I, with my family , went to a trip to Gujarat from Thursday 26 January 2006 to Monday 30 January 2006. It was a 5 day trip full of fun, adventures and ecstasy.
Trip was arranged by a Pedhi of Saitwal Jain samaj in Indore. We are not the member but Jiyajee is the member of the Pedhi and he has arranged for our travel. We were 45 people in total.
We have left for Ahmedabad by 9310 Indore GandhiNagar Shanti express on 25th Jan '06 Wednesday. The train left at 9 PM sharp. After having our dinner in the train we went to the sleep.
Day 1- Thursday 26 January 2006(Travel to Dwarka)
We reached Ahmedabad railway station at around 9 in the morning. A dharmashala was arranged for temporary halt. We went there had our bath and after refreshing ourselves we left for our first destination - Dwarka at around 11.30 AM. In the bus we had delicious Dhokalas and other breakfast item. Bus halted for short durations in between for tea etc. We stopped at one place for Dinner also. We reached Dwarka at 10 PM. Our stay was arranged in Gayatri Shaktipeeth. It is a very good dharamashala near to the sea shore. We then went to sleep in the night after the tiresome journey
Day 2- Friday 27 January 2006(Dwarka, Rukmini Mandir, Bet Dwarka, Nageshwar and Siddheshwar)
The main temple- Dwarkadhish temple in Dwarka closes at 8 in the morning(later we found that it was wrong). So we had a clear instruction that wake up early in the morning and get ready by 7. We have to go to the Krishna temple. We did the same. We had Darshanam returned to dharmashala at around 9 AM. It is a beautiful temple. Then we went to the sea shore for a very short duration.
About Dwarkadhish temple -
In this greatly beautiful city of Dwarka, Lord Krishna had many residential quarters. The architectural plans were made personally by Visvakarma, the engineer of the demigods, and in the construction of the palaces he exhibited all of his talents and ingenuity. These residential quarters numbered more than 16,000, and a different queen of Lord Krishna resided in each of them. The pillars were made of coral and the ceilings were bedecked with jewels. The walls as well as the arches between the pillars glowed from the decorations of different kinds of sapphires. Throughout the palace there were many canopies made by Visvakarma that were decorated with strings of pearls. The chairs and other furniture were made of ivory, bedecked with gold and diamonds, and jeweled lamps dissipated the darkness within the palace.”
The five-storey 16th century Dwarkadhish temple is located right in the middle of town. Dwarkadish is another name for Lord Krishna, meaning the “Lord of Dwarka.” The temple spire is 70.5m (235 feet) high. From the temple dome waves a 24m (84 ft) long multicolored flag decorated with the symbols of the sun and moon. Lord Krishna’s grandson, Vajranabha, is said to have built the original Dwarkadhish temple over the hari-griha (Lord Krishna’s residential palace). The carvings on the temple are impressive. The temple sanctum is formed by the Jagat Mandir, or Nija Mandir, which dates back at least 2,500 years. The Jagat Mandir has a tall tower and an audience hall.
The temple has two entrances. The main entrance (north entrance) is called “Moksha Dwara” (Door to Salvation). This entrance leads to the main market. The south entrance is called “Swarga Dwara” (Gate to Heaven).
The main Deity is Lord Dwarkadhish, who is on the center altar. The Deity represents the four-armed form of Vishnu known as Trivikrama. It is said that “Sri Krishna placed all his arts, achievements and properties into Lord Trivikrama,"
There is a temple to the right of the main Deity that contains the Deity of Lord Baladevaji (Balarama), Krishna’s older brother.
The temple to the left of the main Deity contains a large deity of Pradyumna and a smaller deity of Aniruddha, the son and grandson of Lord Krishna respectively. Opposite this shrine is the shrine of Purusottama (Vishnu). Next to that shrine is the shrine dedicated to Kuseswara Mahadeva (Siva).
The shrine across from Lord Dwarkadhish holds the deity of Devaki, Lord Krishna’s mother. Next to her is a temple dedicated to Veni-madhava (Lord Vishnu). In back of the main temple, in the eastern part of the temple compound, are shrines of Radha, Jambavati, Satyabhama, and Lakshmi. There are also shrines of Saraswati and Lakshmi-Narayan.
