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Wednesday, 8 February 2012



Days 08-09-10-11: DWARKA
The best restaurant we found
Temples dot the highway in Gujarat
Day 8, and we started off post-lunch for Dwarka, the ultimate destination of our journey and the farthest western end of India. The roads in Gujarat are excellent and traffic quite disciplined. However, what we missed most en route was the presence of good restaurants which were conspicuous by their absence. Actually, there are more Swami Narayan Temples in Gujarat than tea-joints or eateries. Honestly speaking, for the next three days, we gave a complete go bye to our usual hygiene standards and tried to enjoy the phaphras, khakras, bhajiyas, gotus, namkeens and Gujju masala tea.

The Gathiyas, Gotu & Bhajiyas

The tea cup vis-a-vis my thumb
The tea shots would invariably finish off in a sip as the size of the cup was astonishingly small. To give you an idea, I have posted here a picture of the thumb size tea cup which put Mumbai’s cutting tea to shame. I wonder how these people would have reacted if they had seen me having tea in my usual large mug.

SBS Guest House in Rajkot
By evening, we reached our midway halt, i.e., Rajkot which is about 225 kms from Ahmedabad.  This town is one of the important towns of Saurashtra region. Mahatma Gandhi did his early schooling here but there were hardly any places worth visiting. So we spent the evening strolling around the city and getting its feel and resting at the Guest House. 
The best part of the evening was a lovely khadi kurta length (2.25mtr) which I picked up from Polyvastra Khadi Bhandar at Rajkot for a paltry sum of Rs 92.

Clean & functional Guest House
at Dwarka
Next day morning, ie, on the 9th day, after enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at the Guest House, we started off for Dwarka without breaking our record of 9am departures. Same good roads, same good traffic and same missing of tea joints en route. By noon, we reached the famous Dwarka….  Dwarka which one has read about in all the mythological books since childhood, which one has seen time and again in the TV serials, the abode of Lord Krishna, one of the four dhaams, one of the most important religious places of Hindus, and which is the farthest western end of India.

Forget hygiene,look at food
The main market of Dwarka
But what a come down! “ Hold on. Don’t give up so soon”, I told myself and kept encouraging my husband to look at the positive side and ignore the dirt, the muck, the flies, the dirty lanes and stray cows. The place of stay was reasonably good, neat and clean and very functional. But we were not able to locate even one respectable eating joint, not even a road-side poori-sabzi shack. But paapi pait ka sawal tha and we decided to compromise on our hygiene standards. The most interesting part was that each one of us was feeling that way inside but kept telling others, “It’s ok; not too bad” I enjoyed the spirit behind this thoughtfulness and concern for each other.

In front of Nageshwar Temple
Shiv under Shiva's shadow 
As the famous Dwarkadheesh Temple opens only at 5pm in the evening, we decided to utilise the post-lunch time to visit Nageshwar Temple located at a distance of 20 kms from Dwarka. After reaching there, we realised that it was one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India and the visit  to Dwarka Dhaam is not considered complete unless one visits this Jyotirlinga. The temple had a huge statue of Shiva outside but inside one could go to the sanctum sanctorum only in one piece of cloth and the Shiv accompanying me refused to comply. So we peeped at the Jyotirling from above and came out.

White chandan or mud-sticks?
At Radha ka Talao
Not far away from Nageshwar Temple is Gopi Talao. I wondered whether it was this place where the shooting of “ Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ke nahin…” was done for the famous movie Sangam. All around the talao, they were selling white chandan sticks which were made from mud from the pond, supposed to be good for one’s complexion, basically multani mitti.

"Indian no Indian cow"
I must share something interesting here. As I stopped over to buy the white Chandan sticks, Shiv decided to capture the photograph of a cow. Seeing this, some village boys stopped by and started saying , “Indian gai”… “Indian gai.”  Another one interjected, “Not like this. Say Indian Cow”. Then they all started saying, “Indian cow!… Indian cow!’’. In the mean time I reached there and one of the boys asked me pointing towards Shiv, “Which country is he from?” I was amused but put on a serious front and replied, “From Italy!” Shiv could not help giggling and spilled the beans, “Arrey, I am from India only”. As the boys again looked at me inquisitively, I told them, “He has lived in Delhi for many years now and has picked up Hindi well.” The boys were mighty happy that an Italian could speak Hindi so well and left. How we laughed our hearts out after that! 

