I am not a regular blogger but my vacation trip to Ahmedabad and Rajasthan was a memorable one. The vacation after trouble and thinking. However, this is not my first vacation, I had been to Goa, some places in Kerala and Karnataka before and I could not log it since I didn’t have an idea of blogging after those trips.
The vacation is all about my trip on January 26-30 2017 to
- Ahmedabad, Gujarat
- Udaipur, Rajasthan
- Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
- Pushkar, Rajasthan
- Jaipur, Rajasthan
Why this places? We just looked for the best places to visit in January. Here are the options we had.
Singapore – Ignored because too costly.
Auli, Uttarakhand – It looked good. But it was too cold and far from Chennai.
Bhutan – Ignored.We didn’t prefer to take a risk to go to a new country.
Rajasthan – Economic.Historic.Season Time
As the first step, we planned to book air tickets for the trip.We booked our onward ticket to Ahmedabad from Chennai through IndiGo (6E627) and return ticket from Jaipur to Chennai through IndiGo (6E606). After booking it, we just got the confidence that we are going to make it. Since we do talk and plan a lot of trips, but implementing it has been a once in a blue moon for us.
The plan is ON.
Leave is approved.Me and 3 of My friends tripping this time(RajaNarayanan, Gopal, Vinoth).
Day 1 (Jan 26)
The cab(Tata Indigo) arrived at 4 AM. We reached Chennai airport by 520 AM, boarded in IndiGo (6E627 – AirBusA320) and landed in Ahmedabad by 9 AM. The first place planned to visit was Swaminarayan Akshardham, Gandhinagar.So we looked for a cab by Uber but surge price was too at that time. We were able to bargain auto from Rs500 to Rs300. All four of us managed to keep our baggage and sit inside the small auto.The distance to temple was about 10 KM and that auto driver drove very slow took almost 50 mins to reach the destination in spite of good and free 4 lane road.
Swaminarayan Akshardham, Gandhinagar
We reached Akshardham and now we are hungry and we need to keep our baggage somewhere.Baggage keeping and restaurant were available in Akshardham so we planned to enter it. Just a matter of information that the camera, mobile phone, bags and outside food are strictly not allowed inside Akshardham complex. The complex was very clean and green.The temple is artistic and photogenic but photography not allowed. This was my first temple I am visiting in North India.We had brunch in the food court of the temple complex.
Rudabai Stepwell Aka Adalaj Stepwell
We started to our next place Rudabai Stepwell Aka Adalaj Stepwell. It took us 20 minutes in the cab(Maruti Eeco) to reach that place(12:20 PM). The place was bit rustic but stepwell stood at its majesty. It is a five storey deep sandstone architecture with the intricately carved large number of pillars.Photography is allowed here and we shot some. It was 1 PM and we were well ahead of our schedule so took rest on the lawn for an hour.We strolled around and reached the nearby junction in the highway and from there we took an auto and reached Gandhiji Ashram Museum.
Gandhiji Ashram Museum
It was Jan 26 Republic day. Perfect day to be at Gandhiji Ashram.We spent an hour looking at artefacts in the museum. There were more shaded places so we relaxed for a while and then we visited Gandhiji’s Ashram- the place where Mahatma lived and went Dandi March.The Sabarmati river and Dandi bridge view from the Ashram were amazing.Overall, it was conventional but still good.It was 3:30 PM, we skipped lunch and we are hungry now so we looked for some good restaurants nearby but nothing had a good rating in zomato.We had some bread and butter in a nearby hotel and then we planned to go to Sabarmati river front.
