Road Journeys – Jamnagar to Bhuj: Tankara, Birthplace of the Ascetic “Swami Dayanand Saraswati”

By

Maharshi Dayānand Saraswati was born on 12 February 1824 at Tankara, Gujrat. He was an important Hindu religious leader of his time. He is well known as the founder of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement of the Vedic tradition. He was a profound scholar of the Vedic lore and Sanskrit language. He was the first to give the call for Swarajya as “India for Indians” in 1876, later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.

Read More

Road Journeys – Dwarka to Jamnagar: Narara Marine National Park & Sanctuary

By

Finally we reached at a point with a gate with board of No-Entry. The forest office on the left with a guard welcomed us. Mr. Thakkar’s references again worked and we were greeted with a cup of tea and snacks. The Delhi Plate car was a surprise to all and was more astonished to know that we were driving all the way from Delhi. He informed that the marine park is a restricted area and only allowed with a guide. Surprised! Please don’t, because there wasn’t any official guide, locals in company with the forest guards, engage in guiding the seldom visitors for Rs. 100/- only. They are generally students and natives of nearby villages. The forest guard asked us to pay Rs. 100/- each as entry fee the vehicle can be parked only just after entering the No Entry gate. We paid the same with official receipt, the guide may be paid in cash.

The entire area is a protected place and well guarded by CISF, posted on watch towers with sophisticated weapons because of its proximity to the international borders and the port. We were asked to wear shorts and slippers because of the mangrove and swamp ahead. After abiding by, we started our very exciting journey towards the sea. After traversing the bushes we reached the infinitive vastness of the shores with mangroves spotting here and there. During low tide the sea water recedes to as far as five km and gradually creeps back inundating the entire vast emptiness and the mangroves by noon.

Read More

Road Journeys – Dwarka to Jamnagar: Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary

By

Excitedly, without caring I entered through the bushes and soon found a wide spread wet land with thousands of birds hovering, nesting, feeding, fishing and swimming. A dusty path on the right leads towards the wet land with ample water for the water birds for their activities. A little further is a watch tower where the track ends at the banks. The tower was almost abandoned, but the view around was so enticing that I cynically could not stop myself from reaching atop despite my wife’s skepticism. My extra-zoom camera captured whatever within range and my nature crazy mind was carried away with inveigle of ensnarement.

It is pertinent to mention that once you happen to visit the park, don’t forget to carry good quality binoculars and extra zoom cameras. Most of the photos clicked by me are on digital zoom, despite of 50x compatibility. It is wise to carry a tri-pod to avoid blurred results due to trembling on digital zoom.

Read More

Road journeys – Porbandar to mythological Dwarka:

By

Contrarily once we reached near the shrine premise, we were glad to see that despite of innumerable devotees there was no chaos and seemed that excellent care has been taken to maintain the sanctity in a well managed way. Far from the entry, cloak rooms with numbered bags are kept in trolleys which can be used to keep off the shoes of the entire group together and deposit it in queue by any one person and obtain a token for free. The valuables like mobiles, cameras etc can also be deposited in another such cloak room adjacent to the shoe stand. It is better to keep the cameras, mobiles & other valuables back in your hotel to avoid delays at depositories.

A team of well mannered security staffs are always ready to guide you amicably for entering into the shrine. Different check points for ladies and gents are equipped with metal detectors and scanners in ‘working condition’ besides physical checking but without hassle. In no time we entered through the giant gate inside the premise and were soon lucky to catch the Shayan Arti at 8.30 pm. The divinity and magnificence of the deity left us in awe and nostalgic. The glittering glossy idol, laden with gold and gems and ornamented with a tilted crown touched the heart immensely and deep immersed the soul in an ocean of sanctum satisfaction with fulfillment. It is perhaps because Lord Krishna is worshiped here as the emperor of Dwarka. The Shayan Arti is performed for 5 minutes only but the rhythmic devotional vibrations lasted till long after. Similarly the divine darshan of the lord continued captured back on memory in persistence of vision.

Read More

Road journeys – Diu to Porbandar, Land of the Father of Nation

By

“Mangrol is an important harbour as far as the fish industry is considered. There are many fisheries located here and exports to many European nations. The fishermen of Mangrol are infamous for being caught many-a-times by the Pakistan Coast Guard for entering their naval territories in search of fish”.

We were looking forward to see the much heard and boasted coastal highway running parallel to the Arabian Sea. Though almost the entire highway runs along the coast but the sea or its shores is visible only for a stretch of one kilometer. After long wait we finally reached a concrete fly-over kind of bridge at Madhavpur. The sight of infinitive majestic blue of Arabian Sea on our left at a hand shaking distance and rows of palms and greenery comprising tall pillars with massive blades of the wind mills standing erect with pride & humility on the right was like reaching a dream land. The SUZLON wind-mills claim providing 24 hour power to the state. According to official data, wind power generations capacity in the state has increased a staggering ten times in just six years. As per C-WET data, the total installed capacity in Gujarat stood at 3093 MW.

