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Rajasthan 11 days road trip - best places to see
Me and my wife planned to visit Rajasthan in July '2012 and started the planning in Apr - May' 12. The first step was to get the leaves approved from the managers which took quite some time. Once the leaves were in place, we had the dates in hand and could proceed with the hotel and flight bookings.
We planned to visit the major cities and small towns which were quite well known and got details about these places from a few friends and the internet. Tripadvisor - as usual helped a lot in getting the best hotels and places to see in Rajasthan.
So, after all the research and brain-storming we narrowed down on the below places:
After finalizing the locations, the next task was flight booking. We found that there was a Spicejet flight from Pune to Jaipur with a stopover of 45 mins in Ahmedabad. Departure time was 7.55 AM and reached Jaipur at around 11.00 AM - This was best suited for us, as we could use the rest of the day in sightseeing of Jaipur.
For the return journey to Pune, we realised that taking a flight from Jaipur to Pune was not feasible. Our last destination in Rajasthan was Udaipur - 450 kms away from Jaipur. So we planned to book our return flight from Ahmedabad - which is around 280 kms from Udaipur. We booked our return tickets on Spicejet flight from Ahmedabad to Pune - departure time was 9:55 PM. This would give us an option of roaming around Ahmedabad for around 4-5 hours if we left Udaipur early morning.
Tripadvisor is our trusted site, which we use very frequently to read and write reviews of all hotels/restaurants we visit. So undoubtedly it was our first choice to get details of hotels in Rajasthan.
The hotels we chose were as below:
Holiday Inn Jaipur
Hotel Harasar Haveli
Hotel Fifu - Voted the best hotel in Bargain category by Tripadvisor consecutively in 2011 & 2012.
Ramada Udaipur Resort
We booked these hotels either from cleartrip or makemytrip.
Once all the bookings were in place, the only item left was - internal travel in Rajasthan.
We thought of booking a cab once we reached Jaipur and also to check if there are good AC Volvo buses plying in between the cities we decided to visit.
I searched on the internet, but did not find any Volvo buses.
Day 1: Jaipur
Our flight from Pune departed at 7:55 AM and we reached Jaipur by 11:15 AM.
I found the Jaipur airport to be clean and well kept. We took a pre-paid taxi from the airport to the hotel - which is around 13 kms from the airport.
We checked in the hotel, freshened up and headed straight to Jaipur sightseeing.
Taxi for local sightseeing costs about 1500 INR/ day + separate parking charges.
We used Tripadvisor and other internet sites to shortlist the tourist attractions.
The main attractions in Jaipur were:
1. Amer/Amber fort
3. Jal mahal
4. City palace
5. Jantar Mantar
6. Chokhi Dhani
7. Birla temple
8. Hawa Mahal
We headed to the Amer fort - which is one of the best forts in Rajasthan.
We reached the top of the fort by taxi, but can also be reached by riding an elephant - which costs INR 950 per elephant.
There are different entry fees for Indian and Foreign tourists. Additional charges are levied if you are carrying a camera and video cameras.
Entry fee Indians: 25 per person
Camera fee: 100 INR
Video camera: 200 INR
This fort is really massive and magnificent. Its built on top of the aravalli hills and has sustained itself for around 450 years now. The art work and paintings on the entrance doors, floors and roofs is really fabulous.
The sheesh mahal inside the fort is really a wonder.
There is an adjoining lake, which looks real fabulous from the top of the fort.
We hired a local guide at this fort and he gave us some additional info about the fort. The guide should not cost more than INR 50.
This is one spot - that's NOT TO BE MISSED if visiting Jaipur.
Tip: Try the malai kulfi - right outside the fort entrance - real yummy !!
There are government run handicraft shops around this fort, which sell good quality items - but i found them to be around 15 - 20 % more expensive as compared to the local market & also, these shop keepers are extremely pushy - so be AWARE.
There is a restaurant named "Zeeman", adjoining these shops which was clean and serves food at decent prices.We had our lunch here and headed to the Jaigad fort, which is situated on another nearby hill.
