Friday, January 24, 2014
IN THE LAND OF LORD KRISHNA AND LIONS
Lord Krishna, in his mortal form, has significant influence in my life. I always marvel at his awesome management skills which normally not seen among mortals and thats why He is treated as God. Krishna is the master politician, the diplomat par excellence and the greatest strategist that history or mythology has ever recorded. I earned my bread as a Manager because of Him and his teachings..
So I always cherished a dream to visit His kingdom and from where he ruled. ( Of course I have visited Mathura and Vrindavan many times for buying sweets rather than on any pilgrimage. Mathura and Brindaban are the places where Lord Krishna was born, spent his childhood, part of his youth with many friends, girl friends and darling of all , and dearest of all, Radha of course )
So finally I visited Dwaraka and Somnath ( Pravash) with my MIL and SOMEONE. My MIL wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Dwaraka long back and I feel good that it finally materialized.
The objective of the tour was to visit
1. Dwaraka from where Krishna ruled, Vet-Dwaraka His residence, Nageshwar temple, one of the jyotirlingas,
2. Visit Porbandar to see Sudama temple
3. The Pravash patan or Tirth
4. Somnath temple
5. Finally the Gir lion sanctuary ( This is incidental to the main mission).
TRIP TO GUJARAT
Gujarat is well connected by air, train, bus and taxi. The most economic way of travelling is by train-bus combo, provided you have enough time. I decided to use air and taxi combo, due to time and health constraint of my MIL.
TRAVELLING BY AIR AND TAXI OPTIONS.
1. Travel to Ahmdabad by air from all major cities of India and take a Taxi for 8-9 day and see whole of Gujarat state.
2. Take flight from Mumbai to Rajkot and take 4 days tour to Dwaraka, Somnath , Diu Gir lion sanctuary etc ( only 2 airlines operate from Mumbai.). You can catch a return flight to Mumbai in evening and avoid hotel expenses in Rajkot.
3. Take flight to Jamnagar and take the Dwaraka, Somnath , Gir circuit. ( Only one flight operates daily from Mumbai). On your return leg, You have to stay over night in Jamnagar to take flight next day to Mumbai. Or stay in Gir area and and start for the Jamnagar air port early in the morning.
4. The Taxis are quite cheap compared to rest of India. i.e you pay Rs6.5 / Km in an Air conditioned Indigo car. It will be 5.5/ Km on an Indica and higher for bigger and luxury cars, and minimum billing will be for 300 Km per day whether you travel or not. Having a taxi at your disposal makes the travel very flexible.
There are good hotels and the tariff ranges from Rs 1000 to 2000. One can book Gujarat tourism hotels, at Rs 600 to 1000. Other than this , you have good resorts near Gir forest, coasts etc.. ( The wet bath rooms will make you home sick, I mean for people who are now having dry bath rooms. I learnt this dry -wet words recently from a visiting friend who is settled in USA. We were fondly recollecting the semi-dark, slippery bathrooms of our childhood days)
DAY-1 ( Jamnagar Dwraka)
After spending 3 days with my elder daughter in Mumbai we took a flight to Jamnagar. As usual and in line with their dubious reputation , the Air India flight reached Jamnagar one hour late. The Taxi, which I had booked from Delhi , was waiting for us at the air port. The taxi driver-cum guide, Mr Kausik, is a very helpful , smiling young person and stole our heart in no time.
We straight dorve to Dwaraka, 140 Km away. On the way we had the authentic taste of Gujarati food.
We checked into hotel Damji in Dwaraka. Like most pilgrimage places , you dont get Star hotels. So dont expect those star hotel luxury. The rooms were big and specious with wet toilet. The nice lobby in each floor was reasonably dirty around the garbage bin. I dont know why people like to throw garbage all around the bin and not into the bin. All said and done, I will stay in this hotel when I visit again.
