Rajasthan Leg II, Marwar
The Journey from Kumbhalgarh onwards was better than the morning one. I reached jodhpur at 6 PM. I was super tired due to off-road riding. As soon as, I entered the room, I went for a warm water bath. which was relaxing. It was 7 PM and I was super hungry so went for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. Needless to say where it was. Yeah, the Roof. Another jaw-dropping view on this trip. Agoda had mentioned location rating as 9.5 and I felt it should have been even higher. The only disappointment was that the government had switched off the lights around the fort during the COVID pandemic and they hadn’t switched it on yet. With those lights on, The Mehrangarh at night would have looked at least 10 times better. I was super excited by the view of the Fort. Hence, I video called one of my BFFs who loved travelling, to share this incredible view. Probably, this was one of the disadvantages of travelling Solo. I had to call my loved ones to share my feelings. Thanks to Airtel’s internet and Social media sites such as WhatsApp/FB/Insta, I could connect on video calls from almost everywhere.
The next morning, When I went for breakfast, I was stunned by the morning view of the Mehrangarh Fort! Also, I realized why Jodhpur was called the Blue city. All the houses around the palace were painted in Blue colour. They hadn't chosen colour randomly, there was a scientific reason behind it. Blue colour would keep mosquitos away also, Keep the place cooler. Wow! Yet another breakfast with an incredible view. By the way, was it just me or did you guys too, find the food extra delicious with the great view?
I began my day by visiting Umed Bhawan. It looked modern compared to the palaces I had visited on this trip. The current king of Jodhpur was staying there with his family. A part of the palace was kept open for common tourists which had a museum of history, a small shopping mall and the Vintage Cars museum. The one, I loved from the visit. There were 8-10 Cars and most of them were built during the 1900s-1950s. These vintage cars looked 1.5 times bigger than current compact SUVs.
This one is for Bollywood lovers: I heard from the people working there that Alia Bhat and Ranbir Kapoor would be marring here in near future.
Next, I went to Jaswant Thada. The place was also called the Taj Mahal of Jodhpur. It was built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh in memory of his late father Jaswant Singh II. From then onwards, It would be used as the cremation centre for Royal families. Such an amazing place to be cremated at 😛
Finally, The showstopper destination of the day, The Fort Mehrangarh. This fort wasn’t conquered and when I visited it, I realized why. The Fort was built on a hill with really tall walls. As soon as, I entered the main gate, I found a ticket counter from where I bought a ticket. Its cost was 200 Rs. A guide could also be availed from the same counter which would cost 500 Rs. I had visited the Fort with the guide. I would suggest the same for anyone who would be travelling it. It took me around 2 hours to visit the fort. It had multiple museums of Armors, miniature drawings which were something new to me and royal clothes utensils etc.
Inside the fort, I found multiple cafes. Which I hadn't found in any previously visited Forts. Also, rates were reasonable. I was damn hungry hence, I went to a cafe and ordered non-veg Rajasthani Thali. It had all the authentic Rajasthani items in it. Everything was delicious especially, the mutton. It was out of this world!
Few Interesting Stories about Mehrangarh Fort :
2. The fort’s wall was around 15 kilometres in length and it was the third-longest in Asia just behind the wall of china and the fort Kumbhalgarh.
3. Initially, when they were trying to build this Fort, they couldn’t able to build it. Later, the King met some Saint who informed him that the fort would only be built if a human would sacrifice his life willingly. When this news got spread in the city, A man named Rajaram Meghwal agreed to sacrifice his life. Only after this, they could build the fort. Fascinating wasn’t it?
