We had lived in the wonderful city of Vadodara in Gujarat for four years. We did not have much free time in our hands during those days as we were busy in our jobs as well as we had to shoulder family responsibilities. I would always say whenever we have free time we would definitely revisit Vibrant Gujarat and admire all the important places of tourist interest, culture, colorful handicrafts, the Rann of Kutch festival, and get absorbed in the beauty of Gujarat all that which makes it so famous. Kevin Kelley has rightly said ‘Travel is the most intense mode of learning’.
We are thankful to Dr. Neeta Patil and her team of sahyogmantratours.com who chalked out a lovely programme for us. Everything was taken care of by them and we had a wonderful time. (Actually, the Gujarat programme is scripted in two parts combined together)
We took an early flight from Bangalore to Ahmedabad. On reaching there the taxi was waiting for us at the airport and we began our journey to Bhuj straightaway stopping for lunch at Honest Restaurant in the midway.
We reached Bhuj almost in the evening after 6hr 30 minutes’ drive and checked straight to our Hotel Mangalam where the staff was very helpful. They suggested that we must go to Swami Narayan Temple to see the evening Aarti. We were just floored by the beauty of the temple. It is a magnificent temple made of white marble and gold. We admired the heavenly beauty, serenity, and divine approach of the temple. The architecture has beautiful carvings and designs.
Swami Narayan Temple
After taking a round of the city we returned to our comfortable hotel and had a delicious dinner.
After a good breakfast we saw the Asha Mahal with its palace of mirrors. The artwork and royal belongings are kept here, though it is not in very good condition. Later on we went to the nearby Prag Mahal which has royal hunting trophies and weapons on display. We did some purchasing in the complex only. We then went to see the Bharatiya Sanskriti Darshan. The real culture of Kutch can be seen here. The collection is amazing and outstanding. It is an interesting place to visit and has a wide array of artefacts and treasures.
From there we went to Kalo Dungar which is an amazing place from where the desert and nearby mountains can be seen. There is a beautiful temple of Dattatreya and is considered to be a holy place. It is a scenic and beautiful place.
We stopped at Dhordo village where the real village life of Kutch can be seen. From there we took the permit and went to visit the White Rann located in the Thar Desert. The drive from the tent city to the White Salt Desert is a unique feature of the Western Border. It is a vast barren land with white sand. It is just awesome. The scenic white landscape is a sight for sore eyes where you get mesmerizing views of the salt desert.
Camel Cart Ride White Salt Desert
We took a camel cart and reached the open space from where we observed the sunset across the horizon which looked gorgeous. We tried our skills at photography and spent some time capturing the mesmerising sights.
After spending some time there we returned to the RannUtsav Shopping Centre from where we purchased Kutch handicrafts and mirror work dupattas and ajrak printed material. We then returned to our hotel very tired.
After a sumptuous breakfast we checked out and headed to our next destination, Mandavi. We first went to offer our prayers at Mata No Madh at Ashapur. The temple is beautiful and very clean. Mobiles we had to leave in our vehicle so we could not click pictures of the Divine place. From there we went to see the Lakhpat Fort which is mostly in ruins. We saw the Narayan Sarovar which is a very ancient holy place. The temple near the lake has beautiful stone artwork. From there we drove to the Koteshwar Shiva Temple which is the last point to be visited on the tip of the Western part of India. The temple is neat and we relaxed for some time in the surroundings.
We then proceeded to Mandavi, though the drive was good but we were almost tired. On reaching, we went to see the Vijay Vilas Palace which is picturesque. We had to remove the footwear before entering the palace. Many Hindi movies have been shot in this beautiful palace-like 'Hum Dil De ChukeSanam’ and 'Lagaan’. The amazing marble latticework is stunning. The main palace is decorated with relics and photos. The view from the roof is lovely. The spiral staircase is narrow and one should go cautiously. There are vast grounds which have been kept wonderfully clean.
Vijay Vilas Palace
We then went to see the beach which is pristine and we spent some time relaxing at a private beach. We then headed to our Hotel Kalash where we were looked after very well.
After breakfast and checkout, we headed to Dwarka. It is a very long journey but the road is good so we did not have any trouble. We enjoyed the drive. In the evening just before sunset we reached our Hotel Govardhan Greens which is very beautiful. We enjoyed our stay there and relaxed in its luxury.
