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Old 6th December 2012, 20:49   #31
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Default Re: The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bapu View Post
Hi SDP,

You've had a great trip, quite evident from your pics.

Would have loved to meet up with you. I stay quite near to Treatotel and my office is in Mehsana.

Glad to see the old pics of the Ran Ki Vav, they are quite a stroke of luck. I have visited it atleast 5-6 times and have never been able to see them!
....
First time to a place, there is a certain amount of anxiety. Once that is gone, then I get comfortable with that place. So more visits to Ahmedabad are definitely on the cards. There is so much more to explore in Ahmedabad itself.
Let's meet up next time.

Not sure what was special on that day (19th Nov), but even the entry to 'Rani ki vav' was free that day. Just lucky that the exhibition was also there that day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bapu View Post
...
And to clarify.. The Ran Ki Vav is 7 floors deep and not 5 as has been mentioned in your post.

To further add, as you see straight from each level towards the wall in front of you, you will see diffrent avatars of Lord Vishnu at each level.

Looking forward to your report.
Hey, thanks for the correction and the details about the Vishnu avatars. Let me see if I have captured any avatars in any photos. Will definitely observe more carefully in next visit.

Is there a guided tour option at Rani ki vav?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mm403 View Post
....
Regarding, the golden bridge, my children enjoyed the marvel, having seen it through train, but driving through it, specially after reading its construction time. Also, one more observation regarding number of restaurants along the stretch, however did not see big petrol bunks(may be missed them).
I was using map my india and it also showed me routes through the city, (I did not follow those as my brother had shared shortcuts). I will try and put a travelogue as time permits
Will look forward to your travelogue. If your brother's shortcuts are in diagram format, can you please share? Would be useful next time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carzone View Post
Awesome trip you had there.
Some nice writhing skills. Nice set of pictures add to the joy of reading the travelogue even more.

A co-incidence, on my return from Surat, I too had taken a halt at "Sugar and Spice", and had parked my car at almost the same location as yours.

The drive from Mumbai to all the way till Ahemdabad is smooth as butter. Those 500kms are a bliss to drive.

Hooked on... Keep'm coming!
Thanks carzone for the kind words!

Quite a coincidence that you had stopped and parked at the same place.

While coming back to Mumbai, we stopped at another Sugar & Spice much before Valsad and the experience was not that good. They were just too sluggish, took forever for getting just tea and coffee. Anyways.

One question: while coming back from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, should one take the old highway through Bharuch and Ankaleshwar town? I did not and noticed that the traffic is quite chaotic on NH8 for the corresponding stretch.
Any opinions or experiences?
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Old 6th December 2012, 22:03   #32
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Default Re: The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)

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Originally Posted by SDP View Post
While coming back to Mumbai, we stopped at another Sugar & Spice much before Valsad and the experience was not that good. They were just too sluggish, took forever for getting just tea and coffee. Anyways.

One question: while coming back from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, should one take the old highway through Bharuch and Ankaleshwar town? I did not and noticed that the traffic is quite chaotic on NH8 for the corresponding stretch.
Any opinions or experiences?
I am not so sure about their service. We liked it though! It can be due to the very sparse crowd at that time. We had ordered a couple of pizzaz and were off from there in about half an hour. It was smooth. We had only a couple of other people with us. I don't exactly remember which sugar and spice we had stopped, but am sure it was the one in that pic!

On your question, I think, someone had suggested to take the old highway on some other thread. Not quite sure though as I havent driven on the other side of Surat myself.
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Old 6th December 2012, 22:06   #33
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Default 3.6 Kankaria Lake

A little bit of shopping
A friend had recommended Law Garden area for some shopping. Its quite similar to the Fashion-Street in Mumbai. Wifey picked up a few tops for self and some other misc stuff for our daughter.

4:45pm -> We reach Kankaria lake. My travel agent who originates from Ahmedabad had strongly recommended spending an entire evening at Kankaria. I was skeptical. I was wrong. If you have kids and senior citizens accompanying you, Kankaria lake beats any other place in Ahmedabad hands down with the sheer number of relaxation and entertainment options.

