A Taste of Salt – Sambhar Lake

Whenever I looked at Google Maps to find places around Jaipur which can be covered in a day, one large blue area was my center of attraction. This large blue area is Sambhar Lake which is around 100 km from Jaipur. Thought of visiting Sambhar Lake was always in my mind but could not materialize in my several visits to Jaipur in last 3 years. Disclaimer – My wife is from Chomu, nearby town of Jaipur. So it’s almost second home to me :) . But during my recent visit to Jaipur in January 2012, I have decided even before going that I will definitely pay a visit this time. Sambhar Lake is India’s largest inland salt lake. More technical information about Sambhar Lake is already available on Ghumakkar via a very good post by none other than Nandan – http://www.ghumakkar.com/2008/04/19/getting-lost-in-sambhar-lake/. In fact the post by Nandan was also a big motivator for me to visit Sambhar Lake.

Raw Salt

On January 13, the day before Makar Sankranti, we started from Chomu to Sambhar Lake around 2 pm.  Although I had decided to move around 12 in the noon  but as I was at my wife’s home so things were beyond my control. My wife was in no mood to visit a lake which is without water since many years. I was accompanied by my two brother-in-laws. We three were on a single motorcycle as both were equally excited  for the trip. Google Maps in my Android mobile was helpful in planning the route which was Chomu >> Renwal >> Jobner >> Phulera >> Sambhar. Total distance was around 90 km. We were already late so we decided to not stop in the middle anywhere so that we can spent more time at lake itself.  First 40 km from Chomu till Renwal were smooth due to good condition of road but the next 20 km from Renwal to Jobner were torture. 3 persons on a motorcycle on a bad road is never a comfortable ride. We had to stop for 5-10 minutes to give relief to our bodies. After starting again we reached Jobner town. While entering Jobner an old fort was visible atop a hill. I was willing to take a snap but did not want to stop again. Then we thought to check air pressure in tyres and fortunately the shop was near the hill from where I have taken a zoomed shot of fort.

Jobner Fort

We started again after 5 minutes of stay as it was already 3.45 pm. Road from Jobner to Phulera was in very good condition. On this road at some places there were large number of trees with very few leaves and view was very good to be photo captured but due to running ahead of time we skipped that. We reached Phulera around 4.15 pm. Anyone coming from Jaipur side to Sambhar has to come via Phulera only. Sambhar is around 7 km from there and road condition was very good. Finally we reached Sambhar Lake town. After Nandan’s experience with local people about asking directions for lake, we have not tried that option. I saw a board of Sambhar Salts Ltd. and we took left turn from there via a very narrow and dusty road. With guidance from Google Maps we finally reached at Lake in another 10 minutes. We were expecting the lake to be dry but to our great surprise we could see some water.  It was an amazing feeling to view a large wetland till wherever our eyes could see.

Love at First Sight

We have parked our bike after crossing a narrow gauge railway line. This narrow gauge line is being used to carry salt from one place to the other within lake. Suddenly we saw that one train was coming to our side from the nearby salt factory. There was one engine and two very small empty wagons. There wagons were made of wood instead of iron to prevent from rusting due to carrying salt. The wagons were detached from engine nearby us and the engine returned to factory. We could see from a distance that salt was being filled up in wagons in an another train by some people. Then we have a brief chat with one local old person who was working in the factory since last 30 years. He told us that nearby factory is government-owned, there are other private large factories which are on other side of lake. We came to know from him that the water which we were seeing was actually ground/boring water drilled by motor. He gave us directions of the nearby dam in lake where it has more water. We also enquired about Shakumbhari temple which was far and should have taken around 30 minutes to reach. We were not having much time so decided to skip temple and preferred to see more of lake.

We started our bike and crossed a dusty path of around 200 meters to reach on a tar road which was like a ring road around the lake. On the way we see a narrow gauge small coach without engine which was carrying passengers. There must be some inbuilt mechanism in the coach so that it could run without an engine. We also saw large dry lake beds with narrow gauge track acting as a line of border.

Wooden wagons behind the Engine

Small cute Engine performing its duties

 

Single coach narrow gauge train

 

Dry lake bed and narrow gauge tracks

We keep moving on the road but dam was nowhere in picture. It should be around 5 km from the place we started and we have already crossed more than that. Then I check on map that we were moving far from lake and decided to return. We realized that there was no connecting road to dam and there must be an entry point. We found a dusty track which was going towards the lake. It must be used by tractors and other vehicles. Finally we were inside the lake and it was amazing to drive bike in the lake :). We parked our bike and decided to roam around. On one side of the lake was dry beds with muddy patches in between while on the other side there was water. We saw a person coming on bicycle who in fact was the only person apart from us there. He was an employee there and told us about salt formation method and other related things. He also told us that we were still far from the dam and more water was on another side of the dam. It was already 5:30 pm and we had to go back  around 100 km on almost empty roads so we have decided to keep that for future visit. We spent another 30 minutes there to witness various forms of salt, rusty rail tracks, more water and very short but beautiful sunset. There is nothing much to describe so please enjoy pictures below. One more thing to mention is that we had crossed broad gauge (Jaipur-Jodhpur line), meter gauge (Chomu-Loharu line) and narrow gauge (Sambhar Lake) tracks on a single day in our journey.

