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Old 13th April 2016, 14:41   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post

The evening entertainment was an African dance troupe.

After dancing to the tunes of African tribes, their last song was Gujarati Garba song, and they pulled members from the audience to join.
These are not Africans, they are very much Indian.
They are called Siddi's, read up here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddi
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Old 13th April 2016, 14:45   #32
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^^^Thanks for the information. I didn't mean their ethnicity was African, but the dance form was African. In fact I suspected they were local boys!

Sorry it was very vaguely worded :( I meant no harm.
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Old 13th April 2016, 18:53   #33
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Loved your travelogue and your awesome bike.
I was a Ninja fan too. Owned a Ninja 500R a while ago. Photo below.
It had claddings on both sides above the stand too, but I had removed them to give it a "naked" feel. :-)
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Old 13th April 2016, 19:29   #34
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

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Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
Thanks to the lakes formed inside Rann, these visitors– primarily flamingos - travel without visa from far away countries and make their yearly pilgrimage without fail.
Nice travelogue and a wonderfully adventurous trip. Kudos to you.

Just a small clarification - the flamingos that you see in LRK are endemic to the area, they are not migratory. In fact, they migrate southwards from LRK towards Mumbai, Pune and neighbouring areas during the winter months.
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Old 13th April 2016, 23:02   #35
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Ani,

Wonderful travelouge and your wit and humour add to the wonderful reading experience! Thanks for taking us on this journey with you.

Ride safe.

Cheers,
Sting
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Old 14th April 2016, 14:54   #36
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Starting with the next installation, hope you guys are enjoying so far!

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorp View Post
...Wonder how you managed to ride with the tank bag of that size. Kudos to you for that.
Tankbag didn't pose any problems. Slipped a little at high speeds, but that's it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
...
So we had to visit the Devaliya interpretation zone for consolation.
I missed on Devaliya interpretation zone, and hadn't planned it in the itinerary. So lucky that the lion showed up for breakfast!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkaile View Post
A few pointers and a request -
...Cheers...
All points noted

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Originally Posted by reverse_gear View Post
Just a small clarification - the flamingos that you see in LRK are endemic to the area, they are not migratory. ...
Thanks for the new information!
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Old 14th April 2016, 14:59   #37
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Chapter 8 - Amdavad etle Amdavadad
Day 7


After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we rolled out of the hotel. The roads today were excellent. It is a straight road through the marshes that rushes to meet Ahmedabad. The traffic was sparse, the weather was beautiful, and the road was smooth: The perfect recipe for a Ninja to roar.

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Elizabeth displayed her racing genes, and soon we were knocking at the gates of Ahmedabad.

We had two nights stay at Ahmedabad, and were scheduled to leave early morning day after tomorrow. Finding a meal at 3.30pm turned out to be a herculean task, with most of the Thali hotels already deep into siesta. We munched a few snacks and called it a lunch, and started roaming in the city.

Ahmedabad has nice big roads and a planned layout, at least the main part of the city. We started heading towards Bapu’s Sabarmati Ashram. A few kilometers ride ends up in the well-kept Ashram.

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Mahatma Gandhi lived here for twelve years. It was from here that the Dandi Yatra - the non-cooperation movement for putting a tax on salt – started. After the resultant nation-wide arrests triggered by this movement, which was replicated across India, the ashram was seized by the British government. Gandhiji vowed that he would not return to this Ashram until India had gained independence. Unfortunately he couldn’t visit it again ever, because he was assassinated a few months after India gained independence.

Today, it is a historical monument preserved to bring forth the ahimsa aspect of the fight for freedom. The Ashram has a big campus, with historical buildings named Vinoba Kutir, Upasana Mandir etc that are named either by their famous residents or their use.


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There is also a new building that depicts pictures, quotes, letters and other memorabilia about Gandhiji. There sits the famous statue of a thought laden Gandhi.


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Gandhiji’s room:

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There is a soothing calm in the atmosphere at the ashram. The quaint historical rooms are well preserved, and the hall depicting some moments in Gandhiji’s life is nicely done. It was a serene evening remains one of the highlight of this tour.

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There was one big thing remaining on this tour: Shopping! Elizabeth is a slim lady, who doesn’t allow much storage or carry-on luggage. On Vesta we used to carry much more, using bungee cords and what not. Heck, I had brought a number of bed sheets from Rajasthan and sweaters and stuff from Manali. But Elizabeth didn’t give us much chance to burden her with luggage. Still, we visited a state owned showroom ‘Gurjari’ in Ahmedabad.

The closing time was 8.00pm, and we reached there at 7.40pm. From the moment we stepped in, we had attendants breathing down our necks to hurry up. Apparently they had some function to attend and we happened to visit at the most inopportune moment. We hurriedly finished what little shopping we could, and the staff cleared out of the Gurjari campus even before we did!

The last sight of the day was Kankariya lake. This jumbo lake is bang in the middle of the city. The lake has a 5 kilometers perimeter, and is very neatly maintained.

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There are six entrances, each going near some different ride. A mini train runs around the lake, covering the sites! After the day’s ride, we were very content to sit nearby the lake, watching the world go by while we breathed the fresh air.