3.6 Kankaria Lake

The layout and the options
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The lakefront
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That's the Naginawadi
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Balloon Safari
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Beautiful mini train
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Speed boat
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Kids having fun in a Zorb
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We decide to check out the zoo first.
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The tiger is absolutely huge. Full grown, healthy and active.
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He was around 4 ft away from us. Even I have not seen a tiger from so close distance. The kids were thrilled.
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A lioness
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6:00pm -> The reptile section closed. We missed it. Next time.
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Its getting dark and we come out of the zoo.

Last edited by SDP : 6th December 2012 at 22:09.
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Old 7th December 2012, 07:03   #34
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Default 3.6 Kankaria Lake (continued)

3.6 Kankaria Lake (continued)

We come out and notice that the whole scene has changed. When we entered the zoo, the sun was still quite harsh. Now the sun is about to set
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...and the lake's border illumination has been switched on.
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The crowd has also increased and a lot of people are lining up the lakefront. We also find a spot along the periphery and settle down.
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We have walked a lot in the zoo. Now its time to just sit down, relax and munch on various namkeen. I get bhel-puri as well to bring in that 'chawpati' flavor.
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As it gets darker, the lakefront starts looking better with all the colorful lights.
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The photos taken with ISO3200 are no fun. They capture the scene, but the grain spoils the experience to a large extent. I miss my tripod.
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Its amusing to see people from the balloon clicking photographs and their flashes going on.
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Nagina wadi shot at ISO3200.
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Finally I decide to keep the camera down and get the support from the lake's wall itself. I switched off Auto-ISO, put the camera on timer and click Nagina wadi again. The result is much more satisfying.
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I click a few more snaps this way.
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Its about 6:45pm. We are tired. Ideally we should start back for the hotel. But the kids want to enjoy the train as well. There is a deceptively long queue. The next 45 minutes waiting in line and watching 4 batches ahead of you take the train-ride was no fun.

It was a LONG wait for our turn in the mini-train.
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Finally it comes to take us for a ride.
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That's the Kid's city.
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Final 2-3 shots by finding a support for the camera.
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After the 10-15 minute ride, we bid goodbye to the lake at 8:30pm.

Dinner at the Tamarind hotel again. Although, today was supposed to be a 'light' day, it has turned out to be equally busy. No regrets though.

Tonight the Ahmedabad leg of our trip comes to end. We move towards Somnath and Gir next morning.

Last edited by SDP : 7th December 2012 at 07:16.
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Old 7th December 2012, 09:10   #35
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Default 3.7 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-3

3.7 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-3

1. We drove mostly in the old city of Ahmedabad on day-3 (20th Nov 2012). The roads are ok. Traffic builds up as the day progresses and it is best to visit the old city attractions as early in the day as possible.

2. 'Dekho Amadvad' city tour - especially the morning 8am one - is a better option than venturing in the old city with your own car. But this needs a bit of planning and advance booking. On the other hand with the 'Dekho' tour, you don't have to worry about finding parking space and would be able to cover more places because of sticking to the predefined plan.

3. Jali wali masjid, old Jama masjid, Jhulta Minara. Although these structures are more than 500 years old, all of these are used for worship multiple times a day. Best to avoid those times while visiting, unless you wish to join in the prayer.

4. I was surprised why the Google maps led me to an apparently wrong place when we were headed for Jhulta Minara. A little bit of research after returning from the trip revealed some fascinating facts. There are in fact TWO Jhulta Minaras in Ahmedabad. The one marked as "Shaking Minarets" on the Google Maps is the Sidi Bashir Mosque (in the Sarangpur area) and has both the minars intact. So Google Maps was right and the first Jhulta Minara was actually nearby where the Navigator led us. The one we visited is the Bibi's mosque (near the Kalupur railway station) and has part of one minar dismantled.

5. There are so many other places in Ahmedabad which are worth experiencing. Hatheesingh temple, victory tower, Dada Harir vav, Swaminarayan temple, Sardar Patel Museum, Kite museum, Sarkej Roza, Badshah no haziro, dining at Mangaldas ni haveli.

6. The 'Heritage walk' - which starts at 8am and takes you through the 'pols' of old city- would also be a fantastic experience. Its a two and half hour walk. With kids and senior citizens accompanying me, had to opt out of it at the planning stage itself. But I have definite plans of taking the Heritage walk during any subsequent trips to the region.

