Monday, 25 February 2019

Gujarat Diaries - 7

Overview: This was our final day with Zoomcar, and we started early as usual to avoid queues at the Sardar Patel statue. We reached the parking lot at Kevadia at around 7:30am. The ticket counters open at 8:30am, so we had our breakfast and morning tea near the parking lot. There are 4 types of ticket, Rs 30 for a bus ride and a glimpse of teh statue, Rs 150 for entry into the Sardar Patel Statue premises and the museum, Rs 350 for reaching the top of the statue through elevator, and Rs 1000 ticket for priority pass and avoiding any queues. We took the Rs 150 ticket and hopped on to the bus. The bus takes the visitors to the Sardar Patel statue, Valley of Flowers and the Sardar Sarovar Dam. We reached Sardar Patel statue in 10 mins by bus. We were awestruck by the sheer size of the statue, and couldn't help but take pictures at every step till we reached the foot of the Iron Man. An average man is not even half the size of the toe of the statue. This was something we had not seen built in India for a long time. The Gommateshwara statue at Sravanabelagola can be compared to this statue, but that was built several centuries ago. The river Narmada flows just besides the statue, and was glowing in the morning sun. The museum showcases important events from the life of Sardar Vallabhai Patel. This statue is indeed a fitting tribute to the great man.
We spent close to 2 hours at this site before heading back. On our way back, we stopped at Dabhoi Fort, a very small fort with elaborate carvings on the doorway, somewhat resembling the Vijayanagar style of architecture. The fortification of it is ascribed to the 11th century Chaulukya king of Gujarat, Jayasimha Siddharaja (1093-1143 AD), who made this his frontier fortress. From here, we went to Ahmedabad where we saw Sultan Ahmed Shah's mosque and the popular Lal Darwaza market, before returning our rented car.

Day 7: Vadodara - Sardar Patel Statue - Dabhoi Fort - Ahmedabad (250 km)


Statue of Unity

Narmada River


Dabhoi Fort

Dabhoi Fort

Sultan Ahmed Shah's mosque
The final day of our Gujarat trip was at Vapi, to a relative's place. We took an overnight GSRTC bus from Ahmedabad to Vapi, and reached at around 5:30 am. After relaxing for half day, we decided to explore the Union Territory of Daman in the evening. There are 2 Portuguese era forts in Daman, and the interior of the forts have structures built in colonial style, similar to the French style buildings in Pondicherry. Though both the forts, St Jerome Fort and the Nani Daman forts are the most prominent structures in the city, both are very small forts. We visited both the forts, a church and a ruined Dominican Monastery. The Jampore beach is another attraction which is flocked by visitors every evening.


Bom Jesus Churh, Daman

Daman

Nani Daman Fort


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Gujarat Diaries - 6

Overview: Another long day was awaiting when we started our journey from Rajkot towards Champaner Archaeological site. We started around 5:30am and reached Champaner at around 11:30am. The roads are very good all across Gujarat, so we did not feel much stress of driving. Inside the Champaner Fort is the Shehar-ki-masjid, a private mosque built for the royal family of the Gujarat Sultanate in teh 15th-16th century. The mosque is built in Indo-Sarcenic architecture, with the outer pillars resembling the Hindu temple type of architecture. The outer structure is flanked by 2 minarets on both the sides. A few yards from Shehar-ki-Masjid is the Mandvi or the Customs house, used as a tax collection booth. This structure locally known as the bazaar. Also nearby are some stray structures and the 3-celled building, used as a prison in the 15th century.

Shehar-ki-Masjid, Champaner

Champaner Custom House

After relishing these monuments, we headed to the Pavagadh hill, which looked massive from outside. On the top of the hill is the Kalika Mata temple, the site of one of the Great Shakti Peethas. To reach the peak, one has to drive to the base of the Pavagadh hill ropeway ground location. Alternately, there are jeeps available from the bus stand to reach the Ropeway. The ropeway costs Rs 116 per person both ways, and takes you to the top station of the hill in around 8 minutes. From the Ropeway, we have to again climb around 300 steps to reach the summit of the hill. On the way there are several souvenir shops, and a few restaurants. We can also see a few ancient Jain temples all along the way. There is a big pond half way through the climb, where devotees can take a quick dip. The Kalika temple at the top looked like an ancient structure, reported to be built around 10th century and worshipped since then. The view from the top is breathtaking with cool breeze hitting our face which was pleasant in the mid afternoon sun. After having the 'darshan' we made our way to the parking lot through the same route.

Pavagadh Fort

Jain temple, Pavagadh

Pavagadh Hill

Kalika Devi temple, Pavagadh

It was already late afternoon by the time we started from Pavagadh towards Vadodara. We then went to the Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, built by  Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890. Built over 500 acres of land, this palace is a blend of Indian and European architecture and boasts of being the largest private residence built till date. The entry ticket is priced at around Rs 250 per person incuding an audio guide.
We spent just over 1 hour in this palace before making our way to our hotel in the city.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
 Day 6: Rajkot - Champaner - Pavagadh hill - Vadodara (400 kms)