Route: Reliance Green –> Khambaliya -> Shingda -> PORBANDAR -> MADHAVPUR ->Mangrol ->Chorvad -> SOMNATH -> JUNAGAD -> Kalavad -> Reliance green
Total Distance: ~500 Kms
Time: 6:30 AM to 8:00PM
Mode of transport: Car (Maruti Swift)
Places of interest:
a) Porbandar: Birthplace of greatest personality of modern times, Mahatma Gandhiji
b) Somnath: One of the 12 Jyotirling temple of Lord Shiva, which have risen from ashes, not once, not twice, but more than 5 times.
c) Beautiful beach of Madhavpur
d) City of Junagad, famous for Girnar temple & ancient buildings, standing testimony of it’s glorious history, it had.
e) The region has given people like Dhirubhai Ambani, Mahatma Gandhi are proof of it’s glorious history. Seeing architecture of villages & towns, one could easily make-out, the rich times the region enjoyed, because of maritime trade & commerce & it’s entrepreneurial people.
We started from Reliance Greens around 6:30 AM and with no stops, reached Porbander by 8:15 AM. Luckily, the Gandhiji’s ancestral home & birth place, had opened. With no traffic, we could criss-cross thin strip roads pretty fast. From the roads & architecture of houses, shops, one could easily make out the town being many many centuries old. Gandhiji’s house is really a big one with some 22 odd rooms & a courtyard, which could beat any average playground size, Indians play cricket in. The house was purchased apparently by Gandhiji great grandfather in 1777 (actual copy of the deal is there in the photo gallery) & seem to be in what would be a posh locality of that time, as it is looked kind of a gated community. The house is now a museum with well maintained photo gallery, celebrating Gandhiji’s life & his contribution to India’s (& Pakistan’s) independence. Besides being Gandhiji’s birthplace, Porbander is also famous of its port, salt works & last but not least, “Nirma factory”, the detergent with fame of “sabki pasand Nirma”. We visited Sudama temple nearby, savored on breakfast of fafra jalebi, puri bhaji, patra and ultra-sweet gujju tea. By 9:00 AM, we were on our way to Somnath, driving parallel to coast along NH-8E.
We had to take de-tour before Madhavpur, because a section of a brand new bridge over a river, had collapsed (obviously shoddy work by contractor). Soon, we reached beautiful & secluded beach of Madhavpur. Again, with few Indians visiting the beach, it was very neat & clean.
After loffering around 20 mins in beach, we started for Somnath. Now, the countryside resembled like my native place (Coastal Odisha), plain stretches with lots of coconut trees. We zipped through Mangrol, Chorvad. Both towns, seemed to be centuries old & later is the birthplace of India’s no.1 entrepreneur , Dhirubhai Ambani.
By 11:45, we were in Somnath. The final section of ~20 Kms, is section of NH 8D (Somnath-Junagad) & is a super 4 lane toll highway. I could make out super infrastructure development that has happened. The walkways, parking, roads etc. were all brand new. Unexpectedly, the place was relatively neat & clean & well maintained. Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirling’s of Lord Shiva & thus has been an important pilgrimage for Hindus, for time immemorial.
Somnath, the magnificent & ancient temple, is a shining example of superiority of perseverance over destruction. The temple, has been “man” destroyed at least 6 times in past 1000 years & each time, it has risen like “phoenix” from ashes. Personally, I feel, this temple is an example of what Hinduism is. It’s about believe in your faith, what-so-ever, believe in peace and “mind your own business” attitude. Examples like Somnath proves that Hinduism is not exactly a religion..it is a way of living. Every time, I read history of temples like Somnath, Konark, only one question come to my mind :”How can one think also about destroying such a beauty?”, but fact is: man has not only thought but destroyed as well these places, not once but more than that.
Coming back, with such history of destruction, obviously the security of Somnath is very tight. Belt, mobile, bags etc. are not allowed and free locker facilities are available. Ample parking spaces, shoe stands, toilets, eateries, ATM & all other basic amenities are available, all near the temple. Temple has three aarti timings (morning, afternoon & evening). Luckily, we reached at 12:00 and were blessed to see the aarti. Weather was perfect, crowd was thin, temple was neat & clean & aarti darshan, all made it very a very memorable & blessed visit.
Temple also hosts an “light & sound” show in evening, in an open air amphitheater, with one end being sea and other Temple. Elaborate arrangements of seating are made in & around temple, to enjoy temple, sea & sun-set. There’s also an Arrow-pillar, which signifies that there is no land mass in the direction of arrow (& actually the next land mass that comes in the direction of arrow is, Antartica). There are few other small temples & a gallery showing 12 Jyotirling’s of Lord Shiva. What was really missing, was the exhibition to celebrate (& mourn as well) the history of the temple. I was expecting it to be there & to my utter dis-appointment, there was nothing. Only thing, I could see was a (poor) photo gallery, with excavation photos, which was done in 1940-60s. Dear govt, this photo gallery is not a museum, please create an exclusive one, the temple’s glorious history deserves one.
After enjoying temple & sea, and clicking some photos for fb/blog, we filled out stomach in a near by Punjabi restaurant. By 2:30PM, we started by first leg of return journey. This time we took NH-8D, newly completed 4 lane toll highway. The road was super, we reached Junagad by 3:30PM.
Junagad was a princely state before Independence and was of the two kingdoms (other being Hyderabad), whose kings wanted to be part of Pakistan. I am sure, now they would be glad, that they are not part of Pakistan. Junagad is famous for Girnar temple, a hill top temple, having a following among Hindus & Muslims of the region & across the country. The temple is accessible only by foot steps and many people also do parikrama (walk along the circumference of the hill), which measures something like ~40 kms. Junagad, also is the launch pad to visit world famous & only Asiatic Lion sanctuary, “Gir forest”, some 100 kms away.
We did neither of above, because of lack of time. Rather we took a guided tour (& guide was drunk, surprisingly in a dry state) of Junagad palace, which turn out to be pretty boring to me & my friend as well. If not Gir forest, at least visit zoo. So we visited Junagad zoo, again turned out to be very boring. By 6:00 PM, we were done with all this and decided to return. On way out of Junagad, we saw number of ancient buildings, which were now converted to schools, colleges, hospitals, govt offices and grand mosques, all telling it’s glorious history of being an independent state.
We took highway 927D, a 2 lane smooth road & via Kalvad reached Reliance Greens by 8:00PM. A day-off well spent with darshan of Gandhiji’s birthplace & Somnath temple.
Wish readers, a happy, safe & litter free travelling.
Photo of the trip: