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Published: March 15th 2020
Blogs of Rajasthan are plenty in the net, covering almost all well known places. I will add one more with a different perspective.
I searched elaborately thru internet for appropriate inputs, to finalize the logistics of a weeklong tour program covering important historical places, wildlife of Ranthambore and of course the desert of Jaisalmer. But I did not get it in a nutshell and had to pick and choose from various sources.
In this blog I attempted to summarize our overall experience, program, means of transport, accommodation arrangements etc. sharing our feelings, advantages and pitfalls as felt by us, to facilitate planning of an overall tour schedule by future travelers of Rajasthan.
I also narrated detailed description of my location wise experience in detail, thru separate blogs.
Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India with excellent transport network, be it desert locations at it’s west, serene wildlife at north, magnificent forts, lakes and places of historical significance located at almost the entire state.
We (myself and my wife) were planning for the trip for quite some time, with one week to spare due to other compulsions. But covering so
Ghoomar folk dance
Bagore Ki Haveli, Udaipur
many places within such a short period was a challenge. Ultimately we decided to stretch it little further. Our schedule was as follows :
i. Day 1 & Day 2 - Start from Bengaluru, Visit Ranthambore National Park, Stay at Sawai Madhopur,
ii. Day 3 – Back to Jaipur, brief sight seeing at Jaipur and boarding train towards Jaisalmer in the afternoon.
iii. Day 4 & Day 5 - Jaisalmer,
iv. Day 6 - Jodhpur.
v. Day 7- Udaipur.
vi. Day 8 - Chittorgarh.
vii. Day 9 - Pushkar & Ajmer Shariff
viii. Day 10 - Jaipur and Back to Bengaluru
Timing of the visit was also crucial, since Rajasthan was well known for extreme temperature during summer, whereas December would be quite cold, particularly at desert and in the forest. However probability of sighting wild life was more during hot summer.
We selected February with moderately cool climate to enjoy. Secondly, there would be reasonable chance of spotting the big cat at Ranthambore.
Booking of hotels, railway and bus tickets, safari tickets for Ranthombore National Park were made well in advance online.
OUR UNFORGETTABLE MEMORIES
Shadow of a tiger
Ranthambor National Park
our ten day tour, we explored so many places, from green forests of Ranthambore to the vast desert landscape of Jaisalmer, gigantic forts with history carved on its stone, huge luxurious mansions with exhibition of pomp and glory. Out of that, I would like to recollect some of the incredible places we visited, which will remain in our memory for a long time to come.
i. Sighting tiger in a Canter Safari at Ranthambore National Park,
ii. Enjoying our stay at Jaisalmer and particularly spectacular twilight view of "Golden Fort of Jaisalmer" with Rajasthani Folk music of a nomad group,
iii. Camel and Jeep safari at San Dunes, Jaisalmer,
iv. Watching Folk Dance & Puppet Show at Bagore Ki Haveli, Udaipur,
v. Visiting Brahmaji Temple, Pushkar Lake and Savithri Temple at the hill top at Pushkar,
vi. Rendezvous with history at Chittorgarh fort and its Light and Sound Show.
MODE OF TRANSPORT
We exercised virtually all options of transport during our tour namely, by air, rail, bus, car, auto, camel, jeep and even water transport. It was like this:
i. Air – From and To Bangalore and Jaipur,
from one tourist destination to another i.e Jaipur to Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Udaipur to Chittorgarh, Chittorgarh to Ajmer, Ajmer to Jaipur
– RSTC (Government Volvo Service): Jodhpur to Udaipur
–a. Travelling from Jaipur Airport to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park), Stay for 2 days and back to Jaipur
b. Local Sightseeing – Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambor), Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chittorgarh
v. Auto (Tuktuk)
– Local sightseeing at Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar
vi. Boat service
– Udaipur(lake Pichola)
vii. Camel & Jeep
- Safari at Jaisalmer as well as at Ranthambore
Rajasthan has a well connected Railway network. We selected to travel thru rail in most part of our journey within the state. Rail journey (AC Chair Car/2 /3 Tier AC) was comparatively cheaper than car travel between cities. Another reason was to save time, since long journey from Jaipur to Jaisalmer could be comfortably and safely covered at night. There was added advantage to stay at Railway Retiring Rooms with economic rates which could be booked only with railway ticket.
