Plan a road trip to Rajasthan, the land of rich culture, heritage and monuments…..
Rajasthan, the north western part of India comprising the Thar Desert (or the Great Indian Desert’) shares border with Pakistan provinces along the Sutlej — Indus river valley. Five Indian States viz Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh borders this State which came into existence on 30th March, 1949.
Rajasthan is most sought after destination, both by the Indians as well as the Foreigners. Its capital, Jaipur forms part of the Golden triangle, the other two being Agra and Delhi. Besides Jaipur (the Pink city) the other important towns of Rajasthan are Udaipur (the city of lakes), Jaisalmer (the Golden city) and Jodhpur(the Blue city).
So, a road trip to Rajasthan can always be a of excitement. Starting from Patna — the Udaipur — Jaisalmer — Jodhpur trip can be planned at one go adding destinations of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to make it a circular one.
The fortnight road trip can be planned in following manner: Patna (Bihar)– Rewa — Sanchi (M.P.) — Udaipur — Jodhpur — Jaisalmer — Ajmer (Rajasthan) — Agra — Lucknow (U.P.) — Patna.
Stage I — PATNA — SANCHI — UDAIPUR ..(around 1500 km)
The total distance from Patna to Udaipur via Sanchi is around 1500 km including a day halt at Sanchi. There is another shorter route via Kanpur — Jhansi but driving through Madhya Pradesh have twin benefits- lesser traffic and a visit to the World Heritage site — the Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi.
Day 1 — Patna to Rewa via Allahabad — (490 km)
Patna to Rewa can be travelled through two routes — via Allahabad or Mirzapur. However, as some stretches between Mirzapur and Rewa is under construction and not in good shape, it is preferable to take the Allahabad route.
The road route from Patna is through Bihta — Koilwar bridge to Arrah and NH 319 up to Mohania (NH 19) followed by Varanasi and then Bhadohi. Leaving NH 19 and taking the 40KM State highways lead us to Allahabad.
Once at Allahabad, take the new Naini bridge and take NH 30 to reach Rewa. The entire distance from Patna to Rewa can be covered in 11–12 hours with two three breaks at regular intervals.
Day 2 — Rewa to Sanchi — ( 450 km )
Starting early from Rewa, the route to Sanchi is on the same NH 30 for the next 130 km crossing Maihar and Katni in the process. The NH 30 four lane toll road is in excellent condition and with scarce traffic, this stretch can be covered in two and half hours.
From Katni outskirts, leaving NH 30 one moves on the MP SH 14 for Damoh which later joins on NH 146. Sagar also comes on way to Sanchi. This stretch of 450 km can be covered in 9–10 hours with 2- 3 breaks near Katni outskirts, Damoh and Sagar.
Day 3 — Sanchi — Relaxing time..
After two driving days and 1000 km later, it is important to give a break both to the body and to the car and Sanchi is the perfect place for that. Sanchi is the birth and marriage place of Queen Devi, wife of the Mauryan King Ashoka. Both of them took number of steps to develop Sanchi and its surrounding as Buddhist places.
Sanchi stupa — the UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the oldest stone structure in India dating back to the reign of Emperor Ashoka (3rd Century BC). It is a hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of Buddha. The construction work was done under the supervision of Emperor Ashoka and his wife Devi. Later, construction of the series of monuments continued during the Gupta period. The Stupa no.1 built during the Mauryan period is the oldest and largest monument. These monuments in Sanchi are probably the best preserved monuments in India.
Udaygiri caves are rock cut caves associated with the Gupta reign. Udaygiri hills and caves are amongst the protected monuments under the A.S.I.
The Heilodorus Pillar, also known as the ‘Garuda’ after the deity ‘Garuda’ was named after Heliodorus, the Ambassador to the Indo — Greek King Antialcidas of Taxila. The pillar symbolizes earth, space and heaven.
The other places of interest are the Great Bowl, the Ashokan Pillar, the Sanchi Museum, the Eastern Gateway etc.
Day 4 — Sanchi — Udaipur — (575 km)..
