Day Zero 03rd Nov’10
It was around 1600hrs in the afternoon when my wife calls up in the office informing me to make all arrangements for a trip to Jaisalmer starting tomorrow. I was a bit shocked as It was only during the lunch time we had decided not to go anywhere during the coming four days break on the occasion of Diwali. Anyways I quickly searched for phone numbers of some hotels, did route survey, finished pending job at office and rushed back home for some packing. The idea was to leave in the morning with a break at Mt Abu and the proceed for Jaisalmer the next day. After we had finished the packing and went out for some last minute shopping, I inform my wife about the route we were about to take and the night stopover.
Wifey: “Where does Jodhpur fits in it”.
Me: “ Jodhpur wont fit in the route from Surat to Jaisalmer”.
Wifey: “ But I want to do some shopping in Jodhpur and I don’t know anything, we have to go there also”.
Now all plans again go haywire. I did some quick calculation for distance and decided to leave a bit early so as to reach Jodhpur by evening. Finally after doing some shopping, filling up the tank, reached home and checked out some hotels for Jodhpur as well. We had decided to leave at 4 AM in the morning and accordingly I had put my alarm for 3 AM.
Day 1 04th Nov’10
Surat- Ahmedabad-Udaipur-Sirohi Rd. –Pali-Jodhpur
I was up by 3AM, got ready, made some tea and snacks and then around 3:30 asked my better half to get up. As usual it took sometime for her to leave the bed and it ensured that we will not be able to leave at the desired time. I kept the luggage in the car, made the back seat a make shift bed for my 3 yd old son and we finally left home at 0450 hrs, 50 minutes late than planned.We were out of the city by 0522 hrs and were cruising on the highway only to get stuck in a jam out side Ankleshwar – bharuch Narmada bridge at 0557 hrs. They had closed one side of the bridge and so all traffic was flowing from just one side. It took us one hour to move 6 kms and we reached Bharuch Baroda toll gate at 0647 hrs. From there it took 73 minutes to cover 73 kms and we reached Baroda at 0800hrs. Baroda Ahmedabad expressway was a breeze as usual and we were in Ahmedabad by 0910 hrs. Took a break for breakfast at 1000hrs and from there on it was again a long ride till Udaipur. The roads were pretty smooth and straight till Gujarat border and from there on, it was more of curvy but smooth all the way. We reached Udaipur at 1300 hrs, filled up fuel at Udaipur and then left for Jodhpur via Sirohi & Pali. I didn’t know if there was a bypass for the Udiapur city and ended up wasting an hour to get out of Udiapur city at 1400 hrs. Udiapur Sirohi route is an empty 4 lane highway with lots of curves and the route is marked through out with “rocks may fall “ signboard. This route is the NH-76 till sirohi, NH-14 till Pali and thereafter NH-65 till Jodhpur. We took a lunch break at Sirohi diversion from 15-1530 hrs and proceeded further to reach Sirohi at 1545 hrs. In between called up different hotels to check out the availability of rooms at Jodhpur. I had in mind Hotel Ratan Vilas, a heritage family owned property, Hotel Maple Abhay, a business hotel and if nothing else then Taj Hari Mahal. Luckily rooms were available in Ratan Vials and we thought of checking out this one first. Further the rods till Jodhpur, though two lane, were excellent and you can maintain a constant speed of around 100+ kmph. We reached Pali at 1715hrs and Jodhpur at 1800 hrs. After asking for directions we reached Ratan Vilas at around 1815 hours. Had a look at rooms and finally settled for a spacious superior room. It was available at a tariff of Rs 2900 inclusive of taxes and breakfast.After getting fresh we decided to have dinner at Taj Harimahal and the food didn’t disappoint us. The buffet menu had a number of dishes including, rajasthani, Indian, continental and Chinese. Food was delicious and service impeccable. Cost of buffet was Rs 900 per person plus taxes. Finally after a sumptuous dinner we called it a day at 2200hrs.
Surat ODO: 30203 kmsJodhpur ODO: 31041 kms
Distance Travelled: 838 kms
Time taken: 13 hrs 25 min
Time for breaks: 60 min
Time adjusted for breaks: 12 hrs 25 min
Avg. speed : 67.5 kms/hr
Hotel Ratan Vilas Phone No: 0291-2614418,2613011
Phone No. of some other hotels in JodhpurRanbanka :0291-2512800-03, 2517088, 09351157071Shree Ram International: 0291-2671100Karni Bhawan: 0291-2512101-02, 094141262000Gateway Hotel: 0291-2263430 (outside city limit)Taj Harimahal :0291-2439700
Day 2: 5th November’10Jodhpur – Pokharan- Jaisalmer
Got up early at 0600 hrs and planned to photograph Mehrangarh Fort at sunrise. But as soon as I was about to leave my son got up and he too wanted to go and then wifey also wanted to visit and so dropped the plan of sunrise and settled for leaving at 0800hrs after breakfast.After an English breakfast at the hotel we reached the fort at 0840 hrs. The gates were due to open at 0900 hrs. Mehrangarh Fort stands a hundred feet in splendour on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the sky line of Jodhpur. Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. Much has been written about the Citadel of the Sun, for truly, it is one of the most impressive in all Rajasthan.