Sabarmati river front
It is actually opposite side of the river bank so we thought of taking a local transit Bus but with help of an unknown Gujarati, we could bargain and get an auto at a cheaper price. We reached the Sabarmati river front in 5 minutes.We bought the entrance ticket and entered the river front.It is more of an ecological park built along the river bank.It had some kid play activities, long lawn, and paved pathways. It was rated as the top place to visit in Ahmedabad, but we did not find it worthy enough.There are stone benches so we laid down and took rest for more than an hour. We were getting tired quickly since we are carrying our big backpacks all time. We had a discussion on Day 2 plan and booked bus tickets to Udaipur from Ahmedabad that night. The river front might have looked better at the fall of dusk with lights on. We planned to add to one more place in Ahmedabad since we had a lot of time to catch up the place. We booked our Cab(Hyundai Eon) and started(6:35 PM) heading towards Kankaria Lake.
We reached Kankaria Lake(6:55 PM) and the weather was turning out to be cold so we had chai.Once we entered, we were amazed by the lightings and serene environment.It has got a lot of activities like Zoological Park, Butterfly Park, Jogging Tracks, Yoga Activities, Segway, Toy Train, Aqua Carting, atleastTree walk, Mini Golf, Desert Safari, High-Speed Ski-boats.Not to forget the food zone.It takes at least one full day to cover all these activities, however, we did not much time to stay here since we need to catch the bus to Udaipur tonight. It is one place in Ahmedabad, which has something for every age group and one can find a lot of peace, fun and joy here.We took some photo clicks here and planned to go for the laser show at the centre of the lake is a garden themed entertainment ground called Nagina Wadi (meaning ‘beautiful garden’ in Urdu).The laser show is worth visiting. We had some food and started to Bus Boarding point.
Bye, Bye Ahmedabad!
We reached the Shahibaugh by taxi (New Datsun Go – 9:40 PM).It took us some time to find the exact point of departure of Shree Parshwanath Travels. The estimated time of bus departure is 10:45 PM So we could manage some time to grab some roti in the nearby roadside restaurant (Actually the hotel is not along the side of the road.It is on the road occupying 50% of the busy road.I have never seen this kind of hotel).We were worried about the bus since we don’t know the quality of the bus, but it was good. The bus is expected to reach Udaipur by 5:00 AM.
Day 2 (Jan 27)
Good Morning! Udaipur
The bus reached Udaipur well before the expected time.(3:45 AM) It was freaking cold and we don’t have proper winter gears.The mercury is down to 8’c and every one of us was shivering. The plan was to get down at Udaipur by 5:00 AM and start to Kumbhalgarh(The Great wall of India) by 6:00 AM and visit it and come back to Udaipur by 12 PM. We checked with the local people there they said there was no public transport to Kumbhalgarh at 3 AM since it is a very remote forest.We did not book any accommodations in Udaipur and these local people pushing us for their hotels. As our teeth are chattering in the cold, we couldn’t reply to them and even we could not google some hotels since our hands turned blue and we could not hold mobile. At last, we confirmed hotel Ram Niwas through phone and we booked the cab(Maruti Ritz) to reach that hotel by 04:10 AM.
We were tired and so we felt asleep in the hotel.We woke up and planned for the day. We thought of renting a car or bikes for the day, it didn’t seem economic. We had breakfast in the Hotel Ram Nivas itself and we booked a cab(Tata Indigo) and started to Monsoon Palace by 11:25 AM.
We reached the entrance of the by 11:50 AM.There are two options one is the sanctuary and another is the palace.We bought the tickets for monsoon palace and boarded the jeep which took us to The Monsoon Palace, aka the Sajjan Garh Palace, is situated on the hilltop overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake.The route to the palace is bit steep and one way with many sharp curves. This palace had been featured in James Bond movie Octopussy. The panoramic view of Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur palace and city is spectacular from the fort’s lofty tower here. We took some photo at many places in and around the palace.We took the jeep and went back down.We booked a Cab (Tata Indigo) and planned to reach Udaipur Palace.
The cab driver confused and took us around the Fateh Sagar Lake.It was amazing, the lake is holding a mammoth quantity of water. He stopped in a restaurant where I had a good Rajasthani Meal.I should really tell about chaach (ButterMilk) , it was damn good, you can’t restrict yourself with one glass of buttermilk.
