The Land of LegendsRoad trip Delhi - Ahmedabad - Dwaraka - Bet Dwaraka - Gir - Gandhinagar - Porbander - Jamnagar - Morbi - UdaipurTotal No of days - 7Dated - Oct 2011
Behind the wheel & ContributorVinod Kumar...know more about me
Navratri time - which place would be more enjoyable than Gujarat! The kids got a whole week break and the unexplored state suddenly opened up into a paradise of the unseen and unheard. A bit of research proved that as a pilgrim, backpacker, photographer, trekker or just a historian the state had lots to offer.
Our Itinerary in a nutshell
Hotel bookings were our next step. Club Mahindra Gir Huts and Udaipur confirmed bookings. Hence we adjusted our rest of the days to match the booking. Ahmedabad Ginger was booked for 2 days. In Dwaraka contacted Dhamji initially but it was sold out so got a confirmed booking in Hotel Sri Darshan. Narara Marine Wildlife Sanctuary requires permits and remains closed till 15th Oct. Pirotan Island has to be dropped as we were in short of time. A quick service of my vehicle, a few packs of food and water and we were ready for the exploration.
Day 1 Delhi - AhmedabadTotal distance on our Day 1 : 955 kms
Time taken : 14 hrs.
Stay :Hotel Ginger
As usual started early 4.30 am. First stop at McD for coffee & packed some burgers. Traffic was mild and diversion were less on the Delhi - Jaipur road compared to Jaipur - Delhi side. About Ginger in Ahmedabad : Fantastic location. Behind Himalaya Mall. Lots of eating options available in the mall, there is a McDonald's, Big Bazaar and a Food Court. Covered parking facility. Rooms are OK as this is a business traveler hotel. Small for a family of 4 but manageable. Check-in process was smooth. Took a short rest. Eve at Himalaya mall.
In the eve we also visit Law Garden Market & see Garbha night. Had an early dinner at McD and visited the street market at Law garden and were at GMDC till 11 pm. We are astonished by the crowd there. The energy level and music was awesome. Was there till 1 am, tired - returned back to our room. Even then there were traffic jams in all redlights and the traffic police were on their heels managing them. The people all around were dressed in their traditional dresses and the total look was dazzling!
Law garden market
Day - 2 Around Ahmedabad
Today we were to see :-
Reached Sabarmati Ashram by 11 am. it was buzzing with News reporters. A group of Anna Hazare supporters were shouting slogans. Another group didnt know who might be a local politician was near Gandhiji's statue. Reporters were covering him. The Ashram was founded by Gandhiji as a Satyagrah Ashram way back in 1915. It has a handicraft center, a handmade paper factory and spinning wheel factory.
The ashram from far..
Dandi march started from here in 1920. It has a museum which houses his personal belongings and a picture gallery on the major events in his life. We spent a good 1 hour and half here. Kids liked the ashram a lot.
Next we headed to Laxmi Narayan temple, which is around 2 kms from Ashram. From there we headed to Calico but it was closed. It was a blessing in disguise as I got more time for the Vintage Fun World. Laxmi Narayan temple below.
We reached Vintage fun world by 12.45 pm and spent good 2 hours there. It had huge collection of vintage cars. Some to remember are Lincoln, Chevrolet, Ford, Plymouth, Rolls Royce, Daimler, Bentley, Lagonda, Alvis, Armstrong Siddeley, Sunbeam talbot, Wolseley, Mercedes Benz, Austin, Triumph Mayflower, Fiat, Riley, Humbler, Rover, Auburn, Lancia Dalambda, Hispano Suiza, Baybach, Packard, Buick Roadmaster, Hudson Terraplane, Hotchkiss, Cord, La salle, Minerva, Mors, Gemco, Dodge and Desoto.
Entry to Car world
Adalaj Step Well was under maintenance. First time seeing a step-well. Know as VAV in Gujarati. This is a five storied beautifully carved step-well and was used for resting. It was built by Rudra in A.D 1498. The oblong step well runs from north to south and has stairs on three sides and opens into a octagonal opening which is supported by 8 pillars. The shaft is 5 storeyed and are architecturally decorated. A panel showing the Navagrahas (9 planets) are seen and there are many sculptures like a woman churning buttermilk, female dancers and musicians, etc.