I must say , their Arati Restaurant is just too good. At Rs 70/- ( US $ 1.5), you can have unlimited food served at your table. It is purely vegetarian and the boys pestering you to have more and more is the real treat . No wonder you have more locals eating here than the hotel guests.
After relaxing for some time , we went to the Dawarkadhish temple , which is few minutes drive from the hotel. You must have details of temple opening time. As we all know , Lord Krishna is very particular about timing , ( unlike our great Bholenath) . So the temple closes time and again to cater to the needs of the Lord like breakfast , Lunch , evening snacks , dinner break, dressing up to meet people and dressing up to relax , siesta after each meal etc etc. ( I Love Lord Krishna, an extremely disciplined person. Discipline now is lacking in most of the mortals, including me) .( For me discipline has one definition , i.e . timely action as per own plan and nothing else. If you dont act on time as per your plan " You are indisciplined", have no doubt about this wisdom).
Photography is strictly prohibited in the temple complex. You have to deposit your mobile phone and camera before going inside the temple.
We gave puja, saw the evening Aratri and one flag changing ceremony. The flag on the temple is changed many times a day. If you want to put a flag in your name, you need to book in advance and the waiting time is 1 to 1.5 years . It is worth it if you are a religious person and not for the Maha papi like me.
Read more abvout Dwaraka here
The temple is on the bank of the sea and at the confluence of a holy river. You can go down the stairs and take a holy dip too. I must tell you, Dwarakadhish is pretty handsome!
DAY -2 ( Vet Dwaraka, Probandar)
On the 2nd day we went to Vet-Dwaraka. It is an island close to the tip of Gujarat and near Okha port. You need guts to board the boats, specially elderly people. You have to negotiate , the broken stair, discarded auto tires attached to the boat-sides, and jump into the hull and if you dont slip and break your leg , you will make it to the other side. It is bit scary but no such things happen. The boat is loaded with people, goods, bicycle until the water touches the danger mark and the police shouts at the boat-man to move out.
loaded boat going to Vet- Dwaraka
But dont worry, the boats operated by the Gujarat Govt, are very nice and big. You can just walk into the boat and take your seat. But you may have to wait for 30 to 60 minutes, which is worth it.
It takes 30 minutes to reach Vet Dwaraka.
Vet Dwaraka , walk from the Jetty
From the Jetty it is very stiff walk to the temple. But one can take an auto for Rs 50/- or pay Rs 10 per seat and share.
Vet Dwaraka was the residence of Lord Krishna. Sudama met Him here with the food sent by his wife. Here also , photography is prohibited.
Local ladies and tourists
Look at the Ornaments, especially the earrings
Shopping place in Vet Dwaraka
After visiting the temple and witnessing the morning Arati, we returned to main land ( Okha). We took the Govt run boat on our return leg. On our way to Dwaraka, we visited Nageshwar temple. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas related to Lord Shiv.
Statue of Lord Shiv near Nageshwar temple.
Normally one can drive down, to Somnath same day, 225 Km away. But I had decided to take a break at Porbandar, 100 Km away , on the way.
At Porbandar we visited Sudama temple. I have a great liking for Sudama and his friendship with Krishna. After visiting the temple we retired for the day. Porbandar is also famous as Gandhijis birth place.
The Sudama Temple , PorBandar
Sudamas 100084 parikrama, I could not find out the details and the purpose
Porbandar city center
DAY-3 ( Pravash Patan and Somnath)
From Porbandar we left for Somntah , 125 Km away. We stopped at a beautiful beach. The road condition was quite bad at some places.
Hey !! Dont go by my SIL look, which is normal when a SIL poses with MIL. I love my MIL. It is just that SOMEONE was trying to tarnish my real and good SIL image as " The greatest SIL, which history has ever recorded". My expression is an outcome of my mischief , to irritate SOMEONE.
The Somnath temple is beyond the Verabal city. It is famous for its big fish export industry and also famous for the fishy smell every where.
