A road trip memory shared by Sonal Gupta, our youngest writer on board and a class nine student.
We woke up before the sun that day, as we had to cover a 750 km journey. The fog still hung in the air as we piled up in the car. We all could just see the excitement in our eyes as Dad started the engine of our baker’s chocolate colored newly bought Ritz. With an elegant look it had been our first choice. We drove through almost empty roads, only as the sky turned blue and the sun shone, did we find ourselves stuck in the traffic. We took the turn to the National Highway #8 in Rajasthan, our destination was the city of lakes, Udaipur. Road trips are the favorite of our family, and when we brought home the ZXI ABS model of RITZ, we came up with this trip. We drove past many fields, where shepherds were feeding their flocks of sheep and goats and children waved to us. We celebrated us overtaking trucks and waited with anticipation for the truck drivers to speedup. The journey was long but we felt comfortable in the leather seats, as they are very spacious and we could listen to our favorite songs on the CD player. On the way we had enjoyed cold coffee with hot pakodas at a road side deluxe restaurant.
We had covered half of our journey and dad felt as if the car needed a wash and we needed a break. At a small village we stopped and had a nice meal in a dhaba. The dhaba was not as neat and clean as we found them in Delhi, but the food was simple and delicious. Since I was hungry, I had overeaten the lunch with dal and salad of onion. The car desperately needed a wash as its front was covered with dead insects and the windshield with dirt; we stopped the car at a small place. They took out the water pipes and splashed powerful water jets on the car. Within minutes all the dirt was gone and car was shining new again.
Entrance of the city was wonderful. We circled down the hills and enjoyed the valley view of the city. Finally in the evening we reached the city and gave a sigh of relief. Now we had to drive through the traffic and narrow streets of crowded market. Then all of a sudden something interesting happened. Nearby a traffic signal, dad stopped his car to ask directions from a traffic policeman, instead of telling the way, he started to impose fine on us for jumping the signal. He advised us to go to nearby police station and deposit the challan of Rs.100. He didn’t pay a heed to our plea for help. He requested a lady constable to accompany us for directions to the police station. Dad returned after paying the challan and afterwards, we had a good laugh about it. Even after paying Rs. 100 we were clueless about the way to the hotel.
After roaming in circles, at last we called the hotel to get directions. Finally we got on the right road. The way to the hotel included a steep climb of a very narrow street. Dad started the climb, we went really slowly. As we ascended further, the car started moving backwards. Mom & us cried out loud and exclaimed at Dad to watch out and be careful. With the help of some people, dad was able to maneuver the car back and forth and reach the hotel. After parking the car, we took out the suitcases.
It was time for the new baby to take some rest after the exciting journey.
Day two of our trip took us to the ruins of Nagda temple or the Saas – Bahu temple and the Kumbhalgarh fort or the Monsoon palace, as the locals called it. It was nearly the time of sunset when we raced from the Nagda temple to the Monsoon palace which is situated 1100 m high. We had hired a local driver to get us around the city as being there on your own could be very confusing. He was very peculiar about cleanliness. He won’t let us eat any chips or drink anything inside and before climbing up we had to close the windows as he did not want any dirt inside the car. We did as he said because we didn’t want to be stranded in these mountains having no idea of the way back. The ride was very twisty and a there were a lot of turns. As we went further up, my ears started hurting due to the change in pressure. But when we reached the top, the scenery was very beautiful. It was so appealing to the eye and we couldn’t get enough of it. The fort was surrounded with mountains and a lot of greenery. Although, many people stood there, a strange silence hung in the atmosphere except from an occasional roar from the nearby group, enjoying their trip. We had reached at just the right time as the sunset was due in fifteen minutes so we sat on the rocks facing the bold mountains and Dad shared some of his childhood stories. It was a memorable moment, us spending some quality time with each other. The sky was now a mixture of colors. It was as if a painter had painted the canvas yellow and then red with streaks of purple here and there. The mountains were shadowed with darkness as the sun finally set. Blackness of night enveloped us as we retired back to the hotel.
On the third day of our trip we visited the Chittorgarh fort after checking out of the hotel. This time we were on our own with no driver to tell us what to do. The one mile winding road to the valorous fort was quite steep and got exhaustive as we tried to get past the tourist guides on the motorbikes following every car that they would get them there money. This fort included a lot of towers, palaces and temples surprisingly preserved in a good condition. They were so far apart that we had to cover the distance with our car. Since we had little time we went to the Vijay Stambh or the Tower of Victory, the Kirti Stambh, the Meera Temple and the Padmini Palace.
The Vijay Stambh is a 9 storied tower having carvings of Hindu deities giving it a majestic look. We climbed the 157 stairs to reach the top where we had magnificent view of the entire city. The moment was so mesmerizing and it was worth all the hard work to reach the top. Next we drove to the Padmini Palace where Alauddin Khalji had been allowed to get a reflection of Rani Padmini in the mirror. Standing in the room we tried to figure out how that had happened but we were unable to. We then drove on to the Kirti Stambh or the Tower of Fame. Since there was no way to go inside we climbed on the stones to click a pose with the figurines carved on the tower. The sun was high in the sky by then as dad parked the car at the Meera Temple. We were so fatigued by then that only mom went inside to offer our prayers and get the parsad. She tried to convince us to come inside saying how beautiful the idols and the carved out pillars looked. But we lazy bones didn’t give up.
We exited Chittorgarh and now had to cover a journey to Pushkar then move on to Ajmer and then finally back to Delhi. We again drove through the dusty roads, out of crowded market streets and then reached the National Highway. The destination was the world’s one and only temple of Lord Brahma. Slowly the sun moved down the mountains and the sky turned dusky. Night settled in as we parked our car at the hotel. For some reason the stars were clearer here. As soon as I sat down on the bed I fell asleep. Early in the morning as the sun rose in the sky we headed to the temple. It was beside the Lake Pushkar where hundreds of devotees bathed to get rid of their sins. The lake gleamed under the sunlight and the ducks rested at the temple stairs. After offering our prayers we climbed back inside our car, for Ajmer. Under the scorching heat of the afternoon we made our way to Ajmer Sharif. Once inside, we covered our heads with dupattas and handkerchiefs and bowed to Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. I had always wondered why so many people took all the efforts to pilgrimage here and now I knew why. It was because people felt at peace as they bowed their heads down to their one true God.
Now was the time for us to journey back to New Delhi. We were all restless inside the car as no one wanted to leave the desert. It was going to take us approximately 6 hours to drive down the national highway and reach home but it felt endless as we waited for the traffic to move on. We sighed at the sight of so many trucks and interstate buses waiting along with us. It seemed as if we would be stuck here for the whole night. But then dad spotted a white colored car of (most probably) an IAS officer who maneuvered through the traffic with his siren on. Dad picked up some speed and after honking at the cars managed to get us behind it. Finally there was some excitement after waiting long hours in the car. Behind the car we were able to slide past the traffic and we reached familiar roads. I knew that now home was close. Finally after some time dad parked the car at our society’s parking lot. We got out of the car, pat it on the back and collected our luggage. I looked up at the sky and realized that the stars were different here; they were so less and even the moon shone less brightly. But it did not matter as we were at our HOME SWEET HOME.
– Guest article by Sonal Gupta, a class nine student and that makes her youngest writer on board GingerChai.