Omus’s Weblog

Politics, Trekking, Environment & Personal

Day trip to Somnath-7th Feb-2016 February 20, 2016

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.

Somnath

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.

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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:

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Bike trip to Dwarka-31st Jan-2016, Fafra-Jalebi route February 14, 2016

Route: Reliance greens (Jamnagar) -> Khambaliya -> Madhi -> Dwarka -> Nageswar -> Mithapur -> Okha -> Dwarka -> Highway 947 (Charkala)-> Khambaliya -> Reliance green

Bike: Honda Unicorn

Trip meter -> ~300 kms

Time: 7:15 Am to 5:30 PM

route

Places of interest:

  1. Beautiful beach of Madhi (also called Bechtel beach))
  2. Teerth sthal (holy city) of Dwarka
  3. Nageswar (supposedly a Jyotirling) & Gopi kund.
  4. Okha (one of the western most tip of India) & last/1st railway station
  5. Expansive salt lakes throughout the journey. Most amazing one seemed to be “Charkala” salt works on highway 947
  6. Island of Beyt Dwarka
  7. The region is heaven for Ornithologist, with some unique birds, which I have not seen in other parts of India.
  8. Debate over lost city of “Dwarka” also makes it interesting place for archaeologist & historians.
  9. Good quality roads, little traffic, wind mills, occasional salt lakes, coastline etc. on a winter day, is a perfect recipe of a pleasant drive.

Cautions:

  1. Fuel stations, both for vehicle & stomach are very few.
  2. Choosy foody people may suffer. In whole route, Dwarka is only place with certain options. Otherwise, it’s only “khakra & jalebi”.

It was my, what 20-odd trip to Jamnagar & I had hardly explored the region. This time I was on 2 weeks trip & so decided, will see all the places around. I borrowed Honda Unicorn from my friend (thanks Prakash R) & set on to Dwarka on a perfect wintery Sunday morning, around 7AM, alone. The 4 lane highway near Reliance mega refinery, gives way to 2 lane highway immediately after Essar refinery. But still quality of drive remains more or less same, as road was good & traffic, less. I filled bike tank with petrol & my tank with breakfast of fafra & jalebi. The NH-29 to Karunga is a bit boring drive, with dry arid region & scrub vegetation, with occasional wind mills.But right turn towards Dwarka near Karunga & suddenly view changes. Now, I was on NH 8E/6, which connects Dwarka & Porbander (birthplace of Mahatma Gandhiji). Few miles away from the right turn in Madhi beach. On one side of the road is beach & other side, huge salt lake, which makes a perfect place to stop & capture some photographs for memory & facebook. The beach also got a small, turtle egg laying place. Good part is, since there is no eating place, it looks like hardly any Indian visit here & so the place is very neat & clean. Interestingly, it is tagged as Bechtel beach in google map, which shows the no. of visitors Reliance gives to this place (Bechtel is Oil & gas DEC behemoth & is DEC contractor for Reliance Jamnagar refineries).The few benches on the beach (this is best thing I like in Gujarat…they have benches for seating, everywhere) makes a perfect chilaxing point. Although I wanted to stay for some more time, but the thought of reaching Dwarka before temple closing time, I started from Madhi beach with a resolution that, I will come back again here for a night camping. Madhi to Dwarka is ~25 kms highway running parallel to the coast. Few pics of beautiful Madhi beach:

So by 9:30 AM, I was in Dwaarkadheesh temple. After getting the darshan of lord around 10:15 AM (to my surprise, it was not crowded at all), I started exploring the place around the temple. Mobile phones, bags etc are not allowed inside the temple. The walkway to temple, seems to have been developed by Ambani family. The tiled walkway has got some 100 odd paintings depicting life of Lord Shree Krishna. Some decent infrastructure is provided around the temple, but as usual like any other Indian religious place, the place is bit dirty. There are again benches in Promenade behind the temple, a perfect place to see sunset. There are many more ancient temples, a hanging bridge over the (shallow) Gomti river, as it flows into the sea. But I was not that interested. So, after a stay of ~1hr, I started my drive towards Nageshwar. Here are few pics of Dwarkadheesh temple.

BTW, I did my research on Old Dwarka city (after returning from journey). I am convinced, that a great city (not the way it is not shown in some mythological serials. The serial is an artist depiction.) did exist 10,000 yrs ago & got swallowed by sea. It’s pity that our own govt has stopped exploration of our great history.

Back to travelogue, I started by 11:00 towards Nageswar temple, ~18 KMs ride from Dwarka. Some people, across India, believe it is a Jyotirling, one of 12 holiest places of lord Shiv. Nevertheless, I visited more as a tourist than a religious person. Luckily, even this place was not crowded and within few mins, I got darshan of Lord shiv’s jyotirling (It was inside a glass enclosure). The temple also had a big statue of lord Shiva. After savouring on coconut water, I started towards Gopi kund, where supposedly Lord Krishna took bath along with Gopis. Against my expectation, it was a very small (Indian) pond.

From Gopi Kund, I started towards Okha, with a resolution to reach one of the westernmost tip of India. The road seemed to be polluted with salt & also could be seen was Tata chemical factory of Mithapur. On way, also comes Arambhada, which it seems has a ship breaking & recyling industry.

Finally I reached Okha, the place I had heard all these years in train name “Puri-Okha express”. As I was in Okha railway station, I realized I was like ~2000 kms away from my hometown & ~50 hrs away, if I travel in  Okha-Puri express. Okha, is the western most railway station on Broad gauge line & is connected by rest of India with number of long distance pilgrimage express.Both road & rail line terminates in Okha port, which also is gateway to island of “Beyt Dwarka”. Because of lack of time, I decided not to visit Beyt Dwarka. After few clicks of Western most tip of India, I started my return journey.

 

On return journey, I had my lunch in Dwarka and took highway 947 via Charkala , to reach Khambaliya. From maps, I always knew that this road is far from coast, but was surprised the moment I reached Charkala salt works. The salt lakes were like sea. There was no end to water, as far as I can see. Later, I figured out, actually they had channeled sea inside landmass, resulting in massive salt lakes. Those were last clicks of my day long tour & I reached Reliance guesthouse by 5:30PM.

It was good day long bike trip after almost a year. Now out of 4 teerth dham, I have visited 3 , with only “North Dham” Badrinath remaining. Interestingly, I have done all 3 in bike, hope to do 4th one in bike as well. JAI SHREE DWARKADHEESH. JAI SHREE KRISHNA.