Fishing boats at Verabal.
We checked into Hotel Sukh Sagar in Somnath, had a very nice Kathiabadi lunch and left for visiting places in the after noon. Cars are not allowed anywhere near the temple for security reason. Also one can not carry camera. Somnath temple is a modern temple built after independence. The ancient temple was destroyed by invaders. The location is very nice and the complex is right near the sea. I wished I could take some photos.
The place is also known as Pravash patan. Lord Krishna was shot here by a hunter and he was cremated near the confluence of 3 rivers, called Triveni.
Bhalka Tirth sign board, Here Lord Krishna was shot by a hunter, who mistook His feet as a deer.
From Bhalka Teerth , we went to a place called " Sri Krishna neeja dham prasthan teerth or Golakdham teerth.".
Here Lord Krishna was cremated
Foot print of Lord Krishna at the cremation place.
Lord Krishnas elder brother Balaram also left the world from this place.
After completing the Pavash visit we went to Somnath temple. The complex is just wonderful. I can sit here hour after hour. In the evening we saw the " Sound and Light" show giving the history of the place from ancient time.
The Somnath Temple
DAY -4 ( Back to Jamnagar via Gir Lion Sanctuary)
The last day was a long drive from Somnath to Jamnagar. I had a plan to take my MIL on a Lion Safari. It is a 3 hours drive through the forest in bad roads. One can only take approved Vehicles. You may not see the lions too, on your route defined by the officials. You cant take routes of your choice. I thought it would be too much for my MIL, although at +80 she is absolutely fit even with replaced knees. I decided to take a conducted tour where the Lions are free to move in a big area and properly fenced. It is not like a zoo.
On our way we stopped at Sasan ( the safari office) for breakfast. I love the Ganthia and other Besan products with stir fried green chilis and plenty of them.
The snack maker at Sasan
My most favorite, is this long ones, awesome taste and crispy. The stir fried green chili with it will take you to the 12th cloud.
We reached the conducted tour point. A bus leaves every half an hour or so to take you on a Safari tour of 30 minutes. You have the option of taking an Air conditioned bus. My guide advised me to take a non-A/c one. No one likes to shoot lions through window panes laden with dust....and if your camera captures the lion along with your reflected face...hummm you will feel like eating the lions in disgust.
The waiting area is beautiful ( with good toilets, nice lobby, photos and nice land scape and also the birds singing from the trees ).
At the waiting area for the bus , the beast with the beauty ( La Belle et la Bête)
Here are the few animals we saw
The spotted deer
And the many faces of Lions. Here you see the Lions only..if you take a safari, you may see one lion and many lioness.
The Lions are well fed by the forest officials, I will not wonder if a deer comes to the lion and says" Hi Dude..get lost . I want to relax here"
The Lion says "Dear SOMEONE I am smacking my lips at you ...but sparing you as I know, NO ONE cant survive without you." I told the Lion " How disappointing , you BASKET ", (Thank God the Lion did not know that the word BASKET is the polite form of the word BASTARD..else SOMEONE would have lived without me)
We traveled back to Jamnagar via Junagarh. We had a great Kathiabadi lunch here, a shabby looking restaurant. But when I saw the locals were waiting for their turn to have space, I knew I was at the right place.
Photo from Junagarh. When I revisit Gujarat on a historical tour, I will have enough to write about Junagarh.
The City gate , Junagarh
So finally we reached Jamnagar. The hotel was very good, an old Brithish architecture building. The diner at the open air restaurant is memorable. I will stay here next time too, simply because of the great wisdom " A known devil is preffered than better known devils ..sorry. I mean, unknown devils ".
The Hotel at Jamnagar
To cut the long story short , the Lion did not eat us , particularly me, and we were back home to Delhi after spending one night with my daughter and SIL in Mumbai..
Dear friends, if I am unable to visit your blogs regularly , please forgive me and dont delete my name from your followers list. You all mean a lot to me.