Leelan Express – Indian Railway – Jaipur to Jaisalmer:
When we started by Leelan Express from Jaipur towards Jaisalmer, we could see it was barren land all over and no green. We started to feel the real dessert! We were wondering about a lengthy water source all around suddenly after certain distance! Then, we came to know that, its – The Sambhar Salt Lake, India’s largest inland salt lake, a bowl shape lake. Its 96 km south west of the city of Jaipur and 64 km north east of Ajmer along National Highway 8 in Rajasthan!
Dinner at Leelan Express – Jaipur to Jaisalmer – The unknown scene behind dinner ordered:
We ordered for food for dinner as we knew we will reach Jaisalmer only in the next morning! The coach attendant said they arrange food only for those who need and order. And food arrived at around 9pm near Nagaur. It was kind of full-meals with multiple sabzis and rotis. We and one of our co-passengers (a foreigner) had our dinner and were almost getting ready to sleep. The attendant said its 200 INR per meal. We paid and tried to sleep. I could not sleep properly, neither Prasad!
From Nagaur, we felt train speeded up and when we reached Bikaner, due to its noise and speed (as train was almost empty hence a lot of sound with bumpy ride) we were sleepless. During that time, we could hear the conversation between, train in charge Railway police (RPF) and these attendants that, they get these meals for around 50 INR and utilize not having pantry and make some money in the name of helping passengers!
Today, when we read about Vasundhara Raje’s Annapoorna Rasoi project, we remembered this incident suddenly and recalled, in Rajasthan, it’s not tough to get food at cheaper rate. This is how people like these attendants defame Indian Tourism!
Hotel Radhika :
When we reached Jaislamer at 5 am in the morning, as usual the taxis and hotel agents surrounded us saying they are offering the cheapest offer, including safari at Sam! We ignored all of them and came out of Railway station. Then, there was a jeep driver who told us he will drop us at 20 INR to the Hotel. He started chatting with us as if he is the only person offering cheapest ride to Sam. We now came to know his intension and said we would call him if required and we really do not have any plans as of now. Standing in-front of Hotel Radhika, we started to ring the bell for the door to be opened! Finally, after connecting with Oyo rooms’ customer care, we could enter in!!!
That morning, we had our breakfast there at the hotel and I felt irritated with the taste of tea! Then, Prasad told me its Camel’s milk! Ah! It was a different taste and I had no other choice at dessert!
Jaisalmer Fort and Patwon-Ki-Haweli:
Then, we started to roam around and entered Jaislamer Fort – It’s a living fort! 3000+ people still live inside the Fort there. We met a guide and had no choice other than accepting his offer. He started guessing and immediately made out that we are from Bangalore and like others; he too is under the impression that these 2 IT kids make lot of money and from Bangalore! Huh! Ignore as usual. Marvelous fort with mixture of Hindu and Jain culture. Really great spiritual and cultural heritage of Rajasthan and India! That is on the sandy expanse of the great Thar Desert, on Trikuta Hill.
Then, we headed towards nearby Patwon-Ki-Haweli – massive five-storied construction has five intricately decorated huge suites. The guide explained us about the beauty and historical importance of it and I was flattered by its beauty! Meanwhile, at one of the shops near the fort, we bought two habur stone items – kind of vessels. They say, it has lots of Scientific importance and available from Habur village and the blah blah stories. Since Prasad is an artist and he loved it, I ignored the rest and agreed to buy it. It’s really beautiful
We had our lunch at Jaisal Italy, where we had Jaisalmer Thali, which included the very tasty Kair Sangri curry which both o us loved so much. It was really delicious. It’s a memorable lunch and the view of Jaisalmer fort and the haweli is really beautiful.
We returned to Hotel Radhika by an auto of an old man. When we reached, there were few others waiting for an auto and just because this fellow was an old man, they opted for another young auto-driver who actually offered them the hire at a higher rate. We could hear the old man murmur himself, “pata nahi kya zamana aa gaya; aap bhale eemandar ho agar bhudde ho to uski koi izzat ya kaam nahi hai. Aaj kal ke bacche ko lagta hai ki sirf apna generation unki madad karega.” 🙂
Sam Sand Dunes:
We enjoyed the SAM sand dunes, camel safari and the usual SAM viialge folk songs, music and dance, with an authentic Jaisalmer / Rajasathan delicious dishes. We had a real good conversation of life style, culture, politics, border and army relationship with the local taxi driver during our visit to Sam.