City Palace and Lake Pichola
We reached City Palace, Udaipur by 3:10 PM. We checked the entrance ticket for Palace.There was some mahals, museums but we need to pay at least 500 Rs for each person to visit this.It was costly and we do need to pay for cameras separately.This kind of prices generally suits for people using dollars and we are displeased.We bought the tickets to visit Lake Pichola. The lake is surrounded by a lot of palaces however these palaces are converted into premium hotels like The Oberoi UdaiVilas, The Leela Palace, City Palace (HRH Group Hotels), Jag Niwas Palace, Fateh Prakash Palace, Shiv Niwas Palace. This lake has two islands Jag Mandir and Taj Lake Palace. We took a boat ride on the Lake, it was amazing they took us around the lake and close to the palaces (Hotels).The City Palace, the most captivating sight can be viewed from Lake Pichola.The Palace has various towers, domes and arches, which add to the flavour of the heritage site.We need to get winter gears so we looked for the trip. We looked for some market, we found the Tibetan market. We purchased good winter jackets at an affordable price. We completed tripping Udaipur by 6:30 PM and got a cab to return hotel.
We refreshed in the hotel and packed our baggage, then we checked out of the hotel. We had dinner in the hotel itself and then we started to walk to the bus boarding point (Lic Building near reti stand petrol pump) which is 1 KM from the hotel.We reached the petrol pump. We confirmed the bus operator(Kamlesh Travels) that the bus would come here. After few minutes when we called bus operator, he said the bus is already in the spot. We found the bus. It was parked in a dark place and 2-3 mechanic working on it to turn the ignition on. We boarded the bus, the didn’t satisfy our expectations and we were panic whether that this bus will reach Jaisalmer on time. After many attempts, the bus ignition was turned on and it started. I was comfortable since I booked a Sleeper seat whereas my friends booked the semi sleeper seat. We had a keen eye on the baggage since a lot of people going in and out of the bus and even the people sitting and sleeping in the corridor. We felt asleep and hoped to wake up in Jaisalmer. The bus was estimated to reach Jaisalmer by 7:45 AM.
Day 3 (Jan 28)
Good Morning! Jaisalmer
We wake up the next morning and the bus was one hour delay. We reached Jaisalmer by 8:30 AM (Not Bad).When we stepped out of the bus, there were nearly 40 people approaching us with their own hotels and desert camp. All are forcing us to have a deal with them.They kept talking in Hindi to me but I don’t know Hindi. I told them “mujhe hindi nahi at” but they kept talking to us.They stopped us from moving away by parking their taxi across the way. We moved few distances they kept following us. They offered free taxi service to their hotel and many damn cheap plans. I felt like a millionaire since many people following us and offering many things.Actually, we had booked Royal Desert Camp and we paid the advance of Rs 2000.By seeing the plenty of offers we regret pre-booking. Now we need to book some hotel for refreshment since our desert camp starts by 3:00 PM only at Sams Sand Dunes(35 Km from Jaisalmer).We checked for OLA or Uber, but the city didn’t have.Jaisalmer is called the Golden City of India.It stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort.The Jaisalmer fort is visible from our place, it looks like all hotels were built around it.We called for the well-rated hotels for refreshment.
Hotel Golden Marigold
We called Hotel Golden Marigold, it was rated 5 in holidaysiq.com.He offered a room at Rs500 for refreshment.He offered pickup for us. By the time the pickup taxi comes, we need to tack the zip of one of our bags.A small boy tried to fix it, he tried his best to fix it but he could not do it.Though we offered him Rs.10, he still wants to fix it and get paid.I was moved by the attitude “Work and Earn. Never Beg”.The city looked poor and unclean.We reached the hotel. The hospitality was awesome and the hotel staff welcomed as with the chai. We had some good chat with the hotel owner.He enquired about our plans and showcased his plans.Knowing that we already booked the desert camp, he came forward to offer his service at a competitive price.He was good enough to convince us to take his desert camp(The Sunshine Desert Camp).It comprises of night stay in the desert, camel riding, sand bashing, War museum and places around Jaisalmer at Rs9500. We refreshed there and charged all our electronic gadgets.We had our lunch at Hotel Food Plaza near to it and then strolled around the city streets and came back to the hotel by 2:30 PM. We had planned to start Desert camp by 3:00 PM.We waited on the rooftop of the hotel till the vehicle got ready and we chatted with a couple of tourists who came from Australia and Switzerland.Jeep was ready and an English tourist has joined us.We took all necessary items for desert camp and started.
