The Desert Storm – Jan & Feb 2019

“Yes, I have gray hair”

“Yes! I am not married”

“Yes! I don’t have a job”

“Yes! I am yet to go on a date”

These are some of the answers to the questions posed to me by the people whom I meet and interact in a formal or an informal setting. This shall keep the judgmental folks occupied for sometime, while I move on to the beginning of journey called ‘Life’.

Sitting in my cubicle on the brink of being unemployed, made me browse Google Maps on the laptop. I opened the map of India started checking out new places which I can explore on my motorcycle. Keeping in mind the weather, I dragged the mouse at the western part of the country and finalized to do the ride across Gujarat and Rajasthan.

I was already prepared for the trip as the bike was already serviced. To know more about the luggage, gears and equipment which I use during the rides, you can read Bangalore to Delhi Bike Trip – July/Aug 2018 blog.

The Ride

Day 1 (28 Jan 2019): Delhi to Pali (Rajasthan) – 574 kms

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My bags are packed and I am ready to go!

I started the ride at 6.15 am. It was biting cold. Exiting Delhi was a breeze since there was no traffic. The moment you hit NH 8, the traffic becomes mild and from there on the ride becomes smooth! I met my friend Ankur who tagged along with me till a dhaba in Dharuhera. We clicked a few photos, had breakfast and it was time for me to move. The roads were pretty much favorable to ride on and I was able to cover significant amount of distance with the spectacle of the Aravali Hills along the highway. Not to forget there are couple of checkpoints while coming from Delhi:

  1. Take the left cut to Ajmer from Chandwaji via Jaipur bypass because if you go straight you will enter Jaipur city
  2. When you reach Beawar again take a left cut on to the flyover which leads to Pali
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On the Jaipur Bypass road
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Pali Highway after Beawar

Well, highways are very boring and there is nothing to describe about them. The sun was setting down and I reached the hotel in Pali on time. Upon reaching the hotel, I found that there was no secure parking for two wheeler, I demanded the manager for it. He managed to give a space in a small garage filled with hotel inventory which was fine with me. The room was satisfactory for the price I had paid.

Day 2 (29 Jan 2019) Pali to Bhuj (Gujarat) – 575 kms

It was a cold morning! Cold enough to not let me out of the bed but I had to because on this day I had to cover around 600 kms. Got ready, checked my bike, loaded the luggage and gulped a cup of tea. Time to kick start the ride!

 

Gave a flying kiss to the sunrise! Next prime thing for me was to search for a breakfast dhaba. Not to worry, I found one namely ‘Hotel Baba Ramdev’. It’s just after Sirohi. I ordered Plain Dosa (personal recommendation) and it was delicious.

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Plain Dosa

After breakfast, I kept on rolling the ball to reach Bhuj. The weather was still cold and wind was blasting on to me. The roads were still good with a few unsettling patches. I had entered Gujarat somewhere near Deesa. I got to know this when I saw the sign boards in Gujarati language. It was already 30 minutes past noon and it was time to find a place for lunch with Bhuj still 260 kms far. Actually, I was not able to find a good place on the highway to eat and luckily, I found Hotel Darshan. I ordered Dal Fry, plain curd and tawa roti. The food was palatable. This is the best and the safest meal you can have while you are travelling.

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Decent place to have lunch

Interesting and misleading thing which happened with me on this day was that I saw a sign board which indicated Bhuj was 211 kms and after 60 kms, again there was a sign board indicating Bhuj was 210 kms far.

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Misleading sign board!

Giving a break to my general sense of direction, I switched on Google Maps and followed it strictly. I followed it so strictly that instead of taking the right turn from Bhachau, I went straight to Anjar. From Anjar, I took a right to Bhuj. This is a longer route. The road from Anjar to Bhuj was narrow and had potholes. I arrived at my hotel at dusk and got a secure parking from my vehicle.

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Sunset – On the way to Bhuj from Anjar

I just crashed into my bed after supper and Day 2 came to an end.

