Royal Enfield Tour of Rajasthan

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Day 1

Wassup guys? Hope your preparations for Christmas are on track? For me however, Christmas came early; much thanks to Royal Enfield. I am privileged to be on this tour organized by them to one of my favourite destinations. Maaro Rangeelo Rajasthan.

So, I reached Jaipur yesterday at 12 noon. The sessions began with inspection of bikes, documents and the riding gears the riders were carrying. Then, followed by pretty important sessions on First Aid and emergency situations. At the end, we got our briefing about the itinerary of the next 8 days of ride plus the dos and don’ts, the yes & no of riding. Thanks Rajath and Shawn – you guys were thoroughly detailed. We were told that a breakdown van, a luggage van and a guide jeep will be accompanying us along. This thing in particular is quite assuring. I shared the room with a thorough gentleman named Shiv Bhattacharya who is a 54 year young chap who got back to riding motorcycles after his retirement. Thanks to him, he was kind enough to share his cigarettes and also guide me on how to use the shower in a 3 star hotel, which only means I am going to have a great company for the next few days to come.

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Today our day started at 6.30 am. I exchanged my Thunderbird for The Himalayan and the bike simply amazed me with it’s perfect balance. Royal Enfield has now upped their technology in this bike with the least vibrations, the best ergonomics and stability.The 24 odd horsepower delivered at every twist of the wrist, blew my mind. The destination for today was Mahansar, a beautiful village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan – approximately 230 kms from Jaipur. I’d definitely mention the amazing coordination done by the organizing team.  Every single rider was kept in the loop, taking care not to miss out on anyone no matter how slow or fast he or she was. We took enough stops every 60 odd kms. It was

We had a small stop at Sikar, where the 4 laned highway ended. Now was the real deal – the 2 lane highways. From Sikar we rode further 58kms to take another lunch stop at the town where PK (Amir Khan’s goofy alien) had landed – Mandawa. Moving on the roads got narrower, the civilization started getting lesser but it was inversely proportional to the beauty of rugged gold brown sand and mud. Small  villages popped up on route where villagers stared at us, kids waved at us, & scared toddlers ran inside their houses remembering their own versions of Boogeyman.

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We reached Mahansar at 4 where we put up in a historic heritage castle fort called Narayan Nivas. Riding inside a heritage monument was somewhat amusing and exciting. But the real amusement was riding the trail of sand. The Himalayan took the cake again on the sand as it is built for that purpose.

So now we are back at the Haveli, the cooks here have made some special dishes for us to hog on. A burning bonfire and conversation under this bright moonlit night wraps up this amazing day.

Good bye and good night to you folks, as I said my Christmas has just begun.

Day 2

Today was day 2 of our tour and our today’s destination was Bikaner. To be specific a resort named Marudyaan just 4 kms before the town on the Jaipur Bikaner Highway. The initial patch of our ride had small narrow roads leading to Churu and further to Ratangarh. Enroute we spotted deers, peacocks and foxes on the beautiful country roads and the cool breeze complimented the warm morning sun. I was most amazed at was the peacocks, who strolled the villages as if they are the poultry. Back in city, we die for a sight of these gorgeous birds.

Important tip – while riding in Rajasthan  always watchout for cattles  crossing road.

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We reached Ratangarh and there was a straight patch of clean polished tarmac to Bikaner. Being an organized ride, I believed we would be done for the day as soon as we reach Bikaner; but Rajat, had some different plans. He lead the pack towards Shri Dungargarh taking a route off from Chhapar, the road which leads to Sujangarh. The patch between Bidasar to Shri Dungargarh was a rough patch. This whole deroute took up approximate 36 odd kms. (Check the map screenshot). The road from Bidasar to Shri Ratangarh was a broken at patches and slowed down the pack considerably but still this was good to go.

