My Little Affair with Rajasthan | Solo Backpacking | Riding in Thar Desert

Backpacking across Rajasthan, My little affair with Rajasthan, Padharo Mhare Des, Little Detours, Rajasthan 7 day itinerary

Hi friends, 

It's been so long I wanted to put forth my experiences from the Land of Kings and desert. If you are here just looking for an itinerary, you can find it here. Rajasthan 7 day itinerary. If you are sticking on to this, thank you!

It's not so uncommon if the image of camels in a desert comes to your mind when you hear the word Rajasthan. In fact, I had the same picture when the thought of a trip to Rajasthan came to my mind. But it wasn't like those solo trips I take every year. This was an unknown land for me. Totally unaware of what to expect, and with a lot of dilemma I booked my tickets and I was in Jaipur in no time, hoping for "Jaane kya dikh jaye" (wonder what you might see) as the Rajasthan Tourism tagline says. This is gonna be an amazing backpacking trip, I said to myself.

Rajasthan - Padharo Mhare Des


Chapter 1: The Forts, the Tuk Tuks and the Pink Lanes

Jaipur seemed like a very calm, yet happening city to me. The stunning architectures from the likes of Amer Kila, Jal Mahal to the science innovations like Jantar mantar, everything caught my attention. Not to mention, the pink lanes of Jaipur, which was so beautiful even to just pass by.

Although very touristy, the Amer Fort, the Hawa Mahal and the Jal Mahal are really worth a visit. I was blown away by the detailing and the beauty of the Amer Fort. When in Rajasthan, the Kathputli (Puppet show) is a must see. I witnessed one of the best and probably the first Kathputli show of my life. Back in the days, the Puppet shows were the only source of entertainment for the people. Once the show was over, I couldn't resist talking to the artist. I learned that they have been continuing their family tradition of Puppet shows for more than 5 generations. 

Morning scenes at Amer Fort
Incredible Hawa Mahal

Kathputhli - The Puppet Show
Ganesh Pol at Amer Fort
The view from Nahargarh Fort

Apart from the stunning architectures, what I loved was the tuk-tuks in the city. Most of them were eco friendly which runs on electricity. While these tuk-tuks were slower than the regular cabs/ autos in the city, it was quite overwhelming to see people using them. It also gave me an opportunity to feel the pink lanes of the city from the slowness of the tuk-tuk. I was in no hurry. I had all the time in the world. Sometimes, you need to invest time into something and watch it do the magic later. Isn't life all about the magic?

I spent a couple days in Jaipur roaming in the heat and sweat from one heritage site to the other. In these 2 days, I mostly ate street food which I feel defines a place to quite some extent. I ate in the costly hotels and the small eateries by the side of the road as well. I definitely liked the paratha and the lassi combo quite a lot. Just a night before leaving Jaipur, I spent my evening watching the Jal Mahal at a distance enjoying the cool breeze on a beautiful evening. It was one of the best evenings I spent in Rajasthan.

The Tuk Tuks

Riding in a Tuk Tuk

Another peaceful evening at Birla Mandir

Chapter 2: Sophistication - A perspective?

"Have you heard about Pushkar Mela?" my friend on the other end of the phone quizzed. "Yes, I have", I replied a bit hesitantly not sounding too lame. 

Luckily the Mela (Fair) was happening when I was in Jaipur. Pushkar is about 150 km away from Jaipur. I caught the morning bus and landed in Ajmer. The local private buses/ maxi cabs run to and fro from Ajmer to Pushkar. It was so damn crowded, there was no place for anyone else to even stand along the aisle. In what looked like a 30 seater, there were at least 50 people tucked in like clothes in a tight suitcase. The seats were very small and I could hardly manage to keep my ass on the seat. From here, I got some insight into what these villagers deal with every day when they travel. Yet none of them looked uneasy, nor they complained of anything. Experiences like this go a long way in deciding how you deal with things in life. 

After a quick shower at the hotel, I spent the entire afternoon at the Mela grounds where the fest was held. There were already many sports competitions like Volleyball, Kabbaddi and Tug of War were held. It was great to be part of the crowd which was a mix of local villages, foreign nationals and travelers like me. Not only it felt different, but to observe the village life from close added a different dimension to my experience. Things which seem unimportant or trivial in the city looked important here. And some which we consider really important in the city, nobody seemed to care about it here. It really opened up my eyes to the whole thing which we see as truth. What is truth? Isn't it just another perspective? 