Kuldhara – an abandoned village and Jain Temples
First, we visited the Jain temple it was a bit, okay and then we stopped and the Kuldhara – the Ghost village. Many stories floated around. Many say the village was set the fire, some say the earthquake and the storm. The village was isolated in Thar desert. The village wore a desolated look and had a cursed feel about it. Only a lone temple stood there renovated amidst the ruins.It had the narrow lanes and the crumbled ruins.We climbed a rickety flight of steps inside an abandoned home to reach the terrace and saw the broken remnants of the village.We started from here.We need to reach the desert and witness the sunset from the desert.
Dusk to Dawn in the Desert
We reached the spot and there were 3 camels along with a camel keeper. We four guys climbed on the 2 camels and Gary (Englishman) climbed his dedicated camel. We started from the place. We were sitting almost 10 feet above the ground.The ride was exciting and we went through a small village and the kids were asking for pens and pencils.We were unfortunate for not offering this any kids. After about 5 kilometres of the camel ride, we reached the desert.The Jeep also came here with the goods and we came to know that we are going to stay there for the night. We walked along the desert, took some pictures.The camel keeper made us the tea. We watched the sunset after having tea.It was getting dark and clouds looked mysterious.We chatted some time with Gary on his life, India, and British lifestyles.The camel keeper made us dinner (Rice, chappati, and veg sabji) and we had it enough.
The camel keeper was busy cleaning the place and tying the camel. We walked few in the dark and sat there.It was cold and calm.There was no one around and we played in the sand. The camp fire was ready and we sat around it. The camel keeper narrated about his personal life and his experience with tourists.He was really an amazing guy and he had plenty of things to share.He told about the life in the desert, camel care and other tourists he met.The fire went off and we planned to sleep.The mattress was laid by the camel keeper and we laid above it and he put some 2 or 3 mattresses above us. The temperature should be about 8’c and the sky was clear.We counted star and slept after some time.
Day 4 (Jan 29)
Soo Pruh-Bhaat! Thar Desert
I woke by 7 and the I could see the sunrise. I awaken other people and we had the chai made by the camel keeper.The jeep was ready to sand bash. We started to the desert, Rajasthani music on. We all took back seat and driver drove at some 50-60 kph in that terrain with ups and down.It was jumping, skidding and more like a cinematic experience.If we didn’t hold tight, we might have thrown out of the jeep.We complimented the driver with Rs.50. We started back from our desert camp to jeep point. This time we were riding the camel at some more pace.Yes, This time camel was running and it was thrilling since we were sitting about 15 feet tall camel and getting bounced side to side. We reached the spot, took some pictures and moved back to Jaisalmer city.
In and Around the Golden City
We reached back Hotel Golden Marigold.We refreshed and started for the city sightseeing.We reached Jaisalmer War Museum. Actually, this was my visit to the museum of this kind.It showcases the Battle of Longewala 1971.It had many military vessels, tanks, guns, rocket launchers, jeeps and jet.There are many patriotic quotes.As a memorabilia, I bought a mug from the shop in the museum.Next, we stopped at Gadsisar lake.The lake was almost dry and we took some pictures and moved to Mandir Palace.The part of the palace had been converted into a hotel.We had a quick walk through the palace and witnessed the artefacts.
