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Rajasthan Yet AgainDelhi - Sambhar lake, Ajmer, Pushkar, Osian (Jodhpur), JaisalmerTotal No of days - 6Dated - Jan 2011

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Vinod Kumar...know more about me

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As an annual affair we started planning a week long vacation during the kids winter vacation, and unanimously decided to visit Rajasthan again to the places not visited and also meet my old buddies one at Pokhran and Bikaner. As my kids vacation will start only from 31st, we planned to start our journey from 3rd Jan and be back by 8 or 9th Jan.

Called up Club Mahindra to enquire details of any new tie ups in Rajasthan as I had news they are in process of a tie-up for Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Sariska. Jaisalmer and Sariska was not yet finalised but of course Jodhpur they had tied up with Camp Thar, Osian. Booked 2 nights for 5 & 6th. We were lucky enough to get bookings.

Now the plan took shape - 3 & 4 - Sambhar lake and Ajmer/Pushkar, 5 and 6 see Jodhpur - 7th for Jaisalmer and stay with my friend at Pokhran, 8th at Bikaner again with my 2nd buddy at Air force station Nal and back by 8th evening.

Day - 1
We started on road trip on Morning by 6 am. Stopped at Highway King around 8.15 am for breakfast. Took a 45 min break. Headed to Sambhar lake, took the Jaipur bypass.

Route taken - After the GVK toll , turn right to PHULERA which is around 20 km before DUDU. Sambhar is 25 kms from NH8. Roads are ok and traffic is Nil.

In case of doubt ask for Sambar town, or ask for Jheel. Once you reach Sambhar town , ask for DADWANA GALI. From here you can directly reach the lake bed. The lake bed was firm. We drove around 12 to 15 kms into the lake. It was a fantastic ride and view. Drove inside the lake for an hour and then return back via State highway 2 to DUDU via Narena.

Reached Dudu by 1 pm. Next target was Ajmer, RTDC Hotel Khadim. Reached by 2.15 pm. Plan was to visit Dargah in the evening and next day to visit Pushkar. Visited the Dargah around 5.30 pm. When we reached, came to know that Dr Abdul Kalam too visited the Dargah an hour before. We were lucky not to visit early as the dargah was closed for general public at that time due to security reasons.

About Dargah - It is advisable not to take your own vehicle near Dargah, Parking is an issue. Park at Hotel and take auto to dargah. Camera not allowed, if you have camera phone, you can take pics with camera phones. I took some shots. Visiting in the evening is better as the area lights up and is very beautiful. There is qawwali also. Spent around 2 hours there. And were back to hotel by 8.30 pm.

Day -2
In the morning we came to know about solar eclipse. Temples were closed till 4 pm. We thought of exploring Ajmer.

Visited Anna Sagar Lake. Nice location and garden with parking facility and en-route to Pushkar.

Started by 11 am. Enjoyed boating and photography. We left Anna Sagar by 3 pm to Pushkar. After around 12 kms we cross a small ghat. For parking you can drive all the to the Brahma temple, which has sufficient parking options. Since the temple was closed, it was crowded and atlast it opened by 4.30 pm. We waited for around 30 to 45 minutes for crowd to subside.

Staying option in Pushkar are many but I think Hotel Navratan Palace is just in front of the temple with ample parking facility and decent restaurant.

Day - 3
Checked out from Hotel Khadim Ajmer by 10 am and next target destination was Osian near Jodhpur which is about 65 kms away. Route planned - Ajmer - Beawar - (NH14) - Barr - NH-112 - Jodhpur - Mandor Road (NH65) - Umednagar - Osian - Thar Camp
Reached Jodhpur by 2 pm and Osian by 3.15 pm.
About Osian - is small town, near Jodhpur popular for Osian Mata mandir/Sanchi Mata mandir and Sand dunes. There 4 to 5 camps around Osian, primarily visited by foreigners. I got booking through Club Mahindra. Standard tariff is Rs 7500/- per couple per night inclusive of all meals. Camel and Jeep safari charges are extra. Accommodation is Excellent but services and food quality is average and limited availability.

We planned to rest and stroll around for the day. Day was pretty warm. May be 18 - 22 degrees. 11am to 4.30 pm one doesn't need heavy woolens. As night falls, it becomes windy and very cold. By 6 pm we all were confined with in the tent. By 7pm traditional rajasthani folk songs and dance started.

Bone-fire was virtually ineffective. We went to the program but came back due to the chilly weather. Dinner was served by 8.30 pm. It was very difficult with kids at the open restaurant. We 4 were freezed and some how finished the dinner and all hopped back to the tent.

Day - 4
Got up late so missed the sun rise view. Planned to vist sand dues, which is around 6 kms from our camp. Visit Wind mill turbines on route to Osian-Nagaur road. Noon Visit Osian mata mandir and finally sun set view.

Sand Dunes In order to find proper sand dunes , one has to travel though kacha roads, SUV / JEEP required, 4 X 4 preferable, a little error you are stuck. (We got royally stuck in the evening when visited for sun set view).

Hotel guys were insisting to take there Jeep as they were advising against taking safari. We all decided against it and took our beast to the dunes. We traveled through sandy tracks maintaining a constant momentum. The tracks were barely drivable, after enquiring with villagers, they guided the way to dunes. Villagers were helpful, but little difficult to understand their accent. Finally after 40 minutes drive we reached the destination.Parked the safari before dunes and we walked to it. Spend around 2 hours. Kids enjoyed most.

