Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Gujarat Diaries - 1

Overview: I decided to end the year of travels 2018 on a trip to Gujarat. Since we don't often visit these states, we decided to make the most of it and visit as many places as possible. Keeping budget constraints in mind, we booked SL class train tickets to and from Bangalore.
On 21st December, we started from Bangalore by Garib Nawaz express, reaching Ahmedabad on the 23rd, making way through the villages and towns of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. We reached Ahmedabad on 23rd morning at around 7am. We got the Zoomcar delivered at the railway station and we drove to our hotel where we checked in. We booked Zoomcar for 7 days and it cost us around Rs 30000 (fuel included).
Day 1 (Ahmedabad and around): After getting freshened up, we started towards Sabarmati Ashram, hoping for a restaurant to have breakfast. Unfortunately, all the restaurants we came across were either closed or were just opening. We realised later that Ahmedabad stays awake late at night and wakes up a bit late in the day.
We reached Sabarmati Ashram at around 9am and took a stroll around it. The Ashram displayed artifacts from Mahatma Gandhi's life and the history of India's freedom struggle. At the other side of the property, there was a pretty sight of Sabarmati river, where the riverfront has been developed and the landscaping has been done beautifully, with benches to relax and cycling and jogging pathways.
After spending some time at the ashram, we proceeded towards the Adalaj Stepwell. As per an inscription on the 1st floor, this ornamental stepwell was built in 1498 CE by wife of Vaghela chief Virasimha. The stepwell has 3 levels, each level displays an array of rectangular maze, a treat for the eyes. Though the visitors are not allowed lower than the 3rd level, one can still see a glimpse of some water at the bottom. Adalaj stepwell is one of the well visited places around Ahmedabad, and I would recommend this place as a must visit.
Sabarmati Riverfront

Sabarmati Ashram

Adalaj Stepwell

From Adalaj, we went to visit the Sun Temple at Modhera. Built in the mid 11th century by the Solanki king Bimadeva-I, this temple provides a magnificent sight, ranking next only to the Sun temple in Konark. The temple is located next to a detailed multilevel Stepwell, with idols of Gods carved on all sides of the stepwell.
The stepwell leads to the main temple through a Kirti Toran, a pillared doorway, again, beautifully carved. The main temple is also attractively carved with the details from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The main sanctum is supposed to have the image of Sun God, which was missing and could not be seen even after flashing light inside the sanctum sanctorum, which was locked. The deities of the Trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva could be seen around the interiors of the temple. After taking a series of pictures, we decided to make our way out.

Sun Temple, Modhera


Sun Temple, Modhera

From here, we headed to Patan, to see the UNESCO World Heritage site of Rani ki Vav. Living upto its expectation, the stepwell was very intricately decorated with several levels below the surface. This stepwell was unknown until the 1960s, when the stepwell was visible only on the surface. It was excavated and the details were revealed to display the carvings of Gods and the scenes from the Hindu history. The stepwell was built by the queen of Bhimadeva-I in the last quarter of 11th century CE. Rani ki Vav is well connected by road and has an elaborate parking lot, making it convenient for the visitors.

Rani ki Vav

Rani ki Vav
Post this, we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel in Ahmedabad, as we had a long drive ahead on the following day.

Day 1: Ahmedabad - Sabarmati Ashram - Modhera Sun Temple - Rani ki Vav - Ahmedabad (263km)

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