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Old 4th August 2015, 11:50   #1
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Default 4 friends & motorcycles: From Ahmedabad to Somnath, Porbandar & Dwarka

Here it is. My second travelogue from my student days in Ahmedabad.

THE ROUTE

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THE CHARACTERS

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Four travel-happy friends from a B-School in Ahmedabad, who never say no to a nice weekend bike trip, or a spin through Ahmedabad at 3 o’clock in the night.

From left to right: Srinit, Peeush, Mukesh, Sagar


THE RIDES

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2010 Yamaha Fazer
This 150 cc mini touring bike is very light, agile and stable owing to its 140 mm rear tyre. Though not very fast, it is happy to ride all day long even at the redline.

2014 Royal Enfield Classic 500 Desert Storm
The 500 cc fuel injected thumper has been the heartbeat of many. 41 Nm torque lower down the rev range can throw back the pillion just at a twitch of the right wrist.

2011 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350
Though not as torqy as its 500 cc sibling, it is the best touring bike of the lot. Comfortable saddle and high handlebars can make you want to ride it all day long, even with a pillion.


THE STORY

20th September was the date when I had fractured my ankle while playing basketball. Come 1st October, I was badly regretting that event, resting my leg on a heavy cast. We had a 4 day holiday starting next day and I had to be grounded in my room for the entirety of it. Holidays are hard to come by in a premier B-School and the Somnath trip was on the cards since long. So at 04:00 AM in the morning, I woke up suddenly, got crazy and cut out my plaster. My ankle probably hadn’t healed properly, and taking the plaster out was definitely not the right thing to do. But I just couldn’t waste this kind of an opportunity. So I woke the other three guys from their early morning slumber and met with a wide array of scolding for what I had done. Nevertheless, we all geared up for the trip. In my defence, I had bandaged my leg tightly with a crepe and worn high ankle boots. And so we rode off.

02 OCTOBER 2014 – DAY 1 – AHMEDABAD TO SOMNATH

We started from our Vastrapur campus at 06:30 AM, filled petrol and maintained a good pace to utilise the cool morning time (afternoons can be very hot in Gujarat). Mukesh was driving his Desert Storm, Peeush was riding pillion behind me on my Thunderbird, and Sagar took the Fazer. Having covered about 110 km, we reached Limbdi at 07:45 AM and stopped for breakfast at Tulsi Hotel. Though none of us are very fond of Gujarati food, we liked the Methi Gota and Fafda there, further enhanced by the awesome tea they served us.

Breakfast at Limbdi
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Off we move towards Rajkot
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By 08:15 AM, we were off once again and reached Rajkot at around 09:45 AM and paused for Sagar to catch up. But poor Sagar did not take the bypass and got lost inside the city, that too without maps. It wasn’t until one full hour that he emerged at the other end of the bypass road.

Waiting for Sagar at Rajkot
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Exit for Junagarh
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Just past Rajkot, we noticed a trailer carrying a long fin like structure that was a whopping 30 metres long. I made a mental note of how difficult it must be to carry such a long cargo. Assuming that to some part of a ship heading towards the Kandla port,we overtook the ultra-long trailer. We stopped near the Junagarh bypass road for lunch at around 12:30 PM. The place was called Hotel Hinglaaz and it was same as any other dhaba. The food was very tasty and cost us Rs. 605. Having not been allowed to enjoy his late morning sleep on a national holiday, Mukesh was happy to lie down on the khatia and take a nap. We did a small photo session in the meanwhile and courtesy Peeush, I got a nice facebook profile picture.

After lunch at Junagarh
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We were off again towards Somnath by 01:30 PM. This was a real bad stretch of road. It was hard to find the actual road among multitudes of potholes, speed breakers, mud heaps and what-nots. My sympathies with Peeush, who was riding pillion behind me. This was the phase of the trip where you could actually feel the landscape changing from an inland setting to the coastal setting.

Somewhere past Junagarh
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Coconut trees replacing all other trees as we moved towards the coast
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The big, branched out trees getting replaced by tall dates and coconut ones was slow and steady. The smell of the coast is something very conspicuous. 130 km later, we stopped for another photoshoot before we reached Somnath. A light drizzle had cleaned up all the dust and it looked like a fine afternoon in a coastal town.

