Road journeys – Nashik to Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad the vibrant city:
After a formal good-bye to Mr. Mahesh we were soon back on NH-8 and get-set-go, with occasional slowing down at the Toll plazas, we reached Vadodara in less than 3 hours. Another 100 km on the Vadodara expressway with only one Toll at its entry was a very safe and comfortable journey hence, we unanimously decided to keep going. A few packets of chips were only what could be picked after the toll plaza due to no food joint on the return journey unlike Yamuna expressway, was pretty disappointing. In least traffic, we reached prior to our schedule by around 10.45 pm. A hotel near Mani Nagar railway station level crossing was noticed at the first sight. Without hunting for more, we shifted into our room by 11 pm. The hotel management was cooperative enough to provide us with bread-omelets and tea immediately. A sound sleep till late in the morning relaxed me sufficiently with the veritable joy of finally landing in Gujrat on a long trip, for venturing the varied landscapes of the vibrant role-model state.

Ahmedabad doesn’t need any formal introduction, one of the most advanced city with cosmopolitan life style equally supported with modern amenities and infrastructure looks as good as our own city Delhi, at first sight. So, what is the difference! Wow! The giant lake beautifully maintained in the lap of nature despite of a dense concrete jungle around gives the city its uniqueness. Mahatma’s stay on the bank of Sabarmati is never the least a must pilgrim to all Indians though, frequented more by non-Indians, is a matter of pride. Rest, in the city is more or less the same usual sights as in any other metro-cities. Chaos of traffic, old city hassle amidst few converted to modern looks, sky scrappers, malls, multiplexes, flyovers, long waits at traffic signals and rows of hybrid showrooms.

Soothing view of Ahmedabad

Soothing view of Ahmedabad



The famous Kankaria Lake was at a walking distance through one of its many entries hence, we decided to go on foot bypassing the Mani Nagar railways station, the other railway station is known as Kala Nagar a few kilometers away. Interestingly, none of them is called as Ahmedabad Railway Station though both are in Ahmedabad. The restaurants and shops remain closed till 10 am shows the relax lifestyle of Gujrat, closes again at 2 pm which re-opens at 4 pm and finally markets are closed by 10 pm in most of the small-big towns in Gujrat.

A small patri-wala (as we call it in Delhi) offering Puri-Saag (subzi) for Rs. 15/- per plate, was found after multiple enquiries, surprisingly in the Railway Station area at 9.30 am. With, nothing much eaten last day, we had no options than to grab it with due respect. With tea, the feast was not bad at the offered price. Four-large Garma-garam Puris and unlimited Saag as per your need for Rs. 15/- was a true delight. A meal at Rs. 15/- reminded me of the political issues in the recent past. Tea in Gujrat is very fondly prepared in any part and any stalls with strong flavor with major share of milk in it and tastes very nice at a reasonable price. A cutting (half cup) served in plastic cups or in a small sized glass tumbler or in cups and saucers costs Rs. 5/- to Rs.7/- and a full for Rs. 8/- to Rs. 10/- in any parts of Gujrat.

Wild-Urban Kankaria Lake

Wild-Urban Kankaria Lake

After walking for 10 minutes, we could see a large iron gate for entering the lake with a male and female guard sitting at the entry point on the right and a ticket counter on its left. Entry fee is Rs. 10/- per adult and no inflammables including fags are allowed inside. A recently bought GF packet of 20 for Rs. 150/- and a semi-costly lighter was a problem to me. Despite of all assurances of not using them inside the park and request to allow them with us didn’t melt the stubborn guard’s heart. So I played a wild card, I approached one of the auto drivers waiting for passengers there and handed him the items with a request to meet us there after 3 hours and take us to Sabarmati Ashram and till then keep my wealth in his custody. He readily agreed and provided me with his mobile number to call him half an hour before exiting. Triumphantly, I stared towards my wife with a big smile on my face with very high hopes of receiving applauds on my wit, was actually reverted with a grudging, griming, sarcastic face making by my beautiful better-half.

Kankaria Lake, created in 1451 CE was built by Sultan Kutubuddin was formerly known as “Hauj-e-Kutub”, and used for bathing by the kings. It is a 34-sided polygon having steps leading down to water level is now bounded for safety reasons.