Visit Wind Mill near Osian
There are 170 ft tall mills around 12 kms from the camp. Kids were very interested to see.These were really very huge. I had an interaction with the engineer. The Osian town is being lighted by these mills.

Sachayee Mata Mandir - Osian
This temple is worshipped by both Jains and Hindus was constructed in 12 century. Sacheyee is an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Also knows as Osyan mata mandir.

There is also Jain temple at the western outskirts of Osian village. We did not get time to vist the jain temple. Sun Set View at Osian. By 4.30 pm we were back to our camp from mata temple. Rested for an hour. Sun set view was near around 3 kms. if setoff by 5.30 am.

Day 5 Check out from Camp Thar Osian. Our next destination was Jaisalmer. It was around 250 kms. Route Taken - State highway 61 - Osian - Lohawat - Lordian - Phalodi - (NH-15) Pokhran - Jaisalmer.

Started by 10 am. State high way 61 is ok. Near Lohawat a stretch of 10 km is very narrow. Occasional bad patch. Traffic is thin. NH-15 is a treat to drive. We were at Jaisalmer by 12.50pm.

First to visit was Gadi Sagar Lake, which is just at the entrance of Jaisalmer. There is also a Tourist info center too. Gadi sagar lake is a rain water lake and is one of the primary source for water supply for the city. Boating was there by we just strolled around. Kids wanted to have a shahi ride. Spent around 40 minutes.

Jaisalmer Fort
The fort is just 2 kms from Gadi Sagar lake. Limited parking is available. There wasn't much of crowd , got parking easily.

Few fact about the fort
Also know as Sonar Quila. it is one of the largest forts in the world and is a living fort with over 25% of population living within the fort itself. There are as many as 25 hotels with in the fort. Jaisalmer is also know as Golden city. Was built in 1156.

Jaisalmer Fort has four gates Akhai Pol, Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol and Hawa Pol. Hawa pol leads to Dussehra Chowk. Spent around 1.5 hrs strolling around. After crossing Hawa pol we reached Dussehra chowk. This is were the king used to address the praja during festival time. From there we went to see the Jain temple. After that we went to the city view point. The fort offers a fantastic view of the golden city. After that strolled around different galies.

While strolling we found an interesting small shop called Light of East who as some exotic collection of crystals, stones and mineral called zeolite. He also showed a fossil shell (Shunk), An amber piece which had a mosquito inside just like in picture Jurassic park. Many other type of stones don't remember names. Post lunch we went to our last destination in city - The Havelis. I had heard about Patwon haveli. There are many havelis but prominent are Nathmalji's, Salim Singh and Patwon ki havelis. Hired an auto from dussera chowk to visit Patwon haveli. It was built by Guman Chand Patwa, one of the richest merchants in Jaisalmer. It has five adjoining mansions too and there are 66 balconies. Saw it from outside.

After the Havelis, we headed to Sam. It is around 45kms from the city. We started off by 3.30 pm. It took around 1 hr to reach Sam. We had to pay an entry tax of Rs 30/-. Jaisalmer - Sam can be easily done in 30 - 40 minutes. There is a good traffic movement to Sam post noon. Midway to Sam we saw some tourist enjoying jeep towed parasailing. Stopped around 10 minutes to see the activity.

Reached Sam by 4.30 pm. Was already crowded. Lots of tourist were already traveling on camels to dune tops. Sam is now fully commercialized. hotels, tents, camps, restaurants, camel carts, dancers, musicians and what not. The place is dirty. Seeing the crowd we drive 3-4kms ahead of Sam. Kids wanted to have camel drive, so we came back and negotiated a camel cart. it started with Rs 300 to drop to nearby dues and for full engagement till sunset with extended drive around wanted Rs 2500.

Negotiated hard and finally closed the deal for Rs 900/-. I was nice to be away from the crowded dues. Kids enjoyed thoroughly. Some more shots from dunes. We thoroughly enjoyed the Sam and the cart ride plus the sun set for 2.5 hrs. Buy 6.30 pm we are back.

Summary of Sam - is do not take a deal at Jaisalmer. it will be very expensive instead come little early say 4 pm and stuck a deal here. Even if you wanna stay at sam, there are plenty of options. One more observation we saw lot of Jeeps bringing Foreign tourist and others too. Coming in day is OK but going back on an open jeep will be chilly at nights especially at with kids.

We started from Sam by 6.50 and were are Pokhran by 8.10 pm. It was chilly there. Next day morning we left by 11.30 am from Pokhran. Since the fog condition was bad in Delhi we decided to drive as much as possible instead of halting at Bikaner. br>
NH15 is bliss to drive. We hit Bikaner by 2 pm and continued our journey back to Delhi.

Route planned a shorter one -

Road upto FATHEPUR is good. After fathepur we took internal road via Mandawa to Jhunjhunu. Roads at times were bad and narrow. Reached Jhunjhunu by 6.30 pm. Lohru by 8pm and Dadri by 9.30 pm. After dadri fog came to play were progress was slow. Reached Delhi by 11.30 pm.

The only advantage of this route is short by 110 kms. This bring the to an end of log. Total distance traveled - 1910 kms.

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