It was a long drive and we were dreading that it would get very grumpy in the end. Like my other road reviews, where more moments were spent (on the review) trying to understand the in-between places and peculiarities, here I am spending few more pennies to build the story for it was as many as 782 KMs and that too in a single day. I have never done that long a trip. As a rule, we never drive in night so it has to end by evening or a little late evening, if it stretches in the night then we are just fooling ourselves. The good part was that none of my co-passengers have clocked those many miles as well so with four adults and two kids, I knew what I was getting into. The saner part of mine kept hunting for a good hotel in Bikaner but I never did. Somehow I was thinking that we would make it time. Our avg in previous trips has been close to 50 KM an hour since a 6 odd hour drive has at least one break so even if you are doing good it takes you 6 odd hours to finish a 300 KM thing. For 800 odd, it would be 16 hours and with every extra hour the average should rather go down then going up. We have not seen the last 500 Km of the road and have been only till Mandawa couple of times so even though we had some idea of what we were getting into, we simply were oblivious to what lay ahead. Someone said, Ignorance is bliss and then someone said that serendipity is the way to go so we went.
Delhi – Jaisalmer Road can be divided into following sections.
1. Delhi – Loharu (different routes to do this depending on where you live in Delhi/NCR) – 160-170 KM
2. Loharu – Fatehpur (100 KM)
3. Fatehpur – Bikaner (170 KM)
4. Bikaner – Jaisalmer (328 KM)
To keep the fun, I would tell you driving time later in the review.
1. Delhi – Loharu
From Delhi, you can choose to either go via Rohtak Road or take the more standard NH8. The one through Rohtak Road is a little shorter, 20 to 30 KMs depending upon your place of stay. NH8 is more higway-ish and standard. The road via Rohtak Road is a little off-beat. Road quality is same/similar. If you are staying in North/West/Central Delhi then choose the Rohtak Road, if you stay closer to South border or Gurgaon then take the NH8 route.
For South bound, get on to NH8 (the famous Delhi-Jaipur road), go on till Rewari Cut. Go right at the fork, towards Rewari. From Rewari, you can go towards Mahedragarh and then ask for Loharu (shorter route, recommended) or you can take the published route which is via Narnaul.
For North bound, take Rohtak Road. Go till Bahaudur Garh, take a left, go till Jhajjar, then Charkhi Dadri and finally Loharu.
There is nothing great to write home about for both of these options. These are fairly standard road-driving experience with fields accompanying you most of time, you cross tiny hamlets, moderate kasbas and you keep going. Whole of this is in Haryana so road quality is good, and you are mostly in semi-urban areas.
Driving Time -2.5/3 Hours
2. Loharu – Fatehpur
As you get on to Loharu, you get a Tolled road so road quality suddently goes up, the landscape changes from sub-urban to country and it starts to get interesting. Take Loharu – Chirawa – Jhunjhunu – Mandawa – Fatehpur route. This whole region is called ‘Shekhawai’ region and it attracts quite a large of international tourists. Famous for wall drawings, motifs, colors and Haweli, the old grandeur and majesty of rulers can’t be missed. While you drive through Mandawa and Fatehpur, go a little slow to see those Hawelis. The vibrant colors and paintings are hard to ignore. There are some great reviews of this region on ghumakkar so search and enjoy.
Driving Time – 1.5 Hours / 2 Hours
3. Fatehpur – Bikaner
So far we have been on a mix of semi-urban to urban to rural roads, now you truly get on to a marvelous piece of tar where you can let loose. Its one staright road where you dont have to think much and keep driving. Fabulous road to drive by. Try to push more gas to up your average. As you drive on this road, you would start to get a feel of dry Rajasthan, the one which is vast with little habitation. There is no toll and not many towns on the way. After navigating through numerous small towns, now you dont need to worry about next small town, as there aren’t many.
Driving Time – 2.5 / 3 hours
4. Bikaner – Jaisalmer
Bliss. I have not driven too much but still done a fair bit of it and this stretch was something which was totally new to me. Like most of it, you dont need to do every thing in the world and while some of us are great at the art of extrapolation, I would still bet my bread for anyone who hasn’t been there to really explain the stretch. Its simply mind boggling. You need to do this to understand it. Since you have read this much, it would be unfair for me to just wind this without explaining to best of my abilities.
As you get out of Bikaner, you find yourself on a long and straight (sometime straight for 25 Kms with no tilt or swerve) road which seem to be cutting the vast expanse of desert. There is no dust so you can see as much as your eyes can take it. So try to imagine, you are behind the wheel, looking at this straight glowing road, on your left is unending streak of land and the right seems to be mirror image. There are patches of small bushes amid yellow sand and thats about it. Since there is nothing which is blocking your view like trees, hills etc, you find yourself in a real large pool of light (anti heavy) light (anti dark). Its like being a small bug on a large yellow bed spread. And this goes on and on and on. Only two kinds of people visit Jaisalmer, tourists and Army. So you only see a occasional taxi or a local bus as you drive. You go on till Pokhran and then get on to Jodhpur – Jaisalmer road.
Average driving time – 9.5 / 12 hours. Add at least stops worth 2 / 3 hours so that would make it 11.5 / 15 hours drive.
We started at 5.30 from Delhi. By 9 we were beyond Loharu. We stopped for an hour to ease out bowels, get kids some exercise, break fast. By 1.45 were were beyond Bikaner. Stopped for an hour and a half for lunch. By 6.30, we were in Hotel. We took 13 hours to do this with 2.5 hours of stop. We didn’t go beyond 140 ever, may be 150 once or twice. On an average were at 120 for most of our trip after Fatehpur. For food stop, Bikaner has some good food joints for lunch. For b’fast, stop at Mandawa. Before Mandawa, the other big town is Rewari (via NH8).
We did it. The reading on the speedo-meter said 788 Km which also meant – Welcome to Jaisalmer. :)