We started our journey back. It was an uneventful journey on bike in complete dark.  Due to lack of time we could not see all parts of lake but something should be left to come again…………

Entry path towards dam

Rusty rail track

Salt Formation

Water blocks

Bike in Dry Lake

Reflections

Sunset

Route

47 Comments

  • SilentSoul says:

    B’ful post solanky ji. I have for the first time seen photo of small train in sambhar lake. sunset photo and reflection photos are awesome

    • Thanks Sir for your appreciation. Small train was also bonus for me as well which I have not anticipated.

      I would request you to please don’t add ji after my name, I am just a kid in front of you both in terms of age and ghumakkarism.

  • ???? ????? ?????? ?? , ???? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ? ???? ????????? ?? ??????????? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? 100 ????????? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ??????? ???? ??? ???? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? ???? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?? ?????????? ?????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?????????? ?? ????????? ?? ? ???? ????? ????????? ?? ???? ??? ?? ????? ?? ??? ????

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  • Very good post Deependra, specially description……………

    Keep it up……………

  • ashok sharma says:

    very good pics.

  • ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???

  • 7 ????? ?? ???? ????? ?? ?

  • ??? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ???? ?? ? ???? ?? …. ? ????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ?????.. ???? ?? ?? ????? ???? http://t.co/kXEpV3aF ?? ????? ???? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?? LIKE ?? ????? ???? ???????… :) ….
    AND A BIG THANKS TO MR. SOLANKY FOR THIS GREAT POST… PICTURES ARE TOO GOOD.

  • Roopesh says:

    Hi Deependra,

    Nice post and very good pictures. I have been to Sambhar lake, infact have spent one night in the so called “resort” in that town. This was in 2003. I was quite fascinated by Sambhar lake and imagined myself going to lake on my newly purchased bike as an excursion. However, I made it there by then MG train from Delhi in First Class along with couple of friends. Not sure why I expected the place to have some tourist activity but there was nothing. The lake was dry and the town was non-descript. We managed to visit the lake and take ride in the rail vehicle there however, there was no activity going on at that time as it was off-season. So, was a little disappointing. Anyways..

    Can I use your rail vehicle pictures to upload to our rail enthusiast website (www.irfca.org)? Of course with due credit to you.

  • Thanks Roopesh. Yes, the place is very good but not for the usual tourists. These placed are covered by ghumakkars like us. Train ride must be very good, may be I can catch the same other day.

    For photos – Please use these on IRFCA without any worry, I am also a non-active member there. In fact, you can use high resolutions photos of the trip available on Flickr. The photos are licensed under Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works category of Creative Commons, so anybody can use the photos. Link is – http://www.flickr.com/photos/deependra/sets/72157628979421907/

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Hi Soalnky.,

    Very Nice post and amazing pictures of that single coach narrow gauge ……. By the way does this narrow gauge leads toward Degana and Merta City ?????? ………. im not sure … i think you are

    Once i have passed through the Sambhar Lake while on journey from Bikaner to Jaipur ………….. I crossed Makrana and it was evening till then ,when i saw this mighty barren piece of sodium .
    At some points there was a very bad odour , mainly coming from the saline wetlands drenched with highest degree of alkalinity

    Nice post with excellent descriptions and marvelous pictures ………..

    • Thanks Giriraj for support. I don’t have much idea about the narrow gauge but I believe that its only for internal use within lake to carry salt from various parts of lake to factory.

      About the bad odour, we have not feel that may be due to the fact that our focus was to enjoy the lake tour :)

  • Naveena Israni says:

    Hi Deependra ji,

    Really wonderful photos and enlightening post… The Sunset photo is specially superb!

    Regards,
    Naveena

  • Vibha says:

    Nice pictures and post Deependra.

    The next time, do you again plan to triple ride on a bike? :)

    Also, you mentioned that the water there was because of boring. Any idea how much of boring is done there and are there any environmental regulations that are followed to make sure that the human activity, such as boring, has minimal adverse impact on the ecosystem?

    • Thanks Vibha. Bike is the preferred vehicle for places like Sambhar Lake unless you own a SUV. But three are definitely NO for next time.

      I came through an article published on Tehlka (http://tehelka.com/story_main41.asp?filename=cr020509no_flavour.asp) which says that there are around 30 bore-wells per acre so situation is not good. There are other lot of things which have been written in the article, please do read it. Can you imagine a 230 square km lake has water in 7 square km only. I don’t know where our greed will take us. And yes, there are no regulation control according to the article.

  • Hemant Rohilla says:

    nice pics. i am also a lover of rajasthan peaceful places and forts and i also enjoyed a non stop journey jodhpur to delhi by my own car.

  • injamaven says:

    I read in Col. Tod [ca 1820] that Sambhar is the pristine locale of the Hadaotis? Is that correct?