The Amer fort was used by the Kings and Queens as a recreational palace, but Jaigad had all the strategic importance from the military point of view. Jaigad houses the largest cannon in the world - "Jaivan". Jaigad is also a huge fort, but there really isn't much to see inside it - as compared to Amer.
Tip: This fort can be skipped if you are on a tight schedule.
Since, it was hot and we were really exhausted we decided to go to the hotel, have a bath and rest for some time. We headed to Chokhi Dhani at 6.00 PM and reached by 6.45 PM - its around 18 - 20 kms from Holiday Inn, Jaipur.
There are 2 options at chokhi dhani:
400 per person - This includes all the activities + Food (Normal menu)
675 per person - This includes all activities + Food (A royal touch - extravagant food menu + food served in silver cutlery in a nice hall with live music)
There are lots of activities to do here like, camel rides, mehndi, pottery, magic shows, puppet shows, etc.
This place is worth a visit to see the folk dance and listen to some good traditional Rajasthani music. The food served is also good and real tasty.
We reached the hotel by 11.00 PM real exhausted.
Tip: Visit chokhi dhani only if you are not going to visit other cities in Rajasthan - because there are similar dance shows and music in all the hotels and restaurants.
Day 2: Jaipur contd...
On day2, we decided to avoid taxi for local sightseeing and use a rick. We visited the City palace situated right in the heart of the Jaipur city. This palace also has separate entry fees for Indian and foreign tourists along with additional charges for cameras and video cameras.
There are lot of old horse carriages placed as soon as you enter the palace. Most of them are still in good condition. Also some old cannon's here.
There are 2 huge silver jars placed in the center of the palace. These jars used to have Gangajal in them. The artwork here is as fabulous as the Amer fort. There is also a museum in this palace which houses old weapons - which includes swords, guns, bullets, armor, etc.
Next we headed to a restaurant "Dasprakash" on M.I Road. This restaurant serves south indian delicacies. Bit on the expensive
side but was clean and food was tasty.
In the evening we visited the "Jal Mahal", this is located at walking distance from the Holiday Inn hotel. Its currently closed for visitors. Nice place for some photography from the lake shores.
Next, we visited the "Birla temple" on J.L.N Road. On the way stop at "Albert hall" for some photos. The birla temple is as magnificent as other birla temples.
We had to find a mode of transport for our onward journey, and after some inquiry at local stores, we realised that travelling by bus was not a good option and hiring a car was the best bet.
So we talked to the transport desk in the hotel and they arranged a car for us.
The transport desk was outsourced to
Pradeep Jain, Economic tours and travels.
Mr Pradeep organized a good car for us, a Maruti Suzuki swift dzire - the car was in good condition. We fixed the price with him, before we started our journey. He was a real good person to deal with and assured us that he will give us the best rate and provide a good vehicle and nice driver. He kept his promise very well.
Tip: If you haven booked a vehicle, contact Mr. Pradeep.
Day 3: Bikaner
We headed to our 2nd destination: Bikaner - 330 kms from Jaipur. the driver Mr. Kalyan singh was ready at 9.00 AM,a real nice guy.
The road to Bikaner was good and almost empty. July is just the beginning of tourist season in Rajasthan. It took us around 5 hours to reach Bikaner. Even here the heat was extereme and we were exhausted.
Since, we had already booked our hotel, we headed to the hotel and had some rest. In the evening we went to Karni mata temple- around 40 kms from Bikaner. This temple has thousands of Rats inside. Seeing a white rat is considered auspicious.
Tip: Make sure you visit this temple, this is undoubtedly a very unique experience.
We had our dinner on the roof top restaurant in the hotel and food was really delicious. The food was accompanied by the usual Rajasthani folk dance and music.
Day 4: Bikaner contd ...
On day 4 we headed straight to the Junagarh fort. I must admit that i wasn't really very curious to visit this fort. There wasn't much info available about this on the net and was just another fort for me. But i was really surprised by what it had on offer.
