Rajasthan is the perfect state for road trips. With decent-to-good roads and low chance of rain (which can cause damage to the roads), and low traffic, it makes for some awesome journeys. The road trip during Diwali was one of our most ambitious journeys. With an extended weekend and Jaisalmer in sight, we left from Gurgaon towards Jaipur via NH8 on wednesday evening. A stop at midway and 3.5 hrs later, we reached Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The sight of the mesmerizing Amer fort and Jal mahal in the night made up for the rigor of the drive. We camped for the night at a hotel on Mirza Ismail Road.
Next morning, we went sight-seeing in Jaipur. But first, breakfast at the famous LMB hotel. Do check out the jalebis and kachoris. We started off with a tour of the Amer Fort. The fastest and best way to go inside is to hire a jeep which takes you up in no time. For those who are more adventurous, an elephant ride is available too. The fort has a good collection and lots of mahals for ranis. There was actually a wedding happening inside the fort involving some Britishers. Next up was Jantar Mantar is all about fun. Finally, the City palace which has a museum housing the artifacts of the royal family. After evening snacks, we set out to Jodhpur via Ajmer.
The NH8 till Ajmer is an easy drive. Once you exit that towards Jodhpur, it becomes quite bumpy. We reached quite late in the night and unfortunately, had chosen a bad guest house to stay. Although the view from the top was good due to the diwali festivities in front of the fort, but the rooms and service was poor. After a good sleep, next day we started off with a tour of the best fort of Rajasthan - Mehrangarh fort. A huge fort, it required lifts to take you to the top. The palkis, paintings, etc were brilliant, particularly the hookahs and canons. We then proceeded towards Jaswant Thada - the cremation place of maharajas. A local folk singer made our day there singing folk songs in the sun. Next stop was the Jodhpur Palace. With its amazing collection of vintage cars and museum, it is a delight to visit. The royal family plays polo and is famous in its dress code. The museum has a miniature of the palace inside which just shows how enormous it is.
Jodhpur to Jaisalmer is a 3 hour journey which we easily covered on fri night. As we entered Jaisalmer, we stopped by the beautiful Taj Gateway hotel. Once at our hostel, the roof top restaurant gave us a view of Sonar Kella - Golden fort. After dinner, we decided to walk along the fort at night. Brilliant and serene. The scene in the morning was absolutely the opposite - lots of people and chaotic. The market on the way to the fort had all kinds of handwork - dolls, pagdis etc. Inside the fort, there are multiple rooms to visit. One has a photo gallery of the maharajas of Jaisalmer. Another had the dress and artillery. The fort has a jain temple and patwa ki Haveli. After lunch, we came back to our hostel. Around 3, we proceeded towards the desert safari. The operator first took us to a dilapadated village, mainly for photography. After that we reached the start of the desert from where we hopped on to a camel. This was a particularly bumpy ride. The camels would run, walk, jump at the command of the guide. They took us to the sand dunes named Sam Sand Dunes. Just before sunset, the locale made for some amazing photographs as the sun set. There were some folk singers going around with a lady who would dance there. I was particularly privileged to get a selfie with a camel. :)
After sunset, we proceeded towards the camp where we were treated to some rajasthani entertainment. A bonfire, folk singers and rajasthani dance performances. An evening well spent. The dinner was traditional including the famous Dal-bati-churma and gatte-ki-sabzi. Next morning, we set out for the final 700km drive back to Delhi. On the way we had lunch at Bikaner, where we visited the Junagarh fort and Karni-mata-temple. The latter is famous for the mice inside, so do be careful when you visit. The Bikaner-Delhi stretch is grueling as the road is not so good and you have to navigate through the interiors of Rajasthan.