7. Kankaria lake is more of an 'urban' attraction, but it has so many options that you possibly need a full day if you want to spend time in the Bal Watika, the Aquarium, Kid's city and experience balloon safari, zorbing, desert safari, speed boat ride etc. I was told that there is a laser show (or is it a light and sound show?) also at Kankaria. Unfortunately could not get any reliable information about it during our visit. Also the place is so huge that walking from one end of the lake to the opposite point seems like a tough task. The lake has multiple entrances and it might be a good idea to park at the nearest gate based on what you want to do at Kankaria lake.

8. Spending an evening at Sabarmati riverfront also sounds like a good idea. We couldn't. Anyone experienced it?

9. I missed the Gujarathi Thali - the kind that you get in Mumbai. Instead we came across Kathiawadi food as an option in a few places.

10. The only grouse that I have with Treatotel is the hard tap-water. Brushing teeth and taking a shower feel quite different with hard water. Do other hotels in the area (e.g. Ginger) also have the same problem? Any idea?

Last edited by SDP : 7th December 2012 at 09:12.
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Old 7th December 2012, 12:43   #36
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Default Re: The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)

Lovely travelogue coming up there all with your reflections etc. Nice captures too of the temples and historical places and the lighting above. Hope you had a good time with the lions too, watching out for them. Keep it coming.
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Old 7th December 2012, 14:35   #37
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Default Re: The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)

Why do they paste yellow sticker on headlight in GJ? What purpose it serves?
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Old 7th December 2012, 15:46   #38
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Default Re: 3.7 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-3

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Originally Posted by SDP View Post
3.7 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-3

7. Kankaria lake is more of an 'urban' attraction, but it has so many options that you possibly need a full day if you want to spend time in the Bal Watika, the Aquarium, Kid's city and experience balloon safari, zorbing, desert safari, speed boat ride etc. I was told that there is a laser show (or is it a light and sound show?) also at Kankaria. Unfortunately could not get any reliable information about it during our visit. Also the place is so huge that walking from one end of the lake to the opposite point seems like a tough task. The lake has multiple entrances and it might be a good idea to park at the nearest gate based on what you want to do at Kankaria lake.

9. I missed the Gujarathi Thali - the kind that you get in Mumbai. Instead we came across Kathiawadi food as an option in a few places.

10. The only grouse that I have with Treatotel is the hard tap-water. Brushing teeth and taking a shower feel quite different with hard water. Do other hotels in the area (e.g. Ginger) also have the same problem? Any idea?
Kankaria falls in Narendra Modi's constituency - Maninagar. The whole idea of lake development was his and they have done tremendous job. One can easily spend the whole day there. Yes... you will get tired of walking but there are about 6 gates from where you can access different attractions. There is parking facility available at all gates. Your kids would have loved Kid's city.

You could have missed a dinner at your hotel's restaurant and enjoyed a taste of Gujarati Thali at Mangalya Vatika which is hardly 2 kms away from the place where you stayed. Or the better option would have been Agasiye (Part of House of MG) situated just opposite Sidi Sayed in Jali.

We all get water from borewell in most parts of Ahmedabad which contains very high TDS. The situation is getting better in some parts where Narmada water is being made available.

Congratulations for nice and captivating write up.....
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Old 7th December 2012, 21:12   #39
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Default Re: 3.7 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-3

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Originally Posted by parsh View Post
Lovely travelogue coming up there all with your reflections etc. Nice captures too of the temples and historical places and the lighting above. Hope you had a good time with the lions too, watching out for them. Keep it coming.
Thanks parsh! Sasan Gir coming up in 2-3 posts.

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Why do they paste yellow sticker on headlight in GJ? What purpose it serves?
It does not serve any purpose for most cars. BUT the authorities who made this rule thought that it helps not blinding the on-coming traffic.

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Originally Posted by rutvij View Post
Kankaria falls in Narendra Modi's constituency - Maninagar. The whole idea of lake development was his and they have done tremendous job. One can easily spend the whole day there. Yes... you will get tired of walking but there are about 6 gates from where you can access different attractions. There is parking facility available at all gates. Your kids would have loved Kid's city.

You could have missed a dinner at your hotel's restaurant and enjoyed a taste of Gujarati Thali at Mangalya Vatika which is hardly 2 kms away from the place where you stayed. Or the better option would have been Agasiye (Part of House of MG) situated just opposite Sidi Sayed in Jali.

We all get water from borewell in most parts of Ahmedabad which contains very high TDS. The situation is getting better in some parts where Narmada water is being made available.