The Golden Fort
The next stop is Jaisalmer Fort (Sonar Quila).It stands on Trikuta hill, so you need to walk uphill through the paved path for about one kilometre.The fort has massive yellow sandstone walls with sprawling towers of fortifications visible for many miles around. The major population of the town live inside the fort and it holds numerous restaurants, hotels and shops selling traditional artworks and bags made of camel leather.The fort is crowded with people and vehicle moving in and around. We looked for the city view spot and we reached it.From this place, we could see the western and southern part of the city, it has an obsolete cannon and it is really a spectacular viewpoint.We stroll along the streets of the fort.We thought to visit the Raj Mahal (UNESCO World Heritage Site) but we gave up since it was too costly. We reached back the hotel and took over baggage and checked out.The hotel jeep dropped us at Jaisalmer railway station by 4:40 PM and our train to Jaipur was ready and we started by 5 PM (Malani Express).Since we were able to get tatkal ticket and the travel to Jaipur from Jaisalmer became very easy. Bye! Jaisalmer.
Day 5 (Jan 30)
The train travelled through Pokhran, Jodhpur and we reached Jaipur by 5:15 AM. It was a 12hr travel covering 605 KM.One of my friends had stomach pain that night, he was good now.We got down at the Jaipur railway junction and it was even crowded at this early morning.We got our rental car ready through zoom car.We did this arrangement during the train journey.The car was Ford Figo Blue colour in a very good condition. We finished the formalities, loaded our bags into the car and started to Phushkar.
A Quick Pilgrimage to Phushkar!
We took Jaipur-Ajmer Highway to reach Pushkar. By driving for 140 km through byways and highways, we reached Pushkar by 8 AM. We parked the car and walked up to the lake. The lake was just okay and it has a lot of ghats and pilgrims taking holy dips and spiritual rites. It is nice to see a flight of pigeons flying above the Pushkar lake and tourists feeding them. We took holy foot dip in the lake since the holy water is not clean to have a full holy dip. To add a note Pushkar city is one of the historical and existing cities in India dating back to third century B.C.It is one of the sacred lakes of Hinduism and it is one of the Panch-Sarovar (Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar).We started back to Jaipur. We had our breakfast at McDonald’s (Gegal, Ajmer-Jaipur Highway). I managed to drive some 50 Km on that highway.
We got a news that there is a riot in Jaipur and we feared that it would spoil the plan. However, there is no sign of disturbances when we reached Jaipur.We got near to Jaipur City Palace and we could not find a good parking. The road was busy with pedestrians and heavy traffic.However, we managed to find a parking place in one of the Bazaar Road by 12:30 PM. The price to visit City Palace was Rs.500 and we are no more interested to see the antics at this high price. We stopped at Jantar Mantar, it has a collection of architectural astronomical instruments.It features the world’s largest stone sundial.If you are a person with astronomy interest, then this place is worth visiting.We moved to Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and it is a great piece of architecture and its front elevation, as seen from the street, is like the honeycomb web of the bee hive. We completed the visit by 2:45 PM. Next, we headed towards the market to buy Jaipur sarees and salwar for the friends and relatives. We managed to grab some with a good bargain.
Jal Mahal and Amber Fort
Now we are back to our car and reached Jal Mahal (Water Palace) by 5 PM.It is located in the centre of Man Sagar Lake.Note: The palace is not open for the visitors.Since we skipped lunch and we were hungry so we had some snacks there.We got to know that the Amber fort will be closed by 6 PM and so we rushed to the fort. We were busted for seat belts and we managed to pay the penalty and escape. We reached the Amber fort base. We hurried to the fort gate but we were late so we could not go in.The fort is located on the Aravillis hill range.The fortified walls are built all over the hills around the ancient city valley Amber.With its large ramparts and series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks Maota Lake.We spent some time on taking pictures there.It was a big disappointment that we could not manage time to visit Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort.It was almost 7 PM.We took rest in the car for some time and then planned to go for the sound and light show in the Amber Palace.The show started and the fort is well lit by lasers.The show has been nicely orchestrated and gives a good understanding of Rajputs, Mughals and Maratha escapades.Note: If you do not find History fascinating please avoid.
