I always wanted to visit Rajasthan and experience the life of people staying near the great Thar desert.
And my wish finally came true in November 2016.
I started my Rajasthan exploration from "The Pink City" - Jaipur.
Jaipur being the capital city; was very crowded. Most of the buildings lined across Jaipur's streets were pink in colour and all its famous monuments were decorated in the same color theme.
I started my trip by visiting the famous Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and Jaipur City Palace; as all 3 of them are located close to each other.
It was astonishing to see how precisely the instruments of Jantar Mantar were constructed and how much effort was put in to device the right calculations of astronomical bodies.
It was a proud moment to witness the work of our ancestors and explore in detail - one of the largest observatories ever built.
I could see the beautiful walls of Hawa Mahal from Jantar Mantar itself; and was very excited to visit this picturesque place.
Coulorful glasses, small windows, multi layer carved structure of Hawa Mahal was a beautiful site to visit.
I later went to Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort which is located approximately 10 kms away from the center of Jaipur.
You can see the Jal Mahal on your way to these forts.
Amer Fort is majestic and is laid out on four levels. It is located high on a hill and overlooks Maota Lake. I choose to walk up to the fort exploring each of the courtyards of this fort. There are many jeeps across the fort; if you want to skip walking and directly reach to the top of the fort.
Amer Fort was very crowded and was not maintained well.
After Jaipur, I went to Jodhpur - en-route visiting the famous Ajmer and Pushkar.
Ajmer is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains and you will see mountains in all directions.
The famous Ajmer Dargah Sharif was very crowded and it was hard to find proper parking place.
Nasiyan Ji Mandir was on the way to Pushkar. You can find gold-plated figures of peacocks and elephants from Jain mythology in this beautiful temple.
Ajmer was at distance of 140 kms from Jaipur. And Pushkar was just 17 kms from Ajmer.
The famous Camel fair, had just finished when I reached the sacred town of Pushkar. The after effects of the camel fair were still seen. There were many highly decorated camel at the road side and the Pushkar market was very colourful with many tourists still lingering around.
I visited the beautiful Pushkar Lake which had many pigeons flying around; making it a perfect place to see the setting sun. There were many devotees taking dip in the sacred water of this lake.
Pushkar derives its name from the flower ("pushpa") falling from Brahma's hand ("kar"). It has the only Brahma temple of India. And this temple was heavily guarded.
I spent a lot of time wandering at the colourful market of Pushkar. I had lassi with Ajmeri Gulkand and the tea served by the local vendor had a unique flavour.
Had to cross Merta City to reach Jodhpur.
Many people stop at Merta City to visit Meera Smarak - which is dedicated to Meera Bai - the princess who gained popularity because of her poems and devotional songs; and her ultimate devotion for Lord Krishna. We skipped stopping at this place and continued our ride.
The ride was typical Rajasthani - with sun shining bright and dust swilling all over. The visibility was very low and had to stop the bike many times to get a better visibility.
Jodhpur was at a distance of 224 kms from Pushkar.
Jodhpur turned out to be my favorite city on the entire trip. The majestic Mehrangarh Fort is the best fort I have ever seen in my life.
The fort is maintained very well and you can still feel the royalness here. The fort museum houses many artilleries of the great kings that lived in this fort. You can see many canons placed on the fort terrace.
The fort wall is considered the second greatest wall on the world. From whichever angle you see; you will see the great wall of the fort placed perfectly to protect this great monument.
This fort has witnessed great battle; and you can see many canon marks on the wall. But still this majestic fort has remained intact to tell its great history.
From the fort, you can see the beautiful house/buildings of this city painted in the iconic shade of blue.
I also visited the Jaswant Thada - the white marble memorial built beside the scenic lake and rocky terrain.
Enjoyed the Rajathani folk music played by local people on the way.
Umaid Bhawan Palace and Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur is also worth a visit.
I later visited the desert town Barmer which was at a distance of 200 kms from Jodhpur.
This remote town away from most of the tourist reach is a perfect place to experience the local Rajasthani desert life.
You will find women clad in colourful clothes and men in white dhothi, kurtha with colourful turbans. Group of ladies carrying pots of water is a common site here.
I visited the quite sand dunes at Barmer; which has no tourist activities; but a perfect place to sit on heap of sand and see the setting sun.
Next day, early in the morning, I visited the remote Kiradu temple. It is a group of ruined temples in complete wilderness. Though there was a sign board that there is a entry fee to see this monument; but I could not find even a single human being anywhere close to these ruins.
The carvings on the walls of Kiradu temples is nowhere close to what you can expect in Rajasthan. Visiting these ruined temples gave me a proof that great rulers had ruled this remote place; and Barmer should definitely have been a buzzing town in the ancient times.
Later I started my ride towards the famous Jaisalmer which was at a distance of 156 kms from Barmer.
The ride from Barmer to Jaisalmer was truly spectacular. I could hardly find human beings on these sandy paths; but on the entire ride I could find many wild camels, black bucks, crazy goats and sheeps, donkeys and cows all of them most ON the road.
Though the road was very smooth; one could hardly catch speed because of the wild animals moving across.
It was a very different feeling on riding through the remote deserted land.
When you are about to reach Jaisalmer; even before you see the sign board; you can spot the gaint fort of Jaisalmer from very far distance. This fort looks as if it has risen from the desert sands.
Jaisalmer Fort ranks amongst the largest forts in the world. The golden and yellow mixed sandstone offer magical look to the Fort - thus naming Jaisalmer as the "Golden City".