Congratulations for nice and captivating write up.....
Thanks rutvij for the insights about the Kankaria lake and the water situation in Ahmedabad. Would check out Mangalya Vatika and Agashiye during my next visit. Thank you for those recommendations.

Heard about one revolving restaurant as well. Is that still operational? Worth visiting?

One question: Ahmedabad gets water from Narmada? Isn't Sabarmati water potable?

Last edited by SDP : 7th December 2012 at 21:15.
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Old 7th December 2012, 23:11   #40
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Default 4.0 Day-4 (21 Nov 2012) planning

4.0 Day-4 (21 Nov 2012) planning

Quote:
Day 4 (Wed-21-Nov) -> Start around 6am from Ahmedabad and reach Somnath by 1pm. Visit Somnath temple and Bhalka Tirth post lunch. While the family takes rest, I would drive to Sasan Gir to complete the formalities for the morning and evening lion safaris on 22nd Nov. Sasan Gir office timing 5-7pm for this formality. Stay at Lilavati Guesthouse of the Somnath trust.
400+ kms. Budgeted around 7 hrs for the actual drive. The previous day was hectic. So starting early at 6am was not feasible. Additionally the kids wanted to have breakfast at Tamarind itself. So got up around 6, breakfast at 7, checkout from the hotel, loaded the car and started for Somnath at 8:10am.

4.1 Drive from Ahmedabad to Somnath

In hindsight, starting late was not the best decision. Dense office-going traffic from the hotel all the way upto Ahmedabad outskirts. I saw some IT company on the outskirts, lot of bikers.
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10:00am -> Its been 2 hours. We have covered just 100 kms till now. We stop at Hotel Riviera just before Limbdi for a quick 10 minute break.
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English translation not matching with Gujarathi text?
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12:15pm -> Another 2 hours have passed. We stop somewhere before Jetpur for another quick break. Although the curtains are helping, you still get tired driving in harsh sunlight.
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The Jetpur bypass is not clearly marked and the navigator helps taking the correct turn. The road suddenly becomes 2 laned and the road condition is not very good.
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The progress is slow. We want to stop for lunch, but no decent options anywhere in sight.
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1:05pm -> We spot a not-bad level hotel Hinglaj and stop for lunch.
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The baingan-bahrta had 4 spoons of additional oil, which I pour out into a dish! We finish the lunch fast and are back on the road by 1:50pm.
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This might be one of the entry points into Junagadh.
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A thermal power plant?
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The road is 2 laned but decently broad. Overtaking is relatively easy.
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2:30pm -> Its pretty hot outside. Easily 35+ degrees. Practically everybody in the car is dozing off after the lunch. Even I am a bit sluggish. And then out of nowhere an alert pops up. High pressure in front -right tyre ..48+ psi.
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I have never seen this alert, but heard about it in the niggles thread. I have no pressure gauge to verify the actual pressure and there is no puncture shop in sight, where I can check the pressure. I look for a tree with good shade and pull over.

I check the tyre, its warm, but nothing really serious to worry about. The car has been on the road in harsh sun for last 6 odd hours. I decide to wait for a few minutes and let the tyre-pressure drop. In five odd minutes, the alert vanished and we started back. (Two days later I checked the pressure at a puncture shop and it was indeed high ~40psi. In heat that must have gone up to 48psi.)
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Women seating precariously.
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As we approach Veraval, the road condition deteriorates even further.
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Finally 3:34pm -> We are very close to Somnath now.
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3:50pm -> We reach the Lilavati guesthouse operated by Somnath trust. We claim our rooms, unload the car and rush to the Somanth temple around 4:30pm.

These "special" vehicles are pretty common in Saurashtra.
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A statue outside the Somnath temple.
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The Somnath temple
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I have to start towards Sasan Gir by 5pm to collect the permits for the next day. So I take a quick darshan, handover the camera to wifey and rush back to the car.

They hanged around the temple and the beach next to it before going back to the guesthouse.
A shiva near the temple.
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Last edited by SDP : 7th December 2012 at 23:16.
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Old 8th December 2012, 08:33   #41
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Default Re: 4.0 Day-4 (21 Nov 2012) planning

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English translation not matching with Gujarathi text?
The text in Gujarati reads " Overtakinbg Karvani Manai chchey" ( which means "Overtaking not permitted"). So you are right. the texts are not matching.