After reaching Shri Dungargarh we took the route towards west i.e. Bikaner which is the clean polished tarmac double lane road coming from Ratangarh where you can simply sit on the saddle hold the throttle and chill, sing a song and if needed even groove to your favorite music running in your head. We stopped for lunch some 60 kms before the destination of the day. This halt was on a typical dhaba with khatiyas laying outside under the tree to relax.

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The final leg of the day’s journey picked up by 3pm towards the resort Marudyaan which is bang on the highway on the right side of the road. I loved the resort property, well maintained garden and pool with playful friendly pets and livestocks roaming around.

And here we are all set for the night. Time to cool the heels with light music, much needed food and drinks to relieve our nerves.

Tomorrow we will be riding to a place called Jamba where we will be camping in tents. Exactly how I like it.. Stay tuned fellas!

To give a summary of the route taken, we rode through Mahansar – Churu – Ratangarh – Chaapar – Bidasar – Sri dungargarh- Bikaner

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 Day 3

The third day ride was to be tougher than the last 2 days due to the numerous sand trails to Jamba.

We wroomed from Marudyaan at 8.15 in the morning and rode through the highway roads of Bikaner towards Nokah and took the first stop at Karni Mata temple – the one which famous for a lot of rats freely living inside the temple. Then we rode back to the highway and took a very narrow tarmac road which leads to Jangla. 10 kms into that road, and we were told to leave the tarmac in favor of the sand. We started riding on the trail of sand twisting and bending trying to balance ourselves. Some 2 kms into the trail and the sand got dense and soft  and we struggled to get the bike moving. It seemed manageable till we had to get off the bike and push it on 1st gear. Some 5 kms into the sand trails I started getting the hang of riding on sand and the feeling was undescribable. I just stood on my footrest and kept throttling the bike which gave a lot of fishtail effect to the rear tyre but I was racing through the trails at 70kmph. Full marks to The Himalayan here for being this beautifully balanced machine.

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We did have our share of goofups too. A particular gentleman – the eldest of the pack took his age in consideration and decided the terrain was way too much for him to ride. His bike was loaded on the pickup truck. Another bike had his bike’s clutch plate burnt/overheated. Then another whose bike stalled and had to be put in the truck too. So the entire stretch of 15 oddkms took us around 4 hours of struggle.

The boys were exhausted to the core Finally, around 4 in the evening we finally got back on the tarmac and it was like coming back to life. This was the longest  ride which continued beyond sunset. The sunset though made up for it looking all dramatically picturesque like a hot red ball closing down to the horizon.

We rode on the hard narrow tarmac roads for another 70 odd kms to the spot we were going to put up for the night. A glorious sight of small igloo tents awaited us.

Getting thrown out of civilization did have it’s perks – bonfires, skyfull of stars, open lands. Maybe man had better go back to nature.

No route guide today because I am myself not aware of the villages and didn care to note down considering the terrain we were riding through.

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Day 4 

This morning was a chilly and foggy than other mornings I spent in Rajasthan on this tour. The day began quickly with  breakfast and quick briefing. Our destination for the day was Sam, a tourist village out of Jaisalmer near the border.

We wroomed towards the Phalodi Jaisalmer highway after having a quick visit to the Khichhan Bird Sancturary. Unfortunately the birds were to arrive at 10.30 a.m. and we were much before time and were told that the birds are now in the field house where they are fed. Me and Rajat left the throttle open for another one hour ripping through the straight highway covering 100 odd kms in an hour. Today . I tested the entire potential of Himalayan w.r.t. speed. Even at the speed of 130, the Himalayan didn’t give me an inch of doubt.

We stopped for lunch when Jaisalmer was just 70 odd kms and that’s where the surprise of this ride came in. Mr. Rajesh Bishnoi – our guide for this tour announced that his cousin is posted in Jaisalmer cantonment and has invited us all for lunch in the Officer’s Mess of the Army. 16 kms before Jaisalmer, Major Vijay Chowdhary was waiting for us with his Audi A4.Cheer much…

The Officer’s mess served us amazing Biryani and delicious icecream. Then came another surprise. Major Vijay is incharge of 50 battle tanks and this particular cantonment is used for parking Tanks. He was kind enough to lead us to a Tank named Arjun. Just touching and feeling the grand machine made my heart  swell with pride. Understandably, no photographs were allowed but Major saab used his camera to click a photograph with the whole group.

