It’s been more than a decade since we started Art of Bicycle Trips. From our first bike trip to now covering many countries across Asia, it has been a grateful journey. Nostalgically, India got its first cycle in the 19thcentury. According to historian David Arnold around 35,000 bicycles were imported by India in 1910. Though meant for Europeans, the cycle which initially was a transport vehicle for the few, found its way through many Indian cities. And was quickly embraced.  The first cycling club came up in Calcutta. With the help of industrialization and a few entrepreneurial Indians, cycling in India became popular. The popular Black Cycle became ubiquitous with hardworking Indian. It offered more freedom.

An Old BSA ad, from the book, Cycles of Empowerment? The Bicycle and Everyday Technology in Colonial India and Vietnam by David Arnold and Erich DeWald

An Old BSA ad, from the book, Cycles of Empowerment? The Bicycle and Everyday Technology in Colonial India and Vietnam by David Arnold and Erich DeWald

Inspirations followed and the cycle could be seen as a source of inspiration in Bollywood. Indian actor Dev Anand cycled to perfection in an air of romance. Indian classic movie Paying Guestis a testimony to the same. Picnics in the reel and life happened around the cycle. In Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, a movie hinged around cycling, the entire town and audience watching the movie were kept on the edge till the very last frame. A coming of age movie the annual cycling race was the crescendo of three-hour epic

Cycling in India

A screen grab of Dev Anand ‘s Paying Guest

However, the cycle did not stop at Bollywood. Cycling in India was introduced as a sport by mid 1930s. In Indian politics, it became a symbol of progressiveness and simplicity. Political party such as Samajwadi Party used the cycle as its party symbol. The government encouraged Indians to make use of the cycle. Most recently in 2015, cycles were distributed by state governments to girls in rural areas to improve their participation in schools.

Commemorative stamps on Asiad Games and Women Empowerment showing cycling in India.

Commemorative stamps on Asiad Games and Women Empowerment in India.

Back to the times of Hybrid bikes, E-Bikes and health, cycling has become even more important. WHO is constantly reminding us to stay active and healthy during a pandemic. Cycling is one of the ways out. Our own STRAVA Cycling Club logs daily activity of solo cycling rides.  Cycling trips in Asia offered by us past decade has only made us surer the popularity of the cycle has only risen.

More power to the pedal.

Cycling Trips in Asia

Cycling in Asia“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.”

~~Samuel Johnson

 

Bike tour in Rajasthan, the desert state of India, is an experience one must try. The state holds a unique identity. The royal and chivalrous history of Rajasthan can be felt even to the present time in its splendid forts, and impressive monuments. We have been organising bike tours in Rajasthan since time. The slow pace of cycling has allowed us to explore the various facets of the state. Here are some of the experiences we recommend while you are biking in Rajasthan.

 

#1 Wanderlust the Thar Desert

Thar Desert in Western Rajasthan also known as the Great Indian Desert has vast  stretches of rolling sand and a unique ecosystem. Jaisalmer the major town is a prime trading center of the region.  Most of the desert’s inhabitants stay in surrounding villages which are sparsely spread across the region. The name Thar is derived from thulthe general term for the region’s sand dunes.

Travel tip: The desert town of Jaisalmer stands tall in eastern frontier of Thar Desert. The town is centeredaround the ever imposing Jaisalmer Fort. The fort is one of the few living forts in the world. We recommend taking the road from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer to enjoy excellent landscape en route the town.

Thar Desert

Camel Ride in Thar Desert. Image by Sam Gellman

 

#2 Celebrate the richness of Colours

Every colour has a special significance in Rajasthan. The festival of colours, Holi, is celebrated with much gusto.

Pedal on your bike down the road, and your eyes may catch sight of a group of ladies circled under a tree draped in colourful saris of crimson, fuchsia,  and tangerine. A sari with the combination of red and yellow denotes that a woman has borne a son. The men too are not far behind when it comes to showing off the vibrant colours sporting their fluorescent turbans, making the day look brighter than ever. The Rajput warrior class wear saffron turbans to denote chivalry. The Brahmin scholastic men wear candy pink, and the nomads black.

Cycle past the exuberant the marketplaces of Jodhpur and Jaipur, and you will find they every possible colour on stands of vendors.

Holi in Rajasthan                  Kids playing Holi in Jodhpur. Image by Siddharth Jain

 

#3 Study the magnificent monuments

Speaking of colours, legend also has it that in the year 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh decided to paint the city of Jaipur in only one color, pretty pink, to welcome the then Prince of Wales. This is when the main streets of the “City of Victory”received its delicate hue of salmon. As you pass through the streets of Jaipur on your bicycle tour, this colour is most evident in the beauty of the Hawa Mahal, also called the Palace of WindsParking the bikes is not difficult. Do explore these magnificent monuments, their frescoed walls and the striking Belgian glass windows.

Travel Tip: Many monuments including Hawa Mahal close by 4:30 p.m. for public viewing. Do plan your day schedule accordingly as per your visit.

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

Jantar Mantar (Sun Dial), Jaipur. Image by Siddharth Jain    

 

#4 Hear the vibe of the city

Of course, as you pedal around your bike tour and make stoppages, you get the opportunity to hear the language of the locals from close. Cycle past a group of men who are friendly enough to wave at you and say hello.Being able to listen to the local language up close makes it a personal experience worth remembering forever.

We recommend: Do the customary Indian nod. However, practise at home.

Travel Trivia: Rajasthan, the regal Indian state is known for its blue city of Jodhpur, pink city of Jaipur and golden city of Jaisalmer. Do you why?

#5 Explore the old world hospitality of Udaipur

Give time to Udaipur. Also called the Venice of the East, the city of Udaipur is as old as 1576. The beauty of cycling around this city is the view of its picturesque havelis, ghats, and old temples on the bank of Lake Pichola. Udaipur has an easy-going, laid-back vibe, so it’s ideal for winding down at the end of a tour. But avoid bumping into a cow.

Travel Tip: To explore the best of Udaipur, begin the day at the City Palace. If you are a fan of vintage cars, you can even ask your guide to take you to the museum of vintage cars in Udaipur.

Fresco of Rajasthan

#6 Don’t miss out on the festivals

And there are plenty of festivals. You have the luxury to choose from a music festival in Jodhpur, the camel festival in Pushkar, the Kite festival in Jaipur, Holi or many more.

 

Travel Tip: Rajasthan Tourism has a ready list of festivals planned for the year.

We recommend travelling to Rajasthan during the winter months as it is the best time to take a cycle tour. While the warm rays of the sun keep you going through the day, as night falls, you will experience the temperature dip.

 

Cycling in Asia

Conclusion

Making the decision to take a cycling holiday in Asia , and exploring a place has its own benefits. Contribute to the nature by leaving no carbon footprints behind and get some exercise when on a cycling vacation.Furthermore, make your way into nooks and corners, which are otherwise inaccessible by vehicle, much faster.

Every place in Rajasthan can steal your  heart and attract you to visit again. If you and your family are planning on taking a bike tour to Rajasthan, keep a track of the weather and make a bucket list. The best known time to visit Rajasthan between October and March.