Wide view of Kankaria Lake

Wide view of Kankaria Lake

I am short of word to describe the pristine beauty of Kankaria Lake is the best remark I can comment on the so beautifully maintained lake and its surrounding offering so many activities for all visitors ranging from young enthusiasts to kids, couples, families and people in all age groups. The clean water full of variety of fish also attracts plenty of birds in the lake that enhances the charm with a wilder look. Boating is predominant with range of rowing boats to paddlers besides speed boats. The transparent air balloons in the water are a delight to kids and proud moment to their parents who enjoy their children grabbing so much of adventure with safety. Hot air ballooning is also available for a bird eye view of the vibrant city with the lake as a pendant. A very-very well maintained toy train gives an opportunity to all, to merry go round, the entire far stretched lake sides with comfort and offers a great journey at throw away price of Rs. 25/- each. Adequate free public conveniences at many points show the compassionate care of the concerned authorities in maintaining the public area so convenient for public. A small zoo, a butterfly park, a planetarium, a small golf course, plenty of food joints and lot more keep the visitors wandering all day joyfully. Evening here is also splendid in adequate lighting with a view of glittering water of the lake, impromptu shivers the body with a heavenly feeling. The island in the centre of the lake houses a beautiful garden approachable through a lane drawn through one edge is appropriately christened as Nagina Wadi, meaning, a garden like a jewel.

Discipline at Kankaria RS

Discipline at Kankaria RS

Enhancing beauty by Blackies

Enhancing beauty by Blackies

Normal view of Kankaria Lake

Normal view of Kankaria Lake

Religion follows

Religion follows

Sailing around Nagina-Wadi

Sailing around Nagina-Wadi

Spotless Park

Spotless Park

Sun Bath

Sun Bath

Tethered Balloon Ride

Tethered Balloon Ride

Water Bird posing for Camera

Water Bird posing for Camera

Wish I was allowed too

Wish I was allowed too

We spent more than four hours completely involved, watching the varied happy crowd with a smile on every face. Birds nesting on tree tops and fishing in the lake also attract many nature lovers like me. At 2 pm we decided to have lunch in one of the many joints and after finishing, we walked through the same gate with a hope to get back my wealth in custody of a gentleman. As asked, I tried his number but that was not reachable and I was quite upset with that. My wife’s wicked smile was more painful and heart breaking. At the main gate, I started investigating every auto, like a cop in distress but alas! mine one was missing. Never mind, bade-bade sehron me chhoti-chhoti baaten hoti rehti hai…… !!!! With heavy heart, I bought another pack, a deep puff exhaled the grief to some extent when suddenly I found my wife talking to one auto driver. I thought she must be bargaining with the one for a drop at Sabarmati Ashram. On reaching closer, I was happy to see my curator, with a humble submission that he was waiting for my call but since I didn’t call him hence he returned to the same point to wait for me voluntarily, The honesty combined with his humility taught me a lesson of faithfulness and high regards for the residents of Gujrat which I retained in my entire trip of 15 days covering all parts in the real role model state. In my case, my mobile was short of proper network with courtesy of my service provided hence, calls not completing. A switch off and switch on later solved the issue as suggested by the service provider.

In 30 minutes we reached the famous abode of the Mahatma, the father of the nation and a legend preaching lessons on peace even today. We were enthralled with the mere feeling that we are actually at the site where, Mahatma Gandhi once lived, preached, enlightened our political revolutionists with his successful spiritual ideas of peaceful revolution and earned independence through his ardent anshans, un-armed and without blood shed. The river Sabarmati alongside flowing timidly adds tranquility in the already pacific atmosphere of the heavenly abode. A few foreign visitors accompanied with philosophers on Gandhian studies were keen in learning with humility. We visited the whole area pursuing every facts preserved in pictures, models and writings with great respect and honour. A stall with Gandhiji’s books and relevant works by other legends was very worth visiting. A classic piece on crystal with Gandhiji’s portrait in it was what we couldn’t resist purchasing besides few artifacts and books. The hutment of Mahatma, a much revered place and the replicas of the items used by the immortal was also of interest. A charkha in working condition at its verandah is still there, in remembrance to the veteran, honouring his omnipresence in every Indian heart and beyond. A man weaving on the charkha drew every ones attention and was framed in all cameras including mine. The room, where Gandhiji resided was found locked for no better reasons but one can see through the netted wires on its windows, the resting place of the Mahatma, Later we also visited Vinobaji’s hut which is a thatched roofed mud hutment with two rooms one for him and another for Mira Ben the Anglo follower of Gandhiji.