12 October 2016 – Gadisar Lake:
The next morning, we went to Gadisar Lake, This is a rain water conservation lake built by Maharawal Gadsi. There are many small temples and beautiful nature around.
We left Jaisalmer to proceed towards Jodhpur with lots of beautiful memories of the yellow city. To enjoy the local life style beauty, we decided to travel by local bus.
A beautiful journey of culture… 08 to 14 October, 2016.
Delhi – I have been waiting for this vacation since my engineering actually 😛 I never had been on long trip till date and wanted to be isolated from this usual world I stay at and get along.
08 October – New Delhi:
The trip started on 8th October by Flight and reached our destination New Delhi as per the plan. As soon as we landed and came out of the Airport, it started to stink and I said I can’t bear it! Prasad said this is what it is and you will get used to it soon! OMG. After reaching NDLS metro station, smell increased and I couldn’t tolerate it. Prasad started ironically “eega nimge hegannista ide madam?” OMG! This is our Capital city. I said, “Vasane bartide, I can’t bear this”!.
After checking-in, we started to reiterate to decide where shall we go and roam around for the day? Listed down based on their closing time, connectivity, time to visit etc. So, decided to book an uber to ride around India Gate. Reached there and roamed around Rashtrapati Bhavan as well. We have it in our still to be done visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan (as premises inside, which has a separate online process to be followed to visit).
India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Dilli Haat – Delhi:
Near India gate, there were 100’s of them surrounding us, saying “they will capture our pics”, but we didn’t want it. However, a decent young boy, who requested very humble, we felt he is earning his part time job money for some good reason like education and we said “yes” to him (Unable to recall his name, probably Akshay). He really has captured few good ones. (Though I am not publishing them here).
Salute to our Amar Jawans…
The garden beside RB and the parliament had a spectacular view. Many noticed it only after seeing us there :);)
We rushed to metro station (Central Secretariat) and headed towards Dilli Haat. (Opp. INA market metro station). I was flattered by the neatness and cleanliness of the Haat! It was soothing to see colorful stalls from different State Tourism Departments, like jewelry, clothes and food! We first went almost half around the stalls, and sat down at Shillong Stall (From Meghalaya) for few good Momos 🙂 It was really very tasty (not fried, we tried steamed and we like it steamed). Actually we could see 2 stalls opposite to each other and in some of the blogs, I had read Shillong has the best momos. But, there were no Shillong sign, instead Meghalaya! We were trying to recall which state Shillong belongs to: P
The shopkeeper, Delhi:
After that, we moved on to buy some pashmina shawls. I was flattered by their beauty. All handmade! How creative Indian women are and hats off to their patience! So cute and beautiful art work. The shop owner is from Srinagar. And being asked about his place, he said so and asked if we have ever been to Srinagar.
Shopkeeper: “Han, abhi halat utna thik nahi hai, aap bhi khuda se dua kijiye ki sab jald hi thik ho jaye” (considering the India-Pak tensed situation, terror attacks etc)
We: “Han, sab maangte hai. Hum bhi shanti chahte hai aur chahte hai ki hamara khoobsoorti hame jald vapas shanti aur suraksha se mile aur hum south se ho to bhi fikr karte hai ki aap log sab khushi se zindagi bitayen, bina ye jhanjhat se. Aur hum bhi idhar be-fikr ghoom sake” J
Shopkeeper:”Han. Hum kuch nahi chahte bas shanti aur ye Hindusthan ka hi hissa hai, mera Srinagar bahut khoobsurat hai J”
Prasad: “Han, jannat hai, jannat J”
Shopkeeper: “!!!han ji”, about to greet when we were about to leave after purchase.
