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Old 8th January 2019, 13:48   #1
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Default Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Well ! As the title suggests, the road trip we did to Rajasthan had forts, bird sightings and a tiger to top it all. The itenary we finalized was as follows:
  • Day 1: Pune to Navsari
  • Day 2: Navsari to Udaipur
  • Day 3: Udaipur local sight seeing
  • Day 4: Udaipur to Chittorgarh
  • Day 5: Chittorgarh to Kumbalgarh
  • Day 6: Kumbalgarh Rest Day
  • Day 7: Kumbalgarh to Khichan via Ranakpur
  • Day 8: Khichan to Sam (Jaisalmer)
  • Day 9: Sam to Bikaner
  • Day 10: Bikaner to Bharatpur
  • Day 11: Bharatpur birding
  • Day 12: Bharatpur to Sawai Madhopur
  • Day 13 & 14: Ranthambore Safari
  • Day 15: Sawai Madhopur to Indore
  • Day 16 and 17: Eating at Indore
  • Day 18: Indore to Pune

The trip started on 15-Dec and ended on 1-Jan. Being a winter season trip, we had to carry a lot of luggage. We had 5 passengers in the first week (My wife, son, sister-in-law and niece) and 6 in the subsequent week (joined by sister-in-law's husband in Bikaner). The roof top carrier I had got fixed on the TUV made life a little easier.


Day 1: Pune to Navsari

Plans were finalized and all hotels were pre-booked. TUV 10K service was also completed about two months in advance and with a starting ODO reading of 13985, we started our journey at 5am on 15-Dec. We picked up my sister-in-law and my niece en-route and started the journey. First stop was a breakfast break at food mall before the Khalapur toll on the expressway. We took the Airoli - Thane - Ghorbunder road route to take NH48 towards Surat. Surprisingly, the traffic at the infamous chowk before Vasai creek was very well managed and it took us only 15 minutes to cross the bridge on the creek. With a combination of steady driving and a few stops en-route, we reached our hotel (Hotel Shahi Darbar) at Navsari at around 2pm. We had already driven for 400+ kms and TUV also reached the 14000 km milestone. The group was hungry and we had a delightful meal at the hotel itself.

The options for evening sightseeing were Dandi (12 kms) and Aquarium in Surat (37 kms). Voting was weighed heavily in favour of kids and so we went to the Aquarium. The aquarium is called Jagdishchandra Bose Aquarium and housed in a small building, and had a good variety of fresh water and salt water fishes and other aquatic animals. The highlight of the aquarium was a double storey glass having real sharks and puffer fish in the tank. It was time well spent within the aquarium premises with the kiddos getting hard ground to run around. We returned to our rooms by evening and dozed off after a light dinner. Total distance driven on Day 1: 417 kms



Day 2: Navsari to Udaipur

Today was again a major drive day for us. We had targetted to start early by 6am, and finally managed to get going by 6.30am. We were on NH48 in no time, and via Bharuch > Vadodara > Godhra reached Udaipur by 5pm taking only a couple of stops - breakfast and lunch. After reaching Udaipur, since we had some time left before sunset, decided to explore nearby points of interest. After talking to the hotel staff, decided to go for Fateh Sagar Lake boat ride. By the time we reached the boating starting point, it was already quite dark, and started to get cold. This was our first encounter with the Rajasthan winter evenings. Nevertheless, we pushed ahead and completed the boat ride entirely in dark. Saw a number of havelis around the lake.


A few pics of the evening boat ride on Fateh sagar lake

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The lake also has a chowpati type street food area. We decided to give it a go and had a big dinner of street food - pizza, dosa, uttapam, maggi and topped it up with a kulhad coffee. We decided to give driving a break, and had taken an auto-rickshaw. The auto on the way back offered to provide a custom 9-5 tour of the city in 800 bucks. We gave a thumbs up !


Day 3: Udaipur sightseeing

We had visited Udaipur around 10 years back, and were not interested in revisiting all the points again. As a result, we decided to skip the usual city tour. We decided to go to Gulab bag, Karni ropeway, Lake pichola boat ride, Vintage car museum and Sajjangarh palace. Along with kids, this was what we could achieve in a day.

