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Old 13th January 2015, 21:55   #16
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Default re: A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat

After the safari at Devaliya, we left for Somnath. It's a short drive and we reached hotel Lords Inn at 1 pm. We asked Prakash for the best time to visit the Somnath temple and he asked us to be ready at 3:30 pm. We had lunch at the hotel and took a quick nap. We left for the temple at 3:30. There was no crowd at the temple and we had a nice darshan of the Jyotirlinga. After the darshan, we spent some time roaming around the temple which was pristine. We then headed towards the Somnath beach and spent some time there.

Mobiles, cameras, baggages and belts are not allowed inside the temple. There is a cloak room to deposit all our belongings. We asked a photographer there to take an instant photo in front of the temple which costs Rs.30/-. He printed and delivered photo within 5 minutes.

Somnath temple from a distance:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00941.jpg

The serene Somnath beach:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00940.jpg

My wife gets fascinated at the sight of the beach. She spent some quality amount of time enjoying the peaceful beach:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00951.jpg


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We then visited Triveni Sangam, Pandava gufa, Gayathri mandir, Bhalka teerth and Brahmakumari ashram at Veraval. I did not take my camera to any of the above places.

Some pics taken from mobile at Bhalka teerth. This is the place where Lord Krishna diffused his avatar:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1495.jpg

Lord Krishna ended his avatar sitting below this tree. One can request for a tumbler from the priest, collect water from the adjoining tank and water tree:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1496.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1497.jpg

It was still 5:30 PM after visiting all these places. Prakash took us to Somnath temple once again and insisted that we spend some more time there so that we could participate in the Aarati. The Aarati started at 7 PM and it was a magical experience. There was no much crowd and hence we could easily stand inside the temple and watch the Aarati. We came back to hotel after Aarati and retired for the day.

I would rate the Lords Inn as the best hotel among all the hotels we visited during our stay at Gujarat. The ambience of the room was pleasing. There was no buffet but each and every dish we ordered were very tasty. The service was exceptional.

Our room at Lords Inn:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00960.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00961.jpg

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Old 14th January 2015, 22:38   #17
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Default re: A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat

Day 3 route details:

Sasan Gir - Devaliya Interpretation Zone (SH-100A): Its a rough narrow road after the turnoff at SH-26. It's closed between sunset and sunrise. I didn't see any timings for closure.

SH-100A:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00893.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00895.jpg

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/yCd1P

Sasan - Talala - Somnath (SH-26):

Very good roads from Sasan to Gir National Park gate with frequent speed breakers. Beware of rough patches under trees. Frequency of speed breakers reduce thereafter. Talala is crowded and can get messy at times. Good roads continue after Talala. Lookout for potholes whenever you see trees bent on roads. There are rumbling strips at most of the villages. Veraval bye-pass is under construction.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/BVIdX

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Old 17th January 2015, 10:33   #18
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Day 4:

Our plan for this day was to get up early in the morning and proceed towards Porbandar. But we were so mesmerized by the previous day Aarati that we decided to attend the morning Aarati and then leave to the destined location. There was no much crowd in the morning and once again we experienced the magical air of the Aarati. We came back to hotel, had breakfast and left for Porbandar.

The drive through NH-8E was fantastic. It passes along the coast for most of the time. It's a usual two lane highway but the traffic was very thin and the quality of the road was good.

We were greeted by this view after some time:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc00974.jpg

It's the clean Madhavpur beach and the highway passes right next to it. The beach was very clean. We were the only two on the vast beach.

Some pics of the clean Madhavpur beach:
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As I had mentioned earlier, my wife's love for beach is evident in the pictures below. She had a wonderful time here:
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We spent around 30 minutes at the beach and then started again.

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Old 17th January 2015, 10:53   #19
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Default re: A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat

Porbandar:

We reached Porbandar at 11 AM and visited Sudhama Mandir. It's situated in the heart of Porbandar town. Parking is a woe. Restrooms here were horrible and best avoided.

Sudhama Mandir:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1498.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1499.jpg

Our next destination was Kirti Mandir, the birth place of M.K Gandhi. Parking is worse than that at Sudhama Mandir.