It was now time to go back and visit the famous Dwarkadheesh Temple.

Dwarkadheesh Temple in Dwarka 
Dwarkadheesh temple is one of the most important pilgrimage centres for Hindus.
After Krishna motivated Pandavas to fight for their rights and after the great war of Mahabharat was over and all the stalwarts of that time killed, Krishna had initially decided to make Mathura his capital. But due to various attacks on Mathura by his enemies, he decided to  shift to Dwarka and establish himself there. At some stage, Krishna died an unfortunate death due to an unintended arrow of a hunter and Dwarka city got submerged under water…Must be some kind of tsunami, as this area had been reclaimed from water like Backbay Reclamation in Mumbai. His descendants later constructed Dwarkadheesh temple in his memory.

A beggar having a siesta
Dwarkadheesh temple’s architecture is absolutely impressive. The temple is tall and majestic with beautiful designs and carvings  all around. Also, it was comparatively cleaner and a little better organised when compared to other Hindu temples. The statues in the temples of Krishna and his mother are placed opposite each other so that the mother and son can see each other all the time. The temple is 170’ high and the flag flying atop the temple is extremely long and we were told is changed three times a day.
Climbing down a long stairway with shops on both sides, selling trinkets, religious mementos, sindoor, chandan and prasad etc, we reached river Gomti behind the temple. Stepping in its cold water was quite soothing for the bare feet which had now started hurting due to presence of grit, gravel and pebbles in the temple precincts. The floating lamps offered by the devotees presented a divine sight.
Alas! No cameras were allowed inside the temple and I was deprived of a great opportunity to click some nice photos.

At Rukmani's Temple

On day 10, on way to Bhet Dwarka, our first stop was at Rukmani's Temple located in an exclusive locale and not in any cluster. Rukmani was the first and the senior-most queen of Lord Krishna. Her temple has lovely carvings and is a marvelous piece of architecture.


Bhet Dwarka is at some distance from land and one has to take a ferry. This was the most fearful experience of my life. There was simply NO system NO procedure.
The entrance to Bhet
Dwarka Palace
One simply gets carried away with the crowd and starts hopping on to the next boat available. There were no queues, no system whatsoever, no discipline…just plain frenzy to get into the boat. People were virtually throwing their children and pushing their women into the boat.  How many passengers can sail through safely, nobody knows. I wanted to get out but that was also not possible. Was there any security? Yes, God will save all. And God did. We all reached Bhet Dwarka after paying Rs 10 each as charges without any ticket in return. Mera Bharat mahan!!!

In a lane approaching the palace
Trinkets on sale outside
Bhet Dwarka
Bhet Dwarka is an ancient palace, where once upon a time Lord Krishna is stated to have resided with his 8 Queens, Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambwanti et al and 16,000 wives. The chambers of all the Queens were marked separately. There was one for Radha also. Does it mean that Radha too had shifted to Dwarka leaving Brij bhoomi behind? I am also wondering why Krishna never got married to Radha. If he could have  8 queens and 16,000 wives irrespective of their age, caste and creed, the number could have increased by one more.    
Bhet Dwarka is called so as Krishna met his long-lost childhood friend Sudama in this palace only.

Clean and blue...Arabian Sea
Seagulls following the boat
The return boat journey was a repeat performance and I vowed never to come back here. However, the water of the Arabian sea was azure blue and looked very enchanting.  The seagulls flying after the boat from where the passengers were throwing feeds into the water, presented an awesome view. The sea breeze was absolutely soothing.  And all this helped me to put my fears in the backdrop and enjoy the beauty of the place.

Gujarat growth story is real:Smooth roads & windmills galore

On our journey back to Ahmedabad, we noticed the Gujarat growth and development by way of numerous wind-mills of different types. These are instrumental in producing cheap power for the area.
Was there a Don Quixote lurking in the background?  

  1. Believe in God. Only He can save you in situations like this type of boat-ride in our country.
  2. Chain is to be pronounced as Chenn, Fish as Phiss, Shoes as Sooz, Fashion as Fasson and Snacks as Snakes. Soo chhe?
  3. Always carry your Tea kit with you while travelling in Gujarat. A flask of hot water and tea-bags are preferable to thick tea shots on the highway.
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