LOCAL SIGHTSEEING THRU CAR HIRING
For travelling from and to Jaipur Airport to Sawai Madhopur and
local sightseeing at the respective tourist places we opted for car hiring. Objective was to have comfortable travel, tune tour plan based on our convenience and not to be perturbed for finishing a spot in a hurry, unlike in a package tour.i. i. Sawai Madhopur & Jaipur
For car travel we had interesting experience. Initially we hired a car from RTDC (A Rajasthan Government Unit) for three days, beginning from Jaipur Airport directly to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park), staying for two days and back to Jaipur on the 3rd
day for sightseeing. Total tariff was Rs. 10,000/- including toll and parking charges. It was exorbitantly high which I could realise after riding only. Contrary to the advice from RTDC Tour operators, engaging the car for three days continuously was not necessary. Moreover there was no arrangement for driver’s stay in Hotel Vinayak (incidentally that was also a Rajasthan Govt Hotel) our place of abode, due to which I had to spend extra to the driver.
Our driver Maheshji was an interesting fellow. In first half an hour chat with us he narrated how a tourist family in one of his previous journey pressurised him to cover
maximum places within the fixed tour program. Also another passenger family used to have food without him. We understood the indirect message and obeyed accordingly during the entire three day company with him.
On the last day (i.e. 10th day) of our tour, we booked a car thru OLA. I was doubtful whether it would cover Nahargarh and Jaygarh Fort respectively from Jaipur Railway Station, since both the destinations were far away, on the outskirts of the city. To our pleasant surprise we met an excellent guy on the wheel of Toyota ETIOS. His name was Mukti (Mobile 08619926326/09785020434). He was so gentle, knowledgeable and exceedingly co-operative. We spent virtually the whole day with him. It was a pleasure to accompany him. Charges for the entire day tour (9 AM to 6 PM) was moderate, around Rs. 1600/- including dropping at the Jaipur Airport. ii. Jaisalmer:
For sight seeing at Jaisalmer, I hired taxi from a private operator called “Royal Jaisalmer Taxi Service” (Mobile 07357199748/7357169011). I thankfully acknowledge their punctual and dedicated service. A brand new Toyota ETIOS car (without number) was given for us. Our driver Suresh reported at Jaisalmer Rly station as early as
Jaisalmer Fort at night
at 5.30 AM in the morning as promised, when it was totally dark and cold outside. He was our local guide, brought us to the tourist destinations and eating places. At Jaisalmer my taxi booking was for two days continuously. Here also I faced the same bottleneck, since there was no staying arrangement for driver at Hotel Sam Dhoni Resort (that was also a RTDC Hotel), which was around 45 kms away from the town. He returned to Jaisalmer at the end of the day before nightfall, but returned early morning next day as promised. We enjoyed our Jaisalmer stay next day also, with his guidance.
I have only a flipside to express. Visit to Desert National Park was promised in our tour. Next day morning after travelling around ten kilometres he did not agree to proceed further on the pretext of bad road. I had to agree since that was a new car. But I regret not being able to visit the park as promised. Car hiring Charges agreed was Rs. 5500/- all inclusive. Here also I realised that booking the car continuously for two days was not necessary. iii. Jodhpur
My Jodhpur car booking was
Our Camel safari
San Dunes Desert Jaisalmer
thru an agency called JCR CABS (Mobile 09414137405). Prahlad Singhji was our driver. Like Jaisalmer, the service quality was of very high standard. That was also a Toyota ETIOS, well maintained and nicely decorated inside. Above all Singhji seemed to be a professional driver, well acquainted with manners, how to satisfy the customer. I booked the car from 6.30 AM in the morning upto 6 PM in the evening. Charges was Rs. 2200/- all inclusive.
