– Anukraman Rathore
Day 1 It was a shivery winter morning of Christmas when we set out for Tour-de-Thar’15 (TdT’15). Tour-de-Thar’15 is an annual expedition co-organized by Western Motorsports and Jeypore Bike Riders through the Thar Desert every winter around Christmas. In the expedition you go through the back roads, off roads and sometimes no roads creating your trails in quest to reach out for some amazing vistas.
The group assembled at 0500 hrs for the morning chai at a dhaba. The fiesta started with convoy rolling out at 0615. The convoy consisted of 7 bikes 2 SUVs and one service truck which carried all the camping equipment and luggage. The first stop came at Sambhar Lake, the biggest salt lake of India; we had an amazing photo session. We did stop at the Shakhabhari Mata (deity of Chauhan clan Rajputs) temple to say our prayers before exiting the lake towards Kuchaman. We had our breakfast at a restaurant at Kuchaman. The restaurant had a view of the majestic Kuchaman Fort. After the breakfast the convoy headed to Taal Chhapar, The Black Buck sanctuary. It was wonderful to see these innocent creatures thriving in abundance.
From there we headed towards our night halt, after having a tea break with yummy pakodis, traversing through back roads. We were around 30km short of our destination one bike broke down and it had to be trucked to Bikaner.
On the first day we were not camping but staying in a very rustic hut resort. They had arranged a nice Bonfire for us and as usual we were carrying our own music. With the bonfire started the bakar session. The resort served us sumptuous local vegetarian food with typically warm Rajasthani hospitality. After some bakar we retired for the night.
Day 2 After a good night’s sleep we woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the dunes and enjoyed our morning tea. After having our breakfast we started for Karni Mata Temple, also known as Rat Temple. From there taking the offbeat track we reached Kolayat and had an amazing scene in front of our eyes, an oasis in middle of the desert, Kapil Sarovar full with lotus plants though not flowering at this time of the year. Kapil Sarovar and the ashram is said to be built by Kapil Muni. After a short break we started for our camp, which was alongside a canal, on the way to the canal we had lunch at a dhaba. The road to camp was covered with green canopies because of the canal running along the road. As we pitched our tents we were welcomed by a beautiful sunset.
Day 3 Dawn broke with amazing vistas… Sun rising over the canal and changing hues. It was simply WOW!!
After our breakfast we started for Khaba, Jaisalmer. The road to Khaba was serpentine and going through dunes. Around 70 kms short of Jaisalmer we sighted a lake and we decided to explore. It was around 3-4 kms off the road and we had to make our own way going cross country to reach the lake. The lake had no name even on the Google Maps so we named it WMSar, the lakes and ponds are locally called as “sar”. It was so beautiful that we thought of camping at the lake but we could not as we had arrangements at a resort. After photography session we started for Khaba with an itch to camp on the lake. We reached the resort and pitched our tents, where food and music was organized for us.
Day 4 In the morning the resort had provided us with breakfast. And the itch to camp at the lake was still there and everyone decided in favor. We visited the nearby Khaba Fort which is undergoing restoration. On the way to WMSar we visited Jaisalmer war museum which is based on the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. As we reached WMSar we pitched our tents soaked in the beautiful sunset over the lake. We cooked our own food today and yes it was laal maans. In the night we were able to see the Milky Way Galaxy or the Akashganga.
Day 5 Sunrise is always beautiful, so was this, as you could see the reflection of the sun in the lake. Today our destination was Osiyan which was 250km from WMSar. On the way to Osiyan we stopped at a small pond. Here you can sight beautiful Demoiselle Cranes. Today’s camp was with a beautiful restaurant which provided us with the space with to pitch our tents. It had arranged food, bonfire and a wonderful performance by a group of Manganiyars and a Kalbeliya dancer.
Day 6 After breakfast it was time to head back to our respective bases, TdT’15 had come to an end but no one wanted it to finish, but… We drove back to Jaipur in a convoy and bid adieu. See you in TdT’16.