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.


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 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:


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


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.


  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.


Maharastra religious Circle: 13th-14th April-2013 June 11, 2013

Maharastra- Religious Circle

Maharastra- Religious Circle

Dates: 5:00AM 13th April 2013 to 6PM 14th April 2013

Map Points: C: Shani Signapur ; D: Grishneswar/ Ellora Caves; E: Shirdi ; F: Trimbakeswar

Route: Airoli -> Pune Expressway -> Pune -> Ahmednagar -> Shani Shignapur -> Aurangabad -> Grishneswar (Ellora or Khultabad  -> Vaijapur -> Shirdi -> Nasik -> Trimbak -> Nasik -> Thane -> Airoli

Total distance: ~800 kms

Overall road quality: 80% was good to very good (~70-100km/hr); 10% was ok (40-70 km/hr) ; 10% was poor (<30 km/hr)

Vehicle: 7+1 Innova.

Toll paid: ~Rs. 500

Places Visited: Shani Shignapur, Grishneswar(one of the 12 Jyotir Ling) , Shirdi Sai baba temple , Triambakeswar (one of the 12 Jyotirling)

Other places of interest:

Mountain views along Pune expressway (Matheran, Lonalve); Old capital city of Daulatabad with its decaying forts & tombs; thousand years old Ellora caves, grape vineyards of Nasik.

Somewhat off route: Ajanta caves near Aurangabad.

To complete all these 3 days are must.

1)      Navi Mumbai – Pune via Expressway:

–          Toll of Rs. 165

–          Eateries/Toilets only near Toll gates

–          Cannot stop on expressway. So cannot really enjoy the scenic route.

–          Huge truck traffic.

–          Average speed: 80-90 km/hr

2)      Pune -> Ahmednagar -> Shani Shignapur:

–          4 lane divided highway, so average speed: 60-70 km/hr

–          The road are infested with Dhabas & eatery options. So eating, refreshing should not be a problem

–          Beware of surprise speed breakers

3)      Shani Signapur Temple:

–          It is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shani

–          Saturday are usually crowded & can take an hour to complete the temple rituals.

–          Oil, teel (sasam seeds) are usual offering to god. Oil is spread over god in an engineered fashion via small tanks & pumps.

–          I advise to take only oil, as other offerings are not allowed on god & so are kind of waste.

–          As the temple popularity is growing, some hotels, lodge etc. have mushroomed. Also have restaurants which serves mainly thalis & snacks.

–          Parking, Bathroom, toilet facility are available near the temple

–          Free shoe stand is also available

–          Beware of shops asking to keep shoes in their stand, as they charge a premium while selling other stuff.

Parking Facility YES
Hotels to stay YES (but don’t expect high class standards)
Restaurants to eat YES (again don’t expect variety)
Toilets/bathrooms for day tourist YES (again they are very dungy)
Shoe stand YES (free just near entrance)
Time taken <1 hr on usual days. Saturdays may take bit longer
Tourist guidance YES & NO. office is there, but officials may be missing
Best time to visit Monsoon or Winter (June to February)
Non Hindus entry Not sure
Overall Tourist/Pilgrim friendly 6/10.


4)      Shani Shignapur -> Aurangabad -> Daulatabad -> Grishneswar

–          4 lane divided highway, so average speed: 60-70 km/hr

–          The road are infested with Dhabas & eatery options. So eating, refreshing should not be a problem

–          Beware of surprise speed-breakers

5)      Grishneswar temple:

–          One of the 12 jyotirlings of Lord Shiva.

–          It is not as that crowded as other Jyotirlings

Parking Facility YES
Hotels to stay YES (but don’t expect high class standards)
Restaurants to eat YES (again don’t expect variety)
Toilets/bathrooms for day tourist Did not find
Shoe stand NO (free just near entrance)
Time taken < 1 hr
Tourist guidance NO.
Best time to visit Monsoon or Winter (June to February)
Non Hindus entry Not sure
Overall Tourist/Pilgrim friendly 3/10

–          The whole tourist circuit of Aurangabad, Daulatabad, Ajanta & Ellora caves & Grishneswar temple can take 2 days.

6)      Grisneswar -> Vaijapur -> Shirdi

–          SH-39 is kind of a patchy Village road

–          Average speed is like ~30 km/hr

–          Stretch especially between Grishneswar & Vaijapur is bad.

–          Hardly any dhaba or eating option

7)      Shirdi:

–          One of the most visited religious site in India & supposedly second most richest temple in India.

–          Number of visitors are increasingly exponentially year on year with increasing popularity of Sai Baba.

–          With this growth is coming chaos of typical Indian religious place. Number of hotels are exploding, restaurants are exploding & do the number of touts.

–          Bus stand is near temple & there are number of hotels to choose from within 2 km radius of the temple.

– A railway station has started in Shirdi & daily train from Mumbai is there. Also some long distance weekly connect it to various parts of the country. But still, road is preferred means to reach Shirdi. Buses connect with all major surrounding cities like Pune, Nasik, Mumbai, Thane, Surat etc.

Parking Facility YES
Hotels to stay YES of all standards. If not booked online in one of the temple trust’s hostel, it’s worthless to try in real time, especially on peak day/ season.
Restaurants to eat YES. Plenty of options. Near Gate No 2, good looking options are there.
Toilets/bathrooms for day tourist YES
Shoe stand/ Cloak room YES (Both near Gate No.2 of temple). Mobiles not allowed (deposit near gate No 2)
Time taken Anywhere from 1 hr to 6 hrs
Tourist guidance NO.
Best time to visit Monsoon or Winter (June to February)
Non Hindus entry Allowed.
Cautions –          Beware of touts thru out the town-          Worthless to take flowers, as it never reaches god-          Use shoe stand, instead of shops. They loot like anything.-          Bargain hard on purchases
Some tips –          Best time to go early morning or night-10PM (last) aarti-          Go on weekdays-          Free aarti is better than 300 Rs. aarti (My opinion)
Overall Tourist/Pilgrim friendly 5/10

8)      Shirdi -> Nasik -> Trimbak

–          2 lane highway

–          Average speed 40-50 km/hr

–          Passes through heart of Nasik. So all facilities available in tis route.

9)      Trimbak (Trimbkaeswar)

–          One of the Jyotirling & thus holds religious importance among Hindus. It is one of the three sites to hold world famous religious gathering of Kumbh Mela.

–          The village circles around a temple & a pond, supposedly birth place of Indian peninsula’s largest n longest River, Godavari.

–          The picturesque temple is surrounded by hills & give a hint of Kedarnath (in Uttaranchal) style location.

Parking Facility YES
Hotels to stay Basic. For better options, Nasik is the place to stay
Restaurants to eat YES , but Basic.
Toilets/bathrooms for day tourist Should be there near Pond (bathing place)
Shoe stand/ Cloak room YES (near entrance of the temple). Mobiles not allowed
Time taken Anywhere from 1 hr to 3 hrs. On festivals, it may take a day
Tourist guidance NO.
Best time to visit Monsoon or Winter (June to February). Monsoon will be very picturesque
Overall Tourist/Pilgrim friendly 5/10

10)   Nasik -> Thane -> navi Mumbai

–          Lovely 4 lane highway with dividers

–          Average speed: 60-70 km/hr

 Overall: the religious circle can be easily done in 2 days (except seasons n festivals). It can be clubbed with sight seeing in Aurangabad, Ellora caves, Ajanta caves to make it a complete 360 degree tour.



–          Respect people’s religious belief & traditions