We selected both the agencies from reviews on internet. Subsequent communications were made thru WHATSAPP from Bangalore only before commencement of the tour. For Jaisalmer tour operator I paid Rs. 500 as token confirmation charges from Bangalore. Jodhpur agency did not ask for anything as advance. iv. Chittorgarh
At Chittorgarh I arranged for car thru Hotel Pratap Palace, where we stayed. Tariff was Rs 2000/- all inclusive for transferring from Railway Station to Hotel, sight seeing for whole day as also light and sound show at night, back to hotel at around 9 O’Clock at night and drop at railway station next day morning. v. Overall experience
Everywhere I observed those private operators were not only reliable and trust worthy
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
but maintained very high standards of service. They were more comfortable in speaking Hindi and gradually I could enrich my hindi tongue, while interacting with them. Last but not the least, it was a nice opportunity to interact with them, their likes and dislikes, get a touch with ground situation prevailing in that city. They were very friendly and took maximum care for the tourists.
I will advocate for choosing the private taxi operators for any future tour plan to Rajasthan, compared to Government Agencies, of course with negotiation of tariff.
Booking of package can be made thru OLA also (or UBER wherever available), which is economic. OLA was in operation in all the places we visited, except Jaisalmer (I am not sure about Chittorgarh).
LOCAL SIGHTSEEING THRU AUTO (TUKTUK) i. Ajmer Shariff:
In Ajmer Shariff we hired an auto also called tuktuk (Charges Rs. 1000/- all inclusive) from Railway station for sight seeing at Pushkar as well as visit to Ajmer Shariff Darga. My impression was that although economic, sightseeing with Auto has its own limitation. With our limited expertise in negotiation, initial agreement was for Rs. 800. Since we did not specifically mention visiting
“Savitri Temple” at Phuskar in the beginning, we had to cough out additional Rs. 200/-. Moreover prolonged bargaining dampened the spirit of travelling. Another issue was to keep our belongings under the custody of the auto driver, when we would enter the visiting place like Ajmer Shariff Darga where camera was not allowed. In short, car hiring was a better option, if we could afford. ii. Udaipur :
But, Udaipur was different. We enjoyed riding Auto there, particularly at small narrow lanes near City Palace and Lake Pichola. Those old narrow paths were densely populated, best option was to walk and enjoy the crowd and history.
BUS JOURNEY – JODHPUR TO UDAIPUR
I had to go for bus service due to odd location of those two cities, jodhpur at west and Udaipur in South Rajasthan. I did not find any direct train route running between the two. After lot of analysis I booked Volvo bus tickets online operated by Rajasthan State Transport Corpn. Tariff was Rs. 1024 for two tickets. Bus started at 6.30 AM in the morning and reached Udaipur by 11.30 AM at right time, with two in between stoppages. Many of the travellers were
Jag Mandir Palace, Udaipur
foreigners. Each traveller was provided a blanket and a mineral water bottle. It was a comfortable on time journey.
ACCOMODATION i. RTDC Hotels
We booked RTDC (A Rajasthan Government Unit) Hotels at Sawai Madhopur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur, primarily because a 30%!d(MISSING)iscount was offered for Government employees.
Hotel staffs were very co-operative and customer friendly. Most important was their kitchen and food quality. It was excellent wherever we stayed and with reasonable price.
Flipside was the room interiors and their maintenance. Structures of those hotels were old and both interiors and exteriors need improvement. Level of occupancy was not much except at Udaipur. In fact at the tent of Sam Dhoni Resorts, San Dunes, Jaisalmer, we were the lonely occupants. Nevertheless there were no dearth of hospitality and care. In fact we never felt we were the only boarders. My appreciation to Manager Mr Khan, and his boys for that.
