More of Rajasthan

I came across this site only in the last week of April 09. It took a few days to explore the site. I really liked the Delhi-Goa and Delhi-Lucknow road reviews. I am from Lucknow, so may try the Delhi-Lucknow one, some day. One thing is for sure that I will take the NH-2 route rather than the NH-24 one.

Few months back I had done a trip to Rajasthan and after reading all the reviews on this site am inspired to write my trip as well. Our (includes myself, my wife ‘Anu’ as a backup driver and a very naughty 2+ old boy ‘Yash’) trips are mostly inclined towards enjoying the trip rather than covering more ground. As a rule, in terms of speed we never go in access of 120 Kmph. As far as possible, try not to drive in the dark and try and reach the destination by sun set. The car is the Honda City ZX, so no issues whatsoever in terms of comfort or reliability of the car.

This particular trip we had done during the Christmas – New Year holidays of Dec 2008 – Jan 2009. It was a 11 days trip starting on 24-Dec-08 morning and back to Noida on 3-Jan-09 evening.
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Day 1 – Wednesday 24 Dec 2008 : Noida-Kishengarh-Ajmer (400 Kms)

How much I may wish to get out early and cross Delhi before the traffic starts to build up, it always gets a little late. This time we were able to get out by 8 am. With a long weekend coming, there was not much traffic and we were able to enter Gurgaon in 1 hour. Took some time to cross Gurgaon and after crossing the toll stopped for a break. There is not much to write about the Gurgaon – Jaipur stretch. If I thought that the Delhi Jaipur road was very good, I was proved wrong as the road got better after crossing Jaipur. We did not get into Jaipur as it was not in our agenda. The NH-8 part after crossing Jaipur for about 90 Kms is excellent. One can easily cover the distance in 1 hour. The toll road ends just before Kishangarh. Make sure you do not enter Kishangarh town. Take the bypass for Ajmer. There is a new bridge for which you need to pay Rs. 5 as toll. After you cross the bridge, the very famous Kishengarh marble market starts. We stopped there for some shopping. We shortlisted few things and decided to again visit this place on our return. The place is very cheap for all the marble stuff as compared to the prices one gets in Delhi/Noida. The sun was setting so we decided to move on. From the Kishengarh marble market to Ajmerbus stand is about 40 Kms and it took us about 70 minutes. Another 10 minutes to find our hotel. We had booked in the RTDC Hotel Khadim. I strongly recommend this hotel. Nice big rooms, a decent restaurant – very reasonable (provides non-veg as well). The best part was they even cooked “khichadi” for my son with no extra charge. This hotel is also recommended as they have ample parking space as compared to other places which we later saw in Ajmer wherein the parking was mostly on the road.

Day 2 – Thursday 25 Dec 2008 : Ajmer + Ajmer-Jodhpur (210 Kms)
In the morning after having breakfast, first thing we visited was the Ajmer dargah. About the dargah itself you can visit the site www.dargahajmer.com The tips I would like to give is do not even think of taking your car near the dargah. You will waste lot of time. There is absolutely no authorized parking near the dargah. It is a congested road which leads to the dargah and what we noticed was that people were parking inside the locals houses. The locals have made it a business and charge upwards of Rs 50 for the parking and you will have to leave your car keys with them. Do not carry your camera with you as it is not allowed inside the dargah. Make sure you have secured your purse. We were already warned of all these things by some local friends, so we took an auto from the hotel to the dargah. After that we went to see the Nasiyan Jain Temple, also known as the Red Temple which is known for its beauty – a unique thing, a must see and highly recommended.

There are other places in Ajmer to see but we just spent some time in the local market and had lunch and then we were off to Jodhpur. I had to reach Jodhpur by 6 pm as was desired by our host (Neeraj – a school time friend from Lucknow; an army officer posted in Jodhpur). He had invited us to join him for the Christmas party in the army mess later in the evening.

Route from Ajmer to Jodhpur was fairly easy. From Ajmer continue on NH-8 till Beawar about 45 Kms from Ajmer. From Beawar take NH-14 and reach a place called Barr – about 30 Kms. Drive from Beawar to Barr is hilly and winding road. I will write more about Beawar and Barr in my return journey. From Barr take NH-12 which will take you to Jodhpur

We reached Jodhpur in less than 4 hours from Ajmer (Anu and Yash slept throughout so it was a peaceful drive). There were some road repairs going on but otherwise the road was fine with hardly any traffic on the road. The Christmas party was great later in the evening and we returned home quite late in the night all tired.