Give the kids a ground, winter sun and freedom - you will see magic happen !



Rose Garden and a few common birds

Female Koyal

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Common Babbler
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Magpie Robin
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The ropeway and view from top

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Lake pichola boating

Common Coot

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A cormorant decides to pose

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Last edited by Maddy3008 : 2nd February 2019 at 08:43.
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Old 30th January 2019, 18:25   #2
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Day 3 contd


City palace is said to be built like a ship's front. Took this snap for checking the truth !!


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Classic car museum

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My favourite

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The cockpit of the Rolls Royce

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Sajjangarh fort and view from top

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This was the end of our day at Udaipur. We came back to our hotel and went to bed after dinner.


Day 4: Udaipur to Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh is the largest fort in India. For us from Maharashtra, this was waaaaaay bigger than the forts we are used to visiting ! Have a look.



Kumbh palace

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Chittorgarh village, looks blue from the top

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The garib rath basking in winter sun

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Vijay Stambh and carvings inside were awesome

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Rani Padmavati palace

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Chittorgarh fort wall. Built like a tank

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Old 31st January 2019, 19:42   #3
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Day 5: Chittorgarh to Kumbalgarh

Kumbalgarh is the second largest fort in India. It also boasts of the second longest continuous wall in the world (after the Great wall of China). We reached Kumbalgarh by lunch time, and since had an extra day here, decided to rest for the afternoon. I decided to shoot some birds from the room balcony. In the evening, we went to the light and sound show at the fort.




Red Vented Bulbul

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Yellow Throated Sparrow (couldnt capture the yellow throat :()
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Spotted Dove

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Indian Robin Female

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Magnificent fort at night

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Day 6: Kumbalgarh fort sight seeing



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Long fort wall

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Spot the ride

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We had lunch at the fort itself. Highly recommend having the Dal makhni at the restaurant right opposite the gate ! Some more bird shooting followed after reaching the hotel.



A pair of Pied Kingfishers was eyeing something in the water below

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An immature Black Shouldered Kite decided to show up

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Yellow Throated Sparrow

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Day 7: Kumbalgarh to Khichan (Phalodi)

We started after having breakfast at the hotel. On the way, we decided to take a small detour to visit the Ranakpur jain temple



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Khichan is a tiny village in Phalodi district. It has made headlines due to a conservation effort of a man because of whom thousands of Demoiselle Cranes now call it their home during winters.

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Old 31st January 2019, 21:11   #4
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Day 7 contd

Phalodi is the nearest town to Khichan. We had searched online for a hotel / homestay nearby and found a few which were willing to take advance bookings. One was called Heritage hotel Lal Niwas. Even though the approach road was very narrow, the haveli itself was truly heritage and reminded me of my grandmother's vada and of my engineering college hostel



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Day 8: Phalodi to Sam (Jaisalmer)

Since the drive today was only 3 hours, we drove very leisurely ! Stopped for every passing bird and animal. In between, we drove near Pokharan (Yes! the real one) and tried to see if we are allowed to go near the test site. Of course, we weren't and were sternly asked to carry on with our tour.




Jungle Bush Quails

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White-eared Bulbul

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Eurasian collared dove

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Immature Purple Sunbird

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Chinkara or Black bucks (of Bhai fame !)

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Long Legged Buzzard

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We finally reached Sam sand dunes and reached our place of stay. It was a tent pitched in the middle of nowhere. Loved it ! We decided to go for camel ride and dune bashing on a Mahindra Thar. Spent the rest of the evening on the sand dunes itself, watching the sun set over the farthest dune
We didn't realize at first, but we were in a sand dune on a full moon night. It was a scene to remember. The photographs below do not do justice to the beauty of the place at all !




That's us in the shadows

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But not these

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Moon rise

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Finally caught a glimpse of Dumbledore passing by

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Old 31st January 2019, 21:21   #5
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Day 8 contd

After reaching back to the tents, we were greeted in a traditional Rajasthani style with a "Ghani Khamma Hukum" and a Rajtilak. We were treated to traditional Rajasthani folk songs, some jugalbandi and the traditional Kalbeliya dance. The dancers were also performing acrobatic stunts like picking up a blade with eye-lashes


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Can you see the blade in her eye?

