We went on a road trip from Chandigarh to Goa starting from 26th December to 29th January.
We will cover Rajasthan, Gujarat, Mumbai, Goa and maybe a few destinations in Karnataka.
The tentative plan is as follows
26th to 31st Dec – Rajasthan
- 26th – Bikaner
27th – Jaisalmer
- 27th – Cancelled Jaisalmer and extended our stay at Bikaner
- 28th – Osian Sand Dunes
- 29th/30th – Jodhpur
- 31st – Mount Abu
1st to 6th Jan – Gujarat
- 1st to 3th – Bhuj
- 4th –
Safari at Little Rann of Kutch– Extended our stay at Bhuj
- 5th – Ahmedabad
- 6th – Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary
- 7th – Ukai Dam
8th to 18th Jan – Maharashtra/Goa
- 8th/9th – Mumbai
- 11th/12th – Ratnagiri
- 13th-18th – Goa
19th to 24th – Karnataka
- 19th – 21st – Sirsi
- 22nd – 23rd – Hampi
23rd to 29th – Return Path
- 24th-25th – Pune
- 26th – Aurangabad (Ellora Caves)
- 27th – Indore (Ajanta Caves)
- 28th – Agra
- 29th – Chandigarh
All our trip has been planned in a manner that we should not drive more than 400 KM in a single day. We don’t want to make our days tiring by driving more than 8 hours in a stretch. Bikaner is 434KM from Barnala so we prepared ourself early because it was going to be a long 8 hour drive.
The Road Experience of Rajasthan
To my surprise, the road were clean and wide on the way to Rajasthan. We did not see much traffic on the roads.
Neha drove on the national highway for the first time. I hope she get comfortable with the roads soon so that I can also relax on the trip.
The day was enjoyable but we were tired when we reached Bikaner. It took us some time to find the Haveli where we booked our accommodation.
The room was great, worth every penny that we spent.
We relaxed for some time then planned for dinner. We were tired and did not want to go out for dinner.
Our host, Anita offered us dinner even when it was not part of our booking. She prepared Rajasthani dinner specially for us.
The hospitality of Rajasthan is unmatchable. 5 Star hotels can provide comfortable stay and a great service but can not provide the love like local people.
Best Places to Visit in Bikaner
Initial plan was to see Bikaner market and move to Jaisalmer by afternoon.
But we were loving the company of our AirBnb hosts. We did not got sufficient time to spend with Vishnu (husband of Anita) who came in the morning from his trip. He is a tourist guide and I loved talking with him in the morning.
We decided to cancel our Jaisalmer trip. We were to lose the money on room booking in Jaisalmer because that was non-refundable.
That’s the beauty of independent road trip. The things can be changed based the situation.
We extended our stay in Bikaner and got the whole day to explore the city.
We wanted to explore the old city of Bikaner. It was difficult to drive by car in any old city so we took the scooty on rent from our AirBnb hosts. They charged 400 rupees for the day without fuel.
11:00 AM – Laxminath Temple Bikaner
We went to the corner of old bikaner city to see Laxminath temple. It’s a small but beautiful temple.
Don’t miss the aarti in the temple. I could not record the video because camera was not allowed inside the temple. We enjoyed the chanting most because it was sung by everyone in the temple in a rhythmic way. I could not pick much words but local people were singing the song by heart. They were performing the actions as well while offering their chants to Laxminath bhagwan. You will get Tulsi as prashad in the temple.
We spend about one hour in the temple because our son was enjoying the dhol music.
12:00 PM – Big Bazaar, Old Bikaner
Some people may not enjoy but we loved exploring the old city by scooter. It was altogether a unique experience for us.
We tasted delicious Kachori, Rasgulla and Ghewar in the market near railway station.
Don’t miss out popular shop of Chotu Motu Joshi on railway road.
There are some small shops that you must explore if you are visiting old Bikaner city.
Bikaner Pan [Rs. 12]
I stopped at a pan shop when Neha was buying something in the market. The pan was super cheap at Rs. 12. I don’t know what material they used but the taste of pan was just amazing.
I never had that freshening Pan in delhi. Later we got to know from our AirBnb hosts that the Pan wala is famous in Bikaner. It’s located in the market adjacent to Bikaner Bhujia.