Bidding him goodbye we left towards Jaisalmer to Sam. The ride to Sam from Jaisalmer was dope. Clear clean and polished tarmac with dramatic views of the of sand and mud. Our stay was booked at Oasis India desert camp in Sam. A luxurious stay arrangements bang on the main road facing the sand dunes on the other side of the road. After we checked in, I tagged along with Ishaan our photographer and Rajat for a much wanted photography session.

The evening started getting comfy when the weather became cooler. What added to the liesure was raising a few glasses and cheering up for the comfort ride today..

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Day 5

The day as usual started with our breakfast and quick briefing about today’s itinerary. The beginning of the day was a treat to our eyes with a golden orange sun rising above the curvy sand dunes throwing shadows of camels doing a slow walk. Today was supposed to be be an all tarmac route, much to the happiness of everyone, considering the exhausting trail riding we did all this while..

From Sam village, we took the route towards Khuri – a not so visited tourist village. The road to Khuri was through the Desert National Park. Imagine vast lands of golden sand, freckled with grass & flocks of deer.Group photo toh banta hai yaar.

Post Khuri, the road went through Chelak and further to Jhinjhaliya, Mungeriya, Bishala & Barmer. We sped through the narrow hairline roads, carefully avoiding cattle on roads. The route was filled with a lot of sudden dips where vehicles require to slow down. Most of the time, we followed the advice but just at places we let go, pull the throttle and emerge out of the dip with a jump having both our wheels on the air. I am sure the Himalayan is a bike that can even fly and land.

At every diversion we waited for the next rider, this helped to mark the spot to take left or right. We were surrounded by curious school kids, returning from school after attending their sanskrit exam. It was fun asking them about their paper questions. Wasn’t that fun when they questioned us back on their science exam. Nothing makes a trip more memorable than such beautiful moments.

The route we rode is considered to be the epicenter of Marwad region. The men flaunted their colourful turban, long moustaches and the women shied away in their vibrant ghaghra choli. Rajasthan got so deep in my skin, that I have already started speaking hindi with a hint of marwadi.

We reached Barmer pretty early around 2. Literally hunting for food, we finally settled at New KK restaurant. I’m sure the restaurant will remember few hunger stricken men on bikes, who hogged on the Chicken and Pudina paratha like it’s the last meal. As for us, we headed towards the Sanchal Fort Resort where our stay for the night was booked. If you found the name fancy, wait till you see the place. It’s palatial. I blessed people’s love of luxury as I jumped into their cosy beds for the night, not before hogging some more, benefitting their hospitality.

Day 6 

Today’s destination was Mount Abu, a hill station in Sirohi District of Rajasthan. Mount Abu is popular as a  holiday destination – previously for the Royals of Rajasthan and now for even the aam junta.

Today again the ride was on tarmac and clean roads. We headed towards Sanchore on the NH 15 highway which is maintained by Border Roads Organization (BRO). There were a few diversions on the road till Sanchore owing to the road widening work, undertaken by the army but apart from that we covered a fair distance of 140 kms in the next 3 hours taking a stop at a fuel station followed with a tea break.

Reaching Sanchore, we headed east towards Raniwara then Mandar and Revdar. This stretch was entirely a single lane highway with spare vehicular traffic enroute. A couple of buses did manage to scare us but we managed to arrive in a single piece for regrouping and ascend to Mt Abu.

The road to Mt. Abu was a clear tarmac uphill with brilliant curves and proper banking. The Himalayan was swaying well on the ghats taking every corner and curve with grace and style. Going further inside the town we reached the hotel Kesar Bhavan Palace – a place with immense elegance. Now I must confess, staying in such hotels is very new and unusual for me. I am the guy who usually takes accommodation on a khatiya in dhabas or I pitch my own tent, so the grandness of such places impresses me mighty.

