Unpopular Weekend Destinations From Delhi-Mandawa, Rajasthan w/ Jimny

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In this edition of Un-Popular Weekend Destinations (from Delhi), I got stuck in dunes near Jaipur and traversed some narrow streets of Mandawa in the Jimny.

A Solitary Escape In The Timeless Sands

With the Good Friday long weekend approaching, I had my eyes set on exploring some dunes and sandy trails of Rajasthan. A quick search for dunes led me to finalising Kalpana Nagar dunes as my destination for this adventure. It’s one thing to drive through sand pits deep enough to get even a burly SUV stuck at an off-road track. It’s another to drive through endless sands where you could not only get stuck, but also get lost.

But, I wanted some privacy. Privacy to explore my limits. Privacy to get stuck and not have someone remind me that I’m a newbie. After all, I was looking for places to get stuck. Because how you get out of it is what matters. That’s how you gain experience.

I spent a few hours there playing around with the various combinations of 2H, 4H, 4L and electronic off-road settings. I wanted to learn how to get rolling when I dug my wheels in too deep. After playing around with the Jimny, it was time to head back home. Time well spent!

Change Of Plans

When I was done, I noticed that I had several missed calls from Piyush, who was in Mandawa at that time and I called him back to apologise. But I had a damn good excuse!

He insisted I visit him, and knowing that I had a 4X4, recommended I take a detour wherever possible to absorb more of the local vibe. I think he just wanted me to get lost in the vast desert or get stuck in some narrow passages with a dead end and no way to reverse out of.

Along the highways, and via Sikar, the drive to Mandawa from the other side of Jaipur is almost 200km and about 180km from my hotel in Jaipur. “Do hell with it. Let’s see what the Jimny can do.” — I thought to myself and promised to meet Piyush the next day.

To make sure I don’t turn my back on him, through his connections, he allowed me access to a privately-owned forest reserve near Jaipur. Before wrapping up my day, I spent a few hours in the reserve where I saw deers and nilgai. When I had dunes on my mind, forests were nowhere near my plans. Yet, I ended up playing in the sands and meditating in a mini forest, all in a matter of a few hours.

Tales Of Trails

The next morning, I started my drive from Jaipur to Mandawa a little early. I took a few detours and picked lines that look like they’re barely a pixel wide on Google Maps. Till dusk, I held my horses and decided that I shouldn’t stray too far from the wider roads. I didn’t want to disturb the locals with bright lights and leave them covered in dust. But once it got sunny, I had greater visibility and I could better evaluate the risks when going off the road.