Thursday, July 04, 2013

The drive - Jodhpur and Jaisalmer

Mehrangarh Fort
Road trip. Have I ever mentioned that I have a travel bug. Not that I can afford it everytime, but I still have it. Ever since I remember I have loved hitting the roads. Especially if there I can drive down there. My father loves taking long drives, and so does my husband(thankfully).

Fortunately or unfortunately I was born in India. Which means that we have practically all kinds of landscapes possible in this one country. And as we recently figured out, we can’t possibly travel abroad for the next 16 years without visiting the n number of places in our list of ‘must visits’ of India. Hampi, kasaul, ladakh, Spiti, kerala, to name just a few. 

One of the most memorable trips (and one we have to take again, simply because it was so awesome) was Rajasthan. Specifically- Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. My husband – Shreyas, a friend – Pradip and I decided to take this road trip in the winter of 2011-2012. So packed into our Tata Indica, with enough razais(quilts) to help a joint family of 15 ward of a himalayan winter we set of from Delhi.

Inside the fort
NH 15 - on the way to Jaisalmer (Near Pokhran)
Gadsisar Lake - beautiful lake with a temple at the center 

It was truly spectacular. Jodhpur is the blue city of Rajasthan. With forts and palaces, the colour imbibed by the people of the state makes up for the dry and arid nature of the landscape. On the other hand Jaisalmer is gold. Wherever you look the blue skies contrast the golden forts, the city is golden, the landscape is golden, and it is mesmerising when you look at the slanting evening rays of the sun hitting the forted city. 

The Mehrangarh fort (featured in the 'Dark Knight Rises') happens to be one of the most well stocked museums in India. It houses several of the royal armoury, fine arts, paintings, palanquins, gifts from emperor Akbar to the royals of Jodhpur, jewellery, traditional royal clothes, and folk musical instruments. The ornate Howrahs are exquisitely carved and as Rudyard Kipling had said – the fort was built by the fairies for the giants. 

The drive from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer is fantastic. The roads are very well maintained. And dotted with desert wildlife. The state roadways has to applauded for maintaining this road over the years as many of my friends who have gone have also reported. I wish the Delhi-Jaipur highway was as good. I digress. The highway NH 114 (which is a little patchy at places) and NH 15 (we sped along this one) have several road side dhabas with good food and awesome tea. 

We reached Jaisalmer in the afternoon and travelled to Sam Dunes (and onwards to Dhanana) the 
The Sam Dunes
next morning. About 45 Kms from Jaisalmer, and totally a desert, It was freezing cold. With temperatures going below zero and an extremely open landscape, the winds were cutting. But the sunrise was beautiful. We kept driving next to the sand dunes to almost 20 kms away from the India-Pakistan border. The village around Sam are untouched and one can almost guess the way the village order lies with the clothing and the housing structures. 

We also visited the Jain Temples, which are supposed to be directly connected to the jaisalmer fort with underground tunnels that would have been escape routes incase the fort was ever under attack. 

Standing on the Trikuta Hill, the fort itself has a walled city within. Around 25% of the populace lives within the fort with varied tourism-centric occupations like food stalls – aimed at the foreign tourists; jewellery, stone work, traditional clothing stores, tourist guides etc. Built by Rao Jaisal in 1156 AD, this fort is one of the largest in the world. Although a lot of them are still lived in by the descendants of the merchants, some of the havelis in this fort are now museums and contain the ornate sandstone carvings, carved wooden doors and other royal artifacts from the bygone era. The famous detective movie by Satyajit Ray – ‘Sonar Kella’, was also based in this fort. The movie has possibly got more tourists to the city than any guidebook – the locals admit. And you can see a lot of Bengali eateries for the number of Bengali tourists who come to Jaisalmer for the ‘Ray pilgrimage’. 

We drove back to Jaipur the next day and after a day of rest we came back to Delhi. This road trip was full of great experiences and the longest I had taken. Can’t wait to get back on the road and possibly add some more fantastic experiences.

This is an official blog entry for the Ambi Pur’s “The Perfect Road Trip” . You can visit their facebook page at

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