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At night, it had to be a Gujarathi Thali. There is a famous Thali hotel, called GXXX Thali (Name masked for obvious reasons). While the food was good in appearance, the taste could have been much better.

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I didn’t find the place to be a ‘must visit’ at all, so you can plan your thali at any other place as well.

Last edited by ani_meher : 14th April 2016 at 15:04.
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Old 15th April 2016, 15:57   #38
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Chapter 9 The hidden well
Day 8


Today was the last day in Gujarat trip. It was a big day ahead of us, with almost a 300km journey. There are some great examples of carved temples and wells around Ahmedabad. Today, we were visiting two of them.

The first halt was the step-well of the queen – Rani ki vaav –located in Patan, 130 kms from Ahmedabad. The history of this elegant carved well is nothing short of a fairy tale.

This Rani ki Vaav was constructed a thousand year ago by a queen in memory of her husband. Over the course of centuries, the well was flooded by the nearby Saraswati River, and was silted for a very long time. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it stayed safe from many external attacks. It remained hidden well until the late 1980s! It’s only in recent years when the step well was dug up with extreme care, and the efforts of the excavators and the original creators emanate beautifully today. We were headed to this well to witness grandeur of carvings that were preserved by sheer accident and miracle of nature.

Getting out of Ahmedabad proved to be a breeze. I got a taste of how a VIP must feel when all of traffic is stopped for him. The internal roads were about to get blocked for some sports events that morning, and the traffic was being rerouted. Somehow, seeing us two on Ninja, policemen would signal us to enter the barricades from a corner, and I would be the only one riding on the deserted road. At first intersection, I was worrying whether I mistook the policeman and expected a fine at the end of the barricades, but same event repeated on the next few intersections as well, and we were royally ushered towards our first destination of the day.

Barring a few kilometers where the road was under construction, most of the path till Patan is an excellent tarred road. This being a Sunday, there was a considerable traffic on road, but none that we couldn’t manage.

It was almost afternoon when I parked Elizabeth in the large parking lot outside the campus of the step-well. The campus is kept very neat and clean. Many people were simply relaxing in the shades of trees on the lawns, enjoying a Sunday afternoon with their family or friends. The well is a structure that doesn’t look much from far away, but when you stand on the steps that walk you towards the depth, you are swept off your feet by the sheer beauty of the step well.

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Every step you walk down, you are welcomed by yet another set of extremely beautiful carvings.

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You climb down greeting the various forms of Gods. This Vaav is designed like an inverted temple, that marks the sanctity of water as the God.

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It is a structure of seven levels, each with a set of ornate carvings. There are various forms of Dashavatars – the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu – depicted on either side.

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It was a heaven for photography, where no angle could go wrong.

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Some self-clicks as well!

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Nandinee was extremely happy to see the originating designs on sarees such as ‘Patli Pallu’. I couldn’t reciprocate her feelings in the entirety, because of the wallet implications!

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From the final step, you can see Lord Vishnu resting on the thousand hooded serpent ‘Sheshnaga’, as he has done so for eternity.

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A word of appraise to the people who dug this well out in such well-preserved manner. This was hidden for hundreds of years, and yet the way it stands now, it can never be guessed that all of this was underground. It must have taken immense skill and will power to slowly brush away all the dirt to reveal the inside beauty. Hats off to the people who have carried out such a task with great precision.
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Old 15th April 2016, 17:42   #39
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After the beautiful Vav, we came back to Elizabeth, only to find her surrounded by Paparazziz. Somehow, the more remote the location, the more attention such bikes fetch. I waited patiently while the photographers and models posed around and clicked their photos, but when someone tried to put a leg on the bike, I ‘ahem’ed them and made my way.

There is a museum for Patola Saris, in the same village. Being curious in the history of the Indian specialties in clothes, we visited it next. No photos are allowed inside, so my description has to suffice.

This museum belongs to ‘Salvi’ family, who came to Gujarat more than 100 years ago, and ventured into designer weaving when there was no technology to do so. The process is very detailed and time consuming, and so the sarees would cost such that only the rich could afford it. It was interesting to see how the Salvi family has contributed to the art of Patola Sarees for generations, and how the machines before the mechanical revolution would look.

They have a showroom for sales on the first floor. But the Saree’s range starts from a few lakhs, and a dupatta goes into 6 thousand plus. So we adored the clothes from a safe distance, and took leave.

While coming to this Rani Ki Vaav, I had spotted a camel tied to a kart. He was standing absolutely still, that I kept wondering whether he is a real one or a statue. While coming back after a few hours, I once again crossed him standing in the same pose! I stopped the bike in amusement. With me looking at him intently, perhaps he shied away and moved somewhat, putting to rest any doubt about him being real or a prop.

There are a number of hotels on the road; we dined into one of them for a quick lunch. The next halt was ‘Sun temple’.

Sun temple at Modhera is about 35 kms from the vaav. Even the road to ‘Zinzuwada’, our halt for the Little ran of Kutchh, was quite nearby. If one wishes, he can see these two spots before halting at Zinzuwada, without going back to Ahmedabad.

