Indian Adventure on Wheels: Temples, Lakes and Gateways
We’ve spoken about India before, the veritable cauldron of forceful contradictions, boiling over into confluence of classes, cultures, religions and people, a market place of hope and the jewel of the developing world. Though you’ve probably planned to see the historical sites by foot or pondered hiring a car (you’re very brave), there is a better way to burn off the fifth bowl of Korma in as many days; though pacing steep steps of temples and obelisks may do you for a spell, the countryside by bike will open up a new world of possibility, adventure and accessibility. A bike is reasonably small, nimble and powered by your body, providing a truly social experience under the Indian sky; fall under the spell of Kerala, Rajasthan, New Delhi and more without sharing a cramped, badly aerated coach or bus plunketing along the road.
Despite Europe’s claim to a monopoly on romance, the ancient Udaipur floats on a vista of mystery and elegance, attracting leagues of adventurers every year. Majestic, otherworldly, hardy and history-worn, describing the Rajput answer to Venice will take you a thesaurus full of adjectives, so we’ll focus on the experience you’ll have astride your bike instead. From the intricacies of a resplendent 15th century Jain Temple just outside Ranakpur, to the glimmering Lake Palace drawing all eyes and camera lens to its pure marble walls and arches, your ability to stop, observe these often rushed past caveats in Indian history will make your trip one to remember. Don’t wheel on past the famed Jagdish Temple, a famed Hindu sanctum of spirituality – the places you least expect reveal the most splendid beauty of all.
A mere eleven kilometres beyond Ajmer, Pushkar is a seemingly out-of-the-way stop of considerable consequence; it plays host to one of the few Brahma temples left in the world, surrounded by rows of sacrosanct ghats, staccato domes, modest temples and an alluring lake, reflecting the sky in its depths. You’ll love the laid-back appeal and colourful characters, the spiritual atmosphere and the heavy smoke clouding fine days. Try to abstain from displays of affection, dress for the weather (and modesty), try to stay away from the spirits and abstain from meat, you’ll fit in perfectly!
The threshold of Rajasthan is popular with crowds and swells seasonally with human traffic, keen to see the sights of the City of Victory, tinted pink in the sunlight by the desert city. While tourists swamp the Hawa Mahal, climb into the corners of the City Palace, and learn the histories of Iswari Minar Swarga Sal, escape the claustrophobic crowds and watch the world go by, thousands of kilometres from home. After the droves have had their fill, follow the streams of saris and the aromas of many spicy bazaars into the marketplaces, before apprising yourself of the must-sees and must do’s. Cycling affords you a special kind of freedom, to do as you desire and design your own adventure.
Enjoy the holiday you’ve always wanted; put the pedal to the ground and jump on the tyres, cycle the world and see it with your eyes wide open.