We went on a trip to Ahmedabad and Saurashtra area between Oct 13th to Oct 22nd during the Dusshera Holidays. You can find the photo albums here.
We flew from Bangalore to Ahmedabad. After sightseeing in Ahmedabad, we took night train to Veraval (Somnath). After sightseeing in Somnath, we took a taxi for 4 days. From Somnath, we went to Diu, Girsasan, Junagadh, Gondal, Porbandar, Dwaraka and Jamnagar, in that sequence. From Jamnagar, we took a night train to Ahmedabad and flew from there back to Bangalore. We booked the flights, trains and hotels through internet. MakeMyTrip and TripAdviser gave very good review of hotels to help us book.
Here are the places that we saw and missed for the benefit of others who want to visit:
- Hathee Singh Jain temple is a nice temple in the city.
- Adalaj Vav and Hari Ni Vav are beautiful step-wells. Surely both are worth visiting for their architecture.
- Sabarmati Ashram is vibrant with Gandhiji’s memories. Nice thought provoking quotations from Gandhiji’s works along with photos are exhibited in the beautiful building. It is an enriching experience to read them slowly and absorb the spirit behind them. The old building where Gandhiji stayed is kept well. There are volunteers there to teach how to spin cotton thread on the charka.
- There is a nice Heritage Walk organized by local volunteers. It starts at 8:00am from Kalupur Swami Narayan Mandir and ends at Jama Masjid. They gave a nice introduction to the tour using slides first. Then they took us through the old parts of Ahmedabad explaining the life and times in the past era. Don’t miss it.
- Kankariya Lake is a place not to miss. It has various kinds of entertainment for children and grownups like – Toy train, Balloon, Boating, Zorbing, etc. It has a variety of eateries also.
- Science City was very far. It was late by the time we reached there. We only watched an old 3D IMAX movie. It was not worth the visit may be because we spent too little time there.
- We stayed in the excellent Hotel Kamran near Bhadra Fort and Bhadrakali temple. The fort was closed because we went on a Sunday. The whole area was very crowded.
- Akshardham Temple was good. However, as we had seen the Akshardham Temple in Delhi a few times, this was not enchanting. The one in Delhi is better.
- There was a small Vaishnodevi Temple trying to mimic the Vaishnodevi Temple in Jammu. It was not worth visiting.
- Somnath temple is beautiful. It was built by a trust formed at the behest of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. The nice light-and-sound show at the temple in the night gives a nice history of the temple. Near the new temple is the old temple also.
- The Triveni Sangam was very dirty and some people were doing rituals. Near the Sangam is the Sankaracharya Math, which has a small cave with a temple for Adi Sankara.
- Slightly ahead is the Golakh Dham, with baithaks of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Vallabhacharya, and other temples.
- Also nearby is an old Surya Temple and Hingaj Mataji Temple.
- The archeology museum was closed for renovation.
- Ban Gangeshwar was nice. There are several Shiv Lingas in the sea. Near by is the Bhidbhanjan Mahadev temple.
- The beach in Somnath, near the new temple was very nice. The sand was actually fine gravel. So there was no dirt in the sea. The water was very clear. There were fishes in the sea water. There we eateries. There were horse and camel rides.
- Diu is a nice small island. It was under Portuguese rule till 1961. It was very under-developed with not access to drinking water, electricity, freedom of religion, etc. The Indian government took over all the Portuguese territories in India in 1961. It was a great relief to the people of those regions.
- The Diu Fort is worth seeing. It makes one wonder why Portuguese spent so much effort in holding up against India. Make sure to take a good guide while visiting the fort.
- There are a few churches converted into museums. The church buildings are nice to see because they are different from the usual British style buildings in the rest of India. Otherwise, the museums are not interesting.
- The Khukri Memorial is in memory of the brave sailors who sank in their ship Khukri hit by Pakistani torpedoes during the 1971 war. It is the Indian Navy’s only warship lost in war to date. I fervently hope it remains so. Read more on Wikipedia.
- Gangeshwar is a sight to see. It is a small Shiva temple in between rocks in the sea. Every wave washes the Shiva Lingas. The rocks have beautiful crabs.
- Nagoa Beach is very good for water sports like Swimming, Speed boat, Banana boat and Parasailing.
- We went on a Wednesday. Girsasan is closed on Wednesday. So we missed. We did not know that. In a hurry to reach Girsasan in time, we also missed the Sun Temple at Talala.
- Junagadh was one of the two princely states with a majority Hindu population and Muslim king, who wanted to join with Pakistan after the British left. (The other was Hyderabad.) The people revolted and drove away the king to Pakistan. The Prime Minister of Junagadh invited the Indian government to take over. The Indian Government conducted a plebiscite which turned in favour of joining with India.