Prasad:” khuda hafiz”
Shopkeeper: “!!!” (He was surprised to see Hindu from South wishing so!) And he smiled J
We all in India, the real lovers of Hindusthan, do not bother if you are a Hindu or Muslim, but these vote bank politics, hyper media, activists make this living intolerant, not Hindusthan, neither Muslims, nor a Hindu or a Sikh or whoever he/she is! The shopkeeper was really concerned about his city and its beauty – the jannat – “Srinagar” #Respect # culture
Later, in the night we were very thirsty and wandered in search of water to end up in front of Tamil Nadu stall. We looked at each other and said “no, this is Karnataka’s Kaveri and we don’t need water frpm here. Moved ahead to Bihar stall and the shopkeeper wondered as if we have never seen/had water in life after emptying 1 liter of water. We took metro and back to the lodge we stayed at Karol bagh.
09 October, Qutub Minar, Red Fort – Delhi:
The next day, we hurried to roam around Qutub Minar. From the metro station, we were in search of auto and the auto drivers all over India are the same! Unfortunately, if they get to know you are from a different place, they will try to earn as much as possible and charge you like hell unless you open up your mouth and shout boldly!
Qutb Minar is a beautiful cultural heritage which depicts beautiful Hindu – Muslim cultural mix-up. It has beautiful Lotus flowers and many other flowers’ art, also the Hindu “Dhruva Sthambha” and also, the tomb structure of Muslim culture. (I do not want to bring the topic of argument of “whether it’s a Hindu or Muslim heritage, though historians have already written lots of research articles on it. I loved that its still protected as a world cultural heritage as it is and well-maintained.
We left the place after roaming for around 1.30 hours. Again back to auto argument and he tried to fool us yet, we opted to follow our trick of asking him to drop to the same place from where we have reached Qutub Minar – the Qutub Minar metro station.
We realized we are feeling hungry and yet to have breakfast. So, chose to go to Chandni Chowk. We had our good breakfast at Haldiram’s restaurant, near Gurudwar.
After that, we walked straight towards Red Fort. It’s really a wonderful history at Red Fort. This write-up would not be enough to explain about Red Fort. So, its better I just refer you to visit there or to read about it from web on that J
The funny thing I still remember from there is : We were tired and sitting in a corner at The Diwan-i-‘ Am (‘Hall of Public Audience’) – a rectangular hall. It was at a certain height from ground level and you have to follow few stairs to get out of it and move to the next place around. Usually, I think people in North India sit along the stairs. Since the place near stairs was filed with people, we were sitting at a corner. But, many of the tourists thought the place where we were sitting also leads to stairs and all followed to end up noticing the stairs is at the other end in the middle J We were enjoying the mini fun 😉 One of the ladies didn’t even observe that there are no stairs, carrying her baby she was about to step ahead and her husband shouted from below to be careful and watchful. Then only she realized where she is heading towards!
It took around 3 hours to cover Red Fort and then we headed towards Chandni Chowk by rickshaw (as I was very tired and wanted to have a rickshaw ride). The traffic was like hell, yet, these rickshawala do not care and the take you to the destination within 10 minutes there by approaching the wrong side! 😉 Though you know it’s not the traffic rule, nobody cares, neither did we! So, I still feel Bangalore is far better at least in that perspective: P
We did not feel hungry as we had our breakfast at 11 AM! 😛 So, we decided to head directly towards Akshara Dham at 1.30 PM. Took metro, got down, entered into Aksharadhama. There was a huge queue and lots of formalities and security to measures taken uo due to tension at the border and school off time for Dussehra. So we felt, we will not be able to cover anything by the closing time an decided to head back and put it to halt. Then we realized we were hungry and again ended up in Haldiram’s restaurant for evening tea and light snacks. The restaurant staff is quite arrogant and not customer-friendly. Though we love its taste, we did not like the customer service there.
Back at our lodge, in the evening roamed Karol bagh market and had a very tasty Gol gappa at a Punjabi sweet/chat stall (unable to recall the shop name).
10 October 2016, journey to Jaipur, RJ:
Next morning, we had a train to catch at 6am to Jaipur. Ajmir Shatabdhi Express from NDLS. We enjoyed the early morning journey with nothing much around though 😛 Almost everyone in the train were tourists who were travelling to Jaipur from various parts of India. There was a small family from Kerala and the kids in the family were explaining about their teachers in Malayalam, which entertained us a lot J They were speaking very loudly thinking nobody understood what they were discussing 😉
Once we reached Jaipur railway station, we booked Uber to reach Ginger Hotel. The taxi drivers surrounded us with offers of being arranging the cheapest facilities with a price range of 200 INR just for a hotel drop! 😛 Almost every place we booked uber and paid via Paytm as we did not want to be fooled by the price and thanks to mobile app geeks 😉
Jantar Mantar, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Bazars, RJ:
We had our lunch at the hotel and then started to Janthar Manthar; is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput King. Real science existed in India in 17th century or even before that. Regret that we in our country do not value or derive deep out of it! I was really surprised by the calculation technique that was being used! Amazing minds and thoughts.
