Two years and three failed attempts were a push enough to take me to the last village on the India-Pakistan border in the Indian state of Rajasthan. How to reach Munabao was a whole other story!
It all started about two years ago while I was planning my first leg of Rajasthan. I came across a tiny dot daunting the state's borderline. Fascinated, I started looking for ways to travel there and would have been successful too while visiting Khuri but fate had different plans. The second and what seemed to be the final leg of Rajasthan, focussed mostly on the central area and hence Munabao had to be given a miss. Which led me to try once again, finally this time. Booking.com
Munabao (pronounced "Munaba" locally) is actually a check post on the border, Sajnani being the last village. It was named as such after 1971; the War of 1971 saw the vacation of Munabao. The occupants of Sajnani village were mostly Mohammedans who fled to Pakistan during the war. The village is now home to Rathore Rajputs and Meghwals. Interestingly, they still have their descendants and relatives living across the border in nearby villages.
How to reach Munabao By train
Munabao has a railway station connected with Barmer. There is a passenger train that runs daily between the two stations. It leaves Barmer at 0730 hrs and reaches Munabao at 0940 hrs. There is a halt of about forty-five minutes at Munabao after which it returns to Barmer. The ticket cost is nominal, ₹ 30/- per person, the views beautiful.
In case you miss the train back to Barmer, there is a bus that leaves from Akali village around two in the afternoon. Booking.com
Tickets are available at the counter; there is no online booking for the passenger train. Barmer, however, is well-connected with other states like Delhi and Mumbai and the bookings can be done online. The place isn't as crowded, nor is the train. However, it being a small station, there is no cloakroom facility either.
Barmer Railway Station, one morning. The train ahead to the immediate left leaves for Munabao
Barmer-Munabao Passenger Train
Then there is the Thar Link Express that leaves from Bhagat ki Kothi in Udaipur, crosses Munabao, and into Pakistan. As it turns out, that ride can be taken only by either those travelling to Pakistan or the officials of the Armed Forces.
On my first visit to Barmer, I decided to take the bus from Barmer to Munabao. There are buses that go till Akali, a village about five kilometers (3 mi) away from Munabao, and takes roughly four hours to reach there. Getting back can be tricky as the frequency of buses lowers as the day passes.
Alternatively, you can travel through your own vehicle, keeping Barmer as a stop.
If you are looking for a rustic experience, literally rustic, try taking the passenger train. You'll get a lot to talk about with the locals en route...
... and also find yourself covered in dust after a while en route.
Sandy rides! This is how bad it gets. We had to shut our windows down. Where to stay
Without a doubt, Barmer! There is no other option anywhere near Munabao to put up at. It is the most feasible option and has some good places too. Booking.com
I stayed at the Sanchal Fort, a bit far from the main city but a terrific place to stay at. It has a vast desert near it, perfect to lull the evening away.
A small patch of the desert right outside the Sanchal Fort
There are quite a few options to stay both in the main city and outside but I chose the quieter outskirts. For those travelling on a budget or for a short duration, it is advisable to choose an option within the city.
I could find little information on how to reach Munabao, places to put up at and what exactly is it like to see an untravelled, unknown border closely. This trip was doubly exciting for the same reason. My third visit to a border area, after Dawki and Attari, and it turned out to be the best out of the three. A downside was that unlike other border areas, photography and videography was prohibited.
Ideally, the best time to visit Munabao is during winters from December to February. Munabao is a desert area and can get screechingly hot during summers.
I visited in September, right after the rains, for a different reason, and found it to be equally pleasant. Plus I got to see green patches all over the desert which is rare in winters.
Transportation doesn't only cover the 'How to reach Munabao' question. It is a border area and unlike other border areas that I had visited previously, I had to take permission before alighting here. Those travelling without permission are usually asked to deboard at Gadra Road, way ahead of Munabao. You can get permission from the BSF office in Barmer itself which is a must.
Returning with a new destination in mind
Travelling to Munabao brought to an end my beautiful journey with Rajasthan!