Entry to the fort is gained though a series of seven gates. The most famous of the gates are: - Jai Pol ("Gate of Victory"), built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 to celebrate his victory in a war with Jaipur and Bikaner; Fateh Pol, built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to celebrate a victory over the Mughals in 1707; - Dedh Kamgra Pol, which still bears the scars of bombardment by cannonballs; - Loha Pol, which is the final gate into the main part of the fort complex. Immediately to the left are the handprints (sati marks) of the ranis who in 1843 immolated themselves on the funeral pyre of their husband, Maharaja Man Singh
Some pictures of the fort
The imprints of cannonball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. To the left of the fort is the chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda, a soldier who fell on the spot defending the Mehrangarh fort.
After the fort we decided to check out Jaswant Thada. Though it was an impressive monument we only visited it from outside as it was similar to other Rajputs cenotaph and also we were running short on time as my wife wanted to do some shopping. I dropped my wife outside a national emporium and went to check out for the road to Umaid Bhawan Palace. After shopping to her hearts content (though her version will differ) we came back to our hotel to check out at 12 noon. After checking out of Ratan Vilas we went to see Umaid Bhawan only to be very disappointed as there is hardly anything to see. I was aware that most of the palace is now converted to hotel and so off bounds but they don’t even allow to take pictures from outside. The only picture of front part, which I could manage, was from outside the main entrance gates.
Public is allowed only in the museum which hardly contains anything apart from pictures as I suppose most of the things would have gone in the hotel itself. So in my opinion if one has to visit Umaid Bhawan, then either shell out money to stay there or have a meal there to visit the erstwhile palace.
After this we went for our lunch and left for Jaisalmer at 1409 hrs following the NH114 till Pokharan and then NH-15 till Jaisalmer. It was a 287 Kms ride and we completed it in 3 hours, reaching Jaisalmer at 1710 hours. We had no bookings but through numerous telephone calls knew that rooms were available in Hotel Jaisalgarh, Royale Jaisalmer, Fort Rajwada, RangMahal. We checked out Hotel Jaisalgarh first as it was just outside the city entrance. Room was okie but after staying in Ratan Vilas we thought of having a look at other hotels too. We were looking for Royale Jaisalmer when I saw someone following our car on a motorbike. He was a tout selling out his travel agency. Since we were not able to locate the hotel I asked him for directions. He tooks us first to the hotel which we were searching ,however looking at the locality we decided not to stay in Royale Jaisalmer. Further I asked him to take us to Rang Mahal and Godhbunder Palace. Rangmahal, Godhbunder Palace and a hotel heritage inn are side by side on road to SAM sand dunes. He advised us to have a look at heritage inn first as he had connections in this hotel and would give us 30% discount. Further also told us to bargain over and above 30% and you’ll get the room around 40-50% discount. I was slightly amazed that during this peak time a hotel could be available at 50% discount. However after looking at the rooms I could know why. The rooms were smelling as if closed for a long time and there was hardly any occupancy in the hotel though hotel was offering around 40% discount on printed rates of Rs 6000. Next checked out Hotel Godhbunder Palace. Hotel was execellent but no rooms were available. I was getting tired and thought if Rang Mahal also disappointed us I will go to Fort Rajwada and shell out Rs 20K for 2 nights. Rang Mahal had only suite was available for Rs 10K per night but was offering at Rs 7500 inclusive of breakfast and taxes. Though on the higher side I decided to accept as we were tired of searching for hotels.Our tout cum guide was still there and asked us if we would like to have dinner outside and also for some camel safari tomorrow in the dunes. I asked him to come at around 1930 hrs and take us to some good restaurants in the city for authentic Rajasthani cuisine. He took us to two restaurants but both of them were closed for puja as it was diwali day and after visiting his travel agency we came back at our hotel for dinner. Meanwhile at his travel agency he offered for camel safari to SAM dunes. I told him I want to visit dunes free of tourist. His brother who runs the agency said it was not possible during this time as there was lot of rush. I said then I am not taking your agency and walked out. This guy again followed us and said Sir, I ‘ll take you personally to dunes other than Sam and you’ll not find a single tourist there. And you can pay me what ever you like after you are satisfied with the visit. For payment to camel walllahs you can pay them directly. With this agreement I called off the day, having dinner at our hotel which was full of foreigners from various group tours.
