In The Land of Sand
Plans are colorful, they never hit the reality. You can add as many colours as you can.Yes, just splash, soak your plans in colour and make it more vibrant.
This is how it started on a sunny winter morning in early January this year. We are all set to explore the Coastal line of Karnataka and Goa. This time it is a little difficult as our little one, Mithai is with us. We were discussing our breakpoints and itinerary. Suddenly hubby said, “so what should be our next drive destination?”
“Just name a place, any place”
I started charting India in my mind. The place which came up first is that one which I was able to mark in my school days without any second thought “RAJASTHAN”
“Fine, mark your calendar in November/December. We are going”
Happy me can imagine myself as a bobblehead toy dancing around sand dunes.
Thus we started weaving our plans.
The initial one started with the roadmap and managing leave from office. Plans started blooming in my mind. Life is really colorful. It will be not as easy as our Goa trip where we drove for 8 hours at a stretch and little Mithai cooperated with us sitting in his car seat.
“Four hours at a stretch” hubby began to concoct.
“Till Jaipur, we will cover up in flight. Rest should be in Zoom car where we will drive four hours at a stretch.”
The plan already starts shedding its color. We managed to get leave for one week and we have to cut down few places as a consequence.
I love travelling, and the roads, the people and the food call me; I love jungles, I love to walk in barefoot on the seashore. Travel is all about connection. I love to connect through the serenity, through the loneliness of a rivulet. I love to connect through some melancholy song sung by a village girl. I know I will get back my same life after the trip is over. But one day my plans will be full of colors. Colors on its wings. Till then I will count moments…
Day 1, 3 AM: Jaipur Airport. Soon after we arrived, a chill wind galloped towards me; engulfing me in my childhood memories. Winter was same 20 years back! We received our Zoom car at Airport at 5 AM.It’s cold outside. Jaipur city is still sleeping. We plan to bypass Jaipur and head towards Jodhpur. We were on road and hubby at the wheels. Two hours later we were at Kishangarh. Rising sun welcomed us at Rajasthan. We decided to drive as much as we can till the time Mithai stays asleep in his car seat.
The roads are in good shape. Through many diversions due to roadworks, we managed to drive 340 km in 5 hours through Jaipur Ajmer road. Men prefer white clothes whereas women are extremely colorful. We noticed few elderly people in a white dress, with a big turban and aviator sunglass, riding in motorcycles in James Bond style! We reached our hotel at 11.30 AM. Mithai was extremely happy with the welcoming garland. This heritage hotel is a calm place with birds chirping around and with lots of greenery. We were offered Jodhpuri food thali for lunch. The evening is the time to explore the city, the people, the food and many more. We generally take our backpack and traverse through walking. This time we took a local auto as Mithai will not let anyone walk!
Jodhpur: A small city with a huge heritage. The city has a distinct area for clothes, books, furniture and so on. The local market is full of bandhni shops and handicrafts.The women like bangles, churni, earrings, and thus lots of these shops in the city centre. The area looks like churi bazar near Charminar, Hyderabad. Here bangles are made of sealing wax and small mirrors.
Old building, gates made after victory, step wells are inside the city. We went to “Turji ki jalra”, a nicely carved step to the water container. Though the water is extremely dirty and is without any maintenance, place is a good hangout point for lovers. We walked throughout the market, had kesaria lassi, bargained with a local shopkeeper and the day is over. One more day to live in Jodhpuri style and then desert is calling us.
Day 2: A bright sunny morning. We, have our breakfast at hotel lawn and plan to visit Mehrangarh Fort. It is one of the largest forts in India. The hotel manager suggested us to take Ola to the fort. It’s easy and affordable.
Mehrangarh fort is on a hilltop, standing like a warrior with a great valor. It shows its vastness. The city looks blue from top of the fort. All Rajdarbar, Janani Mahal became a playground for Mithai for next two hours. And we dissolved ourselves in king and queens arena, in the reflection of sheesh mahal, on the spiral staircase and in the subtle music of ravanhatta. Two hours passed, we were beside the lake of Jaswant Thada (lake nearby of Mehrangarh fort.) A bunch of schoolgirls were roaming here and there, with Mithai running behind them. It was time to get back to the hotel to get some rest. In the evening, after some roadside chaat, we dined at “Gypsy” where they served fusion Jodhpuri food.
