A Road Trip in Rajasthan covering the cities of Jaipur, Bikaner & Jaisalmer
Rajasthan is a word that instantly conjures up images of wide expanses of deserts, historic and magnificent palaces tinged with the intrigue of royalty and a vibrant as well as pulsating folk culture.
Rajasthan is a colorful state of India which has to be experienced and relished slowly and immersively.
The charm of Rajasthan lures us again and again to its fold and hence one winter morning we found ourselves at the pink city of Jaipur, poised on the threshold of a road trip in Rajasthan that would take us across Rajasthan and into the Thar desert. It would take us to Bikaner which was formerly the capital of the princely state known as Bikaner. We would then shoot away towards the westernmost part of India, Jaisalmer located on the border of the Thar desert. From Jaisalmer, we would head towards Jodhpur and from there make our way towards the spiritual towns of Ajmer and Pushkar to finally head back to our origin Jaipur. Before we embarked on our Rajasthan Road trip, we paused to go over our lists of dos and don’ts for the trip.
The road trip in Rajasthan would traverse through 1,322 kilometers of intriguing and interesting landscapes with an approximate driving time of 22 hours. Our road trip across Rajasthan would take us approximately 8 days. In this post, we cover a portion of the road trip in Rajasthan.
This post is not about the destinations in Rajasthan. Those would be covered in separate posts that will be coming up shortly. This is more about enjoying the thrills of traveling through the interiors of Rajasthan on a road trip in Rajasthan. Though it was the month of December and mornings were cool enough, the sun would be scorching in the afternoons when our car heated up. Air conditioning kept us cool when we were inside, but we would be sweating profusely whenever we stepped out of the car.
Jaipur to Bikaner
After breakfast at Jaipur, we drove westwards towards the desert. As we left the city of Jaipur behind in a cloud of dust we watched the landscape and the vegetation changed quickly. Eucalyptus trees and yellow mustard fields were left far behind.
Vast barren stretches of land could be seen, dotted with wild thorned trees, mute fighters and survivors against the harsh side of nature. We watched strange looking trees that stood in graceful splendor, proud and defiant in their form, as if challenging the very forces of creation.
On the tips of the branches of these trees sprouted tender, green leaves which seemed to be triumphantly mocking the desert and its harsh realities. The trees stood as silent survivors against the vagaries of nature. The trees strangely looked similar to the trees we had seen in the totally contrasting environs of Rapperswil in Switzerland.
The trees painted a fascinating picture, but our attention was drawn to a tiny Chinkara by side of the road who disappeared like quicksilver in the twinkling of an eye. The Chinkara are found in Rajasthan and one of the factors that help them survive in the deserts of Rajasthan is the fact that they can survive for long periods of time without water. As we drove through the arid region lost in thought about the Chinkara, a peacock appeared by the side of the road, gave the passing car a curious look and then daintily scampered away.
As we neared the city of Bikaner, we were astounded to see huge patches of green fields in the midst of the arid wasteland. The fields were being watered by jets of sparkling silvery water and it was quite a soothing sight to the eyes in the midst of the barren landscapes. We found that irrigation and water management in the area had begun as early as 1899 when the Maharaja of the Bikaner state had laid down an irrigation system of canals.
Today the Indira Gandhi Canal which is one of the largest projects of its kind provides irrigation to parts of Jaisalmer, Barmer and other districts of Rajasthan.
Bikaner to Jaisalmer
After enjoying and discovering the treasures of Bikaner, many of them that were unknown and unsung, we were back in our car zipping away further towards the Thar desert, our destination, Jaisalmer.
On the way, we passed the famous town of Pokhran, which owing to its remote location was the site for India’s first underground nuclear detonation.
Travel and food go hand in hand and when you are on a road trip, you get ample opportunities to get the local and authentic flavors of the food of the region. We had some amazing food at roadside restaurants.
The food in these places retained the aromas and flavors that are so intrinsic to Rajasthani cuisine and we really ate to our heart’s content at unknown villages and their unknown restaurants.
As we sped through the desert, the sun went down and we stopped by the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the setting sun.
The scene that stretched out in front of us was ethereal. The beauty of the setting sun had transformed the arid landscapes into a spectacular medley of colors.
The sun slowly disappeared in the western horizon and we retraced our steps back to the car to resume out journey to Jaisalmer. As night fell, we reached Jaisalmer and after a dinner that gave us another opportunity to revel in the flavors of Rajasthani cuisine, we fell asleep, dreaming about what the morning would have in store for us on this road trip in Rajasthan.
Do stay tuned for more stories from our Rajasthan Rhapsody as we roam the desert, hypnotized by the sights, sounds, flavors, and aromas that are intrinsically Rajasthan.
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