I wrote a number of travelogues in recent past but when my good friend Abdul Wadood Khan told me that he is planning a trip to Jaipur then the same reminded me of the fact that despite of being my first ever highway drive, I never really wrote about my trip to Jaipur. May be the reason that it was just one day experiment kind of affair and didn’t had ended perfectly sort of.. but still being the first drive, it deserved a write-up and here I am….
Its been roughly nine months since I bought the car or could say started driving the car. Only those who remember that how they learned the driving could understand that how that process feels. Mine? I kind of documented that in a way that I can keep in memory…
Anyway… that was just to give the idea that despite of city driving for almost nine months, I wasn’t feeling quite a pro till the moment, I hit a full length highway and for that I had to wait for my newborn kiddo (August 31, 2012) to get back from his mother’s place. But that wasn’t only variable to be considered for the first highway drive of mine, I had to choose a destination with good roads from Delhi and also moderate traffic. You know, I wasn’t very confident about the messy traffucked drives.
Trust me, it still wasn’t a planned trip otherwise there were so many things which I might have planned or checked for, like I did in Manali trip later on, but things happen in the way they are bound to happen and suddenly one late night, I decided that we would be driving to Jaipur tomorrow. Little to plan for, little to pack for .. even the kiddo was on milk only so not much on that account either. Leave other things, I didn’t even slept whole night as the plan was to leave home early, only to know at the end that how foolish that was.
Despite of spending whole night without sleep, we left home by some 0430hrs, March 29, 2013 only because I had to wake up Pooja and then agree on her demand of tea etc otherwise it would have been a little earlier than that at least. Things got delayed even more due to unplanned nature of the trip as the car didn’t had much fuel in it and the nearest petrol pump came out to be not of 24hours type. I had to drive reverse direction to find a known petrol pump and then come back track. It might have taken around half an hour and then we were on the way.
The first stop was at the McDonald in the way, roughly 50ms away from apartment, though I must tell you that its kind of waste to visit it in such early hours even if its open. Their breakfast menu items aren’t full snacks and that sucks for me. But still the visit was a must for me to get out from sleep, which I was still feeling due to the fact that I skipped sleep that night.
A drive of roughly 200 kms more completed in roughly 4hrs because even though road was extremely fair to me, I was extremely cautious being the wife and kiddo on front seat and you know that without baby seat or specific arrangements, its not safe way with just standard adult seatbelts. I maintained my speed around 60kmph than racing it higher or even slowing down. Timestamp\ geotags over the pictures taken keeps the speed average around 50kmph across the drive.
It wasn’t highway like once we entered into the city and headed to first destination which was Amer Fort (don’t ask that why I typed it wrong, I told you, it was a first drive and totally unplanned.). The road to it happens to be on a slope and that was a nightmare for me those days. After so many hill drives now, I can now laugh about it, but it was. Anyway, I managed to park the car which was no trouble but I knew that pulling the car back on that road with slope with traffic gonna test me.
it was March but somehow this wasn’t a very pleasant day temperature wise and being at jaipur in noon? I did kind of regretted the decision to choose the destination.. but it was kind of learning experience anyway.
Green lawns, clean blue sky was lovely anyway, though Pooja must be thinking in mind that we would have visited the similar structures in Delhi itself.
Under clear sky and that temperature, it was tiring for us to walk through that big fort and even though those stairs on the hills visible across were inviting me to check out, I couldn’t stretch myself much with responsibility of an infant to carry in addition.
We roamed around the fort, check out folk things on display for purchase and did pose for some photos but heat was something which wasn’t going away that day.
Jalmahal was in the way but as sun was over the head, we thought to keep it for returning.
It was already 1330 hrs around and I was looking for AC restaurant nearby but finally got settled for the above restaurant on just next square to Jalmahal. It might be the case that we were very hungry by that time due to continuous walking on hill like route, but the food was real tasty. More than eating, it rest for my legs and dipper change etc for the kiddo.
When we reached to Hawamahal then contrary to my expectations, it wasn’t situated at a comfortable place. Very congested market in which the building stands like any other Hotel might be. One who might not have seen it in pictures before, won’t be able to recognize it easily and worse, when we reached then it was under some renovation.
At next square, there was a Bus Station and you might understand that what would that make of the place, road and crowd. The place didn’t had any proper parking nor it was easy for a new driver like me to stop by side of road in that kind of rush. Somehow by asking bystanders, we got know about a place few meters back on the same road where there was free place to park the vehicle. Scary for me though as the place was no official parking hence no security etc. Anyway.. I didn’t had any option either.
Hawamahal sure was an interesting place from inside. The beauty aside, the structure was designed such a way that even in that heat the inside wall of various rooms were as cold as we might feel during January – February. Those, who desperately find excuses to ridicule the ancient science claims, should sometimes introspect about science behind such structures and their timelessness.
We were such tired that we actually lie down over one of the floor and security needed to ask us for moving. Though as we were with the baby, the kind of security personnel directed us to a place without CCTV monitoring as they couldn’t have allowed any visitor on record.
We did some shopping around and bought two Jaipuri Rajais. Very lightweight but still very effective against cold. Though finding authentic ones should be a careful task. We could have bought some traditional dresses for kiddo but she was way too small as of now for that.
The next destination in our mind was Hawamahal or Jalmahal and Jalmahal was kind of much near, so we chosen that. Trust me, even though photos came out on better side, it was a pleasant time to be at the place at 1200 hrs. Pooja refused to even come out of car and the place also was kind of lonely at that hour of the day. I guess the place would have been better at very early morning or in late evening/ night.
Despite of resting at Lunch, at Hawamahal etc, I was still tired considering no sleep at night and same was with even wife due to heat and carrying kiddo around in turns. As we didn’t had any bookings in any hotel, we parked the car at side of Jalmahal and rested for roughly an hour. We literally slept inside the car.
By 1700 hrs around, we decided to call it for the day and headed back to Delhi.
As my target was to reach back as fast as possible, I must be driving fast as in next 30 mins, I was roughly 45kms away from the place (by 1730 hrs).
The next major stop before the sunset was at the above place. We got freshened up, took snacks and tea etc and then night drive began by 1850 hrs and so the nightmare.
I learned the lesson hard way that NH8 is worse once its 2000 hrs as Trucks get lined up because the heavy construction work going on over the national highway since eternity. 8 Lanes Road was getting shrink into 2 lane road and was choking up the traffic entire way. Roughly 170 kms was remaining but it took 7hrs to us, thanks to long queues at various tolls.
Those were tough 7hrs… Big trucks changing lanes, SUVs doing outrageous tricks and I was still inexperienced driver in comparison. Mis-judgment at a lane even cost me a bump at the bottom, which kept on irking me for rest of the way. I was much tired and sleepy yet I had to drive.
We skipped dinner due to safety issues and also due to the fact that post dinner, the sleep would have been unavoidable considering our conditions then. Only we know that how I kept on driving even when eyelids were feeling like some big stones. Once we reached mostly lonely Gurgaon-Faridabad Highway, then our mind relaxed a little even though that last leg of journey still felt like so long.
Finally we reached back home by 0200hrs and headed to bed directly without even bothering to check if anything left in car. The first highway journey was over with some lessons for me to keep in mind.