Dahi Vada at Bikaner Bhujia Bhandar [Adjacent to Railway Crossing]
We already had kachoris and sweets so could not eat more spicy food. Bikaner bhujia is famous for the snacks so we got some Dahi Vada packed for home. You can taste different type of snax depending on how much you can eat.
Masala Tea on the backside of Bikaner Bhujia
This was the most delicious tea I had in my life. I could easily pay Rs. 100 but the guy asked only Rs. 10.
I am sure that he can sell his tea in any 5 star restaurent. Tea wala is located in a small street on the backside of bikaner bhujia.
1:30 PM – Junagarh Fort
Fort is the main attraction of the city. We were not expecting that Ayaan will enjoy the trip to fort but he loved the fort more than us.
The fort administration charges Rs. 50 for Indians and Rs. 300 for Foreigners. They provide a guide to a group of about 20 people. We waited for 10 minutes till 20 people gathered and a guide took us inside the palace.
Ayaan became curious to listen to stories of Raja when the guide told us that 16 kings ruled Bikaner and developed Fort over many years.
It’s more like a Museum than a regular Fort. If you visit the fort, they will show you meeting rooms, bed rooms and office of kings. You can see the arms that they used in battles, the real air plane gifted by British government and animals that kings hunted.
I was thinking that there is not even a single thing that Kings had at that time but we don’t have access today. Even a common person like me have a better transport, more comfortable beds, more security and delicious food. The king had a telephone with a capacity to call next room while I have a phone that is un-imaginable for the king.
All the kings who born & dies a century ago might be feeling jealous from a common person of today.
I was deep stuck by the question, “Do we really feel like a king while enjoying better life than him?”
4:00 PM – Traditional Rajastanji Food Thali in Lunch
There is no point of eating same dal and paneer makhni if you are in Rajastan. We are vegetarian so could not comment on non-veg food options.
We found a hotel that serve Rajasthani food in just Rs. 160. The thali includes dal, curry, sabji, rice, roti, raita and sweet.
The restaurant is located on the opposite side of chotu motu joshi shop, on the way towards railway station.
6:00 PM – Story of our AirBnb Hosts Anita and Vishnu
Our trip experience can not be completed without sharing the story of Anita and Vishnu.
We spend few hours chatting with Anita and Vishnu after reaching back home.
Vishnu is a travel guide who was a regular photographer a couple of years back. He was not loving his work of making marriage albums and printing passport size photos. He wanted to do something different but did not have any extra skills.
At age of 28, being a father of two sons, he took the risky decision of leaving his photography business. One of his friends suggested him to learn french because a lot of people come from France to visit India.
Vishnu moved to Pondicherry to learn french in 2008. He said that he was the oldest guy in the class of young people (18 to 20 years). You can understand how difficult it would be to learn a new language in such a environment. Despite all the odds, Vishnu mastered his language skills within a year & half.
He wondered what to do with the french language skill when he was not having any friend in tourism industry. It took him six months to find his first assignment as a french guide.
A salute such a dedicated work and ziddi attitude. His story inspired me a lot to follow my passion without thinking about being afraid of adverse outcomes.
Vishnu is guiding tours of big groups of french tourists. His calendar remains always full. He build his own Haveli in Bikaner and making money from AirBnb.
I am sure he is going to get a great success in his life and business with the support of his wife Anita and children.
Anita handles all his work while he is away on the tours. That’s a spirit of a couple of make a better life for themselves and their kids.
Final Words to Bikaner
We are leaving to experience the desert camp in osian. We made good friends in Bikaner who treated us like family members. Ayaan is having new experiences as well. The travel is an opportunity for us to see the life outside.
We are loving the people of Rajasthan but I am wondering that old people are still fascinated with the idea of castes.
Whenever I speak with old people they ask my caste. I can not introduce myself with just my name. They become more comfortable when I say ‘Goyal’ which they know Baniya caste, that means a seth, a section of business people. I don’t know how would they react to people of lower caste. May be next time I should say that I belong to low caste or don’t know my caste to experiment.
It will take some time for Rajasthan to break the caste based discrimination.