This temple is an interesting place where visitors can observe the extreme devotion of the pilgrims. Open 6 am to 12:30 pm and 5 to 9 pm. Non-Hindus are normally permitted to enter the temple, but may be requested to fill out a form stating that they believe in the Hindu religion to be allowed in.
We stopped at Rukmini temple next. It was a very beautiful temple.
About rukmini temple -
This small temple, 1.5km north of town, is an architectural masterpiece. Rukmini is the most important of Krishna’s 16,108 wives. The temple walls are decorated with beautiful paintings depicting her pastimes with Krishna. This temple is said to date back to the 12th century.
The story behind this temple is that one day, Durvasa Muni, who is easily angered, was invited by Lord Krishna and his wife, Rukmini, to dinner. When a person is invited to dinner, etiquette dictates that the host should not eat until the guest has been satisfied. On the way to dinner, Rukmini became thirsty and asked Krishna for help. Krishna then put his foot in the ground and the Ganges waters flowed forth from the earth while Durvasa was not looking. As Rukmini was drinking the water, however, Durvasa turned and saw her drinking without his permission. He became angry and cursed her to live apart from Lord Krishna. That is why Krishna’s temple is in the town and hers is located outside the town.
After that we have left for the bet Dwarka. For Bet Dwarka you have to go to a place called Okha. From Okha you have to get a boat to reach Bet Dwarka. Bet Dwarka is a kind of island. We have hired two boats. All 45 of us could have traveled in the same boat. But because of some old sayings Mama and Bhanja could not travel in the same boat we have to hire two boats.
A very strange thing I learnt about the place is that despite being a Hindu pilgrimage Bet Dwarka's Muslim population is 4000 out of total population of 5000. Here are some finer details about the place.
Bet Dwarka (Dwarka Island)
Bet Dwarka is located 30km north of Dwarka on an island in the middle of the Arabian Sea, next to the coastal town of Okha. It takes twenty minutes by boat to reach the island. Bet Dwarka is said to be the remains of the 250 sq km (96 square miles) of land borrowed from the ocean to build the original city of Dwarka.
The Dwarkadhish Temple here is open in the morning and again at 5 pm. When the temple opens at 5 pm, there is a mad rush to see the deities. There is also a Balarama temple (Dauji) here. Bet Dwarka is where Sudama Brahman is said to have met Lord Krishna.
The entire trip to the island from the town of Dwarka will take at least four hours. Boats usually depart only when full, and they can seat a hundred passengers. State buses go to Okha from Dwarka (1 hr, 6 am to 8 pm) every thirty minutes. Private buses leave from the vegetable market depart at 8 am and 2 pm. You can also go by jeep or tour bus.
After leaving Okha we reached a place called Nageshwar Mahadev temple. This place is 10 km away from Dwarka. Nageshwar is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Other Jyotirlingas are in Ujjain, Nasik, Somanath where we next day visited and other places. Apart from the main Jyotirlinga there is a very huge (around 80-85 feet) Mahadev statue outside the temple. It was very good.
After traveling for another 4 hours we have reached Siddheshwar mandir. This mandir was on a hill. There were some 200 steps. I don't remember much about the mandir. But it was a very famous mandir.
On our way we started playing Antakshari. Initially only 4-5 of us were playing. But later on, our participation mesmerized and attracted other people. Many people joined later. Then after some time we started "word wali Antakshari" . When we got bored with even that we started Dumb Charade. No one was aware of much about Dumb Charade. I showed that two - three mock mimes. People got interest. Then I taught my team popular mime signals to be used in the game. That game attracted all of the crowd in the bus. It was great. Later on, we had jokes, shayaris and mimicry items also.
In the night at around 10 PM we have reached Veraval. Veraval is the name of the place where Somanath Mandir is there. Because we were late other people have decided not to have anything for the dinner and went directly to sleep. But we were very hungry. I and Jiyajee decided to go out alone at a restaurant nearly 1 km away and pack something to eat. It took us another 1 hour to arrange that. The dharmashala where we stayed was also not that good. Anyhow we went to sleep to recharge our self for another tiresome but fun-filled day.
Day 3- Saturday 28 January 2006(Somanath and Diu)
Somanath temple is really very very good. We arrived there at around 8 AM. It is near to the sea shore. After darshanam we went besides sea shore and sat there for some time. After that we took our breakfast (Aloo paratha) and then left for Diu. After traveling for 3-4 hours we have reached Diu. Diu is a Union Territory adjoining Gujarat. Often called as Daman and Diu UT.
