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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rajasthan - Famous Desert Circuit route - Bikaner-Jaisalmer -Jodhpur-

This one was to be a complete bang-on . After working hard for the entire 2011 , I deserved a complete rejuvenating holiday . And this time I wanted to complete the missing leg of Rajasthan - my current crush state :)

So it was the desert circuit this time -  Bikaner , Jaisalmer and Jodhpur

Bikaner -

The drive to Bikaner , is a good one barring some rough patches of the NH-8. There are a lot of places and heritage property to be seen in and around Bikaner .

Our first stop was - Karni Mata Temple. Yes , this is also called as the Rat Temple . it is situated in the town of Deshnoke 30 km south from Bikaner on the road to Jodhpur. Karni Mata is worshiped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.This temple is famous for rats which can be seen everywhere in the temple. It's conisdered good fortune if you see - a white rat . It's a rare one and the popular belief is that if you see one - you are fortunate .

Havelis - Rajasthan in particular is famous for castles and mahals . But Bikaner is known for havelis.  A must visit is the famous cluster of havelies -Rampuria Havelies. The havelies were built of dulmera [ red ] stone. Exquisite and minute carvings come naturally to both the stones. The patwa havelies have more carvings in the interior also. The Rampuria havelies are decorated with golden work of the highest quality.

One of my old time favourite movie - The Kshtariyas - was shot here. This is the famous - Junagarh Fort . The art and architecture is something which you need to see for yourself .

Laxmi Niwas Palace

In our two days stay  - lunch was - at the Laxmi Niwas Palace . This is something which you can relate to any where in Rajasthan .  A palace turned hotel the aura is simply superb.Red standstone all around it's a sight where you can take your loved ones and enjoy in the beauty of the royals.

Towards our last leg we visited the much hyped - Camel Research Farm, a farm engaged in research on camels. It is located about 8 km from Bikaner city . This is one of its kind institute in India. The farm is complex of stables and enclosures and buildings. One can enjoy camel ride or ice cream made of camel milk [ I tried and it was can try once ;P ]. It is also known as Camel Breeding Farm to the locals.

Lalgarh Palace - The unique thing about this is being built in a tri-state manner incorporating Rajput, Mughal and European architectural styles.Currently, the Lallgarh Palace is owned and the hotel is run by his daughter, Princess Rajyashree Kumari - if you get a chance to meet her you will be taken away by her persona.

Kolayat - Kolayat is a famous pilgrimage spot with a temple dedicated to Muni Kapila who, according to his devotees, sat in meditation near the lake. A divine site.

Jaisalmer -

The very thought of a city inside a fort can make people wonder . The same was the case with me . How is it possible ? Inside a fort , people live, earn a living , shop and dine . This is Jaisalmer  for you .

Jaisalmer Fort

The city in the fort. Our very own Sonar Kella. The land of Bhati Rajputs.Named after Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort is situated on Trikuta Hill. Its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, turning to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. This is a living fort and about a quarter of city's population still live inside the fort. The main attractions inside the fort are: Raj Mahal ,Jain temples and the Laxminath temple.

The second thing Jaisalmer ia famous for are the Haveli's - The main havelis in Jaisalmer are Patwon-ki-Haveli, a wealthy merchant belonging to powerful Oswal Jain community and banker who had over three hundred trading centres from Afghanistan to China. This ornate five-storey complex took fifty years to complete. This is the largest, the most magnificent, and the most elaborate of Jaisalmer havelis.

Other include Salam Singh-ki-Haveli  & Nathmalji-ki-Haveli .

Nearby is the Gadsisar Lake - it is a scenic rainwater lake surrounded by small temples and shrines.Earlier, this lake was used to be the main water source of Jaisalmer.

They say if you don't spend a night at the sand-dunes you don't visit Jaisalmer . A strongly recommended stay is @  SAM DESERT .

About 42 Km from Jaisalmer is the place you will love to be a part of . The camel safari's , the sun-set and sun-rise,the luxury night dance by the Kalbelia dancer's - this is one night you'll never forget . My personal favouite . Make sure you spend a night @ the san-dunes .

Jodhpur  - The blue city or the sun city .
It is also referred to as the "Blue City" due to the blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. Inside the fort is the temple of -  Chamunda Mataji . Crowds throng Mehrangarh during the Dussehra celebrations.There are seven gates, which include Jayapol ,fattehpol . The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention even today.
Within the fort, several brilliantly crafted and decorated palaces are found. One also finds the fort museum comprising several palaces.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, is one of the world's largest private residences. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels this monument has 347 rooms and serves as the principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

It was indeed a royal trip . On way back we stopped over at Jaipur for obvious reasons . A must eat is - Rawat ji ki kachori's . Lip-smacking delgiht . Do make sure at Sam Sand dunes you stay only at RTDC Sam Dhani cottages / huts as it's the best . Most palaces / forts have entry fees and a guide combination . These guys are a must since it's impossible to know and see the entire place all by yourself.Many stretches enroute's these places will give you a drive of a lifetime. Stop over and see the true colors of Rajasthan . Best time to visit is November - February .

There are certain things which I not shared since I don't want the fun to go away . However, in case of any queries / views - you can tweet me via my Twitter handle and I'll help you plan that great escape.