It was a unique experience to visit this fort; as people live inside this fort. I dont mean that royal family members living - the normal local people live inside the house of their ancestors in this fort.
There are lot of shops, cafes, hotels, houses right inside the fort.
There is also a separate museum block of the fort - which is the only portion that is maintained well. The entrance fees is applicable only if want to visit this particular block; else rest of the fort is open for everyone all 24 hours.
The city view from Jaisalmer fort was breath taking. I spent hours just sitting at one place on fort top which gave the best city view with the perfect sunset at the background.
There are lot of shopping options inside the fort. I brought a pyramid said to be made out of sea fossils ageing over million years from the sea bottom which later dried up to become the great Thar Desert. I am not very sure of if it is really a fossil stone or not; but I want to believe that it is true.
Gadisar Lake, Patwon Ki Haveli, Nath Mal ki Haveli and Salim Singh ki Haveli all of these are at the close distance to the fort.
I had a great time visiting the Sam Sand Dunes. It is located 40 kms away from the city and the roads are in very good condition. This place is too commercialized and you will find a lot of options for jeep safaris, camel rides, stay in tent, paragliding and dinner with folk dance here.
The totally enjoyed the jeep safari on the Thar desert. It was like being on a roller coaster ride amidst the vast desert.
It was a memorable evening to sit on desert and watch the sun setting into the desert sands.
While on your way to Sam; take a de-route and visit the ghost village of Kuldhar.
The famous Kuldhar village was abandoned almost overnight as the entire population of the village mysteriously left their homes overnight and there were no traces of their assistance anywhere. Thus this village has currently acquired a reputation as a haunted site.
You can only site the ruined walls of this village now; but the aura surrounding the place is truly inviting to visit this place atleast once.
The BEST experience of the entire trip was yet to come.
The ride to the remote Tanot village and Longewala post will definitely be one the best rides that I would cherish in my entire life.
Tanot is the farthest end of Western India that a civilian can go. And I was privileged to ride through the roads where there was no civilization and to ride on the road that lead to the International Border of India and Pakistan.
Tanot is about 120 kms from Jaisalmer. En-route at 65 kms you will find Ramgarh village which is the last village where people live. After that for next 55 kms till Tanot, you will not find any settlements.
On the ride from Jaisalmer to Tanot, you will only be accompanied by the vastness of desert, dried up bushes, thorny shrubs, wild camels, peacocks, windmills, and small inhabitant hamlets.
Tanot Village is the last point on that road where an Indian citizen can go without any permit. The International Border Pillar, BP 609,is about 15 kms from Tanot and a permit is required from BSF to visit this post. This permit is usually not granted these days because of the recent activities happening across the border.
I visited the famous Tanot Mata Temple which gained its popularity during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. During this war, Pakistani troops had fired at least three thousands bomb shells, out of which at least 450 shells were fired on the temple. All of 450 shells neither hit their targets nor exploded. Though the temple stood in the middle of that war zone, it stood tall without any damage. The locals and the Indian army personnels consider Tanot Mata to be their saviour and regard this place in high respect.
Even today, you can find the unexploded bombs inside the temple premises.
Later, I continued my journey to the famous Longewala post. It was like a roller-coaster ride, riding on totally deserted road which continuously moves upwards and downwards; just like the sand dune pattern that surrounds it. This 55 kms ride from Tanot to Longewala was the best ride of my entire trip.
Forget about civilization, there were no animals also on this stretch. It was a just a magnificent ride on the remotest corner of India through the Great Thar desert; running parallelly to the Indo-Pak border.
It was a humbling experience to visit the Longewala post; where the fierce 1971 Indo-Pak battle was fought. It was this battle where the 120 brave Indian soldiers strategically defeated the 2000 Pakistani soldiers; who had entered the Indian soil till Longewala post with their 90 tanks.
At least 37 Pakistani tanks and 138 vehicles/machinery were destroyed or abandoned in the battle; making Longewala the graveyard of Pakistani Tanks.
Though many tanks are returned to Pakistan; you can even now see some of destroyed Pastikani tanks and trunks lying around in the sand in the exact place where they were left during the war.
I also watched the war documentary played at this post and it was really a proud moment to recollect on how the brave Indian soldier (though less equipped) stood against the largely outnumbered Paskitani troops; and didnt allow the enemy troop to enter into the Indian cities.
The famous "Border" movie was filmed on this war; and sipping tea at the 'Border Cafe' was a very unique experience; that you cannot experience always.
I was very overwhemled visiting this place and the ride through the desert to this remote place made my day perfect.
On the way back from Longewala to Jaisalmer; I also visited Bada Bagh. It is a place with many cenotaphs and the royal family members of Jaisalmer were cremated here. Many movie scenes have been shot at this picturesque place.
I later visited Bikaner, crossing Pokhran. Bikaner was at distance of 326 kms from Jaisalmer and the entire stretch of road was under construction and this was the only ride which I didnot enjoy on my entire trip.
The Junagarh Fort of Bikaner was a huge fort with amazing architecture. There were many small gardens to sit at near the fort complex.
I also visited the Laxmi Mata temple and Jain temple of Bikaner.
Due to time crunch, I skipped visiting Karni Mata Temple which is home to approximately 20,000 black rats.
Later we rode back to Jaipur, the final destination to end our trip. The 335 kms ride from Bikaner to Jaipur was on the perfectly laid National highway. En-route you can stop over at Fatehpur and do some sightseeing.
I enjoyed the local Rajathani food throughout the trip. My favourite were Dhal Bhatti and Sev Tamatar.
Rajasthan was a perfect holiday destination with deserts, forts, temples, historical tales....
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