We first visited to the Diu fort. Diu was under Portugal rule until 1961. In 1961, Jawahar Lal Nehru tabled a proposal in UN saying that Diu is near to Indian mainland. Its culture, people, food habits are very close to India and it should be handed over to India. There were minor skirmishes but Portugal govt agreed to it and thus Daman Diu and Goa was formed. Goa became state later on (I think in 1985) but Daman and Diu is still UT. Interestingly, those who have born before 1961 in Diu have Portugal citizenship. They can go to Portugal and practice their business and whatever. Otherwise the main source of income there is tourism and somewhat fisheries. In the fort we had seen Aircraft launchers and many interesting things. There was a small island sort of land near to Diu fort. Portugal feared attack on that island so they built a light house on that. Also, the fort is surrounded with water from all three sides and crocodiles were there in that water for security. Only one side was open for entrance. There were 4 trees of a fruit called Mozambique. Portuguese brought these trees. And these fruits are available only in Diu in India.. Likewise there were many interesting facts. You can get details from any of the websites.
Liquor and sea food is very commonplace in Diu. But we wanted a pure vegetarian restaurant. Somehow we searched Avkar restaurant which was a veg restaurant but we had to dine in turns. First of all it has prepared food for ladies and children and served them. We all gentleman waited by that time. Then our food was prepared and served. This process delayed us a lot and it killed all our time we kept for fun at the beach. But it was decided that we will go to the beach anyway, be it for half an hour.
Therefore we stopped at a beach there. It was a beautiful beach. We stayed there for half an hour but actually those were most fun-filled and spectacular moments of the entire 5 day duration. Vibhor, my 4 year old nephew saw the beach for the first time. He enjoys fun in the water too much. Be it water in the sea, swimming pool, water resort or water in the bucket. Vibhor loves water plays. It was very enjoying to be with him on the beach. But we have to leave the place soon. We were already late. Next day we had Girnarji climb. For that we have to start at 3 AM. We planned to reach at 8 PM and we were already late. And worse enough our driver lost his way in between. We stopped at one Dhaba and had a stomach full dinner. This time no one has shown the misery and silently agreed for the dinner. Dinner was good and delicious. Service was fast. Finally we reach Girnarji(Junagarh) by 12 in the midnight. Just to wake up 3 AM in the morning
Day 4- Sunday 29 January 2006(Girnarji and Virpur)
Girnarji is mountain with first mandir(tonk) at around 4000 steps. There are some 3-4 mountains. Out of that 1 is the main one. Until 1982 there were many Digambar Jain mandirs at the place. No controversy nothing. Later on Swetambars started taking Digambar mandirs forcibly. Beating, harassing and even denying the entry to the other people. Later on Vaishnavas started taking possession of Jain mandirs claiming that the giri is gifted to them by their Raja. They have converted the Padukas of Bhagwan Neminath to Dattatreya bhagwan and many other things. Now even taking the name any Jain tirthankar in the premises are strictly prohibited. Digambers are not allowed in the famous samavasaran made by Swetambers. Now the current situation is there are many Vaishnav temples, couple of Swetamber temples and only one Digamber temple is remaining at that place.
We have stayed at Jain Adhunik Dharamashala of Samavasaran Mandir. We got up at 3 AM. We planned to leave at 4 AM but due to water problems and all those stuff we could have left the place only at 6 AM. It was a huge climb of 4000 steps. We didn't plan to go further because of time shortage. We managed only Digamber Jain mandir. and Rajul Mata mandir. For mom we hired a Doli wala and for Vibhor we hired Godi wala. Rohita tired very badly in the 4-5 hour climb. I too got tired too much in that ascent.
Mythological story goes like this. Bhagwan Neminath was a rajput. He was about to marry. When he was going in a procession he saw animals were being slaughtered for that. He thought, if the animals are killed for my marriage I will not marry. Rajul mataji, to whom he was about to marry went to appease him but in vain. It is believed that Lord Krishna also climbed the mountain for the Bhagwan Neminath's Paduka darshanam.
After staying there for around 1 - 1.5 hours we started for the descent. We unnecessarily carried sticks. They are required in the descent like Vaishno devi where road are there. When there are stairs sticks are not required. We got down in another 1.5 hours. After that we had lunch at Dharamashala. and had darshan of Nirmal Sagar maharaj.
