Our Gujarat Tour (23rd Nov to 1st Dec 2019)
Since we had the luxury of a week off due to my son’s office holidays, we wanted to take a tour to a state which we had not visited before. We thought of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat but we zeroed in on Gujarat since we wanted to have a glimpse of Modiji’s state.
Initially we were a little hesitant whether the state will have so many places for a week (but how ignorant we were!). It finally turned out to be a very hectic tour which could have been nicer if it was stretched by 3 more days more! We missed many places and hurried in many places.
The timing, End of Nov, was so perfect because it was neither the Pooja holidays nor the Christmas/New year holidays, rather in between in a perfect weather condition. The morning was very chill till 9 AM and I required an overcoat and after that it was equally hot, like Chennai.
Itinerary in brief:
Day 0 – Late evening flight, Chennai to Ahamedabad. Stay at Ahamedabad
Day 1 – Modhera Sun Temple, Patan Rani Ki Vav, Bhuj. Stay at Bhuj
Day 2 – Rann of Kutch white desert, Kala Dunger, India Bridge, Stay at Bhuj
Day 3 – Travel, Bhuj – Jamnagar Bala Hanuman Temple – Dwarka. Stay at Dwarka
Day 4 – Dwarka, Beyt Dwarka, Jyothirlingam, Travel to Somnath and dharshan, Stay at Gir
Day 5 – Sasan Gir Lion Safari and Devalia Bus safari – Travel to Diu, Stay at Diu
Day 6 – Travel to Nadiad
Day 7 – Ahamaedabad. Akshardham Temple, Adalaj Step well, Sabarmathi Ashram and Shopping
Day 8 – Statue of Unity, late night flight to Chennai
It’s a hard planned itinerary (a slightly bad one as well) but I can recommend the following changes:
- Only if you are very specific and only during the Rann of Kutch festival (Sep – Feb), plan for Bhuj, else cutting it out will save so much of travel time.
- If you have anything specific in Diu, you can plan for it, else it is another clean city with clean beach like Pondicherry. Nothing for 50+!
- Plan for atleast one full day at Dwarka and atleast half a day (5+ hours) for Somnath.
- Since we had Club Mahindra at Nadiad, we stayed there, else you can plan for stay at Ahamedabad itself.
- We tried to cover West, North and South of Gujarat in 8 days which in a way was a bad planning. Due to this, we have missed out places like Narayan Sarovar, Junagadh, Bhavanagar etc., You can specifically plan for each region – for example West Gujarat of Dwarka, Somnath, Gir, Junagadh and Bhavnagar.
The detailed map of the Tour:
Points to note:
> The security at the hotels and other places are very strict, may be because it is Pakistan’s neighboring state. Every individual traveler, even minors, should carry his/her ID card everywhere.
> Geographically Gujarat has a disadvantage for the road travelers due to the deep intrusion of the sea into the land through the Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Khambhat. Due to this, there are 3 land divides like: 1) Kutch, Bhuj 2) Dwarka-Somnath and 3) Surat. So you have to take a detour to go from one place to the other between these three. Modiji introduced the RORO (Roll on Roll off) ferry services, which can take the cabs through, between Ghogha (Bhavnagar side) and Dahej (Surat side) in Oct 2017 but it was stopped in a year due to some operational problems.
> We planned for trains but didn’t suit well to our plan and so we took a cab from the touch down to take off and it was a total of 2700+ kms of travel in 8 days. Since we planned for all the 3 land regions there were three long travels of 1) Ahamedabad – Patan (Rani Ki Vav) – Bhuj, 2) Bhuj – Jamnagar – Dwarka and 3) Diu – Nadiad. Since we like travelling to new places and the driver was very safe, it didn’t bother us too much.
> Breakfast IS A problem (From a Chennaiite point of view).
All the hotels open only by 11 AM and only a very few open before that. People normally eat sweets and (oily) snacks only for the breakfast. So, whether you like it or not, buy enough of Gujarti special ‘Thepla’, available everywhere in plenty of flavours.
> Lunch is NOT an issue.
The popular Gujarat Kathiyawadi Thali for lunch and dinner is the best. It consists of various varieties of Chappathi & Roti (unlimited depending upon the hotel, 3-4 delicious side dishes, raw onion slices, along with buttermilk and green chilies. Before our visit, I used to wonder how come just the price increase of onion can decide an election result but got the answer after our visit. It accompanies every meal of them!
> Being a Modiji’s state, it is normal to expect clean toilets everywhere due to ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission but what a rude shock!! The toilets at the hotels are very filthy, the merchants are not ready to spend even a penny to keep their toilets clean and support the “Swatch Bharath” mission. Excepting star hotels, you CAN NOT EXPECT CLEAN TOILET ANYWHERE. It’s even more surprising that there are no Govt built toilets as well.
> 1600+ kms of highways are being built in various sections. For example, Dwarka – Somnath – Diu – Bhavnagar. Right now Dwarka – Somnath is around 60% complete. You can expect better road travels as time pass by.
> Unlike Tamilnadu and other states, Gujarat Tourism don’t sleep on ancient heritage attractions alone. Many Govt initiated tourist attractions have come up/ are coming up like Statue of Unity, Narmadha river front, Rann of Kutch festival, World’s biggest Cricket stadium etc., supported by 1600+ kms of ongoing highway work and its’ tourism is going to flourish year by year, for sure.
> I can very well recommend the driver Ashokbhai @ 76989 97376 (booked through Ahamedabad Taxi @ 87581 56592) who was very safe but does not know even the basic English of ‘come’ and ‘go’. So you should have atleast one person knowing Hindi. Also you should bear with the smell of his 24×7 Pan chewing (it’s everywhere). If Tamilnadu is a drunken state, Gujarat has the evil of ‘Pan chewing’.
Day 0 (23/11/2019 – Saturday)
Took the late evening Spicejet flight 7:35 – 9:45 PM flight to Ahamedabad. Our first experience was surprising since the Ola cab driver asked for 100 Rs more than what the app showed and so we took a private cab which was cheaper. It was surprising because in Chennai, the Ola cabs don’t demand even a single paise more. Further, generally the cab rates were higher than Chennai.
We were welcomed with the broad and clean city roads of Ahamedabad, no flex banner, no poster on any walls which was a big surprise for us, having come from Tamilnadu. The much talked about Narmadha river front was illuminated and wow, what a beautiful sight it was (as Modi lovers, we were expecting more good things during the tour, we believe! No surprise on seeing a very big campus of ‘Anti-Corruption Office’. There is nothing more one could have asked for as a welcome factor!
Stayed at Hotel Royal Plaza, Pritam Nagar, Paldi, near Narmadha river front based on makemytrip rating. One of the 2 rooms we were allotted was full of cigarette smoke and so changed it. The rooms were very big for 2 but the bed linens were not washed and so had a disgusted sleep. The room boy was very courteous and bought us a good dinner and served. You may try a better hotel for your trip.
Youtube video on Preamble:
See you in Day 1…