After 9 days of the Golden Triangle I was eager to explore the rest of Rajasthan to check out our newly launched Rajasthan Run Challenge route: Five days covering over two and a half marathons running through the rural heartland of Rajasthan, and through villages and towns that are alive with tradition and colour.
First stop on the Rajasthan Run Challenge: The sand dunes of the Thar desert – Jaisalmer (http://www.jaisalmer.org.uk)! The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Leaving Pushka we soon enter barren land, where desert trees and children sitting in the dust playing with stones line our path into the Thar Desert. Arriving Jaisalmer, we head to the rooftop restaurant of our hotel to be welcomed by the sight of the sun setting over the Fort.
The following morning, after a short transfer, we are on route for the first of the Rajasthan Runners half marathons. Covering over 20km today through the sand dunes and beaten tracks lined with low lying shrub and gnarly cactus – this is a truly a trail runners’ paradise!
Through a tough sandy trail and we reach the half-way point, and the welcoming faces and the local goat herders. Setting eyes on the Jaisalmer Fort gives tired runners an incentive to keep going through this tough arid terrain. Drawing closer to the fort, the last leg takes the team out of the desert and through the back roads right to the door of the hotel! Exploring the Jaisalmer Fort in the afternoon took me to another world! An expansive complex of palaces and temples, riddled with narrow winding streets and home to thousands is a realm all of its own.
The second days run departs straight from the hotel and takes us back into the rolling dunes of the Thar desert, dotted with goat herders shacks and wind turbines. Today is a chance to pick up speed as the sand dunes flatten to a rockier terrain. It’s an 18km run today, as we pull through the last few km we approach a desert village, and the smiling, curios faces of children asking ‘what are you doing?’ , ‘where are you going’ and ‘why’? A strange site for them I am sure – a group of ‘strangers’ in running shorts racing through their village!
After an evening in Manvar at the beautiful Manvar Resort, (http://www.manvar.com/experience_manvar/manvar_resort.html ) located in the heart of the sand dune region of Rajasthan, very quaint and pleasant green oasis in the desert, from Narlai we transfer onto Jodphur- the blue city. Jodphur is dominated by the imposing presence of the Meherangarh fort, the stunning 15th century citadel that sits perched high above the city on top of sheer sandstone outcrop.
Starting from Narlai, we run through huge Granite boulders, through local villages, passing the smiling, inquisitive faces of the locals in their bright saris and red and pink turbans and onto a large lake, home to crocodiles, turtles and a wild variety of birds. Passing through a village we have a giggle at a cow knocking on a village door maybe asking for Chai or providing milk for Chai, who knows!!
The final leg of the day brings us back to the village of Narlai to finish at the base of the Elephant temple granite rock.Where, if runners choose, they can push yourself to run or climb the 759 steps to a magnificent view of temples peeking out of the skyline of boulders and the villages below. We sit in the shadows of the Elephant statue and absorb the surroundings, taking time out to appreciate the experience so far.
On the second days run from Narlai, we are met with an array of colour as we pass farmers with their bright red and Pink Turban and women walking their buffalo. the run winds its way through Pali District, passing through several villages, past locals shaping iron for farming tools and over agricultural land that has remained unchanged for generations, running along sandy trails, past farmland and lakes before we find ourself’s back in the village of Narlai. Completing over two marathons so far, through the arid Thar Desert dunes to the Granite rocks of Narlai!
So with four days of running and still our final 35km leg tomorrow onto the magical Udaipur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udaipur ) to go, if you’re running this you’re bound to feeling burn! But the adrenaline of experiencing yet another whole new world would be a real boost! We enter the beautiful city of lakes; Udaipur. Starting form Narlai, the 20km run takes us to the Jain temples at Ranakpur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranakpur) hidden amongst the verdant forests of the Aravalli Hills We. spend some time exploring the magnificent marble temples after a well-earned lunch. Dating back to the 15th century the main temple is a stunning piece of architectural splendour, held up by no fewer than 1444 wonderfully and individually carved pillars. Its 29 halls are spread across nearly 4000 square meters and contain some of the most breathtaking and intricate carvings imaginable. The afternoon we transfer to the hotel, Hotel Lake Pichola (http://www.lakepicholahotel.com ,Founded by the legendary Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 A.D, with beautiful view on the rooftop terrace overlooking the beautiful city palace.
The run finishes with a15km magnificent trail around the Fateh Sagar Lake, through Villages and onto the finishing line where the challenge ends with a breathtaking view of the lake, we spend the afternoon explore Udaipur, and taking a boat ride on Lake Pichola.
This is an Indian Adventure like no other a challenge for body and mind that takes you through some of the most authentic landscapes on the Indian Subcontinent.
You can also find out more about the Rajasthan Challenge by clicking here. To see more information about the array of amazing challenges we have, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all our challenge news, please subscribe to this blog. You can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.