We were tired very very badly. We wanted to sleep of at least 4-5 hours. But alas, it was not possible as per the itinerary. We left for Taranga ji at around 5 PM. After 1 hour we stopped at a place for tea. I realized that due to dehydration or some infection I got some problems in my liver system. At around 7.30 we reached Virpur. There I have purchased mineral water as a preventive and corrective measure. Virpur is the birth place of Jalaram Bapaji. Jalaram Bapaji is the same to Gujaratis as Shirdi wale Sai Baba is to Maharashtra. He is a very respected Saint in Gujarat. No one can donate money in the temple of Jalaram Bapaji. They manage money by themselves. I don't know how. We stood in the queue for Prasadam but since we were tired and could not stand in the queue for long. We lost patience and came out. We had darshan and were about to go. Mandir people saw us. They say that though we don't give prasadam to anyone outside the queue but since you are coming from far away take it. People wait for hours for this prasad. They have given us prasad coming out. One of our friend tried to put some money in the golak but they denied saying that they don't take money in charities.
Thereafter, after traveling for sometime we stopped at one place for dinner. After having the dinner we left for Tarangaji. Here the most miserable part of our trip begins. Driver told us that we will reach by 1 AM in night. We believed his words. But we reached there at 5.30 in the morning. We were so tired that we slept like anything in the bus. We were very deep asleep. We wanted to reach hotel and have sleep but it was our misfortune that we could not.
Day 5- Monday 30 January 2006(Tarangaji, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad)
It looks like that we have visited 3 places there. But actually we did not. Taranga ji is one of the Siddhakshetra of Janis. Its mention comes in Jain Poojas also. It is a very historical. And in the influence of Shri Vidaysagar Maharaj it gained more fame. I don't know much about the place. Temples are beautiful here. Taranga ji is nearby Mehsana in Gujarat.
We visited trikal choubisi and few more temples near the dharmashala where we stayed. After that we visited one more temple where we reached by bus. That mandir was also good.
There were lots of monkeys outside. We played with the monkeys for sometime and finally left the place.
At first our driver informed that Akshardham temple in Gujarat used to be closed on Monday. Therefore we have planned Ghantakarna Mahavir on our way to Gandhinagar. Later, on Sunday night he told that mandir will be open. So we decided to visit Akshardham temple. Therefore we skipped a very important spot of Lord Mahavir to visit Akshardham temple. On reaching there we found that the temple used to be completely closed on Monday. Anyway, we decided that we will go to Vaishno devi temple in Gandhinagar. But because our lunch got delayed directly went to Gandhinagar railway station. Now one more twist. Our train was at 6.15 from Gandhinagar. We could also catch the same train 7.45 from Ahmedabad. It was 3.30 at that time. Gandhinagar railway station was very small and lonely. We thought that what will we do for so much time. So we went to Ahmedabad. In Ahmedabad we could not spare too much time. Most of our time went in shifting heavy luggage from here to there. Our legs were aching like anything. No one can pick even a suitcase of 10 meters. Our time went in arranging for coolies and luggage etc. Anyway, we spared some time and walked to Sindhi market near to the railway station. There we purchased T-shirts for Ballu, Tillu and Balli. And few more things. We ate a bhel which was very sweet.
After that we reached station to catch 9309 Gandhinagar Indore Shanti express.
In the train we purchase some Aloo Vadas, bread and Gota(pakodas of Gujarat). We had our dinner and went to sleep. At the sleep we were thinking of the last 5 vacation days. At the same time workload of the next day was worrying me. On the top of the day we were tired like hell in the trip.
Morning we reached at 7 AM. I resumed office on that day. I stepped in the office at 10 AM.
It was really really wonderful and spectacular trip. I hope this travelogue will help me to keep my memories of the trip for long time.
- It is better to know the itineray and finer details of the tour instead of last moment surprises
- Tours are good. But to enjoy the tours fully one should have at least 5 hours of sleep per day. I believe if you don't have sound sleep at night you can't do anything well in the day. Even enjoyment
- From packing side we faired very poorly. We had no clue where things are kept, whether things are kept or not
- Very basics like whether temple will be open or not should be clarified from trustworthy source
- Don't assume about the weather conditions on the mountain height. We thought that it would be equally chilling about and carried warm clothes. But half the way up we realised that it was more than a liability there