Kirti Mandir (Kindly excuse me for the picture quality since all photos were captured with a mobile phone). The place where Gandhiji was born:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1504.jpg

Gandhiji's home:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1512.jpg


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Inside Gandhiji's home:
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Narrow streets of Porbandar:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1514.jpg

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Old 17th January 2015, 11:10   #20
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Prakash then took us to a less known place - Jambavant Gufa. It's located at around 10 km from Porbandar. This is the place where Shri Krishna married Jambavant's daughter Jhambavati. This place is more or less deserted and we were the only visitors there. It was cool and clean inside the cave. This is a must visit place for those who visit Saurashtra.

Steps leading to the cave:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-wp_20141222_013.jpg

There were many natural pits which pave way for light into the cave:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-wp_20141222_025.jpg

A natural conch formed on the rock:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-wp_20141222_018.jpg

Inside the cave:
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The place where Shrikrishna entered into wedlock with Jambavati:
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This cave is believed to be a secret tunnel to Dwaraka:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01034.jpg

Some more photographs inside the cave:
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Old 17th January 2015, 11:33   #21
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Default re: A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat

After spending some good amount of time inside the caves, we left for Dwaraka. We visited Mool Dwaraka on the way which is located 30 km from Porbandar.

Mool Dwarka:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-wp_20141222_027.jpg

We stopped at "Krishna Park" (hotel) near Navadra for lunch. We preferred to have Gujarati thali which was very tasty indeed. We reached Dwaraka at evening, checked into Hotel Lords Inn, took a small nap and visited Dwaraka beach which was few yards in front of the hotel. Sun was about to set.

Dwaraka beach near Hotel Lords Inn:
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We left for the evening Aarati at Dwaraka temple. It was a wonderful experience participating in the Aarati yet again. There was crowd, however, it wasn't annoying. There were small groups of devotees singing and dancing to the tunes and beats of bhajans on Lord Krishna. It was an unusual but mesmerizing experience. My wife didn't miss her chance to take part in the satsang. After the Aarati, we took a stroll along the numerous ghats behind the temple and then reached hotel.

The menu card was rich and the staff were friendly and courteous. The only grouse was that water in the taps were bit salty. I'm unsure if entire Dwaraka is supplied with such water or if there was some problem in the hotel.

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Old 17th January 2015, 13:09   #22
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Default re: A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat

Day 4 route details:

Somnath - Porbandar - Dwaraka (NH-8E):

Somnath - Madhavpur:

There are many flyovers under construction at Veraval byepass. The four laning is in progress between Veraval - Gadu (NH-8D). Once a we turn left towards Porbandar (NH-8E) at Gadu, it's a beautiful two lane highway. Traffic is sparse and the only vehicles that are encountered are the three wheeled bullet kind of auto which is found all over Saurashtra. The roads are rough around Madhavpur.

Madhavpur - Porbandar:
Road turns even more smoother after Madhavpur beach and the traffic turns thinner. Route is very scenic between Madhavpur - Porbandar. Roads inside Porbandar is rough.

Near Madhavpur beach:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01004.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01010.jpg

There are innumerable of windmills between Somnath - Dwaraka:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01018.jpg

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/tuzrR

Porbandar - Jambhavanth Gufa:
Proceed towards Amardal from Porbandar. After around 10 km, take a left between the big cement factory (Saurashtra Cement Limited) and the railway gate. Roads are in good condition all the way upto the Gufa.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/XHzru

Porbandar - Dwarka:
Superb roads with minimal traffic. It's not a scenic route, appears like traveling through a desert. Road is not smooth from the salt plant which is 20 km before Dwaraka. It again turns smooth 7 km before Dwaraka.

Somewhere between Porbandar - Dwaraka:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01055.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01059.jpg

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/hvFGB

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Old 17th January 2015, 18:55   #23
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Day 5:

We left for Dwarka temple once again in the morning.