Day 3 (30 Jan 2019): Bhuj – Dhordo (The White Rann) – Kala Dungar (Black Hills) – Bhuj – 213 kms

The plan for the 3rd day was obvious, as mentioned in the header. I got up late since I had all the time in the world to enjoy. Got ready, had breakfast and cleaned the bike chain which was running dry. There was no requirement to carry luggage and I only carried my tank bag. While on my way to Dhordo, I came across this sign board which mentioned ‘Tropic of Cancer Passes from Here’. Interesting! We all read this in our geography books and experiencing it in real life is incredible.

 

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After reaching Dhordo before I entered White Rann, I had to fill a form and submit a nominal fee for the permit, as without the permit, you will not be allowed. The permit is only valid for 24 hours. It’s a 15 mins formality starting from form filling till the payment of the fee. The White Rann is 2 kms from here. You will reach a gate where you need to park your vehicle and travel for another 1.5 kms to reach the view point. I took a horse buggy instead of troubling my bones. The view of the White Rann was bewildering from the view point.

 

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After this, it was time for lunch, had Dal and rice for just INR 50! The taste was decent. I saw some motorcyclists from Karnataka as well having their lunch. I quickly wrapped up my meal and then started to ride towards Kala Dungar (Black Hills). The road from Dhordo and Kala Dungar is narrow road and completely secluded. The views were stunning.

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Road from Dhordo to Kala Dungar

Please do not miss the sign board which will direct you to Kala Dungar from the main road. You will also find a few kids running behind you asking 10 bucks for no reason. The uphill climb to Kala Dungar was a bit bumpy. With the bike chain rattling, I took it easy and reached. Kala Dungar is basically a small settlement on a hill top from where you can view the White Rann.

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View from Kala Dungar

 

After Kala Dungar, I headed back to Bhuj which was 90 kms from there. It took me around 2 hours to reach the hotel. While having tea and few snacks, I finalized the plan for Day 4.

Day 4 (31 Jan 2019): Bhuj – Mandvi Beach (Gujarat) – Bhuj – 156 kms

The combination of a beach and desert in a single trip intrigued my mind, so I planned to visit Mandvi beach, as suggested by my friend Ankur (who never visited this place). So my day started by getting the bike chain fixed by a mechanic.

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Did a decent job!

I started my ride to the beach, the weather was pleasant and as I was approaching the beach, the coconut trees were visible. The combination of coconut and keekar trees made it a more interesting geography. Google maps led me inside the town of Mandvi. I navigated through narrow lanes and later on realized that this is not the correct route to the beach. I asked people on the road side for the direction to the beach and finally reached the location.

The climate on the beaches generally is humid in India but here in Mandvi, with the western disturbances hitting the Indian subcontinent, it was cold and windy since it is located in near the desert. The beach was quiet lively and chirpy, as there were a lot of water sports activities happening and scores of tourists were also taking camel rides. There were some obsolete windmills near the beach which made the locality look more different. On the cleanliness quotient, I would rate it 7 on 10. I spent about an hour’s time at the beach and started my ride back to Bhuj.

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On my way back, I halted at Domino’s expecting them to have non-veg menu since I did not get non-veg meal at the hotel but Domino’s had veg menu only. So I managed with a Paneer pizza.

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Way back to Bhuj from Mandvi Beach

I reached the hotel and I started to plan my route to the next destination that was Barmer. Got fuel filled and air pressure checked a day in advance. The bike chain was rattling yet again so I got it tightened again from the same mechanic.