We took the entry tickets and started our long walk towards the temple. Unlike the stepwell which remains hidden till you stand right in front of it, this temple can be seen from a long distance, standing proud as it has for a thousand years.

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There are many squirrels in the campus. Not too camera shy either.

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The Sun temple is another amazing piece of history that one must visit in Gujarat. Constructed a thousand years ago, Sun temple was built by the decedents of Sun gods. It is a large campus with three main structures: Surya Kunda, Sabha Mandap & Guda Mandap. The first Suryakunda or Ramakunda is a big stepped tank. It has temples on the four sides, and one can climb down to the water level using the steps similar to Rani Ki vav.

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The beautiful geometric symmetry, the dazzling pattern repeated on the four sides is eye catching.

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There are four temples located on the four entrances to the Kunda, each with different deity.

Two huge arches with beautiful carvings form a gate towards the Sabha Mandap, the next structure in this campus.

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It is a magnificent hall, with carvings depicting stories from Holy Scriptures such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. It has 52 pillars depicting the weeks in a year.

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The intricately carved ceiling of the Sabha Mandap.

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The last one is Guda mandap – the main temple.

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In its prime days, there used to be a gold idol of Sun complete with his charioteer and seven horses. It was kept in a 15 feet deep pit, which was filled with gold coins. The rays of rising and setting sun would fall on the idol. But this temple was plundered by Mahmud Gazni, who took away the gold idol.

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Wandering around the campus was a calming experience, where each and every spot the eye landed upon was brimming with beautiful carving.

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A child decided that he wanted to join me on my motorcycling trips, and left his parents for me! I walked him back to his parents, consoling him that his biker-years are yet far away.

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A selfie!

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After going click-crazy in the Sun temple, it was time to head back to our nest for the night. Gujarat has beautiful roads all over, and it is a heaven for bikers looking for fast and journeys. We crossed the long 100 kilometers from Modhera to Ahmedabad with no trouble.

There are a number of new temples all over Gujarat, where perhaps the next modhera or next rani ki vaav are taking shape. We halted at one such temple that we saw from the road.

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Today we drank from the cup of history. The amazingly restored sites of Rani Ki Vaav and Sun Temple intoxicated us with their grandeur. This was our last night in Gujarat. It was long into the night when we finally stopped chatting about the past seven days, and drifted to sleep.
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Old 15th April 2016, 17:49   #40
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Chapter 10 Returning home
Day 9


After a week of riding in various parts of Gujarat, the return journey was just a formality that needed to be done. I started a little late from Ahmedabad, after getting Ellie washed. It was a pleasant January day, and the roads beckoned us for riding fast and safe.

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For lunch, I halted at Vadodara for meeting a friend, and finally we had the best Gujarathi thali. I can wholeheartedly recommend going to hotel Amantran in Vadodara for tasting the authentic Gujarathi thali where your taste buds will go wild. The thalis at Ahmedabad or any other places just faded in front of this, and it was a perfect sendoff meal on this trip.

The rest of the trip was uneventful.

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It was dark when I crossed the toll naka that enter us in Mumbai region. There was still a sizeable distance to go, and Elizabeth didn’t have good headlights to help me along. Luckily we had a lot of company on the road, and I made my way with the lights of other vehicles. After a fast ride till Mumbai, soon we were on the familiar roads to home.

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I didn’t try any heroic today to go directly to Pune. I halted at Thane, and on the next day we headed to Pune.
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Old 15th April 2016, 17:51   #41
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Chapter 11 Thoughts about the trip.

Gujarat is a state with a big heart and amazing roads. It may as well be the first state a beginner long distance rider can visit, being so near from Mumbai and Pune. Hardly any steep roads or rough patches (unless you decide to ride in the Rann), the tour is forgiving for any mistakes of a newbie motorcycle tourer.

Even after my 3000 kilometers of riding, I have not seen all of Gujarat. The white lands of Great Rann of Kutchh beckon from a distance; the flute of Krishna teases from Dwaraka; the sea calls me from the beaches of Mandovi.

The food is great. A little on the heavy side with all the vegetables being subjected to various treatments with ghee and sugar, but very tasty nonetheless.

The crafts of Gujarat are amazing, and living in their full glory in the interior villages. The closer you go to Bhuj, the more you see of the traditional clothes and houses. It is not just for show as well, the people are actually living in the traditional culture outside the cities.

But moreover, the thing that calls me back to visit Gujarat is the people. Be it the old men sitting in tree shades at Dasada, or children waving from roads in the villages, or the ladies shyly stealing glances at the biker couple at Bhuj. The individuals of Gujarat are as distinct as the intricate carvings at the Rani ki Vaav, and yet together they resonate to form the grand picture of a tourist welcoming state.

This first visit has planted the seeds of lot many future trips, while leaving a sweet memory in our minds that will last forever.


__________________________________________________ ________________________

That's all, folks! Thank you for joining me on the writing adventure for this travelogue I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions.
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Old 20th April 2016, 14:56   #42
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Wow!!!!! Lovely pictures, a great travelogue and wonderful to see both you and your better half enjoying the ride together. Keep going
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