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Thereafter, we were served the traditional veg Rajasthani food. The tents were freezing cold. Barely managed a few hours of sleep.


Day 9: Sam to Bikaner

We started early after getting a first mover advantage at the breakfast table. It was supposed to be a long drive today. I tried to include Longewala in the mix, but realized it will too much for the kids to sit in the car for so long. Instead settled for the war museum at the outskirts of Jaisalmer on the way. Had a longish tour of the war museum and continued on.

We reached Bikaner at about 4pm. We decided to visit Jorbeed - a vulture conservation center outside of Bikaner to photograph various raptors. As part of conservation, the municipality of Bikaner collects all dead animal carcasses from surrounding areas and dumps them in the Jorbeed conservation reserve. Unfortunately, it was quite late (dark) by the time we reached the place. We could manage to get a short round within the conservation area.




Egyptian Vulture

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Eastern Imperial Eagle

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Eagle with Kite

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Tawny Eagle

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The black vultures are immature Egyptian vultures

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Greater Spotted Eagle

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We stayed at Jorbeed till late and went back to our room after dark.


Day 10: Bikaner to Bharatpur

Today's was a long drive again, and combined with the thick fog in the morning, we decided to drop Jorbeed morning excursion, and proceed ahead to Bharatpur as the speed would be slower than expected. We finally managed to reach Bharatpur after dark. Our booking was within the Bharatpur forest lodge RTDC located in the Keoladeo national park. Since it was already dark, the park was closed to visitors. We managed to spot a few spotted deers roaming around in the car headlights. Our expectations for next day were already high.

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Old 1st February 2019, 07:28   #6
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Day 11: Bharatpur bird sanctuary

When we had done the bookings, we felt 25 sq km of national park should be easy to roam around in a day. Moreover, with feedback on online forums saying it is open all day, and rickshaws can be hired, we thought it should be a cakewalk. How wrong were we !

We could start our trip after finalizing the rickshaw named Sarus Crane. Highly recommend asking for this guy at the entry gate, if allowed.




Spot Billed Duck

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Darter Bird (Snake Bird)

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Marsh Harrier (probably)

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Cormorant
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Flamingos

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White throated Kingfisher

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Eurasian Spoonbill

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Painted Stork

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Grey Heron

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Common Pochard

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Bar Headed Goose

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Bay Backed Shrike

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Northern Pintails taking a dive

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Common Teal

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Northern Shoveller

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Dalmatian Pelican

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Rosy Pelican

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Black Eagle

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Glossy Ibis (the one which is fully black) and Oriental White Ibis(one with black head)
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Fleet of Bar Headed Goose

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Common Moorhen

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Cotton Teal

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Grey Heron mating

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Mamma Painted Stork feeding her kids

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Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_3150.jpg

Last edited by Maddy3008 : 2nd February 2019 at 08:54.
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Old 1st February 2019, 07:34   #7
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Default re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Day 11 contd

The day continued with more birds of all varieties.



Comb Duck

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_3165.jpg


Dusky Eagle Owl

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_3213.jpg


Crested Serpent Eagle

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_3264.jpg


Pied Kingfisher

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_3292.jpg


Pied Kingfisher with a Catch

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_3294.jpg


Immature Serpent Eagle

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_6810.jpg


Brown Headed Barbet

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_6818.jpg


Asian Pied Starling

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Greylag goose

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Red Munia

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Rufous Backed Shrike

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Small Blue Kingfisher

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_6843.jpg


Day 12: Bharatpur to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthanbore)
After a short 4 hour drive, we reached our hotel at Sawai Madhopur. We had booked 5 safaris for the following 2.5 days. The first safari was the most lucky for big cat sighting.



Female Sambar

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_6873.jpg


Neel Guy (Female)

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_6874.jpg


Neel Guy (Male)

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We need to talk (Sambar and a Large Pied Wagtail showing some emotions for each other !)

