Where there is a will, there is a way! My Rajasthan trip is proof that no matter how broke and how short of time, there is always scope for a holiday.
Ankur (the husband) and I had just come back from a 2 week holiday to England and Scotland and had moved into a new house together. We were broke and couldn’t afford to take more days of leave from work.
Now, the travel obsessed girl in me really wanted to visit Rajasthan for the 4 day Christmas weekend and the big task ahead was convincing Ankur that we could cover Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Mount Abu in 4 days and at a pocket friendly budget.
Needless to say, I obviously succeeded and here I am gloating about it – I mean helping fellow travelers with my itinerary.
India has had a number of kingdoms across its various regions but if there is one state synonymous with royalty, it is Rajasthan. The name Rajasthan itself is a giveaway – ‘Raja’ meaning King and ‘Sthan’ meaning Place in Hindi. The opulence here isn’t limited to the presence of royalty and their palaces – the natural landscape, folk arts and food are equally rich and worth your attention.
Day 0: Since our trip was a last minute plan, train was out of the picture and flights didn’t fit our budget. So we took a night bus from Mumbai to Udaipur – a 12 hour journey of 750 kms. Thank God for sleeper buses!
Day 1: We reached Udaipur mid-morning and freshened up at our hotel near Lake Pichola. After a quick lunch in one of the nearby restaurants overlooking the lake, we made our way to City Palace, built by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559. A large part of the palace is now a museum and showcases the military prowess and wealth of the Mewar kingdom. The palace tour takes about 2-3 hours – thanks to its size and the crowd. *Entry fees is INR 250.*
After the Palace tour, we made our way to Gangaur Ghat and watched the sun set over the Lake Pichola. Next on the agenda was Bagore ki Haveli, adjacent to the Lake and we were just in time for the puppet and dance show. The show is a must-see and be prepared to be enthralled by what these dancers can do. *Entry fee is INR 40*
Now came the daring part of our trip. None of the public buses suited our schedule so we decided to hire a cab and cruise 500km of the lonely desert at night, all the way to Jaisalmer. Our driver was actually quite shocked and asked us who had come up with this brilliant and unusual plan. His bewilderment didn’t instill much confidence in me but after 2 hours of trying to be on the watch, I dozed off and so did my fears.
Anyway, for all you time and money constrained people, sleeper buses are now available on this route so you don’t have to spend the night staying up in the car.
Day 2: We were in Jaisalmer by mid-morning. 4 sleepy, sloppy souls (Ankur, me and 2 other friends) made way to Sonar Kella, one of the largest fully preserved fortress cities in the world. Before exploring the fortress, we had breakfast at the Café on top. They served us some amazing coffee, bread and eggs and the view of the fort was the icing on the cake. We spent the next few hours exploring the fort and shopping at the market inside.
By afternoon, we were off to camp in the Thar Desert. The camps are away from the city and deep in the desert – almost Pakistan, in fact. For being so far away from civilization, these camps have ample facilities – spacious tents, comfortable beds, fabricated toilet and shower and heaters to keep yourself warm on a cold desert night.
After freshening up, we went out Dune Bashing – exploring the sand dunes in a SUV. Now, this doesn’t compare to the one in Dubai, but was exciting nonetheless. We also took the less fancy and more traditional method of transportation – Camels.
I had spent a good 2 years in the interiors of Oman (google up Aseela) while growing up and all my time after school was spent on my very own private sand dune behind the house. Sitting here, watching the sunset, in the sand dunes of Jaisalmer, brought back so many happy memories. I couldn’t have asked for more from this trip.
The rest of the evening was quite peaceful – folk dance, music, bonfire and dinner arranged by the camp.
Day 3: After breakfast ( also arranged at the camp), we took our cab to Mount Abu. While the locals flock to Mount Abu for its cooler weather (the only hill station in Rajasthan), our reason for visit was the famous Dilwara Temples. Dilwara Jain Temples is known for its exquisite architecture and marble stone carving. Photography isn’t allowed inside but I did manage to sneak one picture. Shhhhhh!
It took us all morning and noon to reach Mount Abu from Jaisalmer. We spent the evening boating in Nakki lake and walking around the main market place. Our hotel guy surprised us with some Hookah and our night was made.
Day 4: After our visit to Dilwara Temples, we took our cab back to Udaipur. We had some time to spare before our bus and made a quick stop at Saheliyon ki Bari. This was built by Rana Sangram Singh for his Queen and her maids. There isn’t much to do here but do visit if you want to check it off your list of places to see in Udaipur.
I did make another trip to Udaipur later and would recommend adding the following to your itinerary:
Karni Mata Temple – Less for the temple, More for the view. This temple is on a mountain top and you would need to take a ropeway up there. Visit in the eveving for a gorgeous view of the city.
Boat ride on Lake Pichola – The ride provides picturesque views of the City Palace, Jagmandir Island Palace, Jag Niwas (now Lake Palace Hotel) and the Aravalli mountain range in the distance. It would also help you appreciate the vastness of the lake.
Relax and Dine at Ambrai and Upre – Good food, Good view and by the lake – Need I say more?
We managed the entire trip within a per head expense of INR 12000 ( $ 170 or 150 EUR) – Perfect for those long weekend trips.
And i must add a big thank you to Goibibo and Goibibo App for their offers and cashback! Really helped us save a lot on the hotel bookings.
|Day 0||Bus Ticket to Udaipur||Gujarat Travels : Gujarattravels.co.in||INR 2110|
|Day 1||Hotel Udaipur||Hotel Lake Paradise – Room for 4||INR 300 (Total INR 1200)|
|Udaipur Expense||Lunch + City Palace + Bagore ki Haweli + Dinner||INR 620 (Total INR 2480)|
|Day 2||Jaisalmer Breakfast||At the café in Sonar Kella||INR 300 (Total INR 1200)|
|Jaisalmer Tent||Royal Tent at Divine Nilalohita Resort + Camel Ride and Dune Bashing||INR 2275|
|Day 3||Lunch||Roadside Dhaba||INR 200 (Total INR 800)|
|Boat Ride at Mount Abu||Lake Nakki||INR 110 ( Total INR 440)|
|Dinner||Somewhere in Mount Abu||INR 200 ( Total INR 800)|
|Mount Abu Hotel||Krishna Niwas Hotel – Family Room for 4||INR 619 (Total INR 2475)|
|Day 4||Breakfast||At the hotel||INR 150 ( Total INR 600)|
|Dilwara Temple||Parking/Ticket||INR 75 ( Total INR 300)|
|Lunch||INR 220 (Total INR 880)|
|Bus Ticket Udaipur – Mumbai||Gujarat Travels : Gujarattravels.co.in||INR 2400|
|Cab Booking for 2 days||Udaipur to Jaisalmer ; Travel within Jaisalmer ; Jaisalmer to Mount Abu ; Travel within Mount Abu ; Mount Abu to Udaipur||INR 2250 ( Total INR 9000)|
|Total per head||INR 11829|