Sanchi — Udaipur distance is around 600 km and as such it is important to leave the city early. The route from Sanchi to Udaipur starts on the same NH 146. After reaching Bhopal outskirts, move on the NH 46 to join the Sehore bypass MP SH 18. At 140 km (from Sanchi)is the MPT Highway Treat, Dodi, a perfect place to relax/ have tea, breakfast or lunch, depending upon the time one reaches there.
After Dodi, comes the Dewas bypass and then continue to cross the Ujjain bypass (the Ring road) covering altogether 235 km from Sanchi. Later, move on the MP SH 17 towards Jaora (344km) and then on the NH 31 route towards Mandsaur (390 km). Another break can be taken at the MPT Highway Treat, Mandsaur.
Leaving Mandsaur, the first destination will be Neemuch on NH 31 and soon the car will enter Rajasthan, the first town being Nimbahera (470 km from Sanchi in the Chittorgarh district).However, once in Rajasthan, the next 100 km movement will be with heavy traffic on the RJ SH 11 A/ NH 27 towards Mangalwad, Bhatewar and Dabok. Finally, after travelling for about 14 hours comes Udaipur, the beautiful city of lakes.
Day 5–6 — Udaipur — the city of lakes
Udaipur, the city of series of artificial lakes was founded in 1559 by Rana Udai Singh II, the ruler of Mewar when he decided to shift his capital from Chittorgarh. It remained the capital till 1818 when the ruler accepted the suzerainty of the British Empire.
Post Independence, it became part of the State of Rajasthan. The city surrounded by the Aravali range was dubbed as the ‘most romantic spot on the continent of India’ by James Tod, an Army Officer of the British East India Company and author of ‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan’.
There are dozen of places in Udaipur to be visited which can be divided accordingly in two days. The important amongst them are : Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, City Palace, Jagdish Temple, Maharana Pratap Memorial, Saheliyon ki Bari, Gulab Bagh, Vintage Car Museum, Bagore ki Haveli etc.
Lake Pichola is an artificial lake that was created in the year 1362 by the Picchu Banjara during the period of Maharana Lakha. It was created to meet the diminishing water and for the irrigation purposes. Later Maharana Udai Singh II impressed upon its beauty founded the city of Udaipur. This pristine lake is enveloped by the Hills, Palaces, temples and bathing ghats. Boat ride is available at this place.
City Palace is located near the Lake Pichola. The City Palace construction was started during the period of Maharana Udai Singh II and continued by the subsequent rulers for the next 400 years. The grandeur of the then rulers can be seen in the Palace.
Jagdish Mandir too is closer to the City Palace. Built in 1651 and originally called Jagannath Rai temple, the sanctum sanctorum has idol of Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna). It was built by Maharana Jagdish Singh.
Bagore ki haveli was built in 18th century by the Prime Minister of Mewar, Amar Chand Badwa. It was later taken over and turned into a Museum where amongst other the folk dance and puppet show can also be witnessed.
Other sites closer to the City Palace and Jagdish Temple are the Gulab Bagh and the Vintage Car Museum. Gulab Bagh spread in acres can be visited for relaxation while just closer to it, the Vintage Car Museum showcase old royal cars. There is also a garden restaurant inside the Museum providing vegetarian ‘thali’.
Fateh Sagar Lake was built in the year 1680 and later named after Maharana Fateh Singh. It also has Nehru Garden, Udaipur Solar Observatory built in 1976 by Dr. Arvind Bhatnagar on its separate islands.
Just opposite the Fateh Sagar Lake and on the top of the Moti Magri or Pearl Hill is the Maharana Pratap Memorial, built in the 18th century and has life size bronze statue of Maharana Pratap and his faithful horse, Chetak. It has big collection of paintings depicting the rich history of Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh. The timing is 9 AM to 6 PM with ticket entry. One must watch the light and sound show in the evening.
The Udaipur city was surrounded by walls with several gates known as Udaipole, Surajpole, Chandpole, Hathipole, Ambapole, Brahmapole etc. Hathipole is the place where people go for shopping. Then there are lots of circles i.e. the Sukhadia circle, named after the ex CM of Rajasthan, the Chetak circle, the Shastri circle etc.