4. While visiting a fort, we reached a very romantic room, my guide said it was Raja Udai Singh of Marwar's room. When the sun would hit the walls, all the different coloured balls would create lighting similar to the dance floor of the Pubs. Very creative right! But that wasn’t the only interesting part about that king. He had 29 official and 31 unofficial Queens. And every night he would select four Queens who would play the Chosar game with each other. The one who would win would go with the King in his bedroom while the rest had to try their luck next time. It was a legendary concept, Wasn't it? 😛
The fort had a shopping centre in it which was run by the royal family. Money earned by them would be used in repair work of the palace and other charitable work. They were selling various handicrafts and clothes. I really liked one Jodhpur themed t-shirt and bought it. Also, As a souvenir of my visit to Mehrangarh, I bought a fridge magnet and a keychain for my Bumblebee. Apart from these, A Few more shops of Mojadi & Bandhani were also there. I bet You wouldn't find better bandhani clothes or Jodhpuri Mojadi elsewhere. I bought a Mojadi for myself considering the upcoming wedding season 😛
It was time for Flying Fox, which was the main reason for my visit to Jodhpur. Just image, sliding from one corner of the Fort to another via zipline. And during this, you could get a view of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort. Wouldn’t you be excited? On top of that, there were 6 such ziplines.
How did this adventure work? They asked me to sign one form, which said “you are responsible for your actions!” After that, they harnessed me. Then they took me to the small Zipline where they taught me a few basic techniques which would be handy during the flying fox. A few basic things such as "keep your legs crossed, the right hand should be on the zipline and the left one should hold the rope from the chest which was tied to my harness." Then, they asked me to slide on the test zipline where they checked my techniques. All good, I got a green signal from the instructor. Here we go, It was time for the first zipline. On my way, I crossed several doors and corridors of the Fort. I was scared throughout that walk and till halfway through my first zipline. but after that, my fear went away and I started enjoying it. Time to go crazy. I started shouting and doing all sorts of crazy things 😛. I felt like I was Tom Cruise in some Mission Impossible movie 😛. Apart from the thrill, It had the best view of the Mehrangarh fort. Trust me, You couldn’t get a view better than this from anywhere in Jodhpur.
It was around 4 PM, I was tired from site seeing. Hence, I headed back to my hotel. I didn't want to miss the sunset. So, I quickly freshened up and went to the terrace. I started the time-lapse video and then sat back on a chair and enjoyed the sunset @ Mehrangarh Fort with tea & a sandwich.
I was riding from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer which was 300 kilometres. Despite the long-distance, It wasn’t as tiring as the previous rides. probably, because It was NH with very few vehicles. I started at 7:30 AM and reached Wind desert camp by 2 PM. All the activities would be starting late in the evening. So, post-lunch, I took a nap in my Tent. By the way, Tent was magnificent with all the facilities.
My camp was 10 kilometres from the Sam Sand Dunes which was a blessing. As it was isolated from the rest, it was more peaceful and enjoyable. At 4:30 PM, I went for a Camel safari at the Sam Sand Dunes which was part of my package. I sat on the camel and when It got up, I was scared of falling from It. In a few minutes, I got used to it. Afterwards, the ride became an enjoyable one.
The fun part was my owner keeps saying "शाहरुख खान बेथ जाओ। शाहरुख खान भागो।" I didn't understand why was he saying this? So out of curiosity, I asked who was Shahrukh khan? To which he answered, It was the name of his camel. That was insane! And the best part was, his own name was Salman Khan 😊. Stop doubting me, It was a true story 😊.
In 30 mins of camel ride, I reached the Sand Dunes. I looked around and found a few dunes away from the people and asked Salman Bhai to take me to those dunes. Finally, I was in the desert, a landscape I’d only seen in photos or movies. I started playing with the sand the way I played with the snow when I experienced it for the first time. I was throwing sand in the air, jumping and diving from the top of the dunes. It was fun to be a kid once in a while. It was time to experience the sunset from the dunes. I sat on the tallest one and enjoyed the sunset on the horizon. Also, took time-lapse videos of the sunset. Another memorable evening with an incredible sunset. But this time, the Sun was setting in the desert rather than at the lake, fort or in the mountains.
It got dark. so, I got back on to Shahrukh khan and went back towards my Bumblebee. This time, I became fearless and asked the camel to run rather than a slow walk. Even I had a mini race with the fallow travellers’ camels.