Technological improvement was a necessity, particularly with respect to communicating and answering queries of probable customer thru WHATSAPP and Net, immediately. I tried to contact initially all those places to assist me booking local sightseeing taxies. But response was lukewarm and delayed. Comparatively
private operators were much faster in response and truly professional. To effectively compete with private hotels and taxi operators, Government Hotels have to catch up fast. ii. RAILWAY RETIRING ROOM
We booked Railway Retiring Rooms online much in advance at the following stations:
a. Jaisalmer and Jaipur for 12 hours,
b. Jodhpur and Ajmer for 24 hours. a. Retiring Room- Jaipur
Our experiences were mixed. It was excellent in Jaipur. Retiring rooms here were managed by private parties. Quality of room, toilet, geyser, furniture items and other amenities were really impressive, neat and clean. In fact we were pleasantly surprised to have a kit equipped with all items for making tea/coffee as well as electrical kettle. That was not a surprise in any private hotel but could not be imagined at Railway Retiring Room. If this standard could be maintained, it could give any private hotel run for their money.
Lunch was completed at IRCTC Restaurant at Jaipur Ralway Station. It was opened recently and managed by private agencies. Lunch was served thru buffet system, bit costly but of good quality. There was proper arrangement for sitting comfortably on sofa and
enjoy the lunch. b.. Retiring Room- Ajmer Shariff
Our experience of retiring rooms at Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Ajmer Shariff (managed by Railways) were bizarre although the tariffs were unbelievably low.
At Ajmer Shariff, size of room was huge. It was equipped with four enclosures consisting a large bedroom, a dressing room, another enclosure with washbasin and a big toilet, virtually a suit. But room service, housekeeping, cleanliness were a casualty. In fact toilet was without water till the evening and resumed after lot of follow-up. c. Retiring Room - Jaisalmer & Jodhpur
Condition was more or less similar in those two places also. Geysers at toilets were non-operational in all those places and we had to take bath with cold water. Lot of improvement was required in terms of amenities, particularly for staying with family. In fact, I observed that occupancy with family was minimal and truly speaking not very conducive (except at Jaipur) due to above mentioned deficiencies. Probably, the lack of housekeeping was taken for granted by the occupants and service provider both.
There was no restaurant at Jaisalmer Railway station which was really inconvenient for staying with family. Quality of eating
place adjacent to station was of low standard.
I hope retiring rooms in other railway stations also be privatised very soon and customers delight will get proper importance. iii. PRIVATE HOTEL AT CHITTORGARH
I booked my stay at Hotel Pratap Palace, Chittorgarh since there was no vacancy at RTDC Hotel Panna therein. Hotel timing was 12 PM onwards although we reached at around 9 O Clock in the morning. They were very accommodative, allotted room immediately. Both room as well as the toilet, Geyser, AC all were in tiptop condition and well maintained. It was located at the second floor and there was no lift. Nevertheless it was a very small issue since we were ready to climb.
We finished late lunch at hotel after the morning visit at Chittorgarh Fort. We called the waiter and opted for a boul of rice, dal, four chapattis and chicken curry, without recourse to the menu card, since most of other items were already exhausted. To our surprise, food bill raised was for Rs. 1250/-. It was a shock but a selfgoal. Lesson was “check the menucard first in a private hotel, before ordering.” We finished our
TASTE OF RAJASTHANI CUISINE
Conflict between tongue and stomach is well known and will last as long as we live. I was flooded with advise not to miss different varieties of Rajasthani food before commencement of my trip, which aggravated my willingness. Initial few days that was fine. Thereafter uneasiness started even after charging digestive tablets. After four or five days stomach declared rebellion. I had to retreat.
i . SAWAI MADHOPUR
Our first taste in Rajasthan was in a roadside dhaba on the way to Sawai Madhopur. Shopkeeper served freshly prepared poha (a preparation with flatten rice) with 'SEV' spread atop. How can I express our rejoice while consuming it with hot tea in a chilly morning!
Rajasthani tea was prepared with high quality milk as the base and thus gave a splendid taste. We, Bangaloreans are expert in coffee preparation but that can not be said about tea.