Read More

Road Journeys – Somnath to Diu – Sea and Sand

By

On the way, we deliberately stopped at one point sighting a very unusual Palm-Tree with multiple branches. Later we found jungles of such trees in entire Diu and its adjoining areas. Browsing, it revealed, those were the Hokka-Trees, African specie of Palm brought by the Portuguese which in due course adapted Diu’s atmosphere and grow in plenty throughout. Locals call it Hokka, not found any where else in the country and also bore edible fruits that have medicinal properties.

Unlike Daman it was pleasing to notice a decent surrounding without the chaos of liquor shops and drunken-brawls instead, the hard drinks were available in much civilized and socialised manner. The places worth a visit in Diu are the Ghoghla Beach, Diu Fort, St. Paul’s Church, Nagoa Beach, Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple, Shell Museum, Naida Caves and Fortim-do-mar (Panikota).

Read More

Road Journeys – Towards Somnath, In search of enlightenment

By

Soon, we reached at my fourth Jyotirling, Somnath. Parking the car a few meters away in a very large space with unorganized parking facility though I hurriedly jogged to have the glance of the magnificent temple about which I have read so much in our history books during school and also in visual media. Soon a right turn left me in awe with eyes wide open to see the magnitude and glamour of the historical and mythological grand shrine at the shores of Arabian Sea, an architectural marvel standing erect in pride.

A large boundary around the shrine, with many visible vigil eyes, armed guards, innumerable CCTV cameras and steel barricading with metal detectors, scanners besides checking physically to every entrant beyond the permissible limit, reminds the history of destructions of the shrine in the past and its prone to vulnerability in the future.

Read More

Road Journeys – Towards Sinh Saheb’s Abode at GIR

By

How many of you have sighted a big cat in wild? Will all of you agree that sighting it for the first time is a nerve-breaking, shaky, crazy, ecstatic, intoxicating, heavenly, euphoric, blissful and rapturous…….., short of words to explain, state of mind and body! All eyes still, hoping another sight of the shy animal petrified motionlessly for another few seconds. No chance, assured by the whispers of the guide. Everyone on board was busy browsing their cameras, for the best clip out of multiple shots taken in few seconds. Triumphantly, only my camera crowned the honor with one better close-up with a promise to share it with everyone later.

Soon, we sighted one more leopard crossing the road much closer, but that one was in haste and soon out of sight before, anyone could shoot it. The guide and driver were unanimous view of our better luck to spot two, too shy animals so easily in our first few minutes. I feel, they were right because back home, surprisingly we were informed that none have sighted any big cat that morning.

Read More

Road Journeys – Ahmedabad to Jungarh

By

Finally a huge granary, a few steps from the step-wells, covered with stage wise storage facilities enabled the curators to use the stocks in hardships as per its requirement by taking it out of the selected chamber designed by high class engineering technique without disturbing the entire storage. Preserved with natural herbs and their way of modern-ancient techniques of keeping the grains dry and free from pesticides is a matter of research. We are happy with pride to know that we were always ahead of time.

An interesting fact, which I feel prominent to mention, is that Zulfikar Ali Bhutta, the deceased veteran of Pakistan, hanged in a political trial was an administrator of the Nawab of Junagadh and played a role during annexation, post independence. Also the very famous, beautiful actor in Bollywood, Parvin Babi was a kin to Junagadh Nawab of Babi dynasty, sadly died in pitiable condition. A few fresh blooms and a solitary eagle on a dead dried tree impressed me with the balance of nature.

Read More

Road journeys – Nashik to Ahmedabad

By

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 adobe. 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.

Read More

Road journeys – Daman to Mumbai-Shirdi-Nasik

By

After relishing the home made graceful dinner, after so long, we started our onward journey to Shirdi at 9 pm, a 250 km drive was supposed to take 5-6 hrs. Kavita on the front seat, immaculately navigated through the zig-zags and soon through the Ghodbander road we were on the Eastern expressway to Nasik. I was told that Mumbaikars often travel on this route on weekends for Shirdi and Nasik at this hour so no issues driving till late night there. On the contrary, I didn’t find much private vehicles and was little uncomfortable regarding the route to Shirdi from Igatpuri which is a single and bumpy 100 km drive. Engulfed with apprehensions of adversities, with three ladies on board, I was a bit skeptic to whether go Shirdi or halt at Nasik which is relatively safer because of the HW throughout. Kavita on the other hand was confident and relaxed about the safety issues. In a state of topsy-turvy, I stopped at a large food joint (not many on this route) at Igatpuri for a stretch, fags & refreshment to ladies. I was pleased to see a few private vehicles parked there, on enquiring most of them revealed of their return journey to Mumbai and suburbs. One Innova driver was however, going Shirdi with ladies on board and assured about a safe journey except that the road from Ghoti to Shirdi is single and mostly dusty and bumpy.

He was on first instance very impressed about knowing us from Delhi. He had once tried luck in Delhi and stayed in Laxmi Nagar for one year was fallen for the city as usual but luck pushed him back because of his mother’s ill health and since then staying in a slum in Khar near Bandra. While chatting, he was extremely happy recalling the names of the Delhi-NCR localities, praising proudly, every thing about his lavish life style way back in 2002-03 during his stay in Delhi.

Read More