The rains had come and gone, the monsoons was over, September was nearing its end and I was getting a year older on the 21st . The weather was good, the rains had brought down the temperature in Delhi quite considerably and I was just itching to get on the road. So to celebrate my birthday and also my eldest daughter’s who was turning 10 on the 26th, we decided to head for Rajasthan……by road. (The best time to visit Rajasthan is during October to March when the weather is quite pleasant.)
Rajasthan, the land of the Rajputs, is known for its forts, palaces, camels and sand. The Thar desert is one of the biggest around these parts of the world and covers about 70% of the state of Rajasthan, so I am told. Often the images that one conjures up are that of colorfully turbaned Rajasthanis astride the camels striding along scorching wind-blown desert sands. Well that is pretty much the picture of Rajasthan we see everywhere, in travel booklets, books and internet. But as my trip to Udaipur unfolded, it was a journey on good metalled road all along green landscapes. Deserts were nowhere to be seen (Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner are the places to head for the deserts), camels were far and few to be seen and the Rajasthanis I saw were on trucks and motorbikes instead.
I wasn’t new to the Delhi – Jaipur road, I had travelled the route way back in 2004 on my Maruti Zen and it was one of the best rides I have ever had, covering the distance of about 250 kilometres in just about 3 and a half hours on a very comfortable drive. This time I planned to stretch it all the way up to Udaipur which is about 690 kilometres figuring about 10 to 12 hours drive with ample stops in between. Sadly, Delhi-Jaipur road wasn’t what it used to be with a number of flyovers being constructed in every major junctions and the number of trucks on the road having increased exponentially. Truthfully, I have never seen so many trucks plying on the roads in my life. Rajasthan was not the land of camels …..it was the land of trucks !
Leaving Delhi around 0715 hours (with the children along it just wasn’t possible to leave earlier) we took the National Highway No 8, crossing into Haryana and hitting Manesar in no time and passed through Rewari (51 Kms) around quarter past eight. We entered Rajasthan around nine O’Clock having travelled about 91 kms. We made it to Behror (117 kms) around half past nine, Kotputli (140 kms) at 0950 hrs and finally made it to Jaipur around half past one….almost double the time I had actually planned. We stopped over at Jaipur and had a view of the City, the beautiful Jal Mahal and spent a wonderful evening at Amer Fort. The stop was definitely worth it.
Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan and once the pride of the Kachwahas kings. Sawai Jai Singh II who rule over the city of Amer (about 11 kilometres from Jaipur) established the city of Jaipur in 1727 in order to keep up with the flourishing trade in the prospering Kingdom. Considered one of India’s first planned city, all the buildings were constructed of pink sandstones and all structures are painted in pink. This uniqueness is still retained in the old city which gives Jaipur the name ‘The Pink City’. Witnessing the blend of heritage, art and perhaps the first of modern city planning in those times, one can imagine the opulence and vibrancy the city must have seen once upon a time. Now it is more or less remnants of a golden past.
That night we rested our weary bones on the comforting embrace of the soft clean bed of Arya Niwas, reminiscing the memories, picturing the history, of battles fought and most of all, expectations of tomorrow.
Coming up…….the next part of the journey.