    • Sorry, I don’t have any idea of this.

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      I dont think so Sambhar is a part of HAadoti ………. it is overlapping with the Marwar and Jaipur (Dhundhaad) region.

      Col.James Tod has written a book named “Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan” in the imprial times . My father has a copy of it published somewhere in the 1970’s ….. being from Rajasthan i have read the whole book . Some trivia to you if you seem to be interested
      Hadas are the rajput dynasty who ruled the hadoti belt covering >>> Kota>> Bundi >> Jhalawar and some parts of Sawai Madhopur.They are a sub clan of Chauhans… Hadoti is one among the geographic regions of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is divided into

      1.) Dhundhaad —- Jaipur Belt mainly Aravalli including Dausa,Tonk and Sawai Madhopur
      2.)Shekhawati —– Sikar ,Jhunjhunu some parts of Alwar mainly Aravalli and semi arid region.
      3.)Marwar —— Jodhpur,Bikaner,Jaisalmer etc .., mainly desert
      4.)Hadoti ———- Kota,Bundi,Jhalawar some parts of Chittorgarh etc.., mainly plateau (Malwa)
      5.)Mewad ———– Udaipur,Rajsamad,Bhilwara etc.., ruled by Sisodiya clan of Maharana Pratap

      Hope this information acts as a utility to you ………………

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Rajasthan is very close to my heart, thanks for sharing your experience. First time saw single coach train through your post.

    Great work !

  • injamaven says:

    I know Sambhar isn’t in Haraoti, but read it was Bundi Chauhans’ Pristine Locale

  • Nandan says:

    Hey Deependra – I think you take the story one step forward. When I was there, there was no water. Later I got many comments where people updated on what they saw.

    If I remember correctly, the rail is only for internal transfers and I do not think it is connected to a regular railway system.

    After reading your story, I think a part 3 is needed where someone can take us to Shakumbari and more of the lake. I am sensing that Sandeep and Manu are planning a trip already.

    Thank you Deependra for the nice article and refreshing my memories on this. Be around more.

    • Thanks Nandan and its my pleasure to revive your memories. Since I have read your post about Sambhar, I was willing to go there.

      There is very much more to explore at Sambhar so I hope somebody will soon be there to write the part 3.

  • Binod says:

    Nice post Deependra, after reading it only draws picture in our mind, then definitely you must have enjoyed there a lot.

  • anupam.mazumdar says:

    Awesome, simply awesome, i never knew about this place, and now that i know, i will definitely make a visit, wheneveri get time.

    Thanks for the lovely writeup.

    regards
    Anupam Mazumdar

  • abhishek kashyap trainman says:

    solanky sir,,,
    thanks a lot…
    its my pleasure to read this page…
    and its my ghumakkari’s one of the best read journey…
    m luving it…
    as i am a very old IRFCA member too,so i cant stop myself to post our pic to group- (https://www.facebook.com/groups/irfcamgng/) this group is dedictedly working to preserserve Indian railway’s NG/MG to give them a real tribute…it would be my pleasure to have you there as FB user sir..
    ur sprite of ghumakkari is same like me..
    aaj tak ki apni 23 saal ki life me 99% train joaurnies maine general k gate par khade hokar ki hain…
    din ho ya raat…ghumakkari is my passion..
    i am new to this site..
    but ab main is site ka lifetime fan ban gya hu…
    neeraj jaat ji k baad aap bhi…nw one of my fav ghumakkar writer :)
    dnt mind..
    ur pics are already in this FB group..
    and u r also welcome there..
    my FB is abhishek kashyap trainman(search me as plz).
    keep ghummi….gnt.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    ??????? ???? ? ??? ????????? ?? ???????? ?????? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?????? ?????? ?? ??? ???????? ????? ????? ?? ????????? ?? ????? ?? ?? ???? ????

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Thanks for giving us a taste of Rajasthani salt, Deependraji. It was delicious.

    It was very interesting to read and you have made the arid salt lake look beautiful in your photographs.

    I was a bit dismayed to read that three of you went on a single motorbike. Not only is it extremely uncomfortable, but it is very dangerous too. As it is, India has a very bad record when it comes to road safety. Please excuse me if I have hurt your feelings.

    Rajasthan is blessed with so many amazing forts, yet the Jobner Fort looks special. Maybe you should write a post on it for the benefit of ghumakkars.

    • Thanks Sir for your kind words. I was a little busy for last 2 weeks so could not reply in time.

      You are absolutely right regarding riding three person on bike. In this particular journey alternative options were limited, but I will take care in future.

      I have not visited Jobner fort, just pass by it on the way to Sambhar. But yes, Rajashthan’s forts are amazing.

  • Abhishek says:

    Hi sir, we are a group of bikers & planning to visit this place on 11th january,

    Will it be the right time(weather) to go over there ?
    Did you find any water body over there as i have learned that the lake is dry & there are only Mirages to be seen.?
    We are also planning to do night camping over there.is it safe ?

    waiting for the reply
    Thanx

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