16/12: Depart from Bangalore by Jodhpur Express at night. (This is because we wanted to do a long train journey 🙂 )
18/12: Reached Jodhpur.
20/12: Leave Jodhpur in the night train to Jaisalmer (11 PM)
22/12: Leave for Jodhpur by night train (11 PM)
23/12: Leave for Udaipur by afternoon flight (30 mins). There is no direct flight/train from Jaisalmer to Udaipur.Other option is to travel by road from Jaisalmer to Udaipur which we avoided, to save time.
24,25,26,27/12 – Udaipur
28/12 – Leave Udaipur for Chennai
Selection of Hotels/havelis:
First done by referring to http://www.tripadvisor.in for hotel/haveli reviews and ratings. Also searched the internet for more info on these hotels.
Wrote to the hotels directly asking information on rates/availability. They generally ask for one night stay as advance and they are very prompt in replying. Almost all hotels have a strict policy of checkin/out time of 10 AM.
Hotels we stayed in:
Look for our reviews on these hotels that we have posted in http://www.tripadvisor.in/. Reviews posted under the id ‘kcharan’.
19/12: Jodhpur: Mehrangarh Fort and Jaswanth Thada – both near to each other. The fort is walkable distance from the old city.Needs half a day. Evening was for shopping. Dont forget to visit Mishrilal Hotel near the clock tower for its wonderful makhaniya lassi and rabdi.
20/12: Morning visited Umaid Bhavan Palace. May need around 2 hours. Mandore garden is also an option to visit after the Palace, but it is not very well maintained and was pretty deserted when we went in the morning. Also the locals advise not to go there during the late evenings with families bec of anti-social elements present there. Both Umaid Palace and Mandore garden can be done together since both are a little away from the city. Its better to take the same auto to both instead of hiring an auto at Umaid Bhavan, the rates will be of palace standards. 🙂
Inside Umaid Bhavan Palace
Umaid Bhavan Palace
21/12: train from jodhpur reaches at 5 AM and it is extremely cold at that time. Visited the Gadsisar lake and the havelis in the morning.
Afternoon 2:30 PM was the time to start for the desert safari. We travelled upto the desert tents by jeep. On the way to the desert safari you get to see the Bada Bagh (cenotaphs of the royals in sandstone) and a Jain temple. Reach the desert around 5 PM after visiting these places. Were alloted a tent in the camp and after some refreshing got onto the camels. One camel per adult, child has to share the camel with an adult. Camel ride is approx for about 30-40 mins (longer if you want it), they take you to the ‘sunset’ point where you can spend some time in the dunes and watch the sunset. After that you return to the base camp in the camels. This is followed by some entertainment programmes by Rajasthani traditional dancers/musicians along with light snacks. After this is dinner watching the dances, and you retire to your tents. Once at your tents in the night, do not forget to come out and watch the sky. The night sky is ‘amazing’! You’ll never see such a thing in the city. Though the tent had canvas doors, we never felt lonely/ scared at any time in the night. They provided us with electric rechargeable lanterns that we could have during the night. The lights are switched off by 11 PM. We went in December and the weather was definitely cold. However, we could do with thermals, sweaters and razais. The razais that they give are excellent too. Make sure you take something to cover the ears. The weather gets cold and the outdoor dinner might get chilly.
One of the many old Havelis in Jaisalmer
camels in the thar desert
22/12: Woke up in the morning to see a wonderful sunrise from the tents itself. You have an option of asking for another camel ride in the morning if you want. This is followed by breakfast and then you return to Jaisalmer in jeep, takes about 45 mins to 1 hour to reach Jaisalmer.In Jaisalmer had time to see the fort. There are many people living inside the fort wall, houses and shops etc. Take the audio guide here too, though the fort is not as good as the Jodhpur one, atleast the portion we are shown was not so good. Visit to the fort and the shops inside it can take you between 2-4 hours.
Also, while in Jaisalmer, try not to take a hotel that is inside the fort. The numerous hotels and houses inside the fort are actually damaging the structure of the fort! The fort was not meant to withstand so much water and now all this water from houses and hotels is ending up damaging the structure of the fort. So please do your bit to save the fort by not taking a hotel inside it. 🙂
After the fort, we saw the puppet show in the ‘Desert Cultural Center’ in Jaisalmer town (outside the fort). Night train back to Jodhpur at 11 PM.
sunrise from our tent
Jaisalmer Fort panoramic view
23/12: Reached Jodhpur at 5 AM. Took a hotel near to the railway station. We took Govind Hotel since we had read about it on the internet (tripadvisor). Anyway this was only for a few hours. Had some time in the morning for some shopping. Left in the afternoon to the airport which is very close by. It took us around 15-20 mins to reach the airport from our hotel near the Rly station, by auto. The flight to Udaipur is only about 30 mins.
