Two things that I genuinely admire about my hyperactive better half are his driving and handyman skills. He can drive happily for hours without getting tired and can fix almost anything from bathroom taps, washing machine, door knobs, broken chair and hairdryer. Now, this poor fellow was planning a road trip since long however due to mundane things like office, school, meetings, grocery shopping, bathroom renovation etc that was not happening. Then, Mummyji suddenly declared her desire to go on Tirth Yatra. (I have a strong feeling that it was initiated from the guilt of visiting Goa and she wanted to redeem her sin of watching bikini clad drunken women by going on pilgrimage). Her son immediately grabbed the opportunity to gain some brownie point from Mummy and most importantly to fulfil his own wish. As we say in Hindi ek teer do nishana 🙂
I was, on the other hand trying every excuse possible under the Sun to avoid this trip. I hate religious places. No! I have no enmity with any God or Goddess, but I hate their abodes on Earth. Most religious places are too chaotic. I am a spiritual woman but I do not like places where brokers of religion come to mediate between me and almighty. Moreover, most religious places are dirty. Their entrances are choked with beggars, lepers, sadhus, wilted flowers, squashed leaves, gangajal, and obnoxious devotees who think that the way to reach God is by pushing and shoving others. They feel that if they can have a better view of the idol, or can touch the feet of the idol longer or if they can circle their palms over the aarti flames more than others then they would connect to God. There is a competitive tendency in devotes to grab the attention of the inert idol. Most people never look for God within themselves and this bothers me.
God understood my dilemma and tried best to comply with my wish. I got vertigo just two days before our departure. Doctor advised bed rest. I almost waltzed in my mind, however nagging by family members proved stronger than the combined wishes of me and my God, and on the day of travel I was sitting reluctantly with a grumpy face and cranky tummy in the front seat of the car.
We started at 5 am in the morning to avoid the notorious Mumbai traffic. We had pre-planned our breaks. Thankfully we could abide by the plan and took only 3 breaks in the 14 hour long journey (including washroom breaks). The roads in Gujarat are quite good and we could drive at an average of 80km/hr. There were stretches where we could drive at 140km/hr. Our first destination was Somnath.
I had always been intrigued by the history of Somnath. This is one temple that was destroyed and demolished by invaders in almost every century. Each time it got destroyed it also got reconstructed. The last reconstruction happened under the leadership of Ballabhai Patel in 1951. The old Somnath temple constructed by Maratha Queen Ahalyabai Holkar is also there right next to the new temple.
Somnath is one of the 12 jyotirlingas found in India. The most interesting object inside Somnath temple premise is the Bāṇastambha. The Bāṇastambha mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the north to the South Pole at that particular longitude. There is no land in a straight line between Somnath seashore until Antarctica.
If you ever visit Somnath do watch the Light and Sound show in the evening. It is one of the best. The adjacent places near the temple include the Triveni Sangam of three rivers Hiran, Kapila and the imaginary Saraswati, Surya Mandir, The Pandava Cave and the Krishna Sthal.
Somnath to Dwarka
The road from Somnath to Dwarka is beautiful with the Arabian Sea on one hand and windmills on the other. The clear sky and the cool breeze made the 300km journey quite pleasant.
Dwarka- Bwet Dwarka
One of the most intricately designed temples, Dwarka temple is an delightful architecture. The idols are all carved out of black stone and they look different than the usual Krishna idols. Unlike Somnath, Dwarka temple premise is not spread out rather congested. The way to the temple entrance is clogged with shops and houses. The temple is open throughout the day; however morning is the best time to visit. Also visit the Sudama Bridge.
Bwet Dwarka is hardly 35kms from the city centre of Dwarka. We had to board a ferry from Okha Port. The ferry ride was beautiful with sea gulls and migratory birds chasing our boat. In Gujarat we spotted quite a few migratory birds and that added to the fun. However we were unable to visit the temple as it was shut.
Gopi Talav is the place where 16000 gopis of Lord Krishna drowned and killed themselves. The soil of this place is smooth and the texture is similar to sandalwood powder. There is a Rukmani temple here. We accidentally chanced upon this place. The talav was although quite disappointing.
Nageshwar temple is 12 kms from Dwarka and one the jyotirlingas. The huge Shiva statue is an added attraction of this temple. In this temple the naga or snake form of Shiva and Parvati is worshipped. For me there was an added surprise. I met one of my ex-collegues almost after 10 years while standing in the queue in Nageshwar temple.
We stayed in Dwarka for one night and started our journey back at 9am the next day. The 950km journey was covered in 15 hours with quite a few breaks. On our way back we drove leisurely, enjoying breaks at the towns and cities we crossed. On our road trip we covered many towns/ cities like Vapi, Valsad, Surat, Baroda, Rajkot, Porbander, Jamnagar and Bharuch. It was a hectic but beautiful trip.