As I mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I just got back from a 9 day trip to Gujarat (plus a day in Bombay) and it was a great experience, we drove about 1500 kilometers, visited 11 temples, saw 2 lions, 4 bluebulls, 5 monkeys and a few dozen deer. As promised this post will document the trip with pics so this will be a long post. For those reading this on Facebook, the pics don’t show for some reason on the wall so you need to click on the title and read it on the blog directly.
The trip started with me flying to Rajkot, Gujarat on the 18th from Bangalore via Bombay (I still think Mumbai sounds silly). Had a few hours halt in Bombay so I spent it at domestic Airport and wasn’t too impressed with the airport, I think the ones at Delhi & Bangalore are a lot better with nicer amenities. Met up with Ronak, Jeelna, their cousin and uncle at the airport and flew to Rajkot. Since we got there at about 9 pm we just checked in at Hotel Rajdoot .
Let me divert a bit from the topic here to really recommend Rajdoot to anyone who is traveling to Rajkot. Its not a 5 star place but their level of service and friendliness of the staff more than makes up for it. I mean what other place will send one of their staff to search for a saree shop twice when a guest calls them up inquiring if they have the number of that shop? The staff went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed.
We spent most of the 19th morning shopping. Actually Jeelna was shopping, the rest of us were tagging along for the ride. The process was over a lot sooner than I expected but I think I might have hastened it by falling asleep in one of the shops In the afternoon we behaved like typical tourists and roamed around taking a lot of photos and saw the first temple of the trip:
Us acting like tourists at Swaminarayan temple
Me in front of Swaminarayan temple, Rajkot
We got to travel 5 in an Auto which is not the record for me but it was a first for the others and so a lot of fun.
6 people (including the driver) traveling in an Auto is fun
The next day (20th) we started early and left for Dwarka. We made a few stops on the way to see temples, visit relatives and eat good food (although I guess if you were on a diet it wasn’t that great). Got to Dwarka late in the evening and went for the evening aarti. Unfortunately camera’s are not allowed inside the temple so we were only able to take external shots. It was a hard to take evening shots without a tripod but we managed still I think the pics taken during the day were a lot nicer. Actually, they better be nicer as we got up at an insanely early hour for this and were nearly frozen while walking around taking the pics.
Dwarkadhish temple at night
Dwarkadhish temple really early in the morning
Side view of the Dwarkadhish temple.
Everyone other than me lit diya’s and floated them down the Gomati river (Relax, the diya’s were made out of leaves so were bio degradable)
Ronak and Jeelna lighting diya’s at Gomati river
All took time and everyone started getting hungry so we decided to feed ourselves with whatever was handy.
A hungry person will eat anything
including the sun
The Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
Me and Ronak on the boat with bet Dwarka in the background
Once done there we drove on to Porbander which is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. We did stop at a few other temples on the way but their names are all sort of blurred now. so…
Carvings on one of the temples we visited
In Porbander, we took it easy for most of the day with just a visit to Gandhi’s house and yet another temple. Gandhi’s house was built in the 1800′s and had 22 rooms but it felt like it was built by dwarfs for dwarfs. Take a look at the pic below, that is how high the doors were. I had to be careful while inside not to bump my head.
Me at the entrance to Gandhi’s house and no I am not standing on an elevated platform
I am kneeling on the floor in this pic.
The staircases were even more insane, they were so steep that a rope had to be set up to aid people climbing up. I wonder how old people made it up there in one piece… Maybe the older you got the lower Floor you got to stay on.
Ronak discovers the insane staircases you had to climb to get between floors.
The rooms had built in exercise equipment
The hotel we stayed at was nice, Ronak especially liked the awesome view from their room.
The awesome view from our room in Porbander
From Porbander we drove to Somnath which has a very interesting history. Somnath is known as the Shrine Eternal as it has withstood the shocks of time and the attacks of the destroyers. It has risen from its ashes like a phoenix each time it was destroyed or desecrated. The present temple is the seventh temple built on the original site.
When we got to Somnath late at night we found that none of the hotels had any rooms available as the chief minister was in town and his entourage had booked all the rooms. Thankfully we got lucky in the 2nd hotel we tried as they had a cancellation literally 2 mins before we walked in, otherwise we would have spent the night in the conference room of the hotel which had been converted to a common style dorm. Went for darshan the next day and then drove to Gir.
Ronak and Jeelna braving the sun in front of Somnath temple
We got to Gir in time to take the safari but I was seriously disappointed. I had visited Gir in 2002 with family and had such an awesome experience that I was eagerly waiting for it. That time we took a jeep into the Interpretation zone which is a fenced area of 412 hectares and spent a few hours there just observing the wildlife with a great guide. Now unfortunately the place has been commercialized and instead of jeep safaris you now take a 30 min bus ride to see the lions. It felt like we were visiting a zoo on a very large scale.
On the bright side we did see a lion and lioness during the brief tour. Though they were just lying there for the most part, but the lion did get up once and showed us its ass before lying back down. When I complained to my dad about this his response was “why? were you expecting them to get up and dance for you?”
The original plan was to take a safari to the sanctuary in the evening and then spend the night in Gir before driving to Rajkot, but after the 30 min ‘safari’ we decided to drive on to Junagadh where we spent the night before driving back to Rajkot the next day.
We spent another day at Rajkot at Hotel Rajdoot and then drove to Vadodara the next day. Once there we rested for a couple of hours before attending Ronak’s cousin’s Mehendi/Sangeet. After the function was done we stayed up talking till almost 2:30 am and then I got up at 4:30am for my return flight to Bangalore via Bombay.
I spent a day in Bombay. Had lunch with Ruth and Rebecca, walked past the Gateway to India and spent the evening with my cousin Rishabh at his college. Had a lot of fun.
Got back to Bangalore at 5am and promptly crashed, spent most of the weekend recovering from the trip and lack of sleep.
There you go, a summary of the trip with some photos. Will post more in an album when I get some time (and get the pics for the last 2 days from Ronak).
This is all for now will post more later. I should go crash now as I have an early morning at work tomorrow .