Few shades darker, a few pounds lighter, hopefully (due to the inability to keep down food :p) and exhilarated nonetheless by the rich cultural experiences in one of the truly royal states in India – Rajasthan.
December was the year-end shutdown at our company and happy with the success of our first road trip to North Karnataka in October 2012, Guru started planning for another trip, this time to Rajasthan. After a lot of planning and coordination efforts by Guru, the trip route looked something like this – Bangalore>Ahmedabad by flight> Udaipur>Bishnoi Village Camp > Jodhpur/Ranakpur>Jaisalmer>SAM Dunes>Tanot>Longewala>Patan/Mehsana/Modhera>Ahmedabad>Bangalore.
Guru and I had already done the Rajasthan circuit while we were in college so we were pretty familiar with the sights and travelling 1684 kms(~1046mi) and just 11 places to be in 7 days seemed pretty doable considering we had just done 2121 kms(~1318 miles), and 25 places in 8 days.
Did we do it all? Well we did most of it, I will give a succinct summary of what went wrong in our planning at the end of this post but first lets see how the trip panned out.
Day 1, Dec 21, 2012 : Destination – Amdavad/Ahmedabad and Udaipur – Bangalore to Amdavad by Air and Amdavad to Udaipur by Road
When you are at the mercy of public transportation, you have to abide by their schedules and the sudden changes. Our flight that was supposed to leave BGL @ 9.10 am was rescheduled to 5.15 pm and our return flight was rescheduled as well from evening to morning which meant we had to cover more road in fewer days.
We were to reach Amdavad at noon which meant we would reach Udaipur around 7.00 pm but now with the changed schedule, we had to drive @ night and reach Udaipur in the wee hours of the morning and crash. Man, it was super cold and freezing and all of us rushed to our room and snuggled under 2 layers of blankets 🙂
Day 2, Dec 22, 2012 : Udaipur, City of Lakes
We stayed at this place called Thamla Haveli facing the Lake Pichola and the palace. The accommodations were very good and the food was lip-smacking.
After a hearty breakfast, we head out to see the Udaipur Palace, followed by a ride around Doodh Tali lake, boat ride on Lake Pichola, lunch, a gondola ride (to appease the kids) and rounding the day with an amazing sunset @ Fateh Sagar Lake. We gave the other tourist attractions like the Gulab Bagh/Zoo, Nehru Garden etc a miss as the kids were not too keen on them.
Day 3, Dec 23, 2012 : Destination – Bishnoi Village Camp via Kumbalgarh Fort and Ranakpur Jain Temple
En route to Bishnoi, we stopped at Kumbalgarh fort, the second longest fortress wall next to the Great Wall of China.
We also made a quick stop at Ranakpur Jain Temple, dedicated to the first Thirthankara, Lord Adinath before heading to Bishnoi. The roads were windy and in poor shape from Ranakpur to Bishnoi, a village 22 kms outside of Jodhpur.
Known for black bucks,gazelles, other types of deer and antelopes and the infamous Salman Khan black buck incident, Bishnoi Village Camp, gives you a closer glimpse of the Bishnoi villages and the local desert culture. We sighted a lot of black bucks, leaping gazelles, chinkaras, peacocks and a huge variety of birds.
We also went to the village, where we met a local family, saw how a dhurrie (a floor-mat/carpet) is made using camel hair. The local kids were very excited to see us, esp. me with the camera and told me repeatedly “Yes photo”, a phrase I am sure that they picked up from other tourists.
Back in the hut, Vidyuth started feeling kinda sick and caught a stomach bug of sorts. We made him feel comfortable, fed Vishruth his staple diet of “Thachi mammu aka curd rice” and for dinner we were served some local food – Bajra Roti and a dish called Ker Sangri, made with desert beans and capers. Even the foodie in me felt something was off about this dish, not sure what though. We had a fitful night’s sleep and this was when it all started to go wrong as Guru also caught the stomach bug as the Ker Sangri didn’t agree with him. Both dad and son woke up with a fever and we were all but ready to head to Jodhpur to see the doctor and get some meds in.
Day 4, Dec 24, 2012 : Destination – Jaisalmer via Jodhpur
After seeing the doc and getting the meds, we decided to give Mehrangarh Fort a skip as (a) Vidyuth and Guru were really sick, (b) Guru and I have already seen the fort and (c) Vishruth didn’t really care about a fort at this point and was content to just be with his dad, bro and me. We reached Jaisalmer around 5.00 pm in the evening and it took that entire night for Guru and Vidyuth to get back to feeling closer to normal.