Udaipur city is well connected with the air, rail and road route. Maharana Pratap Airport, the Udaipur Railway Station and the Udaipur Bus Stand are there for the use of the tourists. Nearby destinations people would like to visit are the Nathdwara temple, the Eklingji temple and the Haldighati.
STAGE II — UDAIPUR — JODHPUR — JAISALMER — AJMER-(1030KM)
DAY 7- UDAIPUR — JODHPUR (250KM)
After two relaxed days, time to move out from the city of lakes to the Blue city @ Jodhpur, around 250 km away. The route to Jodhpur is through the Sukher Road on to the NH 58 for 71 km before leaving the National Highway at Kerinji ka Khera Bus stand near Parasli towards the RJ SH 16 moving through Desuri towards the NH 162 Ext. for the 15 km.
Thereafter move on to the RJ SH 67 through Narlai for next 39 km. Later move on to NH 62 and after crossing Mandia — Rohat, continue for 23 km. A tea break can be done on the Pali — Jodhpur bypass. Thereafter move further to 65 km reaching Jodhpur comfortably in 5–6 hours.
Day 8 — Jodhpur — the blue city
If in Jodhpur, must go out of the hotel and taste the delicacies of the city. This includes the ‘Shahi Samosa’, the ‘Kachori’, ‘Dal — Bati’ and of course the sweets. All these delicacies can be tested at the old Bazar, where also situated is the famous Clock Tower.
Mehrangarh Fort was constructed in the 15th century by Rao Jodha as capital of Marwar. It too has number of gates like Udaipur. Jayapole was built to commemorate victory over Jaipur and Bikaner. The entry time to the Fort is from 9 AM to 5 PM. A museum is also there in the Fort with ticket entry. From the top of the Fort, the entire city can be seen.
Close to the Mehrangarh Fort is the Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph(an empty tomb or monument erected in honour of a person) built in 1899 by Sardar Singh in the memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Built of polished marbles, it glows once sunlight falls on it.
Then there is Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park created in 2006 and opened in 2011 mainly to restore the natural ecology of the rock area. There are four trails, red, blue, green and yellow to be used by the visitors beside the plant nursery, a shop and also a café.
Mandore Garden is situated in Mandore, 10 km from Jodhpur which was once the capital of Pratiharas. It is also said that ‘Mandodari’, wife of King Ravana belonged to this place and a Ravana temple exist here. Rao Jodha shifted his capital from this place to Mehrangarh Fort in 1459. The beautiful garden is treat to eyes. Being close to Thar Desert, the days are hot and it is advisable to use umbrella and shades as also sun cream while in city. It has ticket entry and can be visited between 8 AM to 8 PM.
On way to the Mandore (5 Km from Jodhpur) is the Bal Samand Lake, built in 1159 by the Gurjara — Pratiharas as water reservoir to provide water to Mandore. It has ticketless entry and remains open for visitors from 6 AM to 8 PM.
Also visiting place is the Mahamandir. Built in 1812, it is supported by 84 pillars, decorated with frescos and carvings.
Evening time should again be kept aside for visiting the Clock Tower/ Old Bazar to taste the local food of Jodhpur.
DAY 9 — JODHPUR — JAISALMER (280 KM)
Time to leave Jodhpur for a new city, Jaisalmer. The total road distance is around 280 km and the route is through the Chopasani Road to the NH 125 for next 70 km crossing the Dera — Jodhpur Road. Another 50 km and then slight left towards the Jaisalmer — Jodhpur Road to move on the next 38 km on the NH 125.After 11 km, the NH 125 merges on the NH 11. Continue for the next 100 km to reach the Golden city. It is important to make some small halts on this beautiful route to take snaps of the area.
DAY — 10–11 — Jaisalmer — The Golden city
Of the two days stay at Jaisalmer, one day should be spared for the Sam Sand Dunes i.e. the Desert Safari, located 45 km away from the city. Most of the Desert Camp allow entry at 3 PM and departure time 9 AM next day. The tariff includes dinner and next morning breakfast. Other activities that is included in the tariff is the evening musical programme. For moving ahead to watch the sunset/ sunrise, camel/ Gypsy are available on payment.