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As we approach Veraval, the road condition deteriorates even further.
See what I meant when I told you the roads after Junagadh were bad

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These "special" vehicles are pretty common in Saurashtra.
That they certainly are. They ferry anything and are badly abused

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A statue outside the Somnath temple.
That statue of is of Hamirji Gohil, who fought against Ghazni trying to defend Somnath.
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Old 8th December 2012, 09:10   #42
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Default 4.2 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-4

4.2 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-4

1. Somnath to Sasan Gir is around 45kms. The road from Somnath till Talala is bad in patches. But I didn't slow down as it was important to reach Sasan Gir between 5 and 7pm to claim our safari permits booked in advance. So drove like how a SUV should be driven . Except for people and traffic, no slowing down for any road condition- road, bad-road, no-road. With me alone in the car, there was a fair amount of tossing around whenever I was forced to slow down, but overall the ride was good. Thoroughly enjoyed. Left a cloud of dust behind at some places. Real "Live Young, Live Free" !

2. Reached Sasan Gir 5 minutes before 6pm. After the crazy one-hour drive, the only new noise that I got was the slight rattle from the cowl above the speedo and tacho housing. Stuffed a piece of cloth in that gap to muffle the sound and everything was back to normal. I will get it tightened during my next visit to service center. After returning to Mumbai, while cleaning the car, I removed the piece of cloth and pressed the cowl a bit. Somehow that seems to have solved the rattle.

3. Total distance covered on day-4 -> 494kms. Total toll paid -> 100 Rs

4. For next day 22nd Nov, We had booked the 6:30am and the 3:30pm safari in advance. There are 3 safari timings in a day and for each one 50 permits are issued - that includes the 25 issued in advance. The only problem with advance booking is that you need to collect the permits a day in advance.

5. During the drive from Ahmedabad to Somnath, the truck drivers irritated me a bit. They do give you side to overtake, but are quite slow in doing it. So eventually you come down from 100-110 to 50-60 before you overtake and too many such instances eventually push down your average speed.

6. Another behavior of the truck-drivers: when people are walking on the left hand side of the road - even beyond the markings - the trucks intrude into the right (fast) lane significantly. I found their safety-margins excessive. This again causes others to slow down.

7. People say Saurashtra did not get its fair share of attention from the government during the development phase. After driving in that region, I would agree. Be it road-condition or highway facilities like good hotels, there is a significant scope for improvement.

8. Apparently there is a light and sound show at Somnath around 8pm. I forgot this detail and although I was back to Somnath by 7:30pm, we did not attend the show as it had completely slipped out of my mind. After 8 hours in the car (10 hours for me), we were quite tired anyways. Next day, we need to start at 5am to reach Sasan Gir in time for the morning safari. Light and Sound show at Somnath - Next time.

9. Lilavati Guesthouse rooms are extremely average bordering on below-average. Typical lodge-grade quality. Avoidable. I had booked here because of my travel agent's recommendation. May be the other guesthouses operated by Somnath Trust are better.

10. If you have a bad throat, you can warm the tap-water at Lilavati Guesthouse a bit and use it to gargle! Please pardon the exaggeration, but the water is quite hard.

11. There are hardly any proper hotels (for food) near the Somnath temple. Luckily my wife noticed a cozy little air-conditioned place by the name "Sardar" on the ground floor of Lilavati guesthouse itself. Good Punjabi food. Good service.

12. Apparently there are no cake shops around Somnath temple. To be fair, there is no reason why there should be any cake-shops in this area. My wife was looking for one in the evening. I don't remember what was the last time, when I have not cut a cake on a b'day. No complaints though. Here's a greeting card prepared by my kids when we were starting from Ahmedabad in the morning :
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0121.jpg

Last edited by SDP : 8th December 2012 at 09:24.
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Old 8th December 2012, 09:30   #43
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Default Re: 4.2 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-4

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6. Another behavior of the truck-drivers: when people are walking on the left hand side of the road - even beyond the markings - the trucks intrude into the right (fast) lane significantly. I found their safety-margins excessive. This again causes others to slow down.

