the Monsoon Palace or Sajjan Garh is perched on top of Bansdara peak along the Aravalli hill range . it towers above the city- which lays on flat land- at more than 3000ft. it has sweeping panoramas- Udaipur city on the east and the Aravallis on the west.our first day in Udaipur almost became our last day there too. we did not like it. im not saying the city is not nice. actually, i think the city is very nice, too nice for our liking. its too clean, too fancy, too touristy. But since we only have 3 days to kill before Holi Festival. it will be too short to travel to another town.we thought of heading outside the city the next day. explore the outskirts on bicycles. it might shake off our first impressions of Udaipur.we rented rundown bikes in Heera Cycle shop( 50rps). it has clunky wheels and brakes. its the best ones they have though. conquering the hills on these tacky two-wheels seemed quite a challenge. yang got the fitness of ironman. and i got the will and arrogance of Tony Stark. so, we should be good.we kick-started the 7.5km road around 4pm. anytime earlier than that and we should have gotten our skin toasted. the sun rays were piercing even at 4pm. it was a hot day. the first 2.5kms is concrete highway. we breezed through it easily. we reached the electric substation and continued to the small rough and dusty road leading to the main gate. the palace is inside the national park. from afar the palace started to appear high and imposing.
its a few hundred meters away from the gate and we hit the slopes. the park looked dry with nothing but shrubs and bushes. we took our first stop for a water break. the sun was still scorching and the heat was oppressive. 4:30pm. as per Yang’s gps, we finished a little over half of the total distance and a few meters of the 3.5kms assault/climb to the top where the palace is.
we pedalled on but we’re forced to take another stop. the heat was unbearable. the unpaved dry road started to feel harder to trudged onto. the gradual slope turned to full-on ascent. it felt almost impossible to kick on the pedals as the bike chains might break. we gave up on riding the bikes and started pushing it forward.
after reaching what-could-be the first 500meters of the whole 3,500m, i wanted to stop. i was panting. heat and exhaustion got the better of me. we drank almost 3/4 of our water. cotton shirt was sweat soaked. i should have bought some dri-fits. im checking out Zalora once i get home. it was around 5pm.
i stared at the palace and it was so damn distant and high. it was a long shot to get there before sundown. i asked Yang if we should continue, he said yes in a heartbeat. and my heart just fell. i was tired. it was not biking anymore, not trekking- it was suicide. but, yeah, im too cocky to back down.
time constraints, heat, exhaustion, water, distance and that fukcin bike (which felt as heavy as a motorcycle)- good thing im stupid at times. i never bothered analyzing if it was indeed possible to reach the palace under these conditions. i followed the chinese and trekked on.
sun dwindled down and casted a shadow to the side of the hill where we were at.
2kms is a short distance. but it was uphill so it felt like 2bazzilion kms. tourists with puzzled looks on their faces in air-conditioned cars occasionally passed by. my motivation was to get to the palace and order some fancy, expensive food they serve because i fukcin deserve it.
they had to make the road zigzag because it was just too steep.
i have no idea how we did it, but, yeah, we reached the palace minutes before sunset. the palace was no fairytale- castle-like inside. as it is dilapidated; rundown like our bicycles; beat-up like our bodies. the real gem of this palace is not the palace itself but the spectacular views from the windows.
i had my fair share of trekking and mountain biking in the past. but never trekking with mountain fukcing bikes.
but all-in-all, i am glad it happened. i am glad Yang said we should continue. i am glad that im cocky at times. i am glad i was able to take some good photos. it is one of the more memorable experiences from my trips.
and there is no tired, aching body a cold bottle of beer can not soothe.