Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mission Rajasthan 2006 - Day 05

Sam to Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer to Ramdeora
Ramdeora to Bikaner
Kilometers = 470

It was death dark when somehow Farhan managed to see the time in his cell phone as 5.30. I must have waited for another 15-20 minutes before I jumped out of the bed, collecting my woolens, I stepped outside in the early morning chilly weather and was just in time to see one of the most beautiful sunrise of my life from the western part of my country. Orange as it seemed, I tried to call others as well but all were asleep except Farhan. The road outside seemed never ending and so it called upon me insisting that I took a picture. I did! After having that delicious tea (with ginger and cardamom) and spicy orange poha in the breakfast, we forged ahead – taking the untouched left from a village “Dahora”. Our driver was already upset at this decision of ours to visit “Tanot”, the border village about 120 km from Jaisalmer because that would make 240 km extra drive that day. Soon, to his gaiety, the road was blocked by sand and although I am not sure of the genuineness but the car’s tyres got blocked in the sand. We had to get down and push it back to rescue. The driver refused to go ahead “supposedly” because of the risk involved. We understood the situation, of course, sadly but it was okay. We had just been to the awesome sand dunes last evening. So, we got ready to go to Bikaner directly via Ramdeora – the famous temple. This temple was a kilometer’s detour from the main highway but we were all appalled. The temple’s background and the setup really perturbed me and all felt that this is a place we could have done away with. Nonetheless, we could see that this temple was quite famous and in peak season, must be throbbed by tourists from all over the world. After the break, before letting him sit in the front of the car, when I asked Hari, whether he would fall asleep; he said vehemently “No, man” with his unmistakable lateral nod. Later on, however, he did fall asleep and when he woke up with a jerk on the road, he told me – he had been sleeping only since last 5 minutes. That is what he called a “Power Nap”, which according to him, was a sleep for very short durations but made you feel fresh immediately. I couldn’t have verified his fact of 5 minutes because I, myself was taking sleep :D We broke for Brunch at Hotel Sikhar situated at the midway of Bikaner-Jaisalmer. Food was good and so was the hygiene. It was 4.30 when we reached Bikaner and on asking some locals, we got to know that the Fort closes at 5 whereas the Karani Mata Temple (the rats’ fame) is open 24 hours. Obviously, we decided to go the Fort. Reaching there at 4.40, I managed to buy the tickets just at the nick of time. Running all over through the steep ramps, entering the main porch of the palace, “Ravi Sir” talked to a Guide who was an official regular Employee-Guide of the Bikaner Fort. This one was another fort which I liked, maybe partly because of the stories and the explanation of the Guide but more because the items displayed here were more recent. This was the place where I saw a 1937 advertisement hoarding of “Lux” Soap while there was a parade of Bikaner’s King going on. Really, HLL is quite an old organization! Also, there lied the jet airplane which flew in the Indian airspace for the first time – a plane which was gifted to Bikaner by British. When we finally took the Bikaner-Ajmer road for Deshnoke to see the Temple, none realized except the driver. Everybody realized only after 30 km, just 5 km before the temple that it was senseless to go back to Bikaner and rather we should go directly to Ajmer from here. After a lot of discussion, however, it was decided (thankfully) that we would go back to Bikaner for a night stay and proceed for Ajmer the next day. When we got back to the city, it was dark. We proceeded towards the main market, where the famous Lalji restaurant is situated. Hotel-hunting and Settling took more than an hour but I feel it was worth it. On the way to Lalji for dinner, stroll through the busiest road of Bikaner did not give me a feel of that busyness as it was 10 PM and shops’ shutters were dropping down with a thud every other second. Food tasted as great as heard but the star attraction was the Kesar Lassi and the Badam-Kaju Rabri Faluda. Ummm, it was just out of the world and it rang many bells in my mind. So many bhujias, which Haldiram sells at Rs. 250 per kg were being sold there at Rs. 60 per kg but due to lack of space, I had to choose only 1 item – I chose Dankoli, which is known as Gaathiya and found in the Bhujia packets numbering 3-5 per 200 grams. Little did I know that my mom would tell me later sarcastically “You went to Bikaner and got just 1 kg of this single item!!!?”