Thereafter we headed towards City palace as it was at a walk able distance. Wonderful architecture and what a beauty! A must visit place at Jaipur J Moved to Hawa Mahal next and visited it only from and around the venue as we had lots of advice from locals and cousins that not worth visit inside. Captured few pics out of it and headed forward. There was an old man who offered us drop at Hawa Mahal from City Palace at 20 INR by his rickshaw. Since we felt he is very old and not comfortable he riding rickshaw being that old we paid him 30 INR and then, realized he wanted to gain some business of forcing us to visit his son’s shop for bangles and he was heading towards that shop; offered us the drop 😉
We checked with some local shopkeeper for a good tea shop and he directed us to a very small gully road, and a tea shop. The owner was a very old man and still the culture of being asked to get in and sit own existed and we were seating on a small bench in few minutes. Chai was still in preparation stage and looking at our impatience (more than impatience we were tired), the old man offered us “Chaiwali aaj nahi aayi, isliye der ho rahi hai. Me aapko Musambi juice pila sakta hoon, the sweet lime juice!” J We said “arey nahi chacha, thik hai. Chai hi do”. I think he felt young generation today doesn’t have any patience and he offered us sweet lime juice, thinking we were in hurry. The chai was really tasty. J Its near a small passage near Johari Bazar, opposite to Hawa Mahal road 😉
Girls are enthusiastic about shopping and I had heard a lot about jewelries and bangles of Jaipur and Google out for some shops. But, ended up in a wholesale bangle shop, where I could get very beautiful bangles and then, sarees and clothes for gifting from another shop (at Tripolia Bazar). We did not follow any guide or any advice of Google. Just entered one of the shops that we felt we can go and check and felt reasonable and value for money. But, if you are buying sarees in Jaipur, be careful to check the blouse piece, length etc very accurately as per your needs. They still use 5.25 meters saree as in our olden days in few cases 😉 Took uber back to Ginger from Tripolia gate, Chura Rastha.
11 October, Jal Mahal and journey to Jaisalmer:
Next day, after a quick breakfast, we hurried to Jal Mahal is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. Though we can see its beauty from a distance, it was really soothing architecture J We had booked train to Jaisalmer via irctc, the previous day; the instant planning. So, we decided to spend time at CCD at ginger hotel and then, took uber to catch 4.30 pm train to Jodhpur. We met around 6-7 soldiers, our real heroes. Everybody warned us not to visit as its tensed situation at the border; but we were sure we will be safe. And the entry of soldiers assured it again 😉
Journey in Manali to Leh highway, Way to Ladhak an experience – Manali to Leh
As usual I was too excited to travel alone in Royal Enfield and to grab photos in my Canon EOS and started planning from almost three four months well in advance about my travel from Manali to Leh, Way to Ladhak
But you all know that planning does work only to certain extent and it always happens what it has to be.According to the plan all set and back packed and I flew from Bengaluru to Delhi and took a private Volvo to Manali and got refreshed in my resort in Manali and ventured myself out to get the booked Bully ‘I mean my Royal Enfield Bullet’ and I came across Madan a superb bully Mechanic who was still getting my bully ready and he made sure that the bully is in great health, I personally saw him working on it for more than 3-4 hrs changing shocks, handle bars, bearings, oils, cables, new tubes n all that mechie stuffs as he new I was set all alone to explore Leh – Ladhak from Manali.
Finally I started my first day aha I can say it was noon already in Manali on the very first day that was 8th of Sep, 2013 and started local sight seeing with the Chotu by the way Chotu was my Manali resort room helper and I took him with me to explore Manali and surroundings so that I can venture out and by the way I will get used to bully too.
Started with Hadimba Temple in Manali and then we went to Maharishi Vishishta Mandir and spent some time their and as you guessed I took some time while on the way too for snaps.
