A first of any kind of experience is always excellent isn’t it? And a road trip is one that has been on my bucket list for way too long. After months of planning, brainstorming on where to go, we finally decided to do a road-trip in Rajasthan in December 2015.
Since we were crunched for time, we had only 7 days and had a limitation of dropping the car back where we started, we decided to do only one half of Rajasthan and since Udaipur was a must do for me, we settled on the southern half of Rajasthan (Since one blog post might be too big to capture the trip in entirety, the same has been split in two, https://shwetravelogues.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/rajasthan-road-trip-leg-2-of-2/)
We landed in Jaipur early Saturday morning and headed straight to pick our car, got some breakfast enroute the highway and made our way to Jodhpur. On the way we had planned to stop at Ajmer and Pushkar. It took us about two and a half hours to reach Ajmer (Detailed maps on route below). Ajmer is one of the Heritage sites identified to be preserved under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana. Famous for the shrine of the revered Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chisti who established the Chisti Chapter of Sufisim in the Indian subcontinent and followed by various Mughal Emperors. While the streets were narrow and the parking spots shady, the Dargah Sharif as it is commonly known lived up to its fame. It was an emotion emanating from those white marbles and the structure. While women were not allowed to enter the main shrine, we got a good view from nearby.
Soon we were off to get back on the road again, this time for a short duration of 30 minutes to make our way to Pushkar, famous for one of the very few places in the world where Lord Brahma is worshipped. We reached there sometime around noon and made our way to the temple which turned out to be closed till 3 pm. We decided to take a break, take a guide and go around the temple and come to the shrine at the very end.
The town though small has a very interesting history to its name. The place Pushkar was one of the places rescued by Lord Brahma from demons and he had to perform a yagna (or a peace offering) to continue protecting the place from further harm. However, his first wife Savithri was late and they had to begin the yagna before she could come in with another commoner present in the crowd. The angry Savitri on reaching the site of yagna cursed Brahma that he would never be worshipped by humans elsewhere and even in Pushkar, offerings would be made only to the lake or the Utsav Murthy ( the idol used for demonstration and marches in Indian Temples. It is common tradition to keep two moorthys in every main temple) and the lake would be worshipped more than the idol, and so it was for centuries and centuries going forward. Well, you now have another reference point on why you should never mess with a woman!
The guide sharing the history then forced us into doing a Pooja we had no idea about, so if you’re approached on anything you’re not too sure the better way out would be to refuse outright. The water by the Brahma temple was pristine clear and blue. We then went to the shrine and had darshan of the holy temple.
We were back on the road again and headed straight to Jodhpur. Please be wary of Google maps here, they usually have a nasty habit of redirecting you to State Highways which take longer as the roads are narrow, better to stick to National Highways (Routes shown below again)
Varying landscapes between Pushkar and Jodhpur
While reaching Jodhpur was no trouble at all, finding the hotel turned out to be such a menace. We had made our reservations at the Bal Samand Lake Palace via goibibo.com and we were close to dead by the time we actually found the hotel. The hotel, however proved worthy of the efforts taken in finding it. It was a heritage palace converted into a hotel and grand was short of words to that place. The cottage we had booked was beautifully and aesthetically done. It made you feel like royalty and somehow in comfort while doing that. Since we were exhausted by the time we reached, we decided to call it a day and decided to explore the palace grounds next day before heading out.
Our excitement knew no bounds as we woke up and rush out to explore the palace. It’s a little chilly in the mornings and late at night, however at no time is it anything more than manageable/pleasant. We quickly grabbed some breakfast and coffee at the royal restaurant that was set up to look exactly like a king’s dining room and walked out and my, my ! did the night do no justice to the palace. The grounds were huge, with lush green gardens, small rivulets and bridges not to mention overlooking the Bal Samand Lake from which it derives its name. It was grandeur personified. When we got too tired of walking around the palace grounds, we decided to take our car out and just explore how huge the place actually was and guess what, we had to stop our car at points to let peacocks cross the driveway (No, i am not kidding!)
Once we were done ogling at the palace, we headed out to make our way to the Mehrangarh fort. If we thought Bal Samand was huge, Mehrangarh left me speechless, the sheer gigantic structure of the fort and the construction high up the city made it formidable a forts go. Built in the late 1400s it is said to be built on a cliff 400 feet above surrounding city and like all other fort stories there were tales of victory and defeat echoing in the walls of the fort. The intricacies in the architecture were elaborate and reminded you of eras gone by, they had palanquins stored from those days, paintings, carpets, armoury preserved intact. The view of the city from the fort is astounding. Interestingly, before heading out to Jodhpur, I had read that the city got its name of “Blue City” from the lines of blue houses you can spot from the view outside Mehrangarh. I must warn you, there are blue houses but not as many as they portray in Google Images, they are far and few in between, but well, we were not asked to name the city!
Links to hotels: https://www.goibibo.com/hotels/welcomheritage-bal-samand-lake-palace-hotel-in-jodhpur-65506633606282738/
Routes From Jaipur to Ajmer, Ajmer to Pushkar and Pushkar to Jodhpur Below