It was already 5.30 pm when we reached Akshardham temple. Being a holiday it was very crowded and so we decided to give it a skip. The valuable deposit counter itself had a long queue. Reached back our hotel at 6.30pm. Since by 10am we have be at Narara, planned an early dinner and sleep. The entry to Akshardham temple
Day 3 Narara Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, DwarakadishAhmedabad - Narara - 365kms
Time : 5hrs
Narara - Dwarka = 122 kms.
Time : 1.5 hrs drive.
Got up early and checked out from Ginger Hotel by 4.45 am. Were already late by 45 min from our set time as we had to reach Narara by 9.30 as it is the low tide timing. Took NH 8C-8A till Rajkot. 4 laned and in good condition. Just before entering Rajkot at the roundabout(Chowkdi) right turn for Jamnagar Road. On this road 4 laning is in progress and had less traffic. Jamnagar bypass is also pretty simple and well marked and merges Jamnagar - Dwarka highway. I think its SH6. Again road widening is in progress. From here another 60 odd kms.
Landmark for Narara is the Reliance Refinery and after 3 odd kms you will see Kandla port signboard. Turn right and Narara is another 18 kms from there.
Mr Mustaq of Hotel President arranged the required permission and guide at Narara Marine Wildlife Sanctuary. On the way we coordinated with Guide to complete the formalities with the Forest Officer posted. Our timing was correct, water was just receding. After completing all formalities at the forest office and registering the vehicle at CRPF check post, pay the charges was around Rs 300/- including camera. The ships at a distance are the oil tankers discharging their cargo at the Reliance and Essar oil refineries which are just around the corner. As we walk around, we saw octopus, brittle star, a few types of corals, sea cucumber, brittle star, sea anemone, sponges, crabs but if lucky you can also see jelly fish, sea horse, puffer fish, turtles and even ray fish.
Another important aspect, one should have water proof foot gears, sunglasses, hat/cap and sunscreens for coral walk, as the terrain is rocky and slippery. Lots of walking. Carry enough supply of water as one has to walk minimum of 4 to 5 kms. We devoted a good 2.5 to 3 hours. Might have walked more than 10 km plus. We were the only tourist on that day. The mangroves and the view was simply awesome.
By 1 pm we all were tired and our drinking water too was finished, limped back to our SUV and drank litres of water. Thankfully we were carrying a 20L jar. Post 1200 hrs, its pretty hot. We left Narara by 1.30 pm. Also do keep in mind, there is no restaurants, shops around. Had a quick lunch at the first Dhaba we saw. Continued our journey to Dwarka. This 100kms drive was placid, the discussion was all about Narara and we didnt even know by 3.30-3.45 were in the outskirts of Dwarka.
There is a good resort coming up 29 kms before Dwarka "Govardhan greens". Checked in at Hotel Sree Darshan by 4.15 pm. Dwarkadish temple is just 5 min walk from this hotel.
Rested till 5.30 pm. Went to visit the temple. Camera, bags and all leather items has to deposited at the counter. Spent around 2 hrs in the temple. Being a Monday, it was very crowded. Later came to know that every Monday 5 trains reached Dwarka. Now I could assume why Dhamji was sold out ! The flag changing ceremony is interesting, it changes 5 times a day. It is booked for the next 2 years. The temple is a beautiful one, we had the panditji's guiding us with each and every temple. River Gomti meets the sea here (sangam) and we sent floating diyas. The markets are flooded with diyas, ladies items, clothes, varieties of food, achars and so on. We are back at the hotel by 9 pm after roaming around the city of Dwarka. Lots and lots of temples around. Lots of eating options too (Street food). Our dinner menu was Vada-Pav. Relished it!