The return flight(6E 606) is on 5:15 AM(6:00 AM Departure Time) the next day (Jan 31). We stopped the car near Jal Mahal and discussed on how to spend the time till that. We thought of going a movie, book a room taking rest and even checked for the accommodation in the airport lounge.We dropped all the plans and came to the conclusion to have a dinner, return the car and take rest in the airport. We looked for some good restaurant in Jaipur through zomato. We just picked to go to the restaurant “The Talk of the Town“.We reached the restaurant and had a Super fabulous Dinner! Super Spicy and Super Taste!. This restaurant has increased my love over Rajasthani Cusine. We returned the car in the zoom car by 11 PM and had chai. Next, we booked the cab(Toyota Etios Liva) and reached the Jaipur airport by 11:40 PM.
Day 5 (Jan 30)
We searched for a good place to have some sleep in the airport and at last, we were able to find one.We had some deep sleep and woke by 4:30 AM.The boarding for the flight was open and we checked in and boarded the flight.We fell asleep once flight took off by 6:00 AM and we woke up when the flight landed in New Delhi.The flight landed in Chennai by 10:10 AM and we took our baggage and reached home by cab(Indica) around 11:15 AM.
It’s a long Journey.But It’s worth it.
|Mode||Type||Vehicle||Place||Distance(in KM)||Time in Minutes|
|Land||Ola||Tata Indica||Home to Chennai Airport||17.6||35|
|Air||IndiGo||6E627 – AirbusA320||Chennai to Ahmedabad||1371||150|
|Land||Taxi||Auto||Airport to Akshardam||21||45|
|Land||Uber||Maruti Eeco||Akshardam to Adalaj||15||17|
|Land||Taxi||Auto||Adalaji to Gandhi Ashramam||12||25|
|Land||Taxi||Auto||Gandhi Ashramam to RiverFront||2||5|
|Land||Uber||Hyundai Eon||Sabarmathi River Front to Kankaria||9.5||21|
|Land||Uber||Datsun Go||Kankaria to Ahmedabad BusStation||5.46||16|
|Land||Taxi||Bus||Ahmedabad to Udaipur||260||310|
|Land||Ola||Maruti Ritz||Udaipur Bus Drop to Ram||3||7|
|Land||Uber||Tata Indigo||Hotel to Udaipur Monsoon Palace Base||9.82||24|
|Land||Uber||Jeep||Monsoon Palace Base to Top and return||10||25|
|Land||Ola||Tata Indigo||Monsoon Palace Base to City Palace||11.5||32|
|Water||Boat||In Lake Pichola||5||20|
|Land||Walk||Lake Pichola and TibetMarket||3||40|
|Land||Uber||Tata Indigo||Tibet Market to Hotel||2||5|
|Land||Walk||Hotel to Udaipur Jaisalmer Bus stop||1.2||20|
|Land||Bus||Udaipur to Jaisalmer||528||645|
|Land||Taxi||Auto||Jaisalmer Bus to Hotel Marigold||0.4||4|
|Land||Taxi||Jeep||Hotel Marigold to camel spot||60||90|
|Land||Camel||Camel Spot to desert||5||45|
|Land||Camel||Desert to Camel Spot||8||45|
|Land||Jeep||Camel Spot to Hotel||41||40|
|Land||Jeep||Hotel to Museum,Lake||30||60|
|Land||Train||Jaisalmer to Jaipur||613||710|
|Land||ZoomCar||Ford Figo||Pushkar -> Jaipur”}”>Jaipur -> Pushkar -> Jaipur||290||400|
|Land||ZoomCar||Ford Figo||Jaipur around||50||90|
|Land||Uber||Zoomcar Point to Airport||12.4||19|
|Air||IndiGo||6E627 – AirbusA320||Jaipur to NewDelhi||241||55|
|Air||IndiGo||6E627 – AirbusA320||NewDelhi to Chennai||1760||175|
|Land||Uber||Indica||Chennai Airport to Home||17.6||35|