Day 5 (1 Feb 2019): Bhuj to Barmer (Rajasthan) – 505 kms

Plan was to start from Bhuj at 6 am and I was well on time. It is just that the day started with a deflated rear tire. I inspected the tire but could not find the puncture. One option was to fill the air with the electronic air inflator, then fix the puncture myself on highway after finding the puncture, if the tire deflates again due to the puncture. The second option was to wait for 3 to 4 hours for the puncture shop to open. I chose the second option because it was important to find the puncture. At 10.15 am, the shop opened and the guy checked to tell me that there was no puncture. Now to be double sure about this, I asked him to refill the air and I will get checked at some other shop as well. I got ready and went to straight to another puncture shop. The outcome was the same after a thorough check. This made me think that something mischievous happened in the hotel parking. Nevertheless, I was 3.5 hours late, I shrugged off this worry from my head and continued my journey but I did not speed up to munch more miles and compensate for the time lost.

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I did the last 100 kms in darkness but the highway was so well marked that I did not find it difficult to ride. I reached Barmer around 8.30 pm and checked into the hotel. To my delight they had a secure basement parking and the room was splendid. I had my delicious dinner and went to sleep.

Day 6 (2 Feb 2019): Barmer to Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) – 164 kms

With Jaisalmer just 160 kms away from Barmer, I started riding from Barmer comfortably around 9 am after having the complimentary breakfast.

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The road was literally world class to travel on but you need to be careful of the animals crossing the road. This is very frequent in this part of the country.

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I reached Jaisalmer by 2 pm. The location of the hostel which I had checked into was in the proximity of the fort. The view of the fort from the roof was excellent.

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After getting rid off my luggage in the room, I walked to the fort which was just 1 km. The fort was a great sight from the inside as well with small shops in the contracted lanes selling the culture of Rajasthan.

Most the view points are taken by the slew of cafes opened in the fort. There was one view point which was open to public and it was crowded like flies sitting on food. I walked till the end of the fort to explore the place and came back. I had my lunch in a restaurant near the fort. While on my way to back to the hostel, again, a couple of kids said ‘Hi’ to me and asked for 10 bucks for no reason!

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I spent my evening sitting on the roof of the hostel to experience the sunset and also view the sun baked walls of the fort. What a pleasurable experience!!!

Day 7 (3 Feb 2019): Jaisalmer – Longewala Border – Jaisalmer – 234 kms

Longewala has a national significance in the history of India. In December 1971, Pakistan had planned to capture Jaisalmer by attacking Lonegwala Army post but the regiment led by the then Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, of 120 soldiers defeated them with the help of Air Force. The place was converted into a museum and I recommend you to visit this place to understand importance of this event.

The road to Longewala is narrow and decent to travel on. It is isolated and under surveillance plus there is no network here. There is a wet canteen for the visitors to have snacks, tea and coffee. Video recording is not allowed in any form, so visitors carrying Go Pros or other action cameras, please don’t use it.

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A captured Pakistani Tank
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The main entrance to the museum

Day 8 (4 Feb 2019): Jaisalmer – Sam Dunes – Jaisalmer – 105 kms

My friend had recommended Tao Lakhmana Desert Camp for ATV riding in Sam. So this was the plan for Day 8. The riding to Sam was quiet a touristy experience with desert camps on both the sides of the roads and locals inviting you for camel rides from the main road itself. To reach this camp you need to take a detour of 2 kms into the desert. I started enjoying the off road and I was about to fall from the bike. I reached the camp by 1 pm. It was completely empty which meant I could ride the ATV in peace but no! There was a couple also who were a part of the batch. The rate chart for ATV ride is pretty good. For 20 min, they charge INR 2,500 and 30 mins, they charge INR 3,200. I tried to negotiate but my attempt went in vain since the in-charge told me that it’s very expensive to maintain them and parts are not available in India.  The experience was incredible as I rode on the sand dunes and machine was very powerful. I got good Go Pro footage and few photos as well.

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This sums up Jaisalmer chapter for me!

Day 9 (5 Feb 2019): Jaisalmer to Jodhpur – 323 kms

It was time to hit the blue city known as Jodhpur, which was the last destination of this tour. I had my breakfast, loaded my luggage on the bike and was on highway once again. I wanted to visit the Bhardariya library which is known as the largest underground library in Asia but unfortunately it was closed. This library is located in Bhadariya village, on the way to Pokaran, 75 kms from Jaisalmer.