At my resort, I was welcomed in a traditional Rajasthani way with the Tilak and Diya. I went back to my room and removed sand from everywhere. I got ready for the Rajasthani cultural show organized by my Dessert Camp. Started with “पधारो महरे डैश” To their cultural dance where a woman was carrying multiple Pots on her head and dancing on the swards as well as on the steel glasses. That too, without dropping any of these Pots. It was just wonderful! The quality of the artists was so good that I felt like I was watching Rajasthani artists performing in the shows like the Indian Idol or the dance India dance. With every passing minute, I got lost more and more in that magical night. I couldn’t explain how incredible those 90 minutes were. Probably better than the sunsets or the flying fox. Like every good thing, this had to end.
Post dinner, I tried star gazing. Also, tried capturing long exposure shots for almost 2 hours. Despite the clear sky, the stars weren’t visible clearly which was a bit disappointing.
I wanted to do a jeep safari in the early morning so that I could see the sunrise in the middle of the Dessert. I had to leave my resort at 6:15 AM but due to the excitement, I woke up at 5 AM. I had time on my hand so went out to start gazing once more. It was much better than last night.
During Dune bashing, I was standing on the back sheet of the Mahindra Thar. In a few kilometres, the first Desert came and with that started the dunes bashing. I was struggling to stand. I was thrilled. Especially, when we were climbing down from the Dunes at very high speed. There were three Deserts and we stopped at the last one. Intentionally, I sat behind the taller dunes. So that it felt like the sun was rising from the dunes. I had visited many hill stations, beaches of eastern India and Kanyakumari but not once, I could see a clear sunrise. This was the first time, I saw a clear sunrise and it was magnificent. As they say “सबरा का फल मीठा होता है!” I wished time would freeze and this moment would stay forever.
Time to complete the rest of the dune bashing activity but not before clicking some incredible pictures. Also, I took a picture with my bumblebee in the desert at the Sam Sand Dunes.
After breakfast, I resumed my journey to Jaisalmer. On my way to Jaisalmer, I went to Kuldhara, a ghost village. In the past, 84 such villages were cursed and due to which all the people staying there, had vacated these villages. Kuldhara was one of them which was now preserved and maintained by the government of Rajasthan. Surprisingly, I met two Bengalurian riders. All of us were happy to meet other Benglureans. That too, 2000 kilometres away from Bengaluru. One of them said: “Let’s take a selfie to remember we met fallow Bengalurean in Kuldhara!”
After this, I directly went to the last haveli of the trip named Garh Jaisal Haveli. It was mere 100 meters from Jaisalmer Fort and well inside the fort. I drove through all the three gates one should cross to reach the Fort. The view from my window as well as the view from the terrace was mind-blowing. I realised why Jaisalmer was called the golden city. Everything I could see from my terrace to the horizon was golden. Another 9.5+ locations and even this should have been higher. Agoda, from now onwards I'll be trusting you blindly 😊
It took 2 and half hours for me to visit Jaisalmer city Fort and sites around the fort. In another 2 hours, I visited the old town which had houses, older than 200-300 years. All the houses had detailed carvings on the walls, doors & windows. Most of these were made of stones. Apart from the Fort, there were a few Devan’s Havelis such as Nathmal ki haveli, Patwa ki Haweli & Salem ki Havelis. These were built in the 18th century. The best part was, In all these houses, their current generations were still living.
I tried some of the famous local sweets, Kachoris and lassis at the various local shops. At last, I went to Gadisar lake, which was a man-made lake. In ancient times, All the businessmen who were entering India were staying here for a day. They used to pay taxes in return for their safety during their stay.
Interesting facts about this visit :
2. During an auspicious festival such as Holi, the King sat on the open throne, which was white in colour and placed on the left side of the King Palace. All the royal families and his Dewans would sit on the benches below that Throne.
3. Royal families in those days used to eat on silver plates even though, they could afford the golden ones. The reason was interesting, In silver, the colour of food would change if it had poison in it. Interesting, wasn’t it?
4. Jaisalmer was called the golden city because the colour of the sand, desert, as well as stones found in this region, were yellow.