After some time we went to Dwarkadheesh Temple. We passed through narrow lanes full of shops and reached the temple where we had to deposit our mobile phones at the entrance counter. The sound of bells made the place reverential and awesome. After a good darshan we sat beside the sea and then did souvenir shopping and returned to our hotel.
After breakfast we first went to see the Rukmini Temple which is just 2km from DwarkaJagatMandir. The exterior of the temple is richly carved. It is dedicated to Goddess Rukmini who was the primary queen of Dwarka, an incarnation of Goddess Mahalaxmi. It is a must place to visit.
From there we headed to Okha port from where we went by steamer to Bet Dwarka. It is believed to have been the actual residential palace of Lord Krishna. A major part is drowned in the sea. There we saw the Keshav Raiji Temple, the Hanuman dandi, Abhaya Mata Temple, and some other smaller shrines. There are two dargahs also where many Muslims go to visit as they are auspicious denoting Islamic faith. Bet Dwarka has many Jain temples where one can pay tribute to the 24 Jain Tirthankaras.
We went to visit the Nageshwara Temple located between Dwarka and Bet Dwarka. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas as stipulated in the Shiva Purana. Both Shiv and Parvati are worshipped here as a pair of serpents. We had a very overwhelming experience while doing the Abhishek there.
A Colossal statue of Lord Shiva is the highlight where you feel so close to divinity.
Then we saw the Gopi Talav or lake. It has a temple and a lake where the Gopis used to bathe. Must have been a wonderful place then, but now it is a pond. The gopis performed their last RasLeelahere, so it is a divine place. It felt special to visit such a place. In the evening we went to see the Dwarkadheesh Temple and attended the Aarti. It was a divine experience.
After breakfast we started from Dwarka and made a stop at Porbandar.
We visited Kirti Mandir and paid respects in honour of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi. We saw his ancestral home which attracts a lot of tourists.
From there we went to Sudama Puri and temple which is a heritage place. It has a small neat campus. There is also a Chamunda Ma Temple and a small garden.
From there we headed to Somnath and en route saw such mesmerizing sights which took our breath away. We stood at a place gazing at the turquoise greenish waters of the sea for some time and got simply absorbed in this amazing place. We reached Somnath and checked into Safari Hotel and Resort.
We went to attend the Aarti at Somnath Temple which is located in PrabhasPatanSaurashtra. It is the first among the 12 Jyotirlingas. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist place. It was indeed a divine experience to visit this architectural marvel which shows the rich cultural heritage of the place. We did some shopping there as well.
After breakfast we checked out and drove to Ahmedabad stopping at Gondal to see the Bhuvaneshwari Devi Temple and to offer our prayers. It took us about 7 hours to reach our hotel stopping midway to have our lunch and thoroughly enjoyed the Kathiawadi cuisine. The best part of this whole trip was that our food was accompanied by a lot of buttermilk or chaas which helped us in digesting the spicy food easily.
We reached our Hotel Le Grande Residency. We took a round of the Law garden market where we did the shopping and enjoyed walking in the street. Though we were very tired but yet it was exciting too.
After breakfast we visited the Sabarmati Ashram established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 at the Sabarmati river bank. It is one of the best places to visit where one can learn about Gandhiji’s life and work. It has a very relaxing atmosphere and is a peaceful place. We purchased some gift items from the shop there.
Then we saw the Sabarmati Riverfront developed along the banks of the Sabarmati River. The park is beautiful and we strolled there for some time basking in the lovely surroundings.
Then we went to see the Adalaj stepwell. It is a beautiful structure descending five stories deep. It was built in 1498 by Queen Rudadevi. It is a unique sight. There is a temple next to it where beautiful stonework can be seen. The sunlight which falls on the artwork makes it more beautiful.
Then we went to see the Akshardham Temple which is a majestically carved stone temple. There are sprawling gardens which enhance the beauty of the place. It is a perfect mix of art, culture, education, devotion, and exhibition. We spent a lot of time there enjoying the rich flavours of their various programmes and the beauty. It was an awesome experience.
In the evening Deepa joined us at Ahmedabad and we were rejoiced as we had planned some surprises for her. We were there to attend a wedding reception at Samir and Mahima’s invitation. We went to their house and had a sumptuous dinner and were very happy to meet the newly wedded couple along with the other family members.
After an early breakfast we went to visit the Modhera Sun Temple which is an architectural marvel on the banks of river Pushapavati. It is dedicated to the Solar deity, built during the Solanki dynasty.