A Masterpiece of Art

A Masterpiece of Art

Adobe of the Mahatma

Abode of the Mahatma

An act of peaceful agitation

An act of peaceful agitation

Bapu's Adobe

Bapu’s Abode

Gandhiji's living room

Gandhiji’s living room

Immortal Bapu

Immortal Bapu

In peace & harmony

In peace & harmony

In search of peace

In search of peace

Meditating in Bapu Ashram

Meditating in Bapu Ashram

MK to MG

MK to MG

Mr. MK Gandhi

Mr. MK Gandhi

Portrait with 3-D effect

Portrait with 3-D effect

Spinning the Wheel

Spinning the Wheel

Truly Non-Apartheid

Truly Non-Apartheid

Vinoba & Mira Kutir

Vinoba & Mira Kutir

In the evening, we again visited the lake after which the bustling market and back to our hotel. With sweet memories, we planned to drive to Junagarh next morning. Few things that haunted me were how come a state maintained the sanctity, serenity, cleanliness, discipline, dutifulness and peace in a cosmopolitan city with so much of ease without forcefulness. Is it because the administrators very committed or a miraculous blessings of Bapu! Is it the awareness in general public and belongingness in Aaam-aadmi who are committed to maintain the disciplines so religiously? The clean water of Sabarmati without barricades, spotless parks with devoted staffs brooming and grooming it as their own child and the beautiful city maintained by all residents envied me, when compared to our own National Capital. None of the above in particular, I understand, it is a culture that must have developed in many-many years. I have learnt a lot here, including waiting in a row at closed level crossings, give space to over taking vehicles by shifting from the right lane and using dipper at night at relevant places. I have also learnt to trust people and extend a genuine friendly cooperation to any body when asked to and silently render our civic duties without howling and blaming others. Travel not only thrills but also teaches lesson in a practical way, I firmly believe it and many more may agree with that.

Awaiting a CAPTION by viewers

Awaiting a CAPTION by viewers

The journey continues……

14 Comments

  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Ajay ji

    First of all I would like to offer my sincere apology for not posting my comment on any of your post of the current series of your travelogue, although I read it within a day or so, as they were posted.
    This was not at all intentional, just time could not give enough opportunity to say, ‘thank you’ for all your hard work and dedication. I do hope, you may understand it and pardon me for that.

    Now, I promise, today itself, I will go through the posts of the current series once again and post my comments, where ever I will find myself appropriate to write a few lines.

    Your present post is awesome supported with enthralling photographs. It is great to know that we Indian still believe in Gandhi, although we do not practice it in our day to day life but some where it gives a pleasure feeling of living in the same country from where Gandhi belongs. Thanx

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear vtarji,
    Addiction to the extent that, the first job I do now is browse all mails on mobile with hopes of some new enriched article, new comments, new critic etc. etc. However, sometimes people get stuck with materialistic chores and cant submit reactions. Its same with all and nothing to sorry about that. I humbly submit that your apology is only your greatness of humility and you deserve my soulful regards as a person and a flawless writer. Its more than enough to me that you guys have spared some time to go through my travel narration. Thanks a lot for all your soft and touching words. Yes, Gandhi Ji is there in every hearts if not as a Father of the Nation but as a philosophy of life. Honest, I was very obliged to have the opportunity to visit Sabarmati and Porbandar during this trip and feel blessed.

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • Hemal Mehta says:

    The name of the other railway station is ‘Kalupur’

  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Ajay ji

    Very descriptive and beautifuly narrated post along with fascinating photographs.

    I must salute you for such long driving hours on the seat, that is really commandable. In winters my friend Mr. Tyagi and me are planning for Jodhpur and Jaisalmer but we are opting for train instead of driving self, although we have three drivers(Tyagi ji, me and my wife). Hats off and kudos to your zest and zeal.