The Black Beauty
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More beauties
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Kabab mein Haddian
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Finally, we reached the Somnath temple area and decided to find a hotel before we visited the temple. Owing to my recently fractured leg, I was asked to stand guard over the bikes and luggage while the other three walked in different directions to inquire in the hotels and lodges. Peeush and Mukesh emerged soon having struck a deal of Rs. 800 for a 4 bed hotel room in Palace Hotel. Sagar was lost again, with his phone switched off. He emerged half an hour later, thankfully without having struck another deal. We checked in and quickly changed to shorts. The idea was to visit the temple and chill out at the beach later. Wasting no time, we headed to the temple. But alas, we were denied entry into the temple. Reason – We were in shorts!!! Somnath temple doesn’t allow visitors in shorts or what they call “western” outfits. Even women in knee-length skirts are not allowed. Everyone is expected to be wearing full clothes. A strange practice in my opinion, but they must have had their reasons, for this was an official rule and not some local unwritten law. We had no option but to leave for the beach, where we had a blast of a time. Random posing, running around eating from the hawkers, coconut water, etc. The sun setting into the sea was beautiful.

Random posing
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More random posing
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Coming from the eastern part of India, I felt that the beaches out here in the west were mild. They lacked the aggression of the beaches of, let’s say, Puri. I remain a loyal fan of the Bay of Bengal over Arabian Sea.

After sunset, we were back in our hotel to quickly change to full length track pants, and headed back to the temple at around 07:30 PM. It was Sandhya Aarti time and needless to say, it was crowded as any other big temple. After having jostled among the crowd to catch a glimpse of the Shiv Ling, we settled comfortably on some benches inside the table compound facing the sea. There is a strange calm that engulfs us when we sit beside the rough seas. It always brings back good memories. Then followed the discussions regarding why temples were made and some random talk on Hindu mythology and philosophies. It was a while back and I don’t remember the exact conversations. The Somnath temple is one among the 12 Jyotirlingas and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current temple is actually at a site adjacent to the original one and not on it.

Somnath temple from a distance. Photography is prohibited inside the complex
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After Puja at the temple, it was time for Pet Puja (Stomach Worship LOL). We went into one of many dhabas present in that area and ordered Punjabi food. After devouring the delicious paneer butter masala, biryani, roti and chhach (buttermilk), we were back in our spacious room. We started playing cards while some old IPL ran on the TV. Sagar and me, self-proclaimed experts of 29 (a card game immensely popular among the student community), lost miserably to Mukesh and Peeush. The liberation from the gruelling academics lasted well into the night while we slowly transitioned to sleep.


Continued in next post...

Last edited by ampere : 6th August 2015 at 07:17. Reason: Corrected Year
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Old 4th August 2015, 12:27   #2
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03 OCTOBER 2014 – DAY 2 – SOMNATH TO PORBANDAR TO DWARKA

I was once again everyone’s nightmare, waking everyone up at 06:15 AM. Mukesh simply demanded that some song be played on TV and went back to dozing. While we got ready one by one, we discussed how the movie Dhoom popularised sports bikes so much that we do not have a proper touring bike in the country. Finally, by 08:15 AM, we had secured our bags to the bikes and the wheels started moving. We had breakfast on the outskirts of Somnath and filled our tanks.

Tying the bags to the bikes
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The itinerary for the day was to visit Porbandar which falls on the road to Dwarka. The two lane coastal road in the Somnath-Porbandar-Dwarka circuit is pleasant surprise. It is a smooth two-lane road dotted with trees and runs parallel to the coast. It twists and turns and is a bikers’ paradise. Personally speaking, whenever I am riding a bike, I wish for these scenic twisties which do not require you to be a canyon carver, but offer a nice relaxed experience. Six-lane highways are no fun on bikes.

