Rajput Trail :
Delhi – Jaipur
We started off early to avoid the traffic on the busy NH8, the agile Scramblers helping us weave through the ponderous trucks and stay ahead of the madly driven cars. A quick stop for breakfast at a Coffee Day outlet after Neemrana followed by a mandatory lassi stop and we were on the outskirts of Jaipur by lunch time. Our destination for the day was the luxurious Lebua resort adjoining Amer fort.
We got off the highway and entered the national park and after 5 km of riding through the forest trail we were on time for lunch. During lunch everyone was comparing notes on how the motorcycle felt and in unison we decided to explore the trails a little more on the scramblers. Once we got back on the trail the scrambler felt at home on the light sand trails and the Pirellis that it comes fitted with did inspire us with confidence. The going can get a little rough on rocky paths but the scrambler still managed it without complaining too much. The final stop was the Delhi Gate which used to be the gateway for all trade moving in and out of Jaipur to Delhi.
Jaipur – Bikaner
Today was to be long ride, what with the Sambhar lake that we planned to cross. Setting off from Lebua early in the morning we made excellent time on the Ajmer highway before we left it near Dudu. Riding on narrow single lane roads is always more fun and 5 km before Sambhar village we took the trak leading us towards the Salt lake. The track soon ended and we were riding on fine powdery sand with thorny scrubs all around us. All of a sudden there was no vegetation and we were on the edge of the salt flats that’s extended for 20 kms in every direction.
The sight of the vast open flats was magical and we spent the next hour riding around before we decided to cross it to get to Nawa village. 15 minutes into the flat was when the lake bed told us it has a mind of its own. The lake bed hadn’t dried enough and soon the bikes were digging ruts into the crust , with the clay getting packed into the chain, swingarm and every other gap that the a motorcycle can possess. We extricated the bikes and made our way to Nawa via a different route before stopping near Rupangarh for lunch.
From Rupangarh we were headed to Nagaur, and this stretch of road has minimal traffic and we did excellent time, however the time we spent on the salt lake meant that we were behind schedule and at 6 pm we were 70 km from Bikaner. The stretch from Nokha to Bikaner which is beautiful with same sand dunes on the side, also has numerous potholes that can swallow a wheel and soon one of our riders hit a particularly bad crater and cracked the rim, and the bike wouldn’t move forward. This cost us additional time a we had to arrange for a pickup to carry the bike and by the time we arrived at LaxmiNiwas Palace it was 9 P.M.
Although we were all a little tired because of the long day, for some of us it was the first time we were spending a night in a palace. With a beer in hand we wandered through the palace marveling at it.
Bikaner – Manwar
The ride to Manwar from Bikaner is pretty short and the original plan was to the desert camp before lunch. However because of the previous day’s incident we had a delayed start. The road from Bikaner was pretty smooth and soon we had crossed Phalodi and sighted the dunes near Dechoo. After riding around a little we rode up to the top of one of the dunes to watch the desert sunset. The camp was 5 km away and we made it to the camp as the day was coming to a close.
The Manvar camp was as luxurious as a 5 star hotel and we spent the evening watching some traditional performances by the villagers. The lights went out after dinner giving us a magnificent view of the star filled sky and soon we retired to the cosy tents.
Manwar – Jodhpur
Rising up early , partly because of the cold we finished breakfast and headed towards Jodhpur. Our goal for the day was to reach Jodhpur and see if we can spot the well that Christian Bale climbs out of in “The Dark Knight Rises”. We were staying at Raas Haveli a heritage property that was situated right behind the impressive Mehrangarh fort. After a quick ride we reached Raas for lunch and made up our minds to climb up the hill to the fort.
The Mehrangarh fort is impressive and we spent a lot of time in it but we were disappointed when we were told that the well was off limits to public. Walking down from the fort we decided to check out the local market and soon most of us were in tears, thanks due to the Mirchi Wada which Kevin aptly christened the Chilli Bomb. Shumi would be leaving the group today as he was only doing half the leg and since he had an early morning flight we bid him adieu and called it a night.
Jodhpur – Kumbalgarh
After 4 days of pretty straight highways with a little offroad thrown in between it was time to head into the mountains. Nestled in theAravalli range Kumbalgarh is a majestic fort of the erstwhile kingdom of Chittor. Riding on the Jodhpur Udaipur Highway we soon got off the highway and headed towards Nadol and Sadri. Situated at the bottom of the hills is the famous Ranakpur Jain temple. Famous for its interlocking marble architecture, it was also our lunch halt.
We began our climb on the narrow hill roads and after 60 km of winding roads passing through lush greenery we reached “The Aodhi”, our shelter for the night. A quick visit to the fort followed by a brilliantRajasthan dinner, a poolside folk dance presentation and we were off to bed.
Kumbalgarh – Devigarh
Another day of riding in the hills, we started early in the morning and passed Haldighati before descending down to the Udaipur Beawar highway. Our destination was Devigarh a palace 26 km away from Udaipur. Reaching the palace we were awestruck with luxury on offer and soon we were checking out each other’s room to see who had the best digs. We decided to chill in the palace for the evening and explore the nearby town of Delwara.
The next day was a rest day and we went into Udaipur, called “The Venice of the East” because of its lakes and palaces. The day was well spent and we returned to Devigarh for the night.
Devigarh – Nimaj
The ride was coming to a close and Rajasthan still had a gem to offer, Nimaaj a small village close to Barr. Taking the six lane high way that soon turned to a single track broken road we reached Sojat before landing into Nimaaj. Owned by the thakur’s family for the last 400 years the Nimaaj Palace with it turrets and citadels stands out proudly in the center of the village.
Nimaj – Jaipur
This as a transport section again and our destination was the Lebua lodge. We made good time and reached the resort in time for coffee. Later sitting by the bonfire with glasses in our hands we toasted to the first successful Rajput Trail.