Marching in darkness – Day 5

When I started reviewing the day’s plan in the morning, I noticed that reaching Jodhpur earlier didn’t have too much value for us. There were only 4-5 places to see, and it was possible to leave in the afternoon and still make it to Jodhpur in respectable time.

Once we had the morning free, plans to visit the City palace were once again back on the charts. The rooftop hotel was slow in food delivery, but we made the mistake of giving it one more chance to improve the serving time, and the hotel didn’t fail to bring the breakfast late by whooping 25 minutes, the highest we ever waited for food!

The check out time was 10.00a.m., so had to keep our luggage in the luggage room of the hotel.

We reached at City palace gates at about 10.15a.m. It is so commercial that it’s hard to believe. 50 bucks for entry, 200 bucks for camera! Even the people flaunting SLRs were arguing with the ticket counter. So again back into the bag went the camera, and into the palace went us.

After roaming the palace for about 2 hours, I can say that one can easily skip the palace. Very few places in the palace are great, and that too not so much as to skip other places. The Rajasthani palaces are continuously operated upon for expansion or maintenance, so it’s hard to tell what’s really authentic heritage thing and what’s made 2 years ago. Overall the time spent in the palace can hardly be termed as ‘satisfactory’. I know Udaipur is called the most romantic place and what not, but somehow, the romanticism skipped us, and what we saw was just a money earning machine churning to make as much as possible. This is strictly personal feeling though, and there are people who swear by the city.

We hit the road at around 12p.m.

Leaving from Dream Heaven Guest house

The highway again, is beautiful. But as the time was noon, I wasn’t going above 80kmph, because didn’t want the tires and engine to get too hot. We took regular hourly stops while on the journey.

While one such stop, I realized something doesn’t seem right about the saddle bag. Upon close inspection, we saw that it wasn’t in too good a condition. It had started coming off the stiches, and even tearing at some places.

We already had planned to keep the saddle bag in Jodhpur hotel and take the tankbag only to Jaisalmer, but for that, the bag had to make it to Jodhpur. I didn’t want Nandinee to carry the saddlebags on her laps. Here, the bungee cords and cloth hanging rope we were carrying came in very handy. Tied the bag nicely as tight as possible, prayed that may she hold till Jodhpur, and went on.

En route, we came across Ranakpur, a village famous for its Jain temples carved in marble sometimes in 15th century. The carvings are said to be very unique, and even the 1444 pillars in the temple are supposed to be carved in individual ways!

There are some small temples built around recently as well.

We kept the luggage in the office of the temple, kept the saddlebag on the bike only, as it was securely tied down. The temple is magnificent. There is one old temple, and new temples are built around it. The beauty of the carvings is one to witness. We spent almost half or one hour in main temple alone.

The temple has quite a large number of monkeys at the entrance. We had tied our mojaris on top of one of the saddle bag, for easy access. When we came back, we saw that the plastic bag carrying the mojaris (which was tied on the saddle bag) was tore apart. Later the security guys informed, that monkeys in their infinite curiosity took the blame for this.

Vesta waiting in the parking lot of the temple

We asked our way ahead to a temple staff. Here I had my first brush with caste question. “Which religion? Which Jaati?” After this only I got the answer, and I am still thinking what was the relation of my question with these ones!

We had our lunch at this roadside dhaba, who was selling Punjabi disease! But the food was descent.

There is a shortcut from just a few kms here, from Rani. The road in that shortcut is straight as an arrow, and in good conditions 90% of the times. Only when some villages came did the road go in bad conditions. Maybe the ruling party in those villages was opposition one!

Luggage carrier!

When we joined the main road, the highway was noticeably crowded with huge vehicles. This was the only path that I got bored while riding, because there were too many huge vehicles to overtake. After negotiating the traffic for about an hour, we came across Pali bypass. We mistakenly entered Pali city and went in 1 km ahead, because there was no one on road standing or no vehicle going in same way that we were! Finally a biker told us we should’ve taken that bypass. Took a U turn, and joined that bypass at about 7.00p.m.

After the bypass, we joined the main highway to Jodhpur. There was no milestone for a long time, so no way to confirm whether we were going in the correct direction. We took a halt for coffee at a dhaba, where the owner confirmed the way.

While riding to Jodhpur, I noticed that this seemed a neglected town in Rajasthan, as the approach road is all dark with hardly any markings.

While riding, we were passing through some busy spot having many shops, when Nandinee shouted “Wait, Aniruddha, Bullet baba!”

This is a holy sight for locals, where the story goes like this: This person Om Banna T. Chotila was going on his bullet, drunk. He hit a tree here and died on spot. When police shifted the motorcycle to police station, in the morning it was back at the accident scene! Then police thought someone was playing prank, so they removed all petrol, locked it in a garage, but same thing happened. This much adventure was enough for the police to wash their hands clean out of this, and the motorcycle was given to the next of kin. The family sold it to someone in Gujarat, about 400kms away. But still the bike returned to its place here! The purchaser got scared and left his claim on it.

Since then, this place is worshipped. Slowly it gained its fame. Previously prasaad of alcohol was norm here, but now drinking is prohibited in this area. Local people have accepted Om Banna (Banna is actually a name for a Young Rajput) as their god, and worship the place faithfully. And Bullet Baba is NOT the name of the place, no matter what some sites say.

At Om Banna Temple

After praying and offering garland to the photo frame of Baba and the bullet, we started rolling. Finally we arrived in Jodhpur at around 9.00 p.m.

When we were on the outskirt of the city, we stopped near a police and asked his the directions to our hotel. He started asking questions why have you come, where are you going to stay etc. After satisfying his curiosity, he started telling the ‘saga’ of reaching the place.

Like a military or police order, he started telling us the directions in singsong tone.

“Pehleeeee aaaap seedha jao! Baadmeeeee daayneeee mudo! Phirrrrr……”

Slowly one by one I turned off the turn indicator, switched off engine, removed gloves, about to remove helmet while he was narrating the whole path. Finally he finished, and we rolled on barely able to contain our laughter.

We finally reached the hotel ‘Heaven Guest House’ located near clock tower, more famous locally as Ghanta Ghar. We passed through various crowded bazaar and knocked around many cows before reaching here.

The guest house is located in the heart of the city. While for a traveler this is the best news, for a bike it is not, simply because of lack of parking space. I finally pulled Vesta in the narrow gully to the entrance to the guest house, and called it a day. Luckily unlike the surrounding, the guest house was very clean, with good hosts. The owner was shocked to see a married Indian couple touring! Said we were the first Indian couple, and he thought I would be traveling with some firang babe, because desi women are reluctant to ride cross state!

These two days were of continuous riding, as tomorrow we would ride around 300kms more for Jaisalmer. Jodhpur sightseeing would remain an unfinished business that would have to wait for three more days. be continued.

One thought on “Marching in darkness – Day 5

  1. Pingback: Rajasthan Chronicles « Aniruddha's Blog

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