Jodhpur ODO: 31107 kms (City driving 66 kms)
Jaisalmer ODO: 31394 kms
Distance Travelled: 287 kms
Time taken: 3 hours
Avg. speed : 95.66 kms/hr
Hotel Phone Nos:
Fort Rajwada: 02992-255433, 254608, 254609
Gorbandh Palace: 02992-253801-10
Hotel Pleasant Haveli” 02992-253253, 09414206030
Narayan Niwas: 02992-251901-906
Hotel Moonlight: 02992-250267,254359
Royale Jaisalmer: 09001870870, 09252808707, 09252870870
Jaisalgarh: 0124-4055552, 2354546
Guide Name: Sameer Phone no : 09680496061
Some photographs of our hotel
Day 3 – Jaisalmer
We woke up to a bright sunny November morning at Hotel Rang Mahal, Jaisalmer. Programme for the day was to visit Fort & gadisar lake in the morning along with some shopping. Then some after lunch siesta and camel safari in the evening. We went to see the fort around 9AM and it was not quite as impressive as Mehrangarh mainly coz of people living inside and all the different kinds of shops. Also the cleanliness is not at all maintained and this is true for Jaisalmer city as a whole.
Some shops along the fort wall
Not finding the fort as impressive we moved to Gadisar lake, sat there for a while, clicked some pictures and called up my guide for doing some shopping. He arrived within minutes and took us for some Jaisalmer stonework shopping followed by leather stuff. Most of the leather shops were closed and it left my wife a little disappointed
Next stop was Patwon ki Haveli and it was a marvelous piece of art.
Patwon ki haveli is one of the most elaborate and fascinating mansions in Jaisalmer that entices you with its hypnotic charm. Located on a narrow lane in the main Jaisalmer city, Patwon ki haveli was constructed by Guman Chand Patwa and his five sons. he entire haveli is and interesting grid of pillared halls, large corridors, lavishly chiseled ceilings and ostentatiously decorated walls.
There was some beautiful craft work inside the haveli premises
Finally it was time to leave the haveli
It was getting hot as the day progressed and we retired back to our hotel at around 1245hrs. The guide would be coming around 1520 hours to take us for a camel safari in the dunes. We were fresh after some sleep and were ready for the sfari by 1500hrs. Guide was there at the appointed time and we took the road to SAM. A km or so before SAM he saw some camel wallahs and negotiated for a ride to the dunes of “Gadvi No teelo”. It was diagonally opposite SAM dunes and the rout was from the side of Thar resort.
Location of dunes on google sat view
It was a long ride to the dunes and we were enjoying every bit of it.
We enjoyed the ride to the dunes especially my son aryaman had a ball. He thoroughly enjoyed the ride to the dunes as well as playing with sand on the dunes.
We had ample time on the dunes before sunset and I went around clicking these pictures.
Meanwhile some local musicians came around to play where my wife and son were sitting. It was kind of royal feeling as there was no one on the dunes and the musician was playing just for us.
(the above three pictures have been clicked by my wifey and has been taken with due permission)
Soon it was time for some final sunset pictures
After satisfying to our hearts content, taking enough pictures we started our ride back to the base camp where we had parked our car. It took us around 30min or so to reach the place. He guide kept his promise to take us to the virgin sand dunes with not a tourist in sight specially on a day when Jaisalmer was filled up with tourists. We paid Rs 1000 for 2 camels (500 each) we took, plus a Rs 100 tip for the camelwallah and paid Rs 1000 for the services of the guide for 2 days. Finally came back to our hotel at around 7:30, had dinner, saw live musicians playing at the hotel grounds, and called it a day with sweet memories to take back home the next morning.
Day 4: 7th November’10
We left Jaisalmer at 0620 hrs and followed NH-15 to Barmer (158 kms, 0754 hrs) till Sanchor (298 kms, 0936 hrs). It was a butter smooth road devoid of any traffic and we covered 300kms in 3hrs 10 min with a break of 15 mins in between. Further took the statehighway from sanchor to deesa (372kms) through dhanera and reached Deesa at 1050 hrs covering 74 kms in 74 minutes. From Deesa it was Nh-14 to Palanpur ( 402 kms, 1110 hrs, diesel break for 10 mins) where we took the state highway for Mehsana and reached Mehasana (467 kms) at 1215 hrs. Took a lunch break at Sankalp South Indian joint and left Mehsana at 1315 hrs to reach Ahmedabad (528 kms) at 1400hrs , Baroda ( 651 kms) at 1526 hrs. This time to avoid jam at Ankleshwar narmada bridge I took the golden gate from bharuch (735 kms, 1621 hrs) and joined NH-08 back after Ankleshwar bridge (751 kms , 1645 hrs). Finally entered Surat city (793 kms) at 1715 hours covering the Surat Jaisalmer distance of 793 kms in almost 11 hours with a break of 1 hour 30 min in between.
Certainly the roads of Gujrat and Rajasthan rock….