Day 3 – Friday 26 Dec 2008 : Jodhpur-Pokaran-Jaisalmer (290 Kms)

My friend Neeraj’s family has not been to Jaisalmer. We had planned for them to come with us to Jaisalmer and also Neeraj had some official work to do at Jaisalmer, so all was clubbed together. Neeraj’s daughter Arya is about 7 months older than Yash. Now I had two naughty – fighting kids to take care of.

We started from Jodhpur after a very late breakfast. The weather was great. Take NH-114 till Pokaran. The roads where we have dividers are excellent. Even the roads which do not have dividers are very good and the traffic becomes thinner and thinner with each passing Km. We had packed lunch with us. We stopped at a roadside dhaba for lunch. Ordered few things from the dhaba also to taste the authentic Rajasthani flavour and the ‘gatte ki sabji’ was great. That place had a small garden as well with some swings and we had a difficult time getting the kids back into the car and resume our journey. After lunch about early evening time we reached Pokaran. Till that time I associated Pokaran with the nuclear test site only, but then found out that it is also famous as the potters village. Most of the Rajasthani mud toys we see and pay so much for here in Delhi comes from this small dusty village. We went into the village and into the houses of the potters. They showed us how they make the toys – made few for us. Prices were very reasonable and could not resist picking few things. True Rural tourism.

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Pokaran also has a fort and a sati temple. We skipped the fort as it is not very famous and for the next few days we were to see the bigger forts.

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Pokaran village to Jaisalmer is about 110 Kms with non-existent traffic and great roads. Take NH-15 from Pokaran which will take you to Jaisalmer. Just an input for you all – from Jodhpur onwards with such excellent roads there was no toll on the roads.

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We reached Jaisalmer when it was just about getting darker. My friend has arranged for us to stay in the army mess. Two rooms were booked. We just rested before moving on for the dinner in the mess.

Day 4 – Saturday 27 Dec 2008 : Jaisalmer + Jaisalmer-Sam Sand Dunes (45 Kms) and back to Jaisalmer

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We had done about 900 Kms till now, so time for some relaxation.

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We spent the day going thru the sights of Jaisalmer (mainly the fort). It is a huge fort. The unique thing is that it is the only fort which has the whole city still living inside the fort. It has houses, shops, temples (mainly Jain temple), restaurants, internet cafes etc. and the palace inside the fort. Some shops we found good collection of Rajasthani saris.

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In the evening we had planned to visit the Sam Sand Dunes. We reached there in time just before the sun set. The sun-set is a beautiful view from this place. The children refused to sit on the camels. So the fathers were the ‘camels’ for the kids and the moms enjoyed the actual camel ride.

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We spent some more time there and then returned back to Jaisalmer. For dinner we had ordered the Rajasthani “Lal Maas” (really hot non-veg rajasthani dish) from a recommended restaurant by another officer.

Day 5 – Sunday 28 Dec 2008 : Jaisalmer-Barmer (160 Kms) and back + Jaisalmer

We still wanted to see more of Desert, so we decided to visit Barmer. Barmer is a place and a district as well south of the Jaisalmer district. The Barmer town is about 160 Kms from Jaisalmer. Barmer is the place where the Rajasthani ‘Block printed’ cloth and bed-sheets come from. With the only objective of seeing more of actual desert and buying some bed-sheets we decided to visit Barmer.

Our decision proved to be good one. The drive was fantastic. A single road with absolutely non-existent traffic and endless desert on both side with speed never over 110 Kmph, the distance of 160 Kms was done in 2 hours including a small break. There is nothing to see in Barmer. We went straight to the market and enquired about the block printing stuff. It was near the temple at the end of the market. In case anyone is interested, park the car in front of the school at the other end of the market, and then walk for about 100 meters crossing the vegetable market and you will see shops selling this stuff. The prices are very reasonable. We picked up lot of bedsheets and few ladies suit lengths and some stuff for the kids. Another thing which I really like and picked up from the Barmer market was “Sing dana” (Groundnuts) – really big danas little salted for just Rs 50 per Kg (they mainly come from Gujarat). The similar stuff I have seen in Delhi selling for about Rs 120 per Kg. It is a perfect munching snack. We picked up few Kgs. For lunch we tried some local delicacies like ‘Mirchi vada’ and ‘Kachoris’. The shop which we picked up to eat was just a hole in a wall type in the corner. But that guy was selling like hot cakes. Our decision to eat there was purely based on the number of people eating there and the ‘Mirchi vadas’ turned out to be really nice.

Just about evening we decided to return back to Jaisalmer. Another 2 hours drive – 160 Kms. We enjoyed the sun-set and the sand dunes on the way back. Reached Jaisalmer while it was just getting darker. The day was not over yet.