Pics of temple
Day 4 Bet Dwarka - Nageshwar - Jyotirling - Porbandar - Sasan Gir
We were ready by 06.45 am. Bet dwarka is 30 kms from Dwarka city. Bet Dwarka was the residence of Sri Krishna and Dwarka being the kingdom. It is also know as Bheint Dwarka as this island was gifted by Big B Balram Ji (Dau). Dwarka is also one of the 4 dhams ie Dwarka, Puri, Badrinath, Rameshwaram.
Morning traffic was thin and reached Bet Dwarka by 07.30 am. Enroute we see Sree Dwarkadhesh Chemfood , Methapur (TATA Salt Factory). Here all our plan went for a toss as boats ferry only when there are atleast 150 people onboard or you have hire a personal boat which charges Rs 1500/-
Tata Salt Factory
We had to wait till 8.50am when a tourist bus came, we reached Bet Dwarka island by 8.55 am only. Tickets were Rs 10/- per person. Lost a good one hour. Hence it is better to reach Bet-Dwarka by 9.30-10 am. 9.30 to 10.30 is bhog at the main temple. Darshan will be available only around 10-45 am to 11.30 am.
The island at a distance
As the Srikrishna temple was closed for bhog, we hired a chakada and headed to Hanuman Tandi.
The chakada drive
This is the only temple were Hanuman's son Magadwaj and Hanumanji are the deity. Its a good 5 kms from the Srikrishna temple. From there we also went to Yashpur Mata Mandir which is another half a km from Hanuman temple.
Yashpur mata temple
By 10.30 am we were back to main Sri Krishna temple. Had darshan and left by 11.15 am. Luckily we didn't have to wait for a boat for return.
Our next destination was Rukmini Devi Mandir. The offering here is Jal daan. This was due to a curse by Rishi Durvasa, due to which the entire water in dwarka is salty.
From there we headed to Nageshwar Jyortirlinga (One of the 12 jyotirlingas). One can also go from Bet-Dwarka to Nageshwar. The roads are bad. So we decided to go from Dwarka city which is 18 kms away as roads are very good.
Dwarka - Porbandar (Kirtimandir) - 110 kms, 2hours
Road to Porbandar - some stretches are good and when cruising at good speed, bad patches in the form of pot holes rather crates appear from no where. Some of them were big ones. Small dhabas are there but no good restaurant for the first 35 Odd kms on Dwarka - Porbandar highway (NH 8E). Only after midway 55+ kms there is a good restaurant Hotel Krishna park & guest house. Good food and we had a refreshing break for 30 min.
By 4.10 pm we were at Bapuji's birth place. It is called Kirti Mandir. Nobody knows it as Mahatma Gandhi Memorial. Spent 30-40 mins there, we were on the wheels for our last destination Sasan gir.
We take the Porbandar - Rajkot (8B) for 40 odd kms(Before Upleta), after police check , Right turn on to SH 32, it connect to Junagadh. We reached our resort by 8.50 pm. It was a longer route. Club mahindra Gir finally..
Day 5 Somnath - Veraval - Around Gir
Our trip was running late by half a day. We were scheduled to reach Gir by 2 pm on Tuesday as Devliya Interpretation zone is closed on Wednesday. So we had to plan it on Thursday and then proceed to Junagadh. The accommodation was a luxurious hut, spacious and Cozy. After a good night sleep, we were ready to head to Somnath & Veraval. one could visit Diu also, but short of time. By 10.00 we started.It was a 1 hour 15 mins drive from the resort(45kms) via Haripur Village, Talala and Somnath. Roads are bad with lots of potholes. Reached Somnath by 11.30 am. Spent an hour there. Here too Camera, Bags, Leather items not allowed. Safe deposit facility is available. IMO it is better to be here either early morning or evening. If you want to pray in peace without rush then noon is the ideal time.
Our next destination was Veraval....
Heard about Bakhla Tirth, where Lord Krishna was said to have been struck by the stray arrow of a tribal. Went there too...By 4 we were back at our Resort.
