Udaipur-Jodhpur (4-7 days, about 300km)
Practicalities: Udaipur and Jodhpur are linked by rail and air with major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. During peak winter season (Dec-Jan), many domestic flights get delayed or cancelled from or to Delhi due to heavy fog here.
Rajasthan is a romantic region of India, dotted with magnificent fort cities with their intricately-carved Havelis and sandstone walls. Between these forts, the deserts-cape is home to colourful historic villages which still practice an ancient way of life. With so many tour options, the best and quietest way to get around is on a cycling excursion.
One of the most popular cycling itineraries is between Udaipur and Jodhpur, which takes anywhere from 4-7 days depending on the operator. As you cycle along this moderately-challenging undulating landscape, you’ll pedal past friendly herdsmen and their camels and goats, with views of ancient forts and majestic palaces along the way. Riding past fields of mustard and wheat, there will be opportunities for spotting wildlife like blackbuck, blue bulls and maybe the rare Indian Gazelle.
At each overnight stop, you can spend the night in luxurious royal palaces and hunting lodges dating back to the 17th century. There will be options where you can take jeep or train safaris to local villages, go horseback riding, or simply soak in the history and landscape.
Udaipur, nicknamed “Venice of the East” or “City of Lakes”, has a romantic setting unparalleled in all India, with its fantastical palaces, temples, ancient bazaars, and Havelis overlooking a picturesque lake. It’s separated from the Thar Desert by the Aravali Range – cycling tours explore this challenging terrain, passing many ancient mountain villages of the Bhil tribe, one of the oldest inhabitants of the subcontinent. Perched on top of the hills is the imposing Kumbhalgarh, a Mewar fortress surrounded by a 35km-long wall, housing 365 temples within. The crown jewel is Badal Mahal, nicknamed “Palace of the Clouds” for its incredible views.
In the Aravali foothills is Ranakpur, home to the famous 15th century Jain Temple; built in marble, it is an architectural wonder featuring intricately-patterned ceilings and over 1,400 exquisitely-carved pillars, each with its own unique design.
The fabled blue city of Jodhpur – so named because of its profusion of blue-tinted homes – is home to the magnificent Mehrangarh (Mehran Fort), one of the largest forts in India, built around 1460. Still run by the royal family, Mehrangarh is packed with history – the fort’s original entrance of Loha Pol still bears iron spikes to deter enemy elephants, while just inside the gate are 2 pairs of sati handprints of royal widows who threw themselves on their maharajas’ funeral pyres.
Depending on the operator, the journey can be done from Udaipur or Jodhpur. Expect to ride around 50-60km per day, with some operators providing transfers along busier roads.