Jaisalmer is a cultural treat for all travelers, esp. people who revel in the rich culture and heritage that a place has to offer. Jaisalmer fort is fun to explore by foot, taking in the sights, the architecture, not to mention traders displaying their beautiful wares – intricately carved marble statues, paintings, pretty jewellery, hand painted curtain rod knobs, exquisite handicrafts, dolls, fabrics, name it, you have it.
We even squeezed another boat ride @ Gadisar Lake. We took a paddle boat this time and Vidyuth had so much fun paddling, it was just amazing.
After lunch, we left for SAM sand dunes for a desert safari and sunset. We saw border troops, border patrol, not to mention a tamil speaking Army personnel (man, was I happy or not) and we all saluted the brave folk cos of whom we get a good night’s sleep.
When we sighted the dunes first, I felt like a character from the movie “The Mummy” riding on the camel, and waiting to sight the forbidden city Hamunaptra at sunrise :d. Yup, me and my movie fantasies complete with soundtracks, I am like that.
The kids had fun riding the camel, the camel cart, not to mention playing in the sand. December 25 also marked the 11th anniversary of when I first met Guru in 2001 so it was extra special to view the sunset.
We returned back to our tents and promptly bundled up as the temperatures dropped considerably. There must have been something about the desert air and food that didn’t agree with us for this time it was me that fell sick.
Day 6, Dec 26, 2012 : Destination unknown – plans still uncertain due to poor health.
When we first made our plans, we were heading to Tanot and Longewala, the border cities in Rajasthan. We ended up dropping these places off our list as the kids were also very tired by this point of all the driving. We started back towards Gujarat, basically an entire day of just driving. We had planned to go to Mehsana but we were all so tired and sick w/o familiar food that Guru did some regrouping on the fly and found us a place to crash at Patan, a place renowned for the Patola saree, worn by our late Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and several other celebrities.
Being not able to retain food for 2.5 days almost, tempers flared right, left and center and at this point all we wanted was to get back home ASAP 🙂
Day 7, Dec 27, 2012 : Destination – Amdavad via Modhera Sun Temple
We left for Amdavad, feeling pretty down about the way the trip was shaping up and stopped at Modhera Sun Temple on the way. We spent around 1/2 hour there, which in itself was a gross injustice to the grandeur and the architectural marvel. But it just showed how we were all feeling.
We reached Amdavad around noon and after a quick nap, took the kids to Kankria Lake Carnival and saw the light and laser show @ Akshardham, Gandhinagar. The light and laser was just fantastic, where the story of Nachiketa was portrayed beautifully. For obvious reasons, cameras, cell phones and any kind of bags even were prohibited but if you are ever there, i strongly recommend you pay a visit to Akshardham and watch this show.
Day 8, Dec 28, 2012 : Destination – Bengaluru….Finally 🙂
We were in Bangalore by noon and boy were we glad. Vidyuth and Vishruth were so happy to see, can you believe it, idly, sambhar and dosa and were relieved to be home.
So the issues that we faced, in order of importance:
1) First off, we could not rent a van in Rajasthan w/o a driver so we had to rent an Innova with a driver. For people like us, who are used to setting our own schedules and driving on our own, having a driver was a pain. One, its like they drive like they own the road w/o a worry for the passengers sitting in the vehicle. Two, they don’t stop when you tell them to, unless you tell them that you are going to puke your heart out. Our driver had this annoying habit of not stopping when we asked him to cos we wanted to see/photograph something. Only when we actually raised our voice to him, did he stop but the snide comments/remarks and the snarky smiles really did get us on edge. He was even judgmental about me esp when Guru and I were arguing, I guess it was the alpha-male (hehe) in him acting up. There is something about having a stranger in your vehicle that throws things off balance.
2) Due to changes in flight schedules, we had to cover more road in less time. Being in a constricted space for extended periods tend to make people, especially kids very restless, not to mention cranky.
3) The sudden drop and rise in temperatures did not agree with us and add to it issues with food, lack of sleep, it really does mess up your internal clocks.
Vishruth was the only one who did not fall sick(touch wood) but that’s probably cos he refused to experiment and did not eat anything other than bread, jam, bananas, omlettes and rice with curd – the good old thachi mammu 🙂
But all said and done, it was a good trip overall as there is something about travel esp. road trips. Road trips do bring people closer, as there are only so many radio stations you can listen to or say you are angry, how long can you put on a long face before you start talking about it or even screaming about it, cos there’s nowhere to hide when you are literally in the middle of nowhere 🙂 Ultimately you are being honest, not only with you but with the person travelling with you. And that’s all that matters at the end.
2012 was a good year for travel, here’s hoping it continues through 2013 and lasts!
I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” –Mark Twain
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman