Monday, January 18, 2010

Rajasthan Trip: III

Day 3 - The Long Drive

The Long Road Ahead

My birthday today !! And my friends gifted me a day long drive on absolutely awesome roads. We had to cover approximate 700 kms and we did it in 10 hours !!! The roads were beautiful & smooth, with our average speed over the last 3 hours coming to 110 kmph, this without unnecessary speeding. We passed through a lot of dry land, with salt pan on both sides of the road. This is where we got a glimpse of the “cracked ground” like that of drought areas.

Salt Pans


We reached Mt. Abu when it was dark & booked into a nice hotel that gave us a huge room – very cosy & comfortable. Varun went to get us some hard drinks on a bike of the hotel manager & came back frozen !!! The bike was speeding in the cold & windy roads of abu & poor Varun was its victim. He had held the vodka bottle in his frozen hands, and we pretty much didn’t need ice in our pegs after that !!

Kaushik & Varun had got a cake for me & we celebrated the cake cutting with no one singing happy birthday, me wishing myself as i cut the cake & Varun dancing his crazy dance !

All in all it was an awesome night & the Rajasthan leg of the trip began on that note !

Day 4 - The Great Hotel Hunt

We woke up late and checked out of our hotel only by 10. We thought we were late, only to find out that Dilwara temple opens only at 12 !!

We visited Nakki lake first. Nakki Lake derives its name from the famous mythological story that lies behind the creation of this lake. It is said that Devtas ( Gods ) had dug this lake in the centre of Mount Abu using their nails or nakh. This lake is the only artificial lake in India.

Nakki Lake

Ducks at the lake

Here Varun got his snap clicked in royal Rajasthan clothing – a tradition for him – he does that in almost all places he goes to. After a heavy breakfast, we visited the dilwara temple.

The Dilwara Jain Temple is one of the most famous and beautiful Jain temple in the world. The architecture and stone carvings are something note worthy. The interior decoration of the temple showcases the architectural brilliance and the grandeur of human craftsmanship. These temples were built in the period between 11th to 13th centuries A.D. The ornamental details carved out of marble on the ceilings and on the pillars are extremely beautiful.

The drive to Jodhpur was absolutely rocking. Rajasthan roads are as good, if not better than Gujarat Roads. We reached jodhpur in the evening and then began the great hotel hunt.

Once you enter the city, you realise that it is full of 2 wheelers and rickshaws crawling all over it. Roads are confusing and hotels are mostly scattered. Most budget hotels are found on “nai sadak”, but many are dingy. We finally managed to get into a semi dingy hotel, for lack of choice and also because we were super tired and irritated.

And then my major shopping. I bought kilos and kilos of sweets – gajak, revdi and tal papad. This was all done in some random wholesaler shop in random “jodhpur ki galli”.

One of the Jodhpur ki Gallis

BUT, this offered kaushik some awesome opportunities to click some postcard snaps and also practice night photography. These snaps are almost magazine worthy.

Electricity in India


Local Cricket Team

The rickshaws of Rajasthan are huge – with atleast 2 times the leg space of mumbai rickshaws, and they are colourful and decorated. Varun wanted to sit in one and we decided to make a visit to the umed bhavan palace travelling by rick. Now, visitors post 5 p.m. are not allowed through the gates.

Umed Bhavan Palace by night

But we told the watchmen there that we would be having dinner at the palace, so they let us in ! Hehehe. We went in, clicked snaps till the guards shouted at us not to. Happy, we left and went back to the hotel. The blue city was waiting for us tomorrow !!

And another day ends, another sun sets

Friday, January 15, 2010

Trip to Rajasthan - II: A Royal Visit

That's me looking forward to the day !!

Day 2 began on a lazy note with us leaving Diu at 10. We were expecting the drive to be long with bad roads, but luckily the roads were very nice only with some bad patches. We just took about 3 hours and we were at Gir. Varun ensured that this time the hotel search did not take much time & we had a nice big room for 500. But the best part was the sitting area outside our room. It was covered with trees, protected from the sun & offered the perfect ambience for some drinks & hukka. (neither happened though !!!)

After a quick but tasty lunch, we hurried to the lion safari spot where the rides were to begin by 3.

Now there are 2 types of safaris

a. Where you take a private jeep into the jungle for 3 hours. This charges you Rs.900, but the catch is that this goes into the open jungle of area of 1400 sq km and covers only a set path of 20 km or so. So, NO GUARANTEE of seeing the lion
b. Where you go into the jungle in a 25 seater bus. BUT, this bus roams around in an ENCLOSED area of 4 sq. Km. which reportedly has 16 lions in it !! Thus, a
sighting is all but guaranteed.

You don’t require brains to choose between the options !!!

Seated in the bus, with 2 cameras and 2 window seats (Kaushik, legally & Mihir, illegally !!) with Varun ready to jump on any side depending where the lion was sighted, we left.

After random deer & sambars, we made a sighting . . . and what a sighting it was !

We saw a dark maned lion, 2 lionesses & 2 cubs (quite large, though). The lion lived upto its reputation of being a lazy animal (it was sleeping throughout the 10-15 minutes our bus was there. It slept through all whistles, noises we made, roar of the lioness, noise of the bus and yes, an attempted stone throw on it by Varun !!!