The architecture is magnificent and very inspiring. No worship is held there but still, it attracts a lot of tourists. There are around 108 shrines, a breathtaking sanctum, and beautiful wall carvings.
Sun Temple , Modhera Absorbing the beauty of the stone carvings
The major attraction is the open stepwell ‘Surya Kund’ which is unique as well. One can really imagine how beautiful it must look during the monsoon with so much water trickling down. The temple is a treat to the eyes.
Surya Kund, Modhera
The gardens are well maintained as well as the museum is worth the visit. We had some refreshments at the shop which is outside the complex. We headed back to Ahmedabad stopping for lunch at Mehsana.
In the evening we went to the Gift City Centre and attended the Wedding Reception. The beautifully decorated lawns looked stunning and everything was gorgeous. We had a lovely time there enjoying the surroundings and the lavish spread for dinner. We returned back to our Guesthouse.
After breakfast and bidding our byes to our lovely hosts, Samir and Mahima we started off to Vadodara in our one-way cab to meet our friends Aditya and Rajini, our wonderful hosts there. We had a lovely time catching up with them and it brought such happy memories of Vadodara where we had lived for four years. We just relaxed at their house. Aditya and Rajini had made a good packed programme for us and we were really excited.
After a delicious breakfast we went to see the Nilkanth Dham Swaminarayan Temple located in Poicha village on the banks of Narmada River.
It is a beautiful construction with a huge campus that is adorned with brightly colored and attractive images. All the colors of the surroundings blend so well. Lovely mythological structures and fountains are installed which make the place very awesome.
Nilkanth Dham, Poicha
The place is neat and tidy. The food court offers delicious food and we had PavBhaji which satisfied our taste buds. After that, we just relaxed in the calm surroundings absorbing the beauty and peaceful atmosphere.
From there we went to Kuber Bhandari Temple across the Narmada River which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a very ancient temple and is said to be around 2500 years old. It gave such a wonderful pious feeling to visit it.
Kuber Bhandari Temple
From there we went to Kevadia to see the Statue of Unity. There is a colossal statue of the Indian Statesman Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. It is a wonder of the world. The statue almost stands 600 feet tall.
Since we had booked our tickets online we did not have to wait in a queue anywhere. It is a well-organized trip as buses ply to all the spots. We saw the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the Glow Garden.
The interior is also good. Different levels have to be climbed or go on escalators and lifts, where we can see different aspects which are on display statues, films, photographs, etc. It was really wonderful.
The laser show in the evening is fantastic and inspiring. It really arises the nationalist feelings in all. It was a mind-blowing experience.
We had a delicious dinner on our way back to Vadodara.
Very early in the morning, we started off to see the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple KaviKombai at Khambhat, Jambusar. Since the time we had seen a you-tube of this miracle temple, it was on our agenda to visit it.
The temple gets immersed in the sea and after the JalAbhishek of the Shiva Linga the water recedes. It is a great spectacle to witness. The flow of water depends on the tides. It was a lovely experience.
Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple
It was indeed a pleasure to be near the water in Cambay. We really enjoyed the cool breeze, the large expanse of water, and the tranquil surroundings.
While returning we had our breakfast on the way as we were quite hungry.
In the evening we went to meet our friends-the Bhatt family and the Natrajan family where we had a lovely time. We took a round of Vadodara city and refreshed our memories.
Spending Quality time with Mr. Bhatt and the Natrajan family
We went for shopping and splurged on the dress materials at Baroda Prints. We were happy with this fun-filled pleasure trip of ours.
After packup and bidding bye to Aditya and Rajini we drove to the airport to take our flight back to Bangalore.
Our Lovely Hosts: The Gupta Family at Vadodara (Rajini & Aditya)
and Pant Family at Ahmedabad (Mahima & Samir)
We had returned from this trip of Gujarat with not only richer in travel experience but also in relationships and friendship. The credit goes to Mahima and Samir who wholeheartedly welcomed us in Ahmedabad. We were happy that we had kept our promise to visit them. We do try to fulfil our promises which we commit. Our lovely and lively hosts at Vadodara Rajini and Aditya, who had arranged for our lovely trips to Kavi Kamboi, Kevadia and Poicha which we thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to both the families and we will always cherish the fond memories.
(Ms. Jaya Pande is our patron who has taken many trips with us. We have taken this from her blog www.jayatravelstheworld.wordpress.com with her permission and posting it on our official website)