Dwaraka at the dawn:
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A view of Dwaraka temple from the hotel where we stayed:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01092.jpg

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A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01094.jpg

Jai Dwarakadheesh!
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-wp_20141223_014.jpg

Hotel Lords Inn:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01078.jpg

Room at Lords:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01065.jpg

After returning, we had breakfast and checked out of the hotel and left for Bhet Dwaraka (The word 'Bhet' because it was the place where Sudhama met Lord Shri Krishna). Ferry services to Bhet Dwarka closes at 11 AM. So we had to reach Okha before that.

Visited Rukmini mandir on the way to Bhet Dwarka:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1516.jpg

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Old 17th January 2015, 19:24   #24
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Bhet Dwaraka:

We reached the ferry boarding point at 10:30 AM. I was remembered of private buses at Mangalore seeing the ferries. They don't start until thy are completely full. While I was skeptical to board such ferry, a group of school children came to our rescue. The group had chartered a complete ferry. Prakash spoke to them and we were asked to board that ferry. It was an enjoyable ride with the school kids. It took around 15 minutes to reach Bhet Dwaraka. We walked upto the temple, deposited camera and mobiles in the cloak room and visited the main temple. I liked the place where Sudhama had met Shri Krishna and offered beaten rice. We spent around one and half hours there and returned in a ferry. Prakash had been waiting for us in the car.

Ferry filled with school chlidren:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1524.jpg

Another crowded ferry:
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We then visited Gopi Talav and Nageshwar temple. Gopi Talav was where Lord Krishna had been sporting with Gopis.

Gopi Talav:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1537.jpg

Nageshwar temple:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-wp_20141223_037.jpg

We came back to Dwaraka after visiting Nageshwar temple. Prakash took us to a restaurant where we had tasty Gujarati thali. We then left for Rajkot.

Dwaraka is full of such adorable cows:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-imag1517.jpg

Prakash had now picked up a good rapport with us and he thus began to share his life experiences during the long drive to Rajkot. Meanwhile he took us to Ram Dhun mandir at Jamnagar. Here, Ram Naam is chanted for 24 hours throughout the year.

Jamnagar museum in front of the Ram Dhun mandir:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01108.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01109.jpg

Statue of Rana Pratap:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01110.jpg

We started from Jamnagar at 5 PM and drove towards Rajkot. We stopped for a Khadak chai somewhere near the Rajkot cricket stadium. We reached our hotel "The Evergrand palace" at 6:30 PM. The dinner was very good at this hotel.

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Old 17th January 2015, 21:43   #25
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Day 5 route details:

Dwaraka - Bhet Dwaraka (NH-947):
Superb single lane road. Bad roads for 4 km before the ferry boarding point.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/ISTCZ

Bhet Dwaraka - Gopi Talav - Nageshwar temple - Dwaraka:
Bad roads from NH-947 turn off to Gopi Talav. Average roads between Gopi Talav - Nageshwar temple - Dwarka.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/EneZh

Dwarka - Jamnagar (NH-947):

Normal two-laned road. They are widening the roads at many places but the roads are good with light to moderate traffic. Four lane toll road starts from Essar oil refinery. I liked the neat roads inside Jamnagar.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/8nTZv

Peaceful roads in Jamnagar:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01113.jpg


A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01116.jpg

Jamnagar - Rajkot (NH-947, SH-25):

Superb 4 lane toll road built by L&T. Traffic was thin and disciplined.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/NuXB2

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Old 18th January 2015, 08:08   #26
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Day 6:

We had breakfast at the hotel. It was a simple and good buffet. They had a wide variety of fresh fruits for the breakfast. Staff was courteous.

The hotel was on a busy main road but they had done a very good job on sound insulation. The room was facing the main road but we did not hear much of traffic noise.

Room at Hotel Evergrand Palace:
A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat-dsc01120.jpg

We checked out of the hotel and left for the Rajkot doll museum. We reached there at 8:30 AM but found out that it opens only at 10 AM. We gave up the idea of visiting it as Prakash said that it was more suited for kids and hence we left for Ahmedabad through the beautiful NH-8A. We stopped somewhere on the highway near Rajkot to buy some sweets. There were many sweet stalls at that area. We bought 5-6 varieties of pedhas. We reached Ahmedabad at around 12. One of our close friends who stays at Ahmedabad had invited us for lunch and we visited her at Vastrapur.

