When embarking on a private tour of Rajasthan, the quality, experience and courtesy of your driver are of utmost importance. At Indian Excursions, we think it’s possibly the most crucial factor to get right: you spend a significant amount of time together in the vehicle as you travel from between monuments and locations, and a great driver can really set the tone of your holiday.
We think it’s something we’ve got down to quite the art and one of our star drivers is Sanjay. Here, we sit down with Sanjay to ask his thoughts on Indian Excursions Co and planning a tour of Rajasthan.
How long have you been driving?
Sanjay: Ten years altogether, though I have been working for Indian Excursions Co for five years.
What do you like most about being a driver?
Sanjay: My favourite thing about being a driver for Indian Excursions Co is meeting new people. I also enjoy seeing new places and exploring more of my country.
Which is your favourite place in Rajasthan?
Sanjay: I like Udaipur. It’s clean, green and quiet. The weather is pleasant as well.
And your favourite place outside of Rajasthan?
Sanjay: I like Haridwar [a holy city in the state of Uttarakhand] for seeing the river Ganges. I also like Shimla [in the Himalayan foothills] for the beautiful mountain scenery.
What does your job entail, being a driver?
Sanjay: In addition to driving our guests safely through their itinerary, my other responsibilities include keeping the vehicle clean and tidy each day. It’s important to me and Indian Excursions Co that I offer excellent service, so – depending on whether the guest appreciates it – I often give bits of information about each city as we enter, and discuss Indian culture with them.
Have you had a favourite guest?
Sanjay: I have enjoyed the company of all my guests so far and it would be difficult to pick a favourite! There was one couple in January this year from the UK though who I particularly clicked with. We spent three weeks driving through Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan, often sharing stories with each other along the way. Their favourite hotel on the trip, I believe, was Anopura [a tiny, two-bedroomed cottage on the outskirts of Jaipur]. They also enjoyed The Serai [a luxury desert camp] in Jaisalmer.
If you were planning a tour through Rajasthan, where would you go?
Sanjay: For any of our guests who’re currently in the planning stages of their itinerary, I would recommend visiting Delhi, Agra, Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer. I would also suggest getting off the beaten track on the way with a night or two at Chhatra Sagar [a charming camp in rural Rajasthan, besides a lake].
Do you have any further advice for someone who may be planning a tour of Rajasthan?
Sanjay: Yes. Remember that in India, everything is possible! Also, be wary of pickpocketers around busy monuments like the Taj Mahal.
Are there any places or hotels you would not recommend?
Sanjay: Though I know Madeleine and Shiv [Co-Founders of Indian Excursions] would disagree with me, I think I’d advise against staying at a hotel in the fort when in Jaisalmer. These small guesthouses usually don’t have a restaurant so it can be inconvenient for guests to eat in the evening.
Madeleine (Co-Founder): There are lots of lovely places to eat nearby though!
Sanjay: Yes, it depends on the guest and if they like eating in their hotel or if they prefer going out.
What is your favourite hotel on our tours?
Sanjay: Anything by the Oberoi or Taj group. I also really like Suryagarh in Jaisalmer.
How about your favourite off-beat hotel?
Sanjay: I would definitely recommend including at least one stop in rural Rajasthan. It’s a great opportunity to relax mid-trip and the locals who live in and around the villages are always friendly. Favourites of mine are probably Rawla Narlai and Bainsrorgarh Fort.
How do you keep your cool when driving in India?
Sanjay: Lots of experience! Patience is key in being a great driver and ensuring our guests feel safe.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on the road whilst driving in India?
Sanjay: It happens often, but I would say probably people driving on the wrong side of the road. Also, recently in Udaipur, I saw a public bus with about 60 people hanging onto the roof!
A tour of Rajasthan usually requires fairly long drives. What is your advice for enjoying these?
Sanjay: In India, the drives are indeed quite long [between three and five hours on average], though there are always interesting things to see on the way to break it up, for example, Fatehpur Sikri from Agra to Jaipur, and the Jain temple in Ranakpur from Jodhpur to Udaipur. As your driver, it’s also my responsibility to point out suitable places to stop on the way for a bathroom break or a bite to eat. At Indian Excursions Co, we specialise in the Rajasthan region so myself and my colleagues are well experienced in the best places to stop.
Lastly, would you recommend Indian Excursions Co to someone wanting to visit India and why?
Sanjay: Yes, 100%! The most important thing to everyone involved is delivering excellent service and the whole team work together brilliantly to do it. I also think our company’s vehicles are in excellent condition so are more comfortable for our guests.
If you’d like to start planning your own tailor-made tour of Rajasthan, please do get in touch. We’d be delighted to begin discussing ideas and prepare a suggested itinerary – and quote – for your consideration. You can even request Sanjay as your driver if you like!0