Day1 (24.11,2019 – Sunday)
Thanks to Google map timeline, I’m able to give the full timeline details of the entire trip.
We started off by 6:40 AM from Hotel Royal Plaza, Piladi to Bhuj via Modhera Sun Temple and Rani Ki Vav. Today is one of the 3 days of long travels of our trip. After crossing over the Ahamedabad city, we stopped over for a tea break at the outskirt. People over there eat only sweets and oily snacks for the breakfast and we just had tea which was awesome throughout Gujarat. It was just 10 Rs for a small cup and we had 2 cups most of the times.
We then stopped at Honest Hotel, a chain of hotels, at Ganeshpura for the breakfast (8:10 to 8:45 AM). The food was damn good and we could get dosa and poories. This was one of the very few places where we got good south indian food in the tour. Though it’s a popular chain of Hotels, pathetically the washrooms were very nasty. This was the case throughout our trip and it was a shock and major negative aspect of our trip. In spite of Modiji’s ‘Swatch Bharat’ mission, no merchant, not even Petrol bunks, are ready to keep their toilets clean. Neither there were Govt maintained toilets.
Modhera Sun Temple: (10:10 to 10:50 AM):
Our first stop was Modhera Sun Temple, the 11th century architectural marvel, ranks next only to the Konark Sun temple of Odisha. The magnificent kund (temple pond) in front of temple, known as the Ramakund, contains 108 small shrines of various Gods and demi-Gods. If the temple pond itself contains so much shrines, you can imagine the magnificence of the whole temple. Every inch of the temple is carved with magnificent sculptures.
The temple, being maintained by ASI, has 3 parts – the Kund, the Sabha mantap and the Garba graha.
The temple was so constructed that during every equinox, the first sunrays would fall on a diamond placed on the Sun God’s head and the entire temple would illuminate in a golden glow. On other days, two pillars before the Garba graha would stay illuminated throughout the day, regardless of the position of the sun. All of these can only be left to imagination now. However, the sabha mandap still stands on 52 pillars, depicting the 52 weeks in a year.
Sadly, this is another temple vandalized by the invaders, plundered by Mahmud Ghazni, but in spite of it, the temple stands tall majestically but sadly with no main deity ‘Sun God’ and without pooja & worship. The vandalized sculptures are kept separately as an exhibition.
Rani ki vav: (11:40 AM to 12:50 PM):
Our next stop was Rani Ki Vavv (meaning Queen’s stepwell) at Patan. This should be familiar to all since it finds its place in the new 100 Rs note. It is not just a step-well, it’s an inverted temple highlighting the spiritual significance and sanctity of water.
Built by the 11th century Queen Udayamati of Chaulukya dynasty in memory of her spouse Bhima I, it was commissioned in 1063 after 20 years of effort. The stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over. The restoration was carried out from 1981 to 1987. It is declared the Monument of National Importance and protected by the ASI.
It was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites on 22 June 2014 (was it a mere coincidence that it was immediately after Modi swearing in as PM in May 2014?).
The stepwell is divided into seven levels of stairs which lead down to deep circular well. The entry to the last two levels are stopped due to the structural damages occurred during the deadly earthquake of 2001.
There are more than 500 principle sculptures and over a 1000 minor ones of Hindu religious way of life. The ornamentation of stepwell depicts Gods and Goddesses; celestial beings; common people, monks & priests, animals, fishes & birds including real and mythical ones; as well as plants and trees.
At each level, the Sheshashayi Vishnu (Vishnu reclined on thousand hooded snake Shesha in the celestial ocean) in various depictions form the garba graha God.
Next only to Gods and Goddesses, the sculptures of Apsaras are high in numbers, with one of them wearing a Hi heels chappal, applying lipstick and a man massaging her legs (all in 11th century!).
The nearby Sahasra linga Talav (lake) and the conduit that brings water to the Rani Ki Vavv also has architectural and heritage importance.
Travel to Bhuj (1 to 8 PM):
We then started our long journey to Bhuj from Patan by 1 PM.
One of the 5 sacred Sarovars of India, Bindu sarovar & the MatruGaya in Siddhpur was only 30 kms and 45 min travel from Patan but in the opposite direction of Bhuj but we didn’t know about it during our trip. Felt very sad in missing that out.
The road from Rani Ki Vav (Patan) to Radhanpur (56 kms) was a single road state highway that was not good but the next stretch Radhanpur – Samakhiali (140 kms) was the East – West National highway (NH 27) and the last one Samakhiali – Bhuj (95 kms) was again a single road state highway.
The NH27 is the route that carries the trucks from all the neighbouring states to Kandla harbour and Morbi industrial estate of tiles manufacturing companies. We could see plenty of trucks carrying powder ingredients for tiles manufacturing. The tourist and other passenger traffic was very low since it is the driest (empty) region of Gujarat. The only tourist attractions here are the ‘Rann of Kutch’ festival (started by Modiji as CM) and the sacred Narayan Sarovar. So, all the hotels in this road are of quality that can cater to the lorry drivers only and so you can imagine the food quality and toilet conditions here.
It was already past 3 PM and we were searching for some good hotels for the past more than an hour but could not find any. Finally we got one, Hotel Asopalav at Varahi, with an average google rating but that was very bad expectedly.
Samakhiali junction is a major intersection of highways. Took a tea break there at Hotel Nagraj Chamunda (5 to 5:15 PM). Well, the tea at that tiring time was like a celestial nectar! Everyone had 2 cups full.
The Samakhiali – Bhuj state highway was very poor and our car tyre got punctured in the late evening in a deserted road. It was a bit scary but there was a good amount of traffic and luckily our driver changed it in no time. By the time, we reached Bhuj it was 8 PM already.
We booked a room at Click Hotel Bhuj, next to the Railway Station compound which is a star hotel and worth the money. The complimentary buffet breakfast was especially damn good at a reasonable cost (for extra person). Since one more person joined us late for the trip, we had to book another hotel room nearby at the last minute and so we booked one at Hotel Annpurna which was horrible. If there is any negative rating it’s worth for it. I wonder how it finds a place in makemytrip, goibibo etc.,
We then went to Hotel Sankalp, a chain of hotels for South Indian food, but the waiting crowd was too much, being a Sunday. The driver then took us to Umiya G Hotel and we took unlimited Kathiyawadi Thali for 100 Rs which was good really. After a tiring day of travel of 460 kms for more than 10 hrs, we rested for the day.
…..See you in Day 2