Mujhko neend aa rahi hai, sone do !!!

We were super excited and went on a photo shooting spree. Everyone in the bus was falling over each other in order to get a better view.

A prince was lying just in front of my window, say 20 feet away. It looked at us, it sneezed, it yawned.

After the sneeze

Yawnnn !!!

The other prince was walked towards it and played with it for some time. These were unbelievable scenes for all of us !

The playing cubs

Can you see the similarity with dogs here ???

Then the Queen walked towards the kids. And this was a scene straight out of Kaal, just replace the tiger with the lioness. She played around with the kids & sat a few feet away. At this time, Varun bribed the bus driver to go a bit closer to them. Rs. 20 did the trick that a lot of convincing could not do !! And, we were closer. More photos followed. Videos of “the walk” were taken too.

About to get up !!


As a gift to us, the lioness roared for us too, showing her jaws in full glory. And what a scene that was !!


This was turning out to be a once in a lifetime experience for us. Unfortunately, we could capture the King Lion only in his sleeping posture.

On our way back, we were just looking at the photographs, least interested in the remaining part of the safari. It ended soon & we were having the feeling of a “vasool” trip.

Varun actually named the trip the “chill” trip. With no drinks, chilling took a different meaning though. Dinner was sumptuous in pure gujju style – we had bhakri, ghee, jaggery & khichdi among other things. The Menu was the most funny and so it deserved the snap attached here !

Check out the spellings - of everything !!!

Next day did not sound as interesting with a 750 km drive to Abu ahead of us. Let’s see what’s in store ! Keep checking this blog for more !!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trip to Rajasthan - I

Day – 1 – Life’s a Beach

The trip was to Rajasthan with Diu & Gir added in for good measure. 9 days, 4000 km,3 roadsters – sounds like fun ! So, here goes..

Start Point: Borivali, 12 a.m., 12th Dec, 2009
End Point: Diu, 14:30 p.m., 12th December, 2009
Distance covered: 825 km

We had decided to leave from mumbai at 8 p.m., but extra office workload delayed Mihir & we ended up laving from Borivali only at 12:00 p.m. With Varun having taken leave for 2 days prior to the trip, he was the one at the wheel. Kaushik & Mihir were keeping him company intermittently.

With nice roads & soothing music, our trip began. Mostly uneventful, it was a smooth ride. But, yes, we satisfied our hunger pangs !! We had already had had dinner, but managed to consume 4 aloo parathas, 4 sandwiches, 4 kokis (a type of sindhi paratha, the most heavy snack of all), 30 theplas and a packet of potato chips by afternoon.

A Mountain of SALT

2 things hampered our smooth ride;

a. A major traffic jam comprising hundreds of trucks at Bharuch. Luckily we found some place to off road on the left, and that helped us overtake the trucks quickly. It took us about half an hour to get through the jam, but we easily saved atleast an hour more !

b. Bad Bad roads towards the end of our drive. The last 50 kms (from Mahuva to Diu) were absolutely bad roads – uneven with the top washed off. These 50 kms spoilt our speed because it took us an agonising 2+ hours to cover.

This is where the Fevicol ad originated

And then we reached Diu.

Diu is a small place – you can drive from one end to the other in half an hour tops. Roads are nice and it’s all beach side. The beaches were cleaner than expected and if you discount the crowd there, quite beautiful too !

Places to visit in Diu – Nagoa Beach, Diu Fort and a sea shells museum. The beach is clean, but crowded with rowdy types people mostly ! You may venture on it during late evenings. The fort is nothing too exciting, but yes the seashells museum is worth checking out, it’s quite interesting.

Some views of the Beach

After a long long search (as per Varun, our longest search till now in all the road trips put together), we found a decent, reasonable hotel. Immediately after booking the hotel, we went for lunch (yes, we were still hungry) and at this beach side restaurant called Dub Chick (nope, no chicks there), we ate – ate from 4 p.m. to 8 30 p.m. continuously. Obviously, accompanied by drinks. Post this combined Lunch & dinner, we were too exhausted, drunk and full to do anything else. We just crashed on our beds as soon as we reached out rooms.

Start of the food binge at 4 p.m. - thats me

And yes, we are stil here at 8:30

Yes, how can one forget to mention the newest gadgets we carried – a canon eos 500 D (15 MP camera with a 100 different modes !) and an Acer netbook (a 10” screen, 125 GB hard disk laptop). It’s the age of live updates, isn’t it. And if my blackberry was compatible with the laptop, you would ve read this daily account as and when it happened. Maybe next time !

All in all, it was a lazy day once we reached diu. Just eating & sleeping. Best summed up in this conversation that happened when Mihir woke up in the morning

Mihir: (still half asleep): Kaushik its sunday today na ?

Kaushik: (almost fully asleep): yes, why not(as if it matters)??

Tomorrow was the day when we had an appointment with The King of the Jungle. Watch this space for more !

Some other photographs

Mai nikla gaddi leke

No Smoking !! - My friends-Kaushik & Varun

Phool Aur Kaante

The Beach at night

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