- Junagadh Museum was good. The Darbar Hall museum was small but nice. It was interesting to see the Darbar Hall museum had a wonderful Arise Awake exhibition on the life and message of Swami Vivekananda.
- Sakkarbaug Zoo had a very good interpretation center. The exhibits on display in the interpretation center was excellent. Other zoos in India also should put up similar exhibition to introduce people to the zoo. More than half of the zoo can be seen only by using the bus operated by the zoo. The bus needs a minimum of 10 people to start. There were not enough people and so we missed much of the zoo.
- Uparkot Fort is nice to see. I has some ancient Buddhist caves, a palace converted into a mosque, step wells, etc. Make sure to take a good guide when you visit.
- Near the fort are Gayatri Mandir, etc. which were not much interesting.
- There are rock edicts of Ashoka near the fort. It is in a nice building on the main road. It is very easy to miss it.
- Damodar Kund near the fort is very nice. There is a very nice temple of Krishna and Balarama here. This was the place where Balarama married Revati, the daughter of King Raivata.
- Girnar Hills can be seen from Damodar Kund. Climbing to Girnar is arduous. There are nice Jain temples at the top. But going there has to be a trip of its own. We did not go.
- Narsinh Mehta Choro keeps alive the memory of the great saint Narsinh Mehta.
- Mohabbat Maqbara is a very good example of how a beautiful building has been put to neglect by the Archaeology Department. Such a beautiful building in the heart of the city is totally neglected. There are two beautiful building in the campus. Someone should take it up with the Government on why the buildings are in such a state. I managed to take some pictures of the interior through the locked gates.
- Gondal was one of the several princely states before 1947. The Navlakh Palace is surely an amazing building to see. The palace and the adjoining museums are preserved in excellent condition. There is a nice Horse Carriage Museum there.
- Orchard Palace is also a nice building to help us understand the life of the princes before 1947. There is a railway coach that the prince used to use, which is preserved well. There is also a great Vintage Cars Museum there.
- Kirti Mandir has the place of Gandhiji’s ancestral home. The building is well preserved. But it is empty. It would have been nice if the furniture and articles of daily use in those days are kept in their places. That will give a better picture of Gandhiji’s house. There is the house of Kasturibaji in the adjacent lane, reachable through the Kirti Mandir. There is a nice museum also.
- Sudhama Temple is a nice place. This is the place where great friend of Krishna, Sudhama lived. The temple has a nice geometrical shape. One has to enter on one side and exit on the other, thinking of God at each step. See the picture.
- The actual Dwaraka is the great city established by Krishna, which went into the sea before Krishna’s departure from Earth. The current Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka are temples in memory of the real Dwaraka. The temple at Dwaraka and the one at Bet (which is under repair and construction) are excellent.
- Near Dwaraka is another Jyotirlinga – Nageshwar. It is a small beautiful temple.
- When we planned to visit Jamnagar, we did not expect it to be such a nice place with so much to see. It is a bird watcher’s paradise. Anyone who is interesting in birds should visit Jamnagar in the high season. An added attraction was that we stayed in a small Heritage Hotel – Aram.
- Lakhota Palace is at the center of Jamnagar. The palace has a nice museum in it. The lake is a bird’s paradise. Varieties of birds can be found in the lake.
- The Bal Hanuman Temple at the side of the lake has non-stop Ram Nam chanting going on for several years.
- There are two beautiful big Jain temples in the Chandi Bazar area. Make sure to visit them.
- The Swami Narayan Temple in Jamnagar was small, beautiful and very well maintained.
- There are a few Marine National Parks near Jamnagar. We went to the one in Narara. Luckily we were there at the right time. (You can call up to them to find the right time to visit, which is based on the tide.) One has to be there during the low tide, when it is receding. Several square kilometers of the sea bed is exposed, and along with that an astounding variety of marine life. We can see the entire stretch vibrant with life. At every step are live sea shells. We could see beautiful crabs, star fish, sea urchin, octopus, corals, etc. See the pictures. Permission should be got at the Marine National Park center at the beach. There are guides available there. Make sure to take the help of the guides.
- Khijadia Bird Sanctuary is a very well developed one with several trails for vehicles and by foot. We went at the wrong season (also, not much rain this year) and at the wrong time (not during daybreak or dusk). Still, we managed to see varieties of birds and deer. We should go again in July-August, the peak season.
- Ranjit Sagar Dam is also a place for bird watching. Here also, as were in the wrong season and wrong time of the day, we did not see much.
It was a very nice trip. Our main targets were Sabarmati Ashram, Somnath Temple and Dwaraka Temple. In the process, we got to see a lot of places in the region. We got a very good feel of the princely India before 1947.
Please put your comments if we have missed any important place. It will be useful to others and also us for a future trip.