This turned out to be the best fort for me in Rajasthan. Even the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur can't beat this one. Junagadh MUST BE visited if you are visiting Rajasthan.
The whole fort is in a very good condition and all the artwork inside is absolutely intact. The anoop mahal especially is the best part. The marble work is also in good shape and restoration work going on in a few places.
The museum inside the fort hold the largest collection of arms and ammunition. The museum also holds an airplane gifted to the maharaja by RAF.
This fort was really the BEST FORT i have ever seen. Everything well maintained and in super good shape.
In the evening we visited the local market in Bikaner and bought some namkeen and sweets.
Tip: Have the pista kulfi at Sankala sweet mart in the local bikaner market. Real yummy Kulfi.
Best books on Rajasthan
Day 5: Jaisalmer
On Day5 we traveled from Bikaner to Jaisalmer, 300 kms away. Jaisalmer being a border town, has a lot of armed forces and the roads are maintained by BSF. Excellent roads - miles & miles of smooth tarmac - surrounded bushes and smooth golden sand. The view absolutely stuuning. But the outside temperature is scorching at 40 - 45 degrees.
On the way from from Bikaner to Jaisalmer is Pokhran - where India conducted its atomic tests. We reached Jaisalmer around 2 PM and checked in at the hotel - Hotel FIFU.
In the evening we headed to Khuri - a small desert town around 40 kms from Jaisalmer. This town has a small rajput settlement and we visited one of the small resorts there. This included a camel ride to the nearby sand dunes - (this road traveled across the village), traditional dance & music, followed by traditional Rajasthani dinner. All of this costed INR 2500 - which i thought to be a bit expensive.
The dunes in Khuri are nice and have real smooth sand, though the sand here is not as golden as the one in Sam.
We reached our hotel at about 11 PM.
Tip: Make sure you keep your sunglasses ON, while you are in the desert. The desert sand is very fine and if stuck in the eye - can cause some irritation and infection.
Sunglasses for your travel
Day 6: Jaisalmer contd ...
On Day 6 we were ready for Jaisalmer - local sight seeing.
We started with the Gadisar lake - it's a beautiful lake in the heart of Jaisalmer - Nice place for some photography.
Next we visited the Jaisalmer fort , they call it a living fort - because people stay inside this fort. There is a museum inside the fort which explains the history of the fort and also displays the old articles including arms and ammunition.
The roof top of the fort offers a magnificient view of the whole town - a must visit. There are lot of temples and shops inside this fort.
Tip: A lot of people advised us to be a bit careful in all of Jaisalmer, especially in the fort and in the desert - as there have been cases when local guides have stolen peoples' cameras.
Next on our MUST VISIT list was Patwa Haveli. This haveli was the residence of some Patwa's (a caste in Rajasthan) - and the haveli is as royal as any other palace - probably more. This place has been maintained very well and has some fabulous painting, glasswork and artwork on its walls and roof.
The various rooms eg: dining room, living room, kitchen, dining area, bed rooms - have been mainitained as they were in the olden days - with all the articles in their own place. Superb place to visit - as it gives an idea of the lifestyle these people lived.
In the evening we headed to Bada bagh - these are the royal cenotaphs or chhatris of the rulers of Jaisalmer. This place is a quite lonely and is on the way to Sam. Nothing much to see, but place for some photography. Can be covered on the way to sam,as it would not take more than 30 mins.
The road to Sam is really good and better than the one to Khuri. On the way, we saw a lot of sand had settled on the road and had almost covered half the road. As we neared sam, we could vast amount of sand on both sides of the road. You can just see sand rite till the horizon. We saw the sunset and headed back to the hotel.
Day 7: Jodhpur
On day 7 we travelled from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur. Jodhpur is around 300 kms from Jaisalmer and again took around 5-6 hours to reach. The road here as well equally good.
Jodhpur is the 2nd largest city in Rajasthan, after Jaipur, and it shows. The roads in Jodhpur are wide and clean. The city feels more royal than Jaipur. We had booked the Ranbanka palace hotel, and on reaching there were greeted really well. This palace belongs to the cousin of the Maharja of Jodhpur and is a nice and clean property. Its internally divided into 2 separate hotels - one is the ranbanka hotel, which is a palace hotel and the other one is
arya niwas palace - which is more of a boutique hotel.