Truck drivers are generally well behaved in Gujarat and follow lane discpline, but there are few morons among them. Many of them will wave you ahead on blind turns(to say that there is no traffic ahead and you can overtake)

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7. People say Saurashtra did not get its fair share of attention from the government during the development phase. After driving in that region, I would agree. Be it road-condition or highway facilities like good hotels, there is a significant scope for improvement.
That's right. The CM does not enjoy support there. Somnath-Gir has just been declared to be Gujarat's new district, with Somnath-Veraval being the district HQ. So, the place is expected to develop. One thing that always bothered me was that inspite of being one of India's biggest fisheries export hubs, there are no good non-veg hotels in Veraval or for that matter just one or two good hotels to stay. Foreigners who come here are astonished by this.

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9. Lilavati Guesthouse rooms are extremely average bordering on below-average. Typical lodge-grade quality. Avoidable. I had booked here because of my travel agent's recommendation. May be the other guesthouses operated by Somnath Trust are better.
For anyone going to Somnath next time, Try this hotel. I can safely say this one is Veraval's best hotel, by quite a huge margin.
http://www.lordshotels.com/somnathhotel.html

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12. Apparently there are no cake shops around Somnath temple. To be fair, there is no reason why there should be any cake-shops in this area. My wife was looking for one in the evening. I don't remember what was the last time, when I have not cut a cake on a b'day. No complaints though. Here's a greeting card prepared by my kids when we were starting from Ahmedabad in the morning :
That's cute, I am sure you will preserve it for the memories. Wish you a belated happy birthday. Cake shops are at the other end of town. Had you driven into town, you might have found one

Last edited by skanchan95 : 8th December 2012 at 09:33.
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Old 8th December 2012, 10:00   #44
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Default Re: 4.2 Drive, stay, food and other observations from day-4

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...See what I meant when I told you the roads after Junagadh were bad
Sandesh, your detailed help in planning this leg of our trip was extremely helpful. Although there are accounts of people covering Ahmedabad to Somanath in 5 and 6 hours, I budgeted 7 hours of actual driving time, 8 hours including breaks. This was based on your latest updates about the region. It actually took 7 hours of drive.

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...
That they certainly are. They ferry anything and are badly abused
Looks like they borrow a few parts from Bullets. What are these called by the way?

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...
That statue of is of Hamirji Gohil, who fought against Ghazni trying to defend Somnath.
Hey, thanks for that insight! Will tell my wife and kids about it.

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Truck drivers are generally well behaved in Gujarat and follow lane discpline, but there are few morons among them. Many of them will wave you ahead on blind turns(to say that there is no traffic ahead and you can overtake) ...
You are right. Most are well behaved and considerate. Truckers and otherwise, practically nobody drives rash in Gujarat.

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That's right. The CM does not enjoy support there. Somnath-Gir has just been declared to be Gujarat's new district, with Somnath-Veraval being the district HQ. So, the place is expected to develop. One thing that always bothered me was that inspite of being one of India's biggest fisheries export hubs, there are no good non-veg hotels in Veraval ...
The new district is a good sign. Now there would be some focused attention and development.

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... for that matter just one or two good hotels to stay. Foreigners who come here are astonished by this. For anyone going to Somnath next time, Try this hotel. I can safely say this one is Veraval's best hotel, by quite a huge margin.
http://www.lordshotels.com/somnathhotel.html
...
Thanks for the recommendation! Will definitely check it out next time.

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...That's cute, I am sure you will preserve it for the memories. Wish you a belated happy birthday. Cake shops are at the other end of town. Had you driven into town, you might have found one
Thanks for the kind wishes, Sandesh!

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Old 8th December 2012, 13:59   #45
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Default 5.0 Day-5 (22 Nov 2012) planning

5.0 Day-5 (22 Nov 2012) planning

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Day 5 (Thu-22-Nov) -> Wake up in the middle of the night and travel to Sasan Gir just in time for the morning safari. Lunch at Sasan Gir. Post lunch, evening safari and then travel back to Somnath. Stay at Lilavati Guesthouse.
BIG day today, loaded with anticipation. Lots of excitement. Morning safari starts at 6:30am (in this season). We already have the permits, so no need to stand in the line, which sometimes starts as early as 5am. Just need to pay for the Gypsy, get a guide assigned, pay for the guide and we are all set. We get up around 4:30am, quickly get ready and get in the car by 5:00am. I tell everybody -especially my dad- that the road is bad, we need to still move quickly and so they should bear with some bumps and knocks. The pillow in the car comes in handy to provide better support to dad's lower back.