Then we reached Nugger and to Naggar Castle and had a wonderful time around and just opposite to the castle went to a coffee shop and spoke to Abhishek Sharma and also had a nice coffee and some good time with his WiFi spot in so remote and wonderful landscape, aha any how I enjoyed a lot of time an clicks rather than usual surfing, it was already too late and just went to resort room in Manali and got settled bit early as next morning I need to be fresh and relaxed to start my journey to Leh in Bully.
Day 2: I planned to start at 5 or 6 but as usual or might be destiny I started at 7 in the morning and was set on the way to Leh keeping the first target Rothang Pass in front of me and all texts I surfed was going behind my head and was bit scary too to cross the Rothang La any how I enjoyed a lot on the way it was amazing stretch of land and it was beautiful like heaven.
I was almost about to reach Rothang Top but eventually I stopped for my tea in Marhi it’s just some miles before the Rothang Top and was about to sip my tea I met the couple of people all set to Leh in their pulsar from Naggar all the way to Leh in one pulsar by the way they are pahadi’s and basically from Naggar his name is Deep.
So by that time I had a team that is my bully and a pulsar having a target to reach Leh, we reached Rothang Top and as usual pics poses and started back on our move and target Leh, by the way I forgot to tell about road condition … It was a wonderful road with fine finished tar from Manali to Rothang top with loads of turns and always uphill but a good stretch and then after the top it was the nightmare as I read in the googled texts their was no road at all on my down hill and bit of slush and a lot of boulders and mud and also BRO was all clearing it too till my way to the very first police check post in Koskar, as usual reported to police and again sipped tea and by that time I was bit hungry too as started without food and I had a local chowmin in the dhabha just opposite to the police out post and then we started towards Tandi.
In between all was about to cross pagal nala water crossing and couple more small stream crossing on the way finally reached to Tandi and was about re fuel the tank to full, even though I just travelled 110 Kms and has almost full tank and other than that I was carrying 5 Ltr of petrol extra in can it was suggested to get the tank refilled in Tandi as their will be no fuel available for next 350 Kms stretch, and that time I stumbled upon few Bangaloreians in couple of bully’s and just had few talk and Then I met with the Jigger a doctor from Gujrat he was also like me all set alone to Leh in his bully, then a retired army person from Delhi all set to go to Leh in his Hero Honda Passion He is just amazing and doing it third time, according to him first he made it to Leh from Delhi in his Chetak way long back in 1979 when Ladhak was just got opened to public any how this was his third time and it was amazing with him.
Again another person Bharath from Delhi all set alone to Leh in his Bully finally it was a group of few bikers initially all started alone and became a group by itself, as all say the Manali to Leh route itself is like that.We reached to Keylong by mid noon and as all of us were planing to reach to Sarchu we were going; It was a bit rough patch all the way from Tandi to Keylong and till Jispa, by the way I came across Ganesh a army man from 18 Gurkha Rifles in Keylong and he was asking me lift till Pitsio a place just before Jing Jing Bar and around 45-50 Kms from Keylong, I gave him a ride and it was nice time talking to him on the way so that I really didn’t felt the road was pathetic till their as I was all excited to know more about him and his regiment and their routine so on ….
Reached Jispa and then to Darcha another police check post and again some clicks and photo clicks so finally the day two was about to end and we didn’t made it to Sarchu as mysterious and always changing dangerous Baralacha La was in front of us and sun was already about to set, so finally I dropped Ganesh in his camp and I got a chance to speak in Kannada with few more kannadigas in that army camp, well that was a good experience and got them handy while coming back.
So in-spite of few people asked us to stay in their camp in Pitsio we started our mission Leh journey back and reached to Jing Jing Bar and was already it was cold and I think I was wearing t-shirt and a shirt and a light woollen sweater and a heavy woollen sweater and a riding jerkin and a rain coat above that even then was feeling bit cold by that time and was getting bit eager to find some dabha to sip tea by the tea I remember always its better to have black tea or if you are not having cough n cold it’s better to have lemon tea if you are able to find one or else it’s better to have black tea rather than usual milk tea.
Then a BRO person at Jing Jing Bar told its another 5 more Kms we will get some dabhas then again left right up and uphill as usual we kept on moving we got the dabha it was Mr. Funsuk and his family were we all decided to stay and call for the day as it will be dangerous to cross the Baralacha La after sun set and we all enjoyed our evening Tea dance and food, …. dinner and so on.