At the Mela Grounds
Brahma Ghat, Pushkar

Typical Pushkar Scenes
A rare Brahma Temple

I roamed around the streets of Pushkar with a camera hung around my neck, observing every little detail that I can take. I found a decent eatery by the side of the road where they had put chairs and Charpai beside the busy street. I did eat at this place, as it looked quite clean. Probably I wouldn't eat at such a place in a city. My definition of sophistication was evolving. Or should I say, I was slowly becoming a different person now? Trust me, that was the best meal I had in Rajasthan. So delicious!

And when the sun finally set in the west after his extraordinary day at work, it was time for the musical night. The stage was all set for the various participants to show their talent. After this competition, a well-known band performed with tunes of famous Bollywood numbers and a lot of Rajasthani folk. What a night it was. I also met a few foreign tourists, who couldn't resist initiating a chat, seeing me whistling at the performance!! Pushkar, you have my heart! I will miss you!


Chapter 3 - The Act of Kindness

"Sir, aap aaj raat yahi pe ruk jao. Kal aap araaam se niklo"
"Nahi, abhi ek train book kar diya maine, aadha ghante mei niklega." I stuttered while eating a bite of my meal.
"Are sir mai aapko chod deta hu station tak. Aap araam se khao"

Translation:
"Sir, you can stay here tonight, and you can leave tomorrow without any haste"
"No, I have booked my train already which leaves in 30 mins" I stuttered while eating a bite of my meal.
"Not to worry Sir, I will drop you to the Railway station. You can eat slowly"

After an enthralling experience in Pushkar, I traveled to Jodhpur the next afternoon. Jodhpur seemed like a busy city. Busier than Jaipur. To save time and money, I had booked a cheap and affordable guest house very near to the Meharangarh fort. After dumping my backpack in the guest house, I quickly ran towards the fort, which was less than a kilometer. 

The fort was a majesty! It was huge and just incredible. I walked through the various levels of the fort listening to the stories on the radio. At every level, I heard stories that made me fall in love with this glorious fort. It withstood many attacks from the enemies and remained in immaculate condition even today. As the evening progressed, there was a pleasant mood set in the fort. I loved the evening I spent on this fort. I could see the blue lanes of Jodhpur from the fort with a backdrop of the setting sun. What a sight to behold!

Majestic Mehrangarh Fort

The Blue City

Evening hues

The Home Run

Since I had only 4 more days in store, I decided to skip the rest of Jodhpur and head over to Jaisalmer right away. I wasted no time and booked a train ticket to Jaisalmer the very night. I informed the host that I will be leaving in a while to catch the train. He insisted me to stay for the night and leave tomorrow. Seeing me trying to eat my dinner quickly, he offered to even drop me to the railway station.

I was really touched by his gesture. I was emotional, to say the least. I ate my dinner in time, and he dropped me to the Railway station. I understood that day, the importance of being kind. Although I paid a very meager amount, (which is probably less than the cost of a pizza), he was very kind to offer me help. Not all things are weighed with money, but some from the heart. I really wanted to tip him, but he did not seem like a guy who would accept money for the kindness. He even asked me to pay a visit the next time I am was Jodhpur! I was really touched by how humble and kind he was. A rare trait to find these days.

I managed to click a photo with him. All he said was to give a 5 * rating on Go Ibibo, which I religiously did. 

Delicious meal 🥘

The one with the host

Chapter 4: The Journey

ಓಹ್, ಕನ್ನಡದವರು!!

ಹೂ.. ಯಾವ ಊರು ನಿಮ್ಮದು?

ನಾನು, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು. ನೀವು?

ನಾವು ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ಅವರೇ!!!

ಓಹ್ ಸೂಪರ್!

Translation

"Hey, you are Kannadiga" (one who lives in Karnataka)
"Yes, where are you from?"
"I'm from Bangalore. Where are you guys from?"
"We are from Bangalore too."
"That's awesome!"

It was around 10 PM when I boarded the train at Jodhpur Railway Station. After taking a flight to Jaipur, riding in a Tuk Tuk, a cab, a local packed bus, I was finally on a train. Sigh! I love train journeys. I was finally relieved and happy for I was traveling on a train. I was in a compartment with an elderly couple probably in their late 50s or early 60s. I thought it was gonna be one of those boring journeys. When they spoke to each other in Kannada, my ears stood up! I immediately stuck a conversation with them. 

As it turned out, the couple were backpacking across India! I just couldn't believe them. They had been traveling around for over a month now. What a fantastic couple and I had the best time talking to them and listening to their experiences. Turned out, the man was a biker like me back in his days. We talked a lot about bike rides, the Himalayas, and what not. Someone truly said once, "Don't judge a book by its cover." and I was guilty. 