Day 3: By the time we hit the highway it’s 9.30 morning. We will go to Jaisalmer via Pokhran. Roads are wide enough as this is the corridor to pass military convoy. Wherever you see it’s land of emptiness. Lands are barren and sometimes covered with indigenous bushes. One can see few small trees standing selfishly spreading hands towards the sky, asking for few drops of water. Few hamlets are scattered here and there in a long stretch of land. We reached Jaisalmer by 2 in the afternoon. Entering Jaisalmer town is like a movie clip. You can see Jaisalmer fort from a long distance, slowly becoming prominent. A fort made of yellow sandstone– glows like gold on sunshine. We decided to drive through the desert and watch the sunset sitting on sand dunes.
Jaisalmer is a small town with a living fort right at the centre of the town. There are a few shops, a handful of hotels and restaurants, and an extremely small airport. You can go to the desert in any direction. Longewala, Tanot, Sam, Khuri are small settlements in the desert. The most popular sand dune is Sam. Khuri sand dune is little further and less crowded.
We started for the dunes at 4.15 PM. Mithai needed some camel ride. 50 km road was sometimes wavy, sometimes arrow straight. It’s a land of vastness, emptiness and nothingness. It will take you to nowhere. I was feeling lost. In the one hour drive, we could hardly see 8 to 10 cars. We reached near the sand dunes and reserved Bablu (10 years old camel) for a sand ride. Hubby is strictly against animal ride, thus Mithai and I settled on top of Bablu. After 5 minutes our little one jumped! It’s like one..two..three..jump. Which he does every day! And now he did it from a camel hump! Directly on the sand!! A few minutes later Mithai was walking and Bablu, the camel was walking behind him with his owner. We saw the sunset sitting on the sand.It was becoming cold. The sky was orange blue in color. We came to a nearby place where few kalbelia gypsy tribal ladies were dancing. We watched their performance for some time and came back to the hotel. It was too cold outside.
Day 4: The morning was cold too. We went to the Fort and decided to walk in its lanes. It is a living fort where more than 500 people stay. Most of them sell local handicrafts, sculptures made out of yellow sandstone, patchwork clothes and many more. We roamed here and there, went to some local shopkeeper’s house to see his patch works on clothes and had some sweets made out of camel milk. In the evening we decided to have a drive through a road less travelled by the tourists.
Day 5: A day in Bikaner. Bikaner is all about food. We stayed at a former Prime Minister’s (of Bikaner state during Raj) residence.We reached in the late afternoon and went to visit Junagarh fort. This is also located in the centre of the city. We roamed in the fort and went to explore local food. Sweets, namkeen, bhaji…well, the list is quite long. Ghewar is their popular sweet. Numerous food shops will offer you their special dishes. Raj kachori & puris are fried in pure ghee. Ahh, a day well spent.
Day 6: The journey from Bikaner to Jaipur is relatively greener compared to other parts of the state. We reached Jaipur by afternoon. Jaipur consists of two parts, new and old. The old city is known as pink city whereas the new one is modern and well planned. Though no one, yes literally no one obeys traffic rule! Jaipur is a lively city. Locals are proud of their heritage. The girls are beautiful. The Food is awesome. The city will get their very first metro soon. In the evening we visited Hawa Mahal & Jantar Mantar. Both are situated in between the marketplace. The city palace is nearby. We clicked few photos and walked through the lanes of Zahuri Bazar And markets full of antique shops. Finally, we were back to the hotel for a “Lal maas” dinner.
Day 7: The day was dedicated to forts. Nahargarh, Amer and Jaigarh forts are situated in Aravalli Hills and a half an hour drive from the city. Whereas Nahargarh fort has an amazing carved step well, Amer has a series of gates. We roamed there for several hours, walked beside the Mansagar Lake and observed Jalmahal with a mesmerizing eye. Time flew and our road trip was over.
On the return journey, the Hubby asked me “Over, right?”
I stared at him with tired eyes ”Yes and my leaves are over too!”
Hubby: “What about a one day leave in February?”
Me: “That I can manage. Is it some local trip, which we generally do?”
Hubby: “Nope. Road trip from Delhi to Agra.”
Bobble-headed me start dancing……
Read also: Revisiting the moments in the wild
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