Day 3: A early morning all was planning to start by 6 Am but eventually all got late it was good or even I should have asked to get bit more late but we all started by 7am finally towards Leh and immediately on our way it was cold and scary Baralacha La, first we got Sooraj / Vishaal Tal and we made it through Baralacha La in a killing cold and sub zero temperature as sun was just peeking out by that time and we reached to Killing Sarai and I was not feeling my fingers in hand and was not able to move at all, I almost lost my hand fingers so just removed my riding glows and the woollen glows and I was not surprised why I was not feeling my fingers because it was frost bitten and full dark blue hands with bleeding from nail beds so immediately got into action rubbing and holding a hot tea cup then a aunty from dabha gave Sarson ka tel just to malish my hand as its better temperature resistant and got arms near fire so finally my hand was back and we all started back our journey towards Leh without thinking too much about hand any how my hand was fine aha now I remembered Bharath also got his both legs frost bitten last evening as his foots were wet in Pagal Nala and few other water crossing and also he lost his back pack on the very first day itself and any how he was fine he got recovered in Jing Jing Bar with Karu ka kashay for his cold and fever from Mr Funsuk.
Then we reached to Sarchu another police check post and after entry as usual we all sipped Tea again when we were almost approaching Sarchu met with two more bikers from Kerala Suraj Jose a techi from Mysore and Ajit Jose a Doctor from Thrissur, so our team was growing all the way till Leh but it was more interesting people I met along and it was all good to know about them and also more over was enjoying with them and as all know we all were enjoying the nature and photography.
Again we started from Sarchu so started climbing Gatta Loops and then Nakee La both was having a better road and a very nice picture squee nature, then we climbed down al just to climb back the mighty Lachung La so it was a night mare ride to Paang finally we couple of bikers were early as it was a bad stretch of road with all cold and dry weather sucking water from body so just remember guys even though you are not feeling to drink water keep drinking more and more electrol / ors / electrolyte mixed water regularly and a loat of water just don’t forget other wise you will start feeling head ache and eventually you will start loosing hopes of reaching and then as all say AMS starts kicking inn…
So the couple of us who reached Paang in advance by noon finished our luch in Dhaba at Paang and was waiting for our other bikers so couple of them reached and as they were having lunch other people joined us too and some bikers called for the day but rest of us kept on moving as we came to know the road ahead is good and more over it was just a mid noon ….!
Then I came across a Moor Plain it was wonderfull road and more over just flat plain after a long journey of left right up down up left right and so on high altitude ride it was good to ride back in a plain was almost flying in moor plain, my custom made / configured to ride in high altitude bully was struggling to keep in top gear in top speed as oxygen was bit less than usual regularly was putting a natural break so we have to reduce gear and get than throttle hit again to get it back to top speed any how we enjoyed a lot in moor plain, and reached Debring.
Then our night mare started again from Debring to climb Taglang La and more over their was no road at all and even we new this as told by another biker who was on his way to Manali he told their is no road from Debring till the Taglang La top and then road is fine till Leh but any how it took a long long time for us to climb till the top and it was just the perfect timing and sun was about to set and had some nice time in the top where oxygen was scare and it was windy too so we all set to climb down again and was good road so we made it till Rumtse and was sipping tea again as usual and was again couple of bikers wanted to call for the day as it was already 20 past 6 in the evening but me and other two Kerala bikers wanted to push till Leh on the same day and started,
Then reached to Upshi the last police check post were we need to make entry and we had a wonderful day with amazing experience and also it was a too good landscape and finally was on bed at my resort in Leh after a few talk as their was a mis understanding and a communication gap between my online booking for resort and the actual recipient of booking / agent and the resort so finally all sorted and was on my bed; after some time got a call and came to know other fellas from Rumtse also reached Leh.
And destination Leh, Ladhak reached and it was amazing to ride from Manali to Leh.
Guy’s I will describe my experience in Ladhak.. double humped camel in Hunder sand dumes and surrounding and sub zero temperature and snow fall while I was riding from North Pullu to Kardungla Top and bleeding nostril and a chance to see the Ladhaki wild Blue sheep in wild so on in my next write up … See ya