The beautiful coastal highway
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After an awesome stint on this road, we hit upon the coast. A short stretch of three kilometres which offer you the view of a pristinely clean beach with sands untouched by the proverbial tourist. Boy, a sight it was. We alighted here for a few snaps and to just see and take in the clean and almost untouched beach. At 11:00 AM, it sure was hot, but it was worth it.

From the road, to the sand, to the sea, to the sky. Beautiful...
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The pristine beach
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We had some fresh coconut juice as we saw several Chakkadas pass by. Chakkadas are as much an integral part of the Shaurashta region as Dhokhla itself. Basically a retrofitted Royal Enfield diesel motorcycle designed to carry lots of passengers and loads of luggage. It remains the most popular form of public transport in rural Gujarat and thumps as loud as 10 indori silences put together. You find these Chakkadas happily chugging away to glory on the sparsely populated roads as much as in bustling town markets. To me, they just are meant to be there. Through my several trips to the Shaurashtra region, I have always liked them and respected the way they have been part of their culture since the 1950s.

A colourful Chakkada
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Having covered close to 550 km on the pillion set, Peeush decided to ride. He took the Fazer, Sagar switched to the Desert Storm and Mukesh rode behind me. The road from now on was dotted with large windmills. And the mystery of the 30 metre long structure on the trailer was solved. That was one of the wings of these windmills. A wingspan of about 60 metre and rotating at a height of 60 metre – a good spectacle it was.

The huge windmills
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We stopped by at Porbandar to visit the Mahatma Gandhiji’s birthplace. It is situated in one of the old and narrow streets in the heart of Porbandar. They have built a magnificent museum next to his actual household where he lived as a kid. It is a compact and practical house not unlike any other of that era.

The museum at Gandhiji's birthplace
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We then went to try our luck visiting the Porbandar port. Alas, one needs a permit to go inside. Meanwhile, Mukesh decided to ride his bike on the sands. His bike was called Desert Storm after all. But it didn’t live up to its name. Turns out the weight just wasn’t in Mukesh’s favour.

Desert Storm on the sands
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We rode on towards Dwarka without further ado. Halfway down the way, I decided I wanted my share of time with the fuel injected 500 cc. Mukesh and Sagar on my Thunderbird, Peeush on the Fazer and me on the Desert Storm. It was nice to ride and had a furious low end punch. It was really a treat to drive, though the vibrations at higher speeds can loosen a few of your joints. We finally reached Dwarka at 03:30 PM.

The nice roads from Porbandar to Dwarka
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After searching for a room in many hotels we settle comfortably in Hotel Gurukrupa and got fresh. Next up was the rocky shores of the Dwarka beach. It was very cool and sitting at the sunset point felt very soothing. Mukesh had forgotten his camera at the hotel. So he was sent back to fetch it. As the evening progressed, the sea kept getting more aggressive, till many of the rocks were completely submerged.

At Sunset Point, Dwarka
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After sunset, we proceeded to the Dwarkadheesh temple. Moving among the winding streets, we finally found a parking spot not very far from the entrance and went into the temple amid elaborate security.

Grand entrance to Dwarkadheesh temple
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This was even more crowded than the Somnath temple. Ladies and Gents had separate queues with barricades. But people were jumping on those barricades even pushing venerable people out of the way. One of the old ladies was close to falling down and who knows, a stampede might have followed. Being four young guys, we were able to somewhat put up an adequate resistance to the push of the crowd behind us so no one tips over dangerously. I never really got the hang of such kind of devotion, which disregards a fellow human’s safety, but such is the fervour for Lord Krishna in Dwarka. After witnessing the Sandhya Aarti and Prasad ceremony, we once again set out in search of dinner. We asked certain passers-by for suggestions and they directed us to Maruti Restaurant. We ordered Rajasthani Thali there but it wasn’t good at all. The food was not tasty and the service was really pathetic. We nevertheless finished eating and moved out without complain, bought soft drinks and chips and proceeded to our hotel. Another round of cards (29 of course) followed along with another round of late night bakar till we slept off.