On arrival, we were offered a refreshing welcome drink and then we headed to our room, which had a fantastic pool view. We freshened up and after lunch headed for local sight seeing.
We visited the local market surrounding the famous clock tower. There are lot of shops selling authentic spices here. This place is called "nayi sadak". The market seemed to be cheap as we bought some mojdi's here for as less as 100 Rs.
There are also lot of options here for having food. Some good restaurants and also the sweet marts called "mishthan bhandars". This is something unique in Rajasthan - where the sweet marts also sell fast food alongwith the traditional sweets. We had some junk food at one of these mishthaan bhandaars and headed to the hotel.
Day 8: Jodhpur contd ...
On Day 8 we headed for Jodhpur local sightseeing. First and most important on our list was the humungous "mehrangarh fort". This fort is built on a hill in the middle of the city.
This fort is one of the best forts in Rajasthan. The artwork in this fort is also nice but a bit out of shape when compared with the Junagadh fort in Bikaner.
The museum exhibits a lot of old artifacts, armoury, clothes, etc.
The view of the city from the fort is really fabulous. There are lot of cannons placed on the edges of the fort - Nice place for some photography.
Next, we headed to "Jaswant Thada" - which is adjoining the fort. These are the cenotaphs of the royal family. A very calm place in the heart of the city.
Next on our list was the best known palace of Rajasthan, Umaid bhawan palace. This is the residence of the royal family of Jodhpur. 90% of this palace has now been converted into a luxury hotel. 5% is the residence of the royal family and another 5% has been converted into a museum. The museum basically contains the history of building the palace and the furniture of the palace.
There are vintage cars placed in the gardens of the palace. Good collection of Rolls royce, Mercedes, Cadillac's. A real pleasure for car enthusiast like me.
Day 9: Udaipur
On Day 9 we headed from Jodhpur to Udaipur - our last detination on the road trip. The distance was also in the range of around 300 kms and took 5-6 hours.
This was the only stretch of road which was not up to as good as the others we had travelled in Rajasthan. Also this was the only section where we encountered a ghat, else all others were plain roads.
On the way to Udaipur, we stopped a beautiful jain temple at Ranakpur.
Tip: Jain Temple at Ranakpur is a must. Beautifully crafted temple.
After reaching Udaipur, we checked in at the hotel Ramada resort. This hotel is situated on a small hill and has a very nice ambience.
Its a bit away, around 10 kms from the major attractions in the city.
In the evening we visited the local market around the city palace and the lake pichola. There is another lake named "fatehsagar" in Udaipur.
A lot of fast food joints have been setup along the shores of this lake - a place for local teens to hangout. Good food and nice place.
Day 10: Udaipur contd ...
On day 10 we headed for local sighseeing in Udaipur. First we visited the city palace, which is huge and is well kept. It contains a museum which houses a lot of details about Maharana Pratap.
The palace is located on top of a hill and gives a very pleasant view of the city and lake pichola and fatehsagar lake.
The local market is adjoining the city palace and is good place to buy local artifacts.
On the way to the city palace we visted saheliyon ki bari - a garden where the queen used to meet her friends. Nice place for some flower photography.
There is also a vintage car museum in Udaipur near to the city palace. The entry fee here is bit on the expensive side - Rs. 150 per person.
The museum also houses one of the old petrol pumps - setup by Shell.
In the evening we again headed to the fast food joints for some food and nice and calm waters of the fatehsagar lake.
After spending 2 days in Udaipur - I realised that it did not have much to offer for a tourist.
Tip: Skip Udaipur, if you are on a tichet schedule.
Day 11: Udaipur to Ahmedabad to Pune.
On day 11, we started for our return journey to Pune. First we reached Ahmadabad by bus and then took a flight back home with superb memories of the "most royal state of India" - Rajasthan !!