after which its all broken with nil road shoulder.No decent places to stop after Solapur.

Pune-Mumbai: MPEW is still good.

Mumbai-Vapi(NH8): Horrible roads,craetered at most places.McDie at Vapi.

Vapi-Surat(NH8): Good roads plenty of facilities enroute.

Surat-Ahmedabad(NH8/NE1): Excellent roads & plenty of places to eat.Palazzo is a reccomended place to eat on the Baroda Bypass just before the EW.

AMD-Jaisalmer(NH14/NH15):Lovely roads except for a 7-8 km stretch within Sanchore,which is horrible.

J'mer-Jodhpur:Roads are excellent except after Balesar till Jodhpur

Jodhpur-Jaipur:Excellent roads except for the brief stretch between Beawar and Ajmer Bypass start

Jaipur-Pushkar: Do not take the Pushkar bypass before Ajmer.Bad roads.Go thru Ajmer

Ajmer:Roads are in shambles in and around Ajmer.

Nasirabad-Udaipur:NH79-NH76,excellent condition

Udaipur-AMD:Lovely roads,except from Gandhinagar to AMD Ringroad,2laned and potholed

BOM-Nasik: NH3 is in ok condition after Shapur.Many diversions still exist,so keep your eyes open.

Nasik-Shirdi: Nasik-Sinnar is dense traffic,roads are good.Sinnar-Shirdi 4 laning in progress so same old story.No road shoulder.Please do not try to do this stretch in darkness

Shirdi-Nagar:Bad to ok roads.4laned,unmarked state road.

Nagar-Karmala: Excellent road.

Karmala-Tembhurni:Excellent road

Tembhurni-Hyd: NH9,terrible!
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Old 15th October 2010, 13:07   #59
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Hai Ranjit,

I got to your thread 1 hr back, didn't realize 1 hr passing; somehow missed it altogether!!!!

What a lovely thread, with lots of useful inforamtion, updates and exactly what a road-head needs. The photos are alive and kicking too. Would trust the M800 anytime, anywhere, have had lots of good time in it all over Kerala and also in and around Ahmedabad. Never gave me a problem, have taken it all over Rajastan and Gujarat around the years 97-98, such a common-sense car. Your choice of hotels is commendable, if you attach the excel sheet here, it would be useful to a lot of people, all information in one sheet would be very user friendly.

I think, excep for the wrong directions I gave you to reach Platinum Inn, everything went smooth at Ahmedabad. It was great meeting you in person.

Platinum Inn is one of the best hotels for the rates they offer, relatively easy to locate if someone want to drive about 10 KM off the NH, the rooms are SOOOOOO big, in a crunch we force the hotel to put 4 beds in the room. Booking is a must there, they are sold off most of the time.

Thanks for sharing.

--Ramky
=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 15th October 2010 at 13:15.
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Old 15th October 2010, 14:13   #60
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Hai Ranjit,

I got to your thread 1 hr back, didn't realize 1 hr passing; somehow missed it altogether!!!!

What a lovely thread, with lots of useful inforamtion, updates and exactly what a road-head needs. The photos are alive and kicking too. Would trust the M800 anytime, anywhere, have had lots of good time in it all over Kerala and also in and around Ahmedabad. Never gave me a problem, have taken it all over Rajastan and Gujarat around the years 97-98, such a common-sense car. Your choice of hotels is commendable, if you attach the excel sheet here, it would be useful to a lot of people, all information in one sheet would be very user friendly.

I think, excep for the wrong directions I gave you to reach Platinum Inn, everything went smooth at Ahmedabad. It was great meeting you in person.

Platinum Inn is one of the best hotels for the rates they offer, relatively easy to locate if someone want to drive about 10 KM off the NH, the rooms are SOOOOOO big, in a crunch we force the hotel to put 4 beds in the room. Booking is a must there, they are sold off most of the time.

Thanks for sharing.

--Ramky
=======
Thanx Ramky.Yes indeed it was a pleasure meeting you as well.You are true about Platinum Inn,the rooms are indeed big and the location is also very easy to find.Maruti 800 in the 80s & 90s wow,you must have had quite some challenging drives.

Shall upload the excel sheet shortly.
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