Every day, the mail express train Ranikhet Express covers 1,263km from Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert to Kathgodam in the foothills of the Himalayas. The express train was also our most convenient way to go from the Golden City of Jaisalmer to Ajmer, where we would transfer to the sacred city of Pushkar. Worrying that sleeper seats would sold out days before we arrived in India, we purchased our train tickets and seat reservations days before we departed for our journey. Like many fellow travelers, we had a hard time trying to register at the official Indian Railways website. We had no choice but to buy the tickets through an online agent. We chose 12go.asia after some online research. The ride on Ranikhet Express was our first train experience in India. We weren’t sure about the validity of our reservations until half an hour before the train departed, when our seat assignments finally appeared on the official website.
The 12-hour train journey was rather smooth. We met a local couple from Bangalore. They had just finished touring Rajasthan and were heading to Jaipur for their return flight down south. We four shared a First Class compartment for 12 hours until we got off at Ajmer. In the compartment, we locked the door, took off the lights, and wrapped ourselves in our own cocoon liners beneath sheets provided by the train. Not sure if it was the rumbling noise or the steady movement of the train, we felt a little sleepy and soon fell asleep.
The manager 1st Gate Home Fusion Hotel arranged us free transport to the railway station. We arrived at the station about half an hour before departure.
Our online seat numbers finally came out when we arrived at the station. We were a little excited as it was our first time to take the train in India.
The train seemed infinite at both ends. But first we had to find our 1A car. We met a young local couple who were looking for the same car as ours (it turned out that they were sharing the same compartment with us). It took us a while to find the right car.
At about 12:30am, we finally settled at our compartment. It was a First Class 1A car, with four beds in each compartment. We took up the beds at one side, and the young local couple took up the opposite side.
The train car was neat and quiet. We were ready to get some rest during the 12-hour train ride.
The Ranikhet Express ran at an average speed of 42km/h. The journey was rather smooth and we arrived at our destination Ajmer Junction in approximately 12 hours since we left Jaisalmer.
We had some sleep during the night. In the morning, a young hawker came to our compartment to offer breakfast. We asked for two cups of chai tea to start our day.
We arrived at Ajmer Junction 15 minutes later than scheduled. Our “12-hour roommate” bid us farewell before heading back into the train, while we looked for the station exit.
Outside of Ajmer Station, we met the driver from our hotel in Pushkar. Soon we embarked on our half hour journey from Ajmer to Pushkar, the thousand-year-old sacred city for Hindu pilgrims.
13km separated Ajmer with the peaceful sacred city of Pushkar.
We left Ajmer and entered Pushkar Valley in the Aravalli Mountains. Before leaving Ajmer, our eyes were caught by a group of people carried religious or ceremonial tools heading uphill.
In early afternoon, we finally arrived at Inn Seventh Heaven.
Inn Seventh Heaven centers around a refreshing courtyard.
Our spacious room at Inn Seventh Heaven turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Outside the window, a festive ceremony was taking place across the street.
After settling in, we walked up to the rooftop terrace of Inn Seventh Heaven.
Relaxing seating were provided all over the common areas of the hotel.
On the top floor, a spiral staircase led us to the rooftop restaurant.
A rooftop restaurant in the midst of the sacred Pushkar was the perfect place to chill out and do nothing.
As no meat was allowed in Pushkar, we had a hearty vegetarian lunch before heading out to the sacred lake.