In the night we went to the Desert Cultural Centre and Museum, Jaisalmer. It is a nice building and is maintained by one Mr N K Sharma (have received a Padma award from President of India for his work). They have two puppets shows in the night for 30 minutes each. The kids really enjoyed it.

Day 6 – Monday 29 Dec 2008 : Jaisalmer + Jaisalmer-Jodhpur (290 Kms)

The day was spent seeing the sights of Jaisalmer, mainly the lake (boating), some more buildings, havelis and some shopping.

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Among the havelis the most elaborate and fascinating is the ‘Patwon ki haveli’.

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In the evening we headed back for Jodhpur. Reached Jodhpur by dinner time. My friend Neeraj suggested we bring some take away food and sit and relax at home and have dinner. I am writing about this take away food as I want to mention this dish some ‘Kaju ki sabji’ which was something unique and really very nice. This restaurant was in the Cantt area somewhere near the Air Force station and the most amazing thing was the price of the dish. At Rs 60 for the dish there was so much ‘Kaju’ in the dish that I think even the cost of the Kaju would be more than the price of the dish. Neeraj told me this dish is quite common in Jodhpur, so if you get a chance, please give it a try.

Day 7 – Tuesday 30 Dec 2008 : Jodhpur

The sights of Jodhpur mainly the Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort and Jaswant Thada.

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Day 8 – Wednesday 31 Dec 2008 : Jodhpur

More of Jodhpur – The palace and the main market. The new year night was celebrated at the Army club which was very well organised. We enjoyed the party, the dance and the food. Thanks to Neeraj.

Day 9 – Thursday 1 Jan 2009 : Jodhpur + Jodhpur-Barr-Beawar-Ajmer

We spent half day at Jodhpur. About 4 pm we started from Jodhpur for our journey back to Ajmer. By now we were recommended by many people to stop at Barr and if time permits visit Beawar to see how “TillPattis” are made. We made good progress on our way back and were at this small place called “Barr” by the time it was starting to get dark. It is a small village but an important highway junction where NH-112 and NH-14 meets. It was highly recommended to us that we stop here and eat at the sweet shop. We had the most amazing ”Kachodis” and ‘Mirchi Wadas’ we ever had. At Rs 4 a piece the “Kachodis” we had that day were out of the world. In case you have any doubts about the hygiene of that place, I would say they would match the standards of any big chain like Haldiram or Bikanerwala. It’s a must – must if you ever pass this place.

From there we went to Beawar. Beawar town is famous for the sweet “Tilpatti”. For those who don’t know what “tilpatti” is, it is something like ‘Rewari or Gajak’ but wafer thin like a papad or even thinner. You have to eat it to experience it. Even I had never heard about this ‘Tilpatti’ before I got to taste it while in Jodhpur – where we got the recommendation to stop at Beawar on the way back and experience the real thing. When you enter the town almost everyone (from paan walla to any food shop) sells ‘Tilpatti’ but the best one is from “RAMDHAN & SONS”. If you ask people around almost everyone said, “if you want the best, go to Ramdhan”. The gentleman at the shop was very nice as he explained how the delicacy was made and even let us video the proceedings. After this wonderful experience at Beawar town, we proceeding to the destination of the day – Ajmer. The room was booked at the same RTDC Hotel Khadim at Ajmer.

Day 10 – Friday 2 Jan 2009 : Ajmer-Pushkar (12 Kms) and back + Ajmer + Ajmer-Kishengarh-Behror (270 Kms)

By now we were not even trying to start the day early. We were already in the lat leg of our journey and wanted to enjoy every bit of it. We would start only after having good breakfast. This day after packing everything and with the intention that we should get back to Noida by night, we were off to Pushkar.

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Pushkar is just about 12 Kms from Ajmer with a hilly drive. We spent some time at the lake and the temple(s) and their tourist oriented small market, and after having lunch we were back to Ajmer.

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We spent some more time at Ajmer (Sai Baba temple) and then started our last leg of journey to be back in Noida by late night. On the way we stopped at Kishangarh as we wanted to pick up some marble stuff. From there by the time we reached Jaipur or were passing Jaipur, the time was 7:30 pm It was getting colder from here and a bit of fog. I did continue for some time but about after an hour realised that it was not a good idea to try and make it to Noida that night. We called up some friends in Delhi only to be told that there is already heavy fog in Delhi/NCR which helped us to take the decision that we will stop at the first available decent hotel. After few minutes we realised that we were approaching Behror (Mid way between Jaipur and Delh) and I remembered there is a decent RTDC hotel at Behror and they have a decent eating place also. We stopped there and luckily got a room.