The plan of the last day was to visit Sarkhej Roza, Shaking Minarets and Sardar Vallabhai Patel museum. Before that, we wanted to buy some nice gift to our now close friend - Prakash. We asked him to drop us to some good shopping mall at Ahmedabad. He took us to AlphaOne Mall at Vastrapur. We roamed in the mall for sometime. Having observed that Prakash constantly fiddles with the Sun visor to avoid the glare from the Sun while driving, I decided to gift a good pair sunglasses. Hence we bought one from Titan Eye and left for Sarkhej Roza.

We spent around one and a half hours at Sarkhej Roza and decided to roam around Ahmedabad since we had ample amount of time before our scheduled flight to Bangalore at 8 PM. My wife wanted to taste Shrikhand and hence asked Prakash to take us to a good sweet shop. On the way to sweetshop, a board with direction to a place called "Shivranjani" caught my wife's attention. Since she is a classical singer and also since "Shivranjani" is a raaga, she asked Prakash about the specialty of this place. He mentioned that it's famous for sarees and took us to a big saree shop there. The shop had a very good collection of sarees and we purchased some for our family members. It was 5 PM by the time we finished shopping. Prakash then said that we would visit Sardar Vallabhai Patel museum and then drop us to airport. The museum had closed by then. We then decided to go straight to airport as the flight was scheduled to take off at 8 PM. We reached airport at 6:15 PM. We exchanged pleasantries with Prakash, handed him the small gift and bid him a goodbye.

Photos captured at Sarkhej Roza:
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Old 18th January 2015, 09:06   #27
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Some more pics of Sarkhej Roza:
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Old 18th January 2015, 09:27   #28
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The travelogue will be incomplete without posting the photographs of the steed

The car had clocked 85,000 km and was maintained very well. Interiors were very clean. AC was chilling. Loved the leg space in between fore and rear seats. It gobbled up our luggage without any issues. I could hear some rattles from the parcel tray and the boot of the car. The only grouse was that they could have provided some better interiors at least for this Sportivo version. We covered a total distance of 1,800 km and Prakash entered the fuel station only once during our entire trip. So I guess it must be giving very good mileage figures.

All these pics were captured at Anil Farm, Gir:
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Prakash Thakur - A good friend. Very simple, humble, friendly and has great respect for women. Speaks only Gujarati and Hindi. Very good driving skills. Used to always maintain 90 kmph in highways and never over sped. The drive was so smooth that we hardly felt any jolt in the entire trip. Has only one bad habit according to him - chewing paan. Resides in Gandhinagar. Never travelled out of Gujarat and is proud to be a Gujarati. A special thanks to him for making it a safe trip for us.

Prakash with his steed:
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Old 18th January 2015, 18:17   #29
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Highlights of the trip:

1. All the places we visited were very clean except for some areas in Junagadh.
2. Excellent roads everywhere. The only pot holes we witnessed were within Gir National Park limits.
3. There was no crowd anywhere except Bhet Dwarka including the ferry ride to that place.
4. No entrance fees anywhere except for Uparkot at Junagadh.
5. No hawker/sellers at tourist spots annoying visitors to buy their products.
6. We are pure vegetarians and we didn't face issues anywhere in Saurashtra.
7. We had sufficient time to spend at every place we visited. The trip was planned such that we never left the hotel neither too early nor reached too late. We never felt exhausted at any point of time during the entire trip.
8. All the hotels we stayed were wonderful with excellent service. Food at every hotel was very tasty and hygienic. Staff was very friendly and courteous too.
9. Prakash drove the car very well. His driving style was extremely smooth. He behaved very professionally and took us to some wonderful places which were not part of the itinerary.

Credit of the last three points goes to Geetanjali Dhar of IT Nature Club, Bangalore, who organized our trip extremely well. A big thanks to her.