I was told by the hotel manager that Sawai Madhopur was famous for growing high quality guava. They were big in size and really tasty. I purchased a few of them and consumed till the final day of our tour. DAAL BAATI CHURMA
At Sawai Madhopur we had our lunch at a roadside roadside eatery named “Sivshankar Restaurant”. We opted for Dal Baati Churma, the signature Rajasthani Food for the first time in our tour. It was served in a big thali, with churma (type of sweet made of broken wheat with ghee), thick daal, big size green chilly, tomato chutney with raw onion. Objective was to taste both sweet and pungency together, which might appear little outlandish but very tasteful. Quantity was too much for us.
Gatte Curry (made of Besan or gram flour) were immensely popular and we adored this almost everywhere. ii . JAISALMER
Our train reached Jaisalmer at around 5 O Clock in the morning. Visit to Jaisalmer Fort was our first priority. Our car driver Suresh informed that although fort museum would open at 9'O Clock , fort area was quite large and itself a mini town.It could be visited anytime. After watching magnificent sunrise at Gadisar Lake we arrived to our main destination. It was a nice ten minute walk uphill, from the parking lot. Our first view of the fort was splendid. Yellow sandstone of the fort
Tasty Breakfast at Jaisalmer
was glittering in the morning sunlight. Jaisalmer fort was also named Golden Fort and we realized why.
But we were hungry. There were number of shops on the right. We selected the first one. The owner and his assistants welcomed us. He was a noticeably fat man and the chair he occupied looked too small for his size. DAL PAKHWAN
We ordered for Dal Pakhwan and tea.. Morning breakfast was under preparation and would take some time. We would be the first customer. We went to the first floor of the shop. That was the idle place to watch and enjoy the golden fort view.
Our snack was served. Look itself was so attractive and colourful ! It was a jumbo size flat puri with daal spread on it. On the top of it, nicely sliced onion, tomato, coriander leaves were laid on the top.
Enjoying the breakfast as well as spectacular fort view would remain in our memory for a long time. RAJASTHANI THALI
In our Jaisalmer tour we entered into a restaurant called D’Desi Aroma for having lunch. Interestingly there were options for having food on a table, alternatively sitting
on a floor. We decided for the second and entered a big hall. Well decorated carpets and small tables (Charpoy) were put on the floor. Food would be served for four heads per table. Gorgeous wall paintings and Rajasthani handloom items were beautifully displayed all around the hall. Waiters were all wearing Rajasthani costumes. A melodious local music was being played. Overall a unique atmosphere was created.
We opted for “Rajasthani Thali” which included Govind Gutta,, Kher sangria, Garlic Chutney, Kadi, Khidchi, Churma, Salad, Butter Milk and two Bajra roti (as per menu card). Items were served in small bowls nicely arranged in a big thali. Food was very tasty and I exhausted each item patiently, although I had zero idea about the ingredients. Overall it was a fantastic experience which we liked a lot. iii . JAIPUR
At Jaipur we finished our lunch in a restaurant called “Heritage Buffet.” located at the heart of Jaipur city, of course with conventional chair and table arrangement. We ordered for a Rajasthani Thali here also and enjoyed the meal. iv . AJMER SHARIFF
Sohan Halua and Ajmer Shariff were synonymous. I loved this sweets dearly and never
Wild parakeet Ranthambor National Park
missed it in Delhi. But preparation at Ajmer was superb, which nobody can miss. It was truly unputdownable.
Rajasthan had been a favourite destination for foreigners all over the world. I observed that most of them usually avoid local food, consumption of fruits was their most popular means of fulfilling the appetite. In fact eating healthy food was key to remain fit in a long journey. I was amazed to notice a foreign national eating mango in mid-winter. Where he collected it, no idea. v . FOOD SERVED AT RTDC HOTELS
Last but not the least was the high quality preparation of food served at RTDC hotels, everywhere we stayed. Be it breakfast, dinner or evening refreshments, every dish was delicious and tasty. I became addicted to various mouth watering dishes served with hot ballooning “Phulka” (handmade bread), one after another by the waiter. Food was reasonably priced compared to outside market and served with required care.
Overall it was a memorable experience.
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