    Your family also deserves the credit for supporting you.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Avtarji, thanks a lot again. Driving long hours is little strenuous but has its own thrills with pros and cons. It frees you from fixed schedules & liberates your travel plans as per situations. However, safety is something, should be never ignored. It is also out of passion and you might remember my previous road journey series in the upper Himalayas viz. Delhi-Leh-Manali-Delhi which was much arduous and uncertain but at the same time a life time unforgettable journey. So driving long distances is no big deal so far so you enjoy it. Opinions may differ LOL!

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • Nandan Jha says:

    First, 10 points for the wit. It was indeed an out-of-box thinking (for the precious box). I was equally disheartened when you could not find the man after your return but soon we learnt that all is well. Stories like these needs to be spread further and needs to be celebrated more, so that it begins to look like a normal day to day thing.

    First in Prof Rakesh’s post and now in your post, it seems that the city administration is doing a swell job in keeping things in order. I hope other cities get to learn and emulate some of the best practices. In the National Capital, we are still figuring to form a government but ir-respective things look headed for a better. Insha Allah.

    So if someone gets one complete day in Ahmedabad and even though Kankaria sounds fun but if one is pressed on time, what other places would you recommend. I would also wait for Pro Rakesh’s posts and comments on this.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Hi! Nandan,
      Thank you for appreciating the wit! This was my humble way to alert others regarding the carrying and not carrying of certain items at certain places and a way out with playing wild-cards. LOL.

      For my type of tourist, one day is more than enough. One may stay longer with better reasons, discovering lot much leisurely. I was in liberty to plan my stay as I was on a road journey, what I intentionally left visiting was the Akshardham at Gandhinagar because that is as good as in Delhi.

      One day is good enough however, I have found a site offering 100 things to do in the city. Choice is yours Nandan.

      Regards
      Ajay

  • Rakesh Bawa says:

    Ajay Ji, Namaskar. Very nice post indeed reflecting my thoughts only for the vibrant city of Ahmedabad. I am also writing the series on Ahmedabad now a days. fully agree with you that humility and discipline of Gujarati people remain unmatched so far , the places I have seen. Kankaia lakefront is fully managed by Ahmedabad Municipal corporation just like any private enterprise. Elsewhere , municipal corporations are taken to be the lace where you get the pay without working.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Bawa Sir,
      Thanks a lot for the humble words. Yes, the natives are brilliant and very down to earth. AMC is doing extremely good in up-keeping the Lake front. You may also appreciate the visitors mainly locals who are performing their civic duties with belongingness and affinity. Awaiting your logs eagerly.

      Regards
      Ajay

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Ajay,

    So two parallel Gujarat stories playing out here at Ghumakkar!

    Yes it is only when we travel out of Delhi we realise we Indians are not that bad after all. Ahmedabad is indeed an example of how a city can be run. Though the traffic sense is pretty bad. If Ahmedabad can have such clean water bodies why cant Delhi do it too. For water bodies we have the foamy Yamuna, slushy Okhla Bird Sanctuary and the dry Suraj Kund. Rest have buildings constructed over them.

    Seeing Sabarmati Ashram’s photos is always a joy. The place has something which I felt recently in Sanchi. The serenity is all encompassing.

    Of course Ahmedabad has the old city to see and a number of Baolis.

    Did you say Junagarh? – now I want to jump aboard!

    Enjoying the trip immensely!

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Thank you so much Nirdesh!
    Yes Junagarh, tentatively coming live on 19th & you are most welcome to accompany. True buddy, it is sad to see the condition of R.Yamuna in Delhi despite of crores of public money, spending in guise of its maintenance. Lack of will & indifference of its citizens are one of the many reasons, I feel. Yes, not all are bad, I can say with my personal experience after touring stretches of Gujrat that, despite of humble & soft policing, people are self disciplined. I have not encountered any fraudulence, altercation, dispute, religious agents, regionalism in my entire stay in Gujrat.

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • Paulami says:

    I am a fellow Amdavadi and take pride of the fact.I liked your post and pictures of Kankaria Lake and other places of Ahmedabad.Ahmedabad today is one of the best planned and maintained city in India and thanx for sharing your story with all of us.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Hi! Paulami,
    Thanks a lot for liking the post and apreciating it. I 100% agree with you, it was a great experience to me in my Gujrat trip and the credit goes to you people, the residents of Gujrat. Kudos to all Gujratis.

    Keep travelling
    Ajay

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