04 OCTOBER 2014 – DAY 3 – DWARKA TO AHMEDABAD

The agenda for the day was to get back to Ahmedabad. So no hurry there. Though not very keen to wake up early, we wanted to cover maximum distance before it got very hot and uncomfortable. And so our day started at 06:00 AM and the ride started at 08:00 AM.

The return journey starts. Road from Dwarka to Jamnagar
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Having started out from Dwarka, we forgot to refill our tanks and were running quite low. To add to that, there wasn’t any petrol pump in sight for a many a kilometres. We were quite happy to spot an almost run-down petrol pump only to find that they were out of petrol. The person over there directed us to yet another shady looking petrol pump a little ahead. Not too sure of the quality, we decided to fill just enough to get us to Jamnagar. My advice to everyone going to Dwarka is to fill up your tanks in the city itself. Once you come out, no decent petrol pump greets you till Jamnagar. We reached Jamanagar having driven in my reserve tank for quite a distance. We stopped for breakfast at a dhaba. It was a welcoming site. We too were devoid of juice just like our fuel tanks. We had some brilliant poori sabzi along with salad and fried green chillies (my favourite).

If there is paradise on earth...
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We filled out tanks few kilometres ahead and entered Jamnagar. Viewed from NH947, we could see Reliance’s petrochemical plant from one end of the horizon to the other. I always knew it was the largest refinery complex in the world, but wasn’t prepared for exactly how large was largest. It was humongous. From the far distance, I could make out countless turrets and chimneys and plant buildings. One may imagine it to be a small kid’s lego structure spread out for kilometres altogether. Over our course to Rajkot, the three bikes got somewhat separated and we were set to meet just after crossing Rajkot. Sagar was at it again, and once again went into the city. Perhaps, he is searching for his future bride in Rajkot. Why else would he do the same mistake twice? After having wasted 30 more minutes we took a fairly uneventful and monotonous journey back to Ahmedabad, with a stop at Decathlon Applewoods, Bopal for some shopping fun.


IN RETROSPECT

In the end, the trip meter read 1152 km, over the 3-day long trip. I was very happy that my precious 4-day vacation did not go waste. It was a trip that I had been trying since almost 6 months, but never could get the time needed. This was the first 1000+ km trip I had on my Thunderbird, and it was up for it. The only issue is the speed. It simply hates being pushed past 90 kmph. Below that, it is a treat. Mukesh’s Desert Storm has great torque and sufficient juice at the top end to get you to good triple digits, but makes its indignation known through the vibrations. And I found the flat seat not so comfortable. The smaller 150 cc Fazer was no less potent either. It was a simple and happy trip, very slow and steady. The roads were not always great but the company was awesome. On top of it all, my recently fractured and leg did not pose much problem and for the record, I went on to play basketball for my institute in the next one month.

For the love for travelling...
Keep riding...
Always wear Helmet, be safe...

Last edited by ampere : 6th August 2015 at 07:19. Reason: Corrected year as requested
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Old 4th August 2015, 22:24   #3
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Mod note: Moving out of Assembly Line, thanks for sharing and a superb travelogue!
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Old 5th August 2015, 11:10   #4
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Default Re: 4 friends & motorcycles: From Ahmedabad to Somnath, Porbandar & Dwarka

A simply fantastic travelogue! One of the most fun to read posts I've seen in a long time. My eyes widened when I read the part about you ripping off your cast and I was even more shocked when you said you were with a pillion.

This picture got me reminiscing because I've got a black 2010 Thunderbird and have a few similar pictures from my first road trips, before I put her through a few mods. Ahh, the days when my rear brake didn't conk off every time I sneezed .
Quote:
There is a strange calm that engulfs us when we sit beside the rough seas. It always brings back good memories. Then followed the discussions regarding why temples were made and some random talk on Hindu mythology and philosophies. It was a while back and I don’t remember the exact conversations.
At some point in life, a man and his buddies WILL have these conversations. Even if you don't remember the exact text, most of us know exactly what that conversation must have been like .

Quote:
Six-lane highways are no fun on bikes.
You can say that again.