The temperature is around 18 degrees in Somnath. Its dark outside. I drive cautiously and we reach Sinh Sadan at Sasan Gir just after 6am. Unlike the sleepy Talala village we had passed through some time back, Sasan Gir is abuzz with activity. The Reception center has at least a 100 people there and there is a faint resemblance of a queue. In next 5 minutes, I pay for the Gypsy and the guide. One Jamal is our guide and we would be taking route 2 (if I remember correctly). The guy assigning the guide introduces you to the guide at the time of assignment. You pay for the guide after that. Jamal says there are still 20 minutes for the Safari to start, so we might want to have some quick tea/breakfast in the mean time. Good idea! Its less than 15 degrees in Sasan Gir. We have some hot tea and coffee. Jamal goes and locates the Gypsy assigned to us.

5.1 Sasan Gir - early morning lion safari
A final check on what all we need to carry. Permit, check. Photo-id card (needed at the entry point), check. Sweaters, shawls, jackets, caps etc; check. A couple of bottles of water & a few namkeen packs, check. Two DLSRs with bags and lenses, check. Binoculars, ummm! Looks like the binoculars are resting at Lilavati Guesthouse. Anyways, no problems. We get into the Gypsy, all wrapped up in shawls and jackets. Jamal -the guide- jokes about the climate being too hot. We are in good mood.

Sharp 6:30am -> We are at the entry point.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0086.jpg

After a quick check of the permits and id card, we get an entry.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0088.jpg

The guide gives us some demographic information about the sanctuary.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0089.jpg

The sky is getting much lighter now.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0092.jpg

Early morning, around sunrise, is the best time to spot a lion walking along the road.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0091.jpg

As we get deep inside the jungle, the temperature drops further.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0095.jpg

The sanctuary which is closed in monsoon, reopens around mid of Oct.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0451.jpg

Murdered English on a sign-board.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0104.jpg

A watering hole. We slow down and stop. There's nobody there.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0105.jpg

The guide keeps on looking for paw marks along the route. He finds paw marks at one place and gets down to have a closer look.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0108.jpg

Its a male lion. He has gone ahead and taken a U turn. The pugmarks in the opposite direction are more fresh. So we should have encountered the lion walking towards us. But we haven't. That mean's the lion left the route and got into the bushes. We stop and wait. After 3-4 minutes, we hear a roar from our right. In a jungle, you are in a open gypsy and you hear a lion roar nearby. Thrilling! The guide says, from the loudness of the roar it seems that the lion has gone deep inside. The chances are slim that he would again come out. We move on.

A quick word exchanged with a Gypsy coming from the other direction. Even they haven't seen anything.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0117.jpg

The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0120.jpg

Its really cold by now. The nose starts dripping. Hands freeze. We can't feel our lips. We miss hand-gloves and monkey caps. My camera bag has a bunch of handkerchiefs and I hand them over to cover the ears.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0122.jpg


The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0452.jpg

Another watering hole.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0453.jpg

The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0461.jpg

7:45am -> almost 8-10 Gypsys have gathered at one place. Apparently the first one saw the tail of one lion. The others had joined in and are hopeful.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0129.jpg

Another 10 minutes, nothing. Slowly one after another Gypsys start leaving. We also move on.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0130.jpg

8:15am -> The sun has already risen quite a lot. From this point onwards, the chances of a lion sighting are not very good.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0136.jpg

The deers that we have been ignoring since morning, claim back our attention. Except deers we have not seen anything till now. Not even birds.

A parrot? Are you kidding me?
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0458.jpg


We accept our fate and focus on enjoying the rest of wild-life. The light is much better for photography now.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0145.jpg

Remember the scene from Ramayana where Sita sees a golden deer and asks Rama to get its skin for her? Must have been in light conditions very similar to this.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0467.jpg

The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0470.jpg

The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0471.jpg

A cautious one.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0484.jpg

We spot wild boars.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0488.jpg

A closer look.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0490.jpg

By 8:40am we come out of the sanctuary.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0160.jpg

A bit disappointed, but everybody puts on a smile
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0161.jpg

9:00am -> Time for breakfast. We find a hotel and order Aloo Parathas and Poha.
The Mumbai cheetah goes to greet the Sasan Gir Lion (A Gujarat travelogue)-dsc_0497.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 11th December 2012 at 11:50. Reason: As requested
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