5 pm was our scheduled time for a trek of 10 kms and kids were excited about it. It was to a near by temple via a small mountain. The guide took us through a mountainous route where spotting of lions are at times possible. On our trek we could see turtles, spotted deer, some birds perched on trees, the nests of baya birds and so on. The mountain height was good and we could see around the entire village. By dark we reached the Shiv temple. There we even heard the roar of lions (Could be of Lions in Devlaya), which sent a shiver down the spine in our group members. Our route back was through the village. It was a good trek and we enjoyed it. Back in out hotel there was a garbha dance organised by the cultural dept. Had dinner and slipped to bed.
Day 6 Devlaya - Junagadh - Rajkot - Wankaner - Morbi
Morning we were ready early as we have a long day ahead. Checked out by 7.45 am and headed to Devlaya Interprataion zone which was 10 kms from the resort. It opens by 8 am. Wednesday is closed. We were there by 8.15. The bus takes you around the park which is spread in around 40 sq kms. Tickets costed Rs 460 (if i remember correct) for 4 persons. Seat nos are also allocated. We got the Front seats. Had to wait 45 min as the bus leaves when full. By 9.20 we started. It as a 45 min ride. The driver already knew the place where lions were spotted as updated by the tracking team.
Left Devlaya by 10.20. Our next destination was Junagadh, which is 60 kms from Gir. First town we hit was Mendarda, brief stop over for buying nicknacks.Places we identified to see at Junagadh
Ashoka rock edicts
Uperkot fort Buddhist caves
Adi Vav Stepwell
Left Junagadh by 1.30 pm and distance to Rajkot was 100 kms. Good road and the progress was fast. We reached Rajkot by 2.15 pm. Did some shopping and Quick lunch. We had planned to visit the Watson museum here. Again skipped as we were already late so moved on to our next destination
Our next destination was Wankaner Palace, its around 70 kms. Road taken NH 8b, then after 35 kms from Rajkot left to NH8A which goes all the way to Samakhiali and hits NH15. Now our plan was if we can stay at the palace, then take a break there and next day straight to Udaipur.
Reached Wankaner palace by 4 pm. The palace was closed for renovation. So stay at the palace not possible. Security told us being a Dusherra Day, all the staff were gone to attend Dusherra Celebration. Took some snaps and spent 30 minutes around there , moved to our night halt destination at Morbi.
Morbi was another 35 kms. After 5 kms from Wankaner on both side tile factories can be seen. Never knew Morbi is known as the "Tile capital of India". Almost all brand hording's could be seen on either side of the road. By 5.30 we were at Morbi and checked in to Hotel Shiv Ajanta on the main highway itself. Decent 3 star hotel with all basic facility. We picked up a suite room. Rooms were available from 2k onwards.Morbi also has a Hanging bridge and Mani mandir to see. But once kids saw the huge bathtub they simply refused to move out. So we called it a day. Next day we have to cover around 550 kms and reach by noon as the city palace entry tickets closes by 4 pm.
Total Distance Traveled : 290 kms
Morbi - UdaipurStarted by 05.15 as our target was to reach Udaipur by noon. Roads were good and traffic was thin. Progress was fast. After crossing Samakhiyali we took a 20 min tea break at around 7.30 am.
Distance covered 180 kms in 02.15 hrs.
After another non stop fast drive of 150 kms till Palanpur we took our breakfast stop at around 09.45 am. After a break of 30 min we off to Udaipur. Reached Hotel flora, Udaipur by 12.30 pm. On target time as planned. 533 kms in 7.5 hrs with 45 min stoppage. Total toll paid Rs 375. I think 8 or 9 tolls. Abu road to Udaipur is a bliss to drive. Rested for an hour and after lunch we headed to City palace.
City palace was around 8 kms from our hotel. Reached quickly. Tickets were expensive. Entry tickets is 50 per person. Dont remember the parking charges. Light and Sound show in the evening cost 400 per person. Entry tickets crystal gallery cost Rs 500 per person. Camera charges was Rs 200/- per camera. Restaurants are too very expensive. Spent time till sun set then drove around the city, finally went to the newly opened Celebration Mall had dinner and reached back our hotel by 9 pm.