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_6879.jpg


The King of the Jungle - Tiger Finally for you

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I don't Care - I am just Happy Meditating

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_7217.jpg


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Old 1st February 2019, 21:36   #8
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Default re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Day 13 & 14: More Ranthambore safaris

We did 4 more safaris on the following two days. However, the law of averages caught up after a fabulous sighting in the first safari. We spotted only a few birds and animals in the following four safaris



A pair of Plum Headed Parakeet

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_7221.jpg

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_7228.jpg


Rudy Shelduck

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_7222.jpg


Black-shouldered Kite

Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan-_mg_7239.jpg


Croc basking in the afternoon sun

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Rufous Treepie on our Gypsy in search of food

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Babbler love

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Flame-backed Woodpecker

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Yellow-footed Green Pigeon

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Day 15 (Sawai Madhopur to Indore), Day 16 & 17 (Indore stay), Day 18 (Indore to Pune):
Indore is my home town. The drive from Sawai Madhopur to Indore was quite uneventful, and we reached Indore at around 6pm. I believe Indore is the food capital of India.

On a separate note, a list of the specialities we ate during the trip:
  • Laal maas
  • Daal Baati and Daal Bafale
  • Ker Sangri
  • Gatte ki sabji
  • Kadhi pakode
  • Aloe vera pickle
  • Chilly chicken from She Chinese Hong Kong restaurant (Dinner at Indore)
  • Pohe, Jalebi, Garadu, Kachori (Indore breakfast)
  • Sabudana khichdi (mid-morning meal)
  • Dahi Wade (sarafa)

At chappan dukan (Indore):
  • Mutter kachori
  • Aloo-pyaz kachori
  • Pattis
  • 7-flavour pani puri
  • Johny hot dog
  • Vadilal ice-cream

I would highly recommend having daal-bafle at the restaurant opposite the Vijay Stambh at Chittorgarh.


Summary

The final odometer for the trip was for 4491 kms, almost 3000+ photos clicked, went through villages called Rani & Chacha, witnessed umpteen snail-races (two-trucks in side-by-side lanes), had awesome food, and overall had a whale of a time during the trip. Would definitely like to cover Longewala, Tal-chappar sanctuary and a lot more Bharatpur the next time we visit Rajasthan.

Hope you enjoyed reading this travel and photo log as much as we enjoyed during the trip !

Keep travelling and sharing

Last edited by Maddy3008 : 2nd February 2019 at 08:59.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 15:37   #9
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Default re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Moving thread from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing, Makrand!
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Old 2nd February 2019, 20:51   #10
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Default re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

That is such a wonderful and wholesome trip (and treat!) - historical sights, traditional arts, water body, hills, great birds and wildlife...I'd assume great food too! Loved all the photos, particularly the "meditating" langur!

Rajasthan has been our bucket list for a while now.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 23:26   #11
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Default re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Beautiful log, has a mix of every thing, travel, automobiles, archaeology, arts, wildlife, birding etc., decorated with stunning photographs and crisp narration. Absolutely loved reading.

The best part for me was "we need to talk"...

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Old 3rd February 2019, 13:58   #12
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Default Re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Congratulations on your excellent photographs of the birds and the tiger. You know a thing or two about bird recognition. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 3rd February 2019, 18:59   #13
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Default Re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Wonderful and mesmerizing images of the wildlife. May I know what camera gears you have used in the whole trip.
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Old 5th February 2019, 18:00   #14
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Default Re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

I strongly believe that the best way to experience Rajasthan is via road and if self driven, even better. The amazing road connectivity and quality that the state offers goes a long way in exploring and enjoying this incredible state.
Every time i read about a Rajasthan travelogue I am taken back to all those wonderful times I have had criss crossing this state.
Coming to Ranthambore, it is one of the most beautiful , right out of a story book natural reserve and should be a must do on any one who enjoys being with nature.
Enjoyable read!!
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Old 8th February 2019, 14:53   #15
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Default Re: Forts, Birds and Tigers : A 4500 km 18 day road-trip to Rajasthan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddy3008 View Post
Day 13 & 14: More Ranthambore safaris

We did 4 more safaris on the following two days. However, the law of averages caught up after a fabulous sighting in the first safari. We spotted only a few birds and animals in the following four safaris
Wow.. so many pictures of birds, feels like you have seen most of the birds in this trip itself. Awesome clicks and thanks for sharing
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