I took an early lunch break in Dechu around 124 kms from Jodhpur. I had my lunch and then started riding. Animals crossing was very frequent during my tour and I dodged animals multiple times on the road but this time it was a check mate. I crashed into a goat at 80 kmph, I did not fall because at the very last moment I steered my bike to the right. The goat hit the left crash guard and then hit my left foot. After the impact I parked my bike on the left side and sat on the road side because of the pain. I was about to black out but fortunately did not. Locals did not help. After gaining full consciousness, I took the medical kit out, took my boot out and sprayed Moov spray for immediate relief. The goat owner came and said that the goat had died which meant I need to pay. To my luck, there was big hotel opposite the road. Looking at this drama, the hotel official came, spoke to the villager and told him that I am their guest. Finally, it was decided that I can pay as per my wish. So I paid INR 500 to the owner to settle the case and exited out of this situation. I rode for around 130 kms in pain, when I reached the guest room in the Army cantonment, I immediately informed my father and the commanding officer of the unit about the situation and the need for medical assistance. He immediately arranged his personal vehicle and 2 jawans to assist me. Since I was limping, they picked me up by holding both my legs and placed me in the vehicle. They went out of their way to help me. The check up was done at the hospital and to my relief the doctor informed me that there is no fracture but sprain. I was advised bed rest for a few days with a few medicines. More or less my trip had ended since I wanted my foot to recover so that I am able to do the rest of the journey.

Day 10 (6 Feb 2019) & Day 11 (7 Feb 2019)

Bed Rest and Sunny Deol movies on Zee Cinema.

Day 12 (8 Feb 2019): Jodhpur to Delhi – 605 kms

After 2 days of bed rest, I was able to put my foot down and walk, though the limping did not stop. I got ready, packed my riding boots and wore the soft sport shoes. There was no pain in my foot while I was riding. I rode comfortably with that extra attention to animals crossing the road. I was able to cover a lot of distance with a few water breaks. I had my lunch in Ajmer and met an Instagram follower in Jaipur. We had a cup of tea and discussed about riding to Ladakh, which I intend to do in 2019. From Jaipur to Delhi, the ride was decent but there were certain patches of roads which were bad. It was already dark before I reached Neemrana. I faced a 2 kms long traffic jam near Dharuhera but after that there was no traffic. I reached home safely around 10 pm.

 

Places to Stay

Property 1

City: Pali, Rajasthan

Hotel: The Amba Villas

Review: No Parking, good rooms, prompt room service, food is not ok, it is better you go out in the city and eat, market is easy accessible from the hotel

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1600 per night (excluding meals)

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Property 2

City: Bhuj

Hotel: Mangalam

Review: Secure Parking, good rooms, prompt room service, food is just ok, poha is a must eat in breakfast, medical shops and puncture shops are nearby

Stay Duration: 3 nights

Rental: INR 1750 per night (via Make My Trip) and INR 1500 per night for on the spot booking. Please note this is for a single bed room.

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Property 2:

City: Barmer

Hotel: Kailash International

Review: Excellent room, lousy room service, basement parking, located on the Barmer by pass road and good food

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1900 per night

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Property 3:

City: Jaisalmer

Hotel: Fort Side Hostel

Review: Decent rooms with attached bathrooms, since it is hostel don’t expect room service, no food service, they offer tea and coffee, good for solo (especially woman) travelers, Jaisalmer fort is a kilometer walk from the hostel and on the way you will find a lot of eating joints to fill your stomach.

Stay Duration: 2 nights

Rental: INR 600 per night

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The rest of the accommodations were booked in Army Cantonment. Hence, I cannot disclose the details. Please make sure that you book in advance especially the hotel properties since they fill up fast, hostels are still available.

“The gut feeling is the real you and sometimes you should listen to it for your own good”

If you have any feedback/inquiry/questions, please feel free to connect with me.

Regards,

Adhip Varma

Email ID: adp228@gmail.com

 

 

 

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