On the first day — explore the town
1. Jaisalmer Fort — Built in 1156 AD by Rawal Jaisal, this yellow sandstone fort turns golden as the sun sets and thus is also called the Golden Fort. The fort stands on the Trikuta hills and can be seen from several miles. It was declared the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE in the year 2013.
Jaisalmer was part of the Silk Route and thus was strategically very important place. However, emergence of maritime trade and later partition of the country led to closure of the Silk route and the city slowly got faded. The entry to the Fort is free.
2. Jain Temples — built of yellow sandstones inside the Fort between 12th -16th century, the temples have more than 600 idols of old scriptures.
3. Laxminath temple — a temple dedicated to the Goddess Laxmi and God Vishnu is also inside the Fort.
4. Bada Bagh (Big Garden) — it is better to walk in the morning when the area is cool and visitors are less. The ruler of the Jaisalmer had built a dam to create water tank at the site. Due to the presence of lake, this garden blossoms in the middle of a desert. Number of cenotaphs are there built by the rulers in the memory of their respective fathers. It has ticket entry and a good place to relax.
5. Gadi Sagar Lake — an artificial lake built by Rawal Jaisal in 1156, it was only source of water for the Jaisalmer city. Now the lake always have plenty of water as it has been connected with the Indira Gandhi Canal (the 445 Km stretch longest irrigation canal in the world that supplies water to Punjab, Haryana and part of Rajasthan).
In the evening, move around the city area and taste some local delicacies. It is also preferable to have dinner in any of the rooftop restaurants to have the view of the city during the night.
On the second day-
Around noon time and after the lunch, check out of the hotel and move towards the Sam Sand Dunes, 45 km away from the town to check-in the pre booked safari camp. When going to the Safari Camps, it is important to keep in mind the hot sun during the daytime as also chilling wind in the night. So, essentials are necessary for the protection. Plenty of water bottles are must.
The things to do at the Desert camp — Camel/ Jeep safari in the evening to witness the sunset and the early morning safari during the sunrise. As said, the camps also organize musical evening and bonfire for its guests which as per the review are enthralling.
DAY 12 — JAISALMER — AJMER ( 500 KM)
The trio city witnessed, another drive towards Ajmer, 500 km away and time that may take is around ten hours. Leaving the desert camp after breakfast in the morning will allow one to reach Ajmer safely by 7 PM.
The route to Ajmer up to 280 km is the same, i.e. through the Jodhpur Road via NH 11/ NH 125. After Jodhpur, the NH 162 Extension is to be taken for the next 44 km followed by the NH 162 for the next 70 km. Near Beawar, move on to NH 58 for 76 km on the Jodhpur — Jaipur NH and then take the Ajmer bypass to enter the Ajmer city. Break for lunch can be taken at or around Jodhpur and then tea break can be taken near Beawar.
DAY 13 — Ajmer -
Ajmer is famous for the Dargah Sharif, the tomb of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti built by the Mughals in the 13th Century. It is visited by the people of almost all faiths to get their prayers answered.
Close to the Dargah Sharif is the Adhai Din ka Jhopda. The 18th Century ‘Urs’ festival was organized for two and half days and probably this structure got the name for the same.
Nearer the ‘Adhai din ka jhopda’ is the Taragarh Fort, built by the founder of Ajmer, Ajaipal Chauhan. It is built on the steep side of the hills, it also has a shrine named Miran Saheb ka Dargah.
Anasagar Lake — very few people know about this beautiful scenic lake situated in Ajmer. It was built in the 12th century AD by the grandfather of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Arnoraj who was also known as Anaji. Open from 8 AM to 8 PM, this lake offers boat riding and water scooter riding.
Beside the Anasagar Lake lies the ‘Baradari’- the white marble pavilions built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1637 for the beautification of the Anasagar Lake. It has a huge garden where some quality time can be spent.