The famous Sunset Point of Mount Abu was touted as a must visit place by Mr Rajesh Bishnoi, our guide. Now, I generally dislike such tourist points owing to the crowd and I wasn’t disappointed – there indeed were 1000s of tourists with their 100s of cars. But then again, the sunset made up for any doubts I had. It was beautiful way beyond expectations. I saw the sun setting on the horizon gradually, colouring the entire sky in a molten gold mingled with flaming red.

The rest of the evening was pure bliss with sumptuous food & a deserving toast for the day’s ride. Peace…

Day 7 & 8

The end of the ride was finally near. The 7th day we would ride to Pushkar and the next day we would be back to where the ride started – The Ibis hotel

We started in the cold morning from Mount Abu. A quick regroup of members was done, least we missed anyone while swaying down the curves of the hill. Today we had the longest ride of the entire trip – 375+ kms for Pushkar. We took the 4 lane National highway from Abu Road, Sirohi, Pali, Beawar to Ajmer, so no funny road rush there. After crossing Pali we kept hunting for a decent place to regroup and zeroed on a small dhaba just before Sojat. After a full lunch at Lala we left in full throttle towards Ajmer

In my excitement, I over shot one marking by 25kms till Kishangarh and had to come back to rejoin the waiting pack. We rode to Pushkar from Ajmer crossing over the Pushkar Ghati, where we finally ended the day at Pushkar Baug Resort. This resort left me dumbfounded. Honestly, I’m not someone whose regular welcome includes being sprinkled with rose petals.

The night ended with a light chitchats over a few drinks after which I crashed quite early. Nothing like a good 10 hours sleep to prepare the journey from Pushkar towards Jaipur.

On the final day, we left from pushkar Baug at 9.30 am. It was a confusing ride  out of Pushkar on the way to Kishangarh on NH 8 highway but eventually we made it. On the NH 8 towards Kishangarh we had to take the deviation towards Makrana, the town famous for marbles. The entire stretch till Makrana was filled with Marble Shops on either side. Crossing Makrana we had a quick tea stop  and our next destination was  Sambhar. Sambhar is famous for the salt water lake named Shakambari Lake. This place was the highlight of the entire trip for me. I had heard that Kutchh is the place with salt lands but Sambhar was much similar. The road that lead to Sambhar was a narrow patch with Salt pans on either side. If you keep on the, you will even find a path that leads all the way down to the lake bed.  We surely went crazy seeing the sight of unending stretches of trails and trying to keep our eyes on the horizon. I tried some mischief by speeding at 100kmph and then hitting the rear brake suddenly to make the bike drift dusting all the way. The view in the rear mirror was completely blocked due to the salt dust that blew up at every spin of the wheel.  This visit was a cherry on the cake of this entire tour.

After Sambhar lake, we rode 50 km towards the highway and headed northwards to Jaipur. The ride ended with it’s own triumph with the RE dealer in Jaipur greeting the riders with a tika, garland and a marwari turban. It was an emotional moment for all of us after being together for all these days, hands were shaken, hugs were exchanged and I could see the overwhelming emotions in every one when they realized it won’t be the same day tomorrow. But then, for a biker this lasts only till the next ride to come.

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Day 9 

Having left late from Jaipur, I stopped at Rajsamand to look around for camping options. Being demonetized and not intending to spend cash I was lucky to go deep inside Rajsamand district of Rajasthan to a village named Thoriya. I found a barren field and after confirming with a young village boy, pitched my tent for the night.

After I had pitched my tent, the young lad also brought me his home made makke ki roti, cauliflower and salted rabri. Happiness is everywhere. I was so dead tired that I didn’t care to click the night shots of the tent.. The fields that had crops were guarded by men all the night so calls of shooing away the Neelgais kept echoing all night. Alls well that ends well. Morning I woke up at 7 to head out towards my next unknown destination.

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