Reached Udaipur and went to our haveli that is in the old city, very close to the Lake Pichola. The view from the terrace restaurant (of most hotels in that area) is excellent, with a view of the Lake pichola and the Lake palace in the middle of it.The area around the hotel is the old city which is completely tourist dominated, all shops are completely tourist friendly! Unless completely tempted , do not shop in this area as the prices are crazy. Do not miss Jagadish Mandir in the old city, especially during the arati time around 6:30-7:00 PM followed by bhajans. It is quite an experience.
Also make it a point to visit the Rajasthani dance/music show from 7-8 PM held in Bagore Ki Haveli. This is an excellent programme not to be missed.
One day trip options from Udaipur are as below. Taxi costed Rs 1500 for each of these day trips.
1. Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur
2. Eklingji, Nathdwara and Haldighati.
3. Chittorgarh Fort.
24/12: Went to Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur. Take a taxi from the hotel. Kumbalgarh is around 1.5 hrs from Udaipur, a magnificient old fort. There is no audio guide unfortunately here, we didnt find regular guides also, our taxt driver doubled up as a guide, so not sure how much much he told us is actually true!
Ranakpur is again around an hour from Kumbalgarh. Here is an old Jain temple fully made of marble. The carvings on the pillars and the ceilings are very nice. We returned back to Udaipur in the evening. Inside Udaipur we visited a tourist spot called ‘Sahelion ki Badi’ which is a garden used by the royal family in olden times. Pretty well maintained garden, worth a visit.
Ranakpur Jain Temple
Roof carving inside Ranakpur Temple
25/12: First went to Eklingji which is on the way to Nathdwara. This is a very old Shiva temple worth visiting. The temple has 108 shrines inside and looks amazing. There are some specific darshan times when the temple is actually open, so please verify the times before going. Don’t be put off if you find long queues in the temple. It moves very quickly. Went to Nathdwara from here which is very close by.
Nathdwara temple is usually very crowded with very less crowd management! Nevertheless it is a temple worth visiting. Lord Krishna looks very cute! 🙂
From here we went to Haldighati which is the battle ground of Rana Pratap and Akbar/ManSingh. This also has the samadhi of the brave horse ‘Chetak’. Visited the Rana Pratap museum that also has a ‘sound and light’ show. After Haldighati returned back to Udaipur.
Samadhi of Chetak the brave horse
Rana Pratap museum at Haldighati
26/12: Went to Chittorgarh which is a 2 hour drive from Udaipur by taxi. Excellent road, this is a national highway. The fort is another magnificent one. Take a tourism dept approved guide here, will cost around Rs 450 but he gives you an excellent explanation of the fort and the history behind it, for around 3 hours. Try stopping by one of the sugarcane fields on the way and savor some really fresh yummy jaggery they make!
Inside Chittorgarh Fort
Victory Tower inside Chittor Fort
Panoramic view of Chittor Fort from the approach road
27/12: Local Udaipur sight seeing day. Visited the City palace which was walking distance from our hotel. Took the audio guide here also, this place takes a couple of hours to complete. When you take the ticket, take one for the boat ride also which is about Rs 350 per person including entrance to the Jagmandir Island. We missed this since there was a wedding that day in the island and so no visitors were allowed. We took another private boat ride from Doodh Talai which didnt take us to the island but was just a ride till the hotel, costed Rs 100 per head (i think).
Also dont miss seeing the fully lit Lake palace and the Jagmandir island at night, it is quite a sight.
Udaipur City Palace - view from Lake Pichola
Lake Palace on Pichola Lake
28/12: Took the 8:30 AM flight to Chennai by Jet airways, via Mumbai.
1. Please shop in Jodhpur only at the ‘National Handloom Corporation’ outlets. All other shops even those next to this one are very expensive. For ex- A chappal that costs Rs 40 in NHC will cost Rs 120 in the adjacent shop!
2. Use the ‘audio guide’ in the forts whereever available. They are very good and authentic.
3. Antique silver jewellery is available in Jodhpur near the Umaid Palace.
4. Visit Santhosh Dal Bati Hotel in Udaipur for a taste of typical Dal Baati. Yummy jamuns are also available in a sweet shop near Jagdish Mandir temple. There are actually 2 of them. The one closer to the clock tower is the better one. Hathipole is the shopping area for the local tourists. Bapu Bazaar and Maaldhar Street is where the Udaipur locals shop. So, take your pick.
5. Try to finish you trip before the 25th of December. Every place gets extremely crowded in the last week of December. The queues and the palaces and the boat rides … all become extremely crowded.