Nareli Jain Temple- built of marble, the temple has 24 smaller temples inside it dedicated to the 24 Tithankaras. This temple is situated at a beautiful place and open during the daytime.
Prithvi Raj Smarak — the black stone statue of the King Prithivi Raj Chauhan, the ruler of Delhi and Ajmer sitting on the horse is located on the hilltop with a beautiful garden surrounding it.
Akbar’s Palace and Museum — Mughal Emperor Akbar, who was regular to Ajmer built this palace inside which is black marble idol of Goddess Kali. It is now a Museum, open on all day between 10 AM to 5 PM excluding Monday.
The Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower — Located just opposite the Ajmer Railway Station is the Clock Tower built by the Britishers in 1887 to commemorate the golden jubilee anniversary of the Queen Victoria.
10 km from the Anasagar Lake lies Pushkar with bathing ghats and is revered both by the Hindus and the Sikhs; there is a Govind Ghat too. A Brahma temple is situated in Pushkar dedicated to God Brahma.
STAGE III — AJMER — LUCKNOW — PATNA (1250 KM)
DAY 14 — AJMER — AGRA — LUCKNOW (700 KM)
Time for return journey. The route from Ajmer to Lucknow is Ajmer — Jaipur — Fatehpur Sikri — Agra — Lucknow
The time that may take on this 700 km route is between 12 to 13 hours with at least two — three breaks for lunch and tea/refreshment/relaxation. The distance between Ajmer to Agra via Jaipur is around 370 km while from Agra to Lucknow its 330 km. In case of any delay in departure from Ajmer, Agra can also be an option for the stay. For reaching Lucknow, one has to leave Ajmer at an earliest.
From Ajmer, take the NH 448 for 30 km and then the NH 48 — the Ajmer — Jaipur Expressway for around 100km. After reaching Jaipur, take any road towards the NH 21 for the next 200 km towards the Fatehpur Sikri crossing the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in the process, where break can also be taken.
While in Agra, can quickly get some local ‘pethas’ packed before taking on the Agra — Lucknow Expressway for the next 300 km. Time on the expressway may be close to 5 hours. Mid break can be taken on the Expressway restaurant.
DAY — 15 — Lucknow —
After driving for around 700 km, it is better to have some relaxing moments at the ‘Nawabon ke shahar’. Not much to be done. After leisurely taken breakfast, Hajratgunj area can be visited. If interested in embroidered saree, Meena Bazar is good option. Also time to have some good food at the capital city. In the evening ‘Gomti’ front can be visited.
DAY 16 — LUCKNOW — PATNA ( 540 KM)
The last day of a fortnight trip. It is again better to leave early as Patna is situated at least 100 km away from the NH 27 and one has to criss cross the local towns after leaving the National Highway at Mohammadapur to reach Patna. As one moves through Lohia Path towards Faizabad on NH 28/NH27 (the East West Corridor), Gorakhpur comes at around 250 km. From Gorakhpur highway, has to take right turn to continue on the NH 27. Can consider taking the second halt at Kushinagar, the place where ‘Buddha’ took ‘Mahaparinirvana’. It is on the NH 27 itself, around 75 km from Gorakhpur.
After leaving Kushinagar, the car soon enters Bihar. At Mohammadpur, has to leave the NH 27 and move on the NH 331 and then to SH 90 crossing Taraiya, Amnour, Jalalpur towards the Wheel Factory Road. Later to take the NH 31 for a brief period before taking the Digha — Pahleza J.P. Setu to reach Patna.
The trip finally comes to an end covering Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the process. Although it’s a 16 days tour, depending upon one’s movement and desire to cover more than 500 km, it can be shortened to some extent. Also, for a shorter trip, the Jodhpur — Jaisalmer stretch can be skipped covering only the Sanchi — Udaipur — Ajmer — Lucknow at one go.
However, taking Udaipur — Jodhpur and Jaisalmer will be the best option to explore Rajasthan. It will also bring freshness in one’s life completely halted by the successive COVID waves. However, all through the trip, it is essential to keep in mind of using a mask and maintain social distance to the best possible level. Finally, the last sentence: pack the bag and move, happy journey.