Day 11 – Saturday 3 Jan 2009 : Behror-Neemrana-Sohna-Noida (200 Kms)

With the intention of just reaching Noida from Behror we were relaxed. Started almost at noonfrom Behror. I realised we were to soon pass Neemrana fort. I had earlier been here many years back, but my wife had not seen it, so we took a left from the highway and went up to the fort. Many years back when I was here the entry ticket was Rs 150 and I was convinced that it was a total waste of money. I had given the feedback to her and she didn’t seem interested after seeing the massive forts at Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. On reaching there we found out that starting 1-Jan-09 the entry ticket is Rs 500 per head. Adding to this, my feedback earlier, she took a stand that she does not want to go in. From there we proceeded further. When we were entering Gurgaon, we decided to give a short visit to Sohna (a 30 Km diversion from Rajiv Chowk, Gurgaon). We spent some time at Sohna and then finally back to Noida at about 8 pm

I checked the reading of the car, in all we had done 2570 Kms. During this journey, my son was able to identify a cow, a sheep and a camel.

We had done the route Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Barmer-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur as we wanted to spend time with my friend. One can do Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Barmer-Jodhpur or from Barmer, one can continue towards Udaipur / Mount Abu. Make sure any plan you make for Rajasthan is during winters. Even Dec-Jan during the day we needed just a normal T-shirt.

19 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome aboard Sunil. That looks like a real ghumakkar account :-) Bravo.

    We also did Jaisalmer and Jodhupr but our route was a little different and we stopped only at these two places. We did

    Delhi – Shekhawati – Bikaner – Jaisalmer

    then Jaisalmer – Jodhpur (same as you) and then came back directly from Jodhpur.

    • kallu says:

      Thanks Nandan. We had Ajmer higher on our list as compared to Bikaner, the reason for taking the route we took. Probably I will plan a shorter trip to cover North Rajasthan on a later date.

  • nandanjha says:

    anytime. Actually I have been to Ajmer before. By the way, we didn’t stop at Bikaner (except a stretched lunch break) in terms of any thing, we drove through it.

  • Hey this is good stuff. So glad you posted this. I enjoy reading blogs like this.

  • Ray says:

    Nice site and an interesting read – are you having fun with it? I like what you are doing here.

  • Manish Kumar says:

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

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Beautiful post. Well done, Sunil.

    Drove to Mount Abu three months after your trip so I could very well relate to your experience. Hope to do the Jaisalmer leg in the near future and your post will be helpful then.

    • kallu says:

      Thanks Patrick,

      Whenever you plan Jaisalmer, make sure it is during winters. Dec 24 to Jan 1 is normally very high season for Rajasthan. Room rents are at least 3 times the normal rents and if not booked in advance there is a chance you will not get any rooms. Thanks to my friend Neeraj, he took care of that for us.

  • Mahes Semwal says:

    You started your journey at 8.00AM & at what time you reached Ajmer. I had been to Ajmer via Jaipur , It takes about 3 hrs. from Jaipur.

    Wht you suggest for Jaisalmer , RTDC Hotels are good ? I know Ajmer one – Hotel Khadim is really good.

    Nice post , I liked it.

    Although I am from Uttranchal but Rajasthan is very close to my heart.

    • kallu says:

      We reached at about 6 pm. But we did stop at the Kishangarh market to look at the marble stuff which delayed us a bit. BUt I am sure it would be slightly less than 3 hours from Jaipur to Ajmer, if one goes without stopping.
      As for hotels in Jaisalmer, we did not have any choice as all were booked (remember our trip was between 25 Dec and 1 Jan holidays). We almost had cancelled the trip as we were not getting any hotel room but then my friend who is in the army was able to book us in the army mess. But I have heard that RTDC Jaisalmer is also very good. In fact all RTDC hotels are quite good and reasonable.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Thanks Sunil

  • Ranjeet says:

    Very nice post !!
    RTDC hotel Moomal in Jaisalmer is very good hotel. I stayed in way back 1999 and they arranged Rajstjani folk dance as well in evening.

    I am now planing to do same trip in coming winter by car. Can I make this by my hatchback WagonR ( three adults + 2 small kids)?

    • Sunil Kalra says:

      Hi Ranjeet,

      The roads are still very good, so any car will do. As for the luggage we had taken lots of wollens (for 2 yr kid) but was not required much. He was happy with his one jacket (that too in the night). The car dicky became full because of the shopping (courtsy my wife).

  • manish khamesra says:

    Very well written Sunil. I was wondering that as you have covered 11 days in single post so it might be very heavy, but on the contrary it was very light reading. I am from Rajasthan and can relate with all the things that you mentioned and it took me for a while to that relaxed atmosphere.

    Hope to see many more from you :-)

  • mohan says:

    mere ko asha laga pad kar good

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