We spoke until 12 midnight about various experiences. I was very curious to know their story and how they are traveling at that age. It was so great to have met them. It gave me relief to know that it's indeed possible to travel even when I get old. I was in total awe. We even exchanged numbers to get in touch in Jaisalmer if time permits and then we parted ways after what was a short and sweet encounter


Chapter 5: The Hungry Faces

"Khana hai? Kuch khaane ko do na"
"Kya?"
"Kuch hai to dedo, bahut bhookh lagi hai"
Translation:

"Do you have anything to eat? Please give us something to eat"
"What?"
"Please give if you have something to eat, we are very hungry"

I spent a day in Jaisalmer visiting the fort and roaming around the streets of the fort. Inside the fort, I learned about Yaduvanshi's and a prophecy that Lord Krishna himself carved into a rock. This rock remains in the Jaisalmer Fort even today. 

Inside the fort


Jaisalmer Fort

Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer

Since I had come this far, I couldn't miss an opportunity to ride in the Registhan (Desert). After assessing all the risks involved in riding a rented bike alone on a deserted road, I finally gave in to the idea. It was 6 AM and I was riding a rented Bajaj Avenger bike on what was supposedly the loneliest of roads. I was excited looking at the never ending road ahead of me, and on either side of the road was a barren land and some cactus grown amongst nothing. Very typical of a desert land. Another hour into the ride, I was at Tanot Mata Temple, that holds great value in the battle of 1971 against Pakistan. (Watch the movie Border if you will) 

Morning scenes at Jaisalmer
Registhan
Just me on these roads

Pak Ammunition that didn't explode during the 1971 battle

At Tanot Mata Temple

It was already past 10 AM when I finally decided to ride towards Longewala. This journey, in particular, was very scenic and I witnessed the beautiful sand dunes. But the weather was so hot and dry, and it was driving me nuts. In this journey of 50 km, I only saw a camel and a car riding past me. It was that deserted. Just when I was beginning to think if I was on the wrong way, I spotted a couple of huts and houses a further away. As I stopped to click some pictures, a few kids came running from their houses. I thought it was only because of the curiosity these village kids usually have when they see a visitor. But I was wrong. All they asked was for some food. Their faces looked hungry. Luckily I had a couple of packets of biscuits with me to munch along the way. I just gave them away. The happiness on their face was something I had never seen before. 

People spend all their lives running after things that hardly matter and here were kids running for food. This incident is etched permanently in my memory, and I just cannot take it off my heart. 




READ ALSO: What a 10-year-old can teach you!

Chapter 6: The Camels and the Sand Dunes

After a stop at the Longewala exploring the army museum, I headed straight to Samm Desert. It was another interesting journey. I was all alone and I just couldn't share my excitement and happiness of riding these wonderful roads in the desert. The only thing that was a constant worry was the extreme temperature. The water in my bottle was literally boiling and it was really hard to drink that water to keep myself hydrated. On top of that, I had no riding gear. I wore a simple down jacket and a pair of cotton pants. It was so hot out there, my pants literally burned due to the heat.

Lone bike in the desert
Burnt due to extreme heat outside

Longewala Battleground



I reached the camps of Samm Desert for the evening and spent my time in the dunes watching the sunset and the camels. It was the most dramatic and dreamy evenings I spent here in Rajasthan and will cherish it for a long long time. The feeling of sand flowing through your fingers and legs while watching the sunset slowly and the changing hues in the sky is something I will dearly miss. 

That sunset 💖 

Why can't we just relive those exact moments again? May be only if we could travel in time. I wish. All throughout my journey in Rajasthan starting from the Pink lanes of Jaipur, through the fair of Pushkar, the fort of Jodhpur, and the deserts of Jaisalmer, it was not just the beauty and aura of Rajasthan that I loved, but also these wonderful experiences which made this journey a perfect one. My Little Affair with Rajasthan ends here. 

I will leave you with some pictures from Rajasthan. See you soon with more stories from my little detours of life. Stay safe. Stay healthy!

READ ALSO: Why did I cry at the Rupin Pass

Elephant ride at Amer Fort


Birla temple, Jaipur


Camel all set


Bada bagh
Kuldhara Abandoned Village

One scary ride through Kuldhara

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Little Detours: My Little Affair with Rajasthan | Solo Backpacking | Riding in Thar Desert
My Little Affair with Rajasthan | Solo Backpacking | Riding in Thar Desert
Backpacking across Rajasthan, My little affair with Rajasthan, Padharo Mhare Des, Little Detours, Rajasthan 7 day itinerary
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