Quote:
This was the first 1000+ km trip I had on my Thunderbird, and it was up for it. The only issue is the speed. It simply hates being pushed past 90 kmph. Below that, it is a treat. Mukesh’s Desert Storm has great torque and sufficient juice at the top end to get you to good triple digits, but makes its indignation known through the vibrations. And I found the flat seat not so comfortable.
Well summarized. When I first rode the Classic 500, I was taken aback by the hair raising torque and thought this monster could hit some great speed, but honestly beyond 90 km/h the 350 and 500's mannerisms get very similar.

Thank you for a great travelogue and some great pictures. If someone needs the motivation for an impromptu road trip, they need look no further.

Last edited by Tushar : 5th August 2015 at 11:11.
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Old 5th August 2015, 12:04   #5
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Default Re: 4 friends & motorcycles: From Ahmedabad to Somnath, Porbandar & Dwarka

Thanks Jaggu and Tushar

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Originally Posted by Tushar View Post
Well summarized. When I first rode the Classic 500, I was taken aback by the hair raising torque and thought this monster could hit some great speed, but honestly beyond 90 km/h the 350 and 500's mannerisms get very similar.
They are great bikes to ride nevertheless. The low end punch makes it so very comfortable. And the weight helps in stability on highways. Never faced any issues with crosswinds. But the lack of speed does get to you when you are the kind of guy who gets a kick from the number on the tripmeter.
It did get to me eventually and I sold my thumper in favour of a Pulsar AS200. I would definitely have liked to keep it, but finances were a constraint. The new owner is just as happy as I was. I was a bit skeptical about the comfort of the AS200, but last weekend I did a 480 km single day trip on it and it was really good. The foot pedals need a major adjustment but everything else was smooth. Just done 2200 km on it. Will post a detailed review once past 10000 km.


Quote:
Thank you for a great travelogue and some great pictures. If someone needs the motivation for an impromptu road trip, they need look no further.
Thanks for the encouragement. I started writing travelogues only recently and it is a lot of fun. I have had countless memorable trips, hope to cover all of them eventually.
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Old 5th August 2015, 19:04   #6
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Default Re: 4 friends & motorcycles: From Ahmedabad to Somnath, Porbandar & Dwarka

Nice travelogue there. I did exactly the same circuit last year and your travelogue brought back the wonderful memories I had in Gujarat. Make a point to visit Jambhavanth Gufa near Porbander during your next visit. It's a must visit place. Regarding Chakkada, I spotted one for the first time near Chotila on the way to Rajkot. I thought it's one of a kind and captured many pics. But after crossing Rajkot, I spotted so many of them that I was sick of it's loud sound in the lonely highways.

I see that you have mentioned the dates as October 2015 in your posts
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Old 5th August 2015, 22:58   #7
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Regarding Chakkada, I spotted one for the first time near Chotila on the way to Rajkot. I thought it's one of a kind and captured many pics. But after crossing Rajkot, I spotted so many of them that I was sick of it's loud sound in the lonely highways.
They do make a lot of noise. Diesel enfields were already noisy to begin with. And these have probably have no muffler fitted.

The entire Shaurashtra region is full of these Chakkadas. To me, they add a whole lot of colour to the otherwise arid lands of Rann of Kutch.


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I see that you have mentioned the dates as October 2015 in your posts
My bad... Just a bad habit of typing 2015 everywhere. I shall report the post so the mods can change it. Thanks for pointing it out.
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Old 10th August 2015, 14:55   #8
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Originally Posted by srinitdas View Post
Here it is. My second travelogue from my student days in Ahmedabad.
Hey Srinit, thanks for sharing your lovely road trip. All the pictures speaks for itself and i can see how much fun you guys would have had. Although you dared to move on with your injured leg, please try to avoid this kind of adventure next time. It is not fair to our body and we ought to keep good care of it. The image with the camera shot in the rear view mirror glass has been captured very beautifully. Keep it up.
Everyone can relate to your travelogue as most of us have had short or long trips with our buddies and macho machines. It is truly a life lasting experience and when we meet the same old friends later in our lives, the joy of discussing such trips multiplies. That's one the best feelings to have.
Great writing Sir. Do share your other trips and inspire all of us. thanks
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