It was a wonderful trip to Gujarat. It was an overwhelming experience visiting all these places. We have already planned another trip to Gujarat but it'll be a self driven one . Roads are so good that it's very difficult to refrain from driving. We have visited only few places in Saurashtra according to Prakash. We have plans to visit Gujarat multiple times in future so that we can cover other places. We didn't visit the places like Rann of Kutch North belt. As I mentioned earlier, we didn't want to visit all the places hurriedly just for the sake of covering. We have plans to visit North Gujarat only after visiting all the places in Saurashtra.

To sum it up, we thoroughly enjoyed every moment at this lovely place called Gujarat and came back home completely satisfied.

Last edited by guyfrmblr : 18th January 2015 at 21:36.
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Old 18th January 2015, 18:28   #30
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Default re: A trip to the Jewel of the West - Gujarat

The Nightmare:

The entire trip was very smooth until the last moment. We hoped that it'll continue until we reach home at Bangalore but it was not. As I mentioned in one of the previous posts, we reached the airport at 6:30 PM to catch our scheduled Indigo flight to Bangalore at 8:30 PM which was supposed to land in Bangalore at 10:30 PM. I was notified just after reaching the airport that our flight was rescheduled to takeoff from Ahmedabad at 10:30 PM since the flight was supposed to come from New Delhi and there was heavy fog at IGI, New Delhi. Since it was delayed just by two hours, we decided to wait at the airport. I had asked our cab guy in Bangalore to come to airport at 10:30 PM to pick us up. I called him and informed about the delay.

I received another message at 9 PM which read that the flight was rescheduled to takeoff at 11:30 PM. I again called up the cab guy and informed him about the delay. Our endless wait started. Indigo continued rescheduling the flight every 30 minutes. The reason they gave was that there was heavy fog at IGI, NewDelhi and the flight was unable to takeoff from there. I was constantly informing our cab driver about the delay. He then planned to park his cab at airport parking and asked me to wake him up once we reach Bangalore. Indigo staff provided us dinner free of cost at around 10:30 PM. They still continued to reschedule the flight till 12:30 AM. Meanwhile, our cab driver had reached Bangalore airport parking point and messaged me his co-ordinates. By now, all passengers had lost their patience and put up a verbal argument with the Indigo staff at the airport. There was another Jet airways flight which was supposed to come from New Delhi and then go to Mumbai. Passengers of that flight were also waiting at the next terminal and arguments broke out there too.

The arguments with the staff turned into a fight at 12:30 AM and most of the passengers were asking Indigo officials to provide accommodation since they were not giving any assurance on the time of arrival of the flight from New Delhi. After arguments turned into fight, the regional manager arrived at the airport. He assured free accommodation for all the passengers if the flight didn't turn up by 1:30 AM and that they would send the passengers in the next available flight. Unfortunately, the next flight at the morning was completely booked. He was still skeptical of whether the flight was canceled or not.

Meanwhile the Jet airways to Mumbai arrived from New Delhi at 1:30 AM (which was supposed to takeoff at 7:30 PM). Once again arguments started questioning the early arrival of this flight from New Delhi but not the Indigo flight. After seeing the situation going out of control, the Indigo manager agreed to arrange accommodation after some time. I had befriended some co-passengers by this time and we sat chatting. One elderly lady was explaining me about her earlier trips to Bangkok, Singapore, etc. She then asked me the reason for me to come to Gujarat. I told her about our trip and her immediate question was:

"Why Gujarat ?!"

Before I could answer her, the Indigo manager announced that the flight has finally taken off from IGI and will arrive Ahmedabad at 2:30 AM. There were cheers and claps everywhere. It was December 25th morning and the airport was decorated for Christmas. There was a sense of celebration among the passengers. Most of them were travelling to enjoy the Christmas and New Year holidays. The flight finally arrived at 2:30 AM. It departed at 2:45 AM and reached Bangalore at 4:45 AM. We then went to airport parking lot and woke up our cab driver. We reached home at 6:30 AM. I knew the cab driver for many years and he also knew that I had got married recently (he had attended my marriage). After I settled his bills, he asked me where I had been for a week. I answered "Gujarat". His immediate question was:

"Why Gujarat ?!"

I smiled; A smile of satisfaction of visiting Gujarat

Last edited by guyfrmblr : 18th January 2015 at 21:31.
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