Before you start wondering what this is all about, let me start at the beginning!
After what seemed like years of planning leading to a ‘no-show’, we finally made it to Dwarka! The planning would almost always lead to ‘not this time’ moment which lead to cancelling of plans, but not this year!
We discussed about going to Gujarat in last week of December and in the first week of January we booked the tickets to fly in two days time!
We flew on 5th of January at 6:30 p.m to Ahmedabad.(No direct flights to Dwarka or Somnath. Flying to Rajkot meant we would have to shell out extra bucks, nearly 4000 per person! Sheer waste) After the 1 hr 45 min flight(Baby Bee’s first flight travel) came to an end, we rushed towards the rental car and started for Rajkot for a night’s stay.
Ahmedabad is not particularly different from Hyderabad! (In US, each city was very different than the previous one. Atlanta is different from New York or Charlotte. Las Vegas has its own charm. Charleston was nothing like Washington and so on.) I was expecting Ahmedabad to be quite different from Hyderabad but that was not the case. (I did find some differences but they are not that apparent)
The drive from Ahmedabad to Rajkot was uneventful and we stopped by a dhaba,(name forgotten) had a very sumptuous dinner. (The locals must love eating on cots, because we saw cots lined up in rows, where an elongated wooden plank was to be the table!) Although I found it interesting to see people eating on cots in moonlight, we went and sat by the regular tables because eating on a cot with Baby Bee seemed like a very bad idea!
After a roughly 4 hour long drive, we reached Rajkot. (There is an international airport in Rajkot, so I imagined it to be a bigger city, but Rajkot reminded me of smaller towns in Andhra Pradesh. Even the green fields added to the town-like vibe.) We reached Rajkot at 1:00 a.m. and the hotel checked us in by 1:30 a.m.(They wanted ID cards for each one of us, except the infant ofcourse.) Baby Bee was refreshed after his long nap in the car, while the rest of us were craving for soft beds! We wanted to be ready by 7 a.m the next morning so that we can start for Dwarka,early. But when an infant is part of your tour gang, you should be ready for any change in plans! We started at Rajkot by 9:30 a.m. on the 6th of January.
We stopped by at Grand Murlidhar to have our breakfast, which was awesome! The best we had on our tour. The batata poha was heavenly, the masala chai brought back memories from my childhood! The thepla that my sister ordered was excellent. Only the paneer dosa was a let down.
After a very good beginning of our day, we reached Dwarka at 2:00 p.m. stopping only for our lunch next. I had roti with bhindi masala and Mr.Bee had mushroom fried rice, which was tasty. Baby Bee had his cerelac, after the server brought a glass of warm water on special request. My dad loved the tandoori roti that was served to him.
We booked our stay at Hotel Shree Darshan, where the stay was very memorable because of the service and the food there was awesome. The butter rotis they served, reminded me of the ones mom made when I was a kiddo. We stayed there for 2 nights and a day. The only thing I annoyed me there was the sound the lift made.(It was the same music a car in my locality made when it was in reverse gear!)
As soon as we reached Dwarka, we checked into the hotel and rested for two hours, because the temple would open only at 5 in the evening. Lord Krishna is known here as Dwarkadhish. The temple architecture is exquisite. Cell phones, obviously are not allowed. But I have a very beautiful picture of the temple taken from outside the temple, from the banks of river Gomti.
So how was the temple like…?
As soon as the we entered the temple, we knew that the party has to split! Because there were separate Darshan queues for men and women.
For once in my life, I hated being among women! The women tend to push, abuse and shout in queues. I saw that the gents were out in a jiffy after their darshan, whereas we, the ladies within a span of some minutes came out of the Darshan queue looking harassed and disheveled! (You should see the woman behind me, who kept pushing me steadily at an even pace, throughout the Darshan. Some women elbow you out of the way and go ahead! People like QueenBee and her family are better off, staying away from such queues, because, they hate to argue or push)
The worst thing of the queue system is while there were no women in men’s queue, some men were shameless enough to come and join in our’s!
The temple itself was very beautiful.Since taking pictures is not allowed, there is nothing I can say that will matter now. The main temple, the tallest of all, has a balcony in the first floor.(QueenBee’s active imagination painted a picture of its own, that the Chalukyas who built the temple let the royal women sit in the balcony of the temple to observe processions or dances taking place in the temple!) The flag on top of the main temple is changed regularly. (We saw some guys changing the flags without using any safety harness. Couldn’t understand if we should be proud they have strong belief in their God or that they are very experienced!)
During the time you are busy checking out the temple architecture and stuff, you will surely meet some random guys, who try to force you to hire the local guides, i.e., themselves! (We had a tough time running away from them. I, for one, tried the unique concept of avoiding eye contact with anyone in the temple, whom I am not related to! 😛 )
As soon as we were out of the temple, we bought some Prasadam and lost ourselves in the sea of devotees coming out of the temple, onto the streets for a bit of shopping.
I bought a pair of sandals and a cloth bag with the famous ‘Kutch work’ done on them, the Gujarat special.
By the time we returned to the hotel, it was already 9:00 p.m. Luckily, for us, the food in the hotel was awesome. We slept early as we had plans of visiting Beyt Dwaraka.
What was Baby Bee doing all the while? Well, he was enjoying seeing lots of strangers and trying to grab their attention by being a very well behaved kid! (He is like that, always in his best behaviour when outside)
1.The Masala papad in Gujarat was way better than the masala papad we had at De Banyan in Hyderabad in 2014!
2.We also found pulse candy in Ahmedabad and all through our tour, for which we have been scouting with a fine tooth comb all across the stores in Hyderabad. (Luckily, they are now available at the local ‘more’ supermarket) Have you tried it yet?
3. Whoever thought infants can fly free of charge can rest assured that there is no such thing called free ride even if the traveller is an infant! We had to pay for Baby Bee as well and it was almost half the fare of an adult!
4. The best thing about visiting Gujarat is that, there is very little usage of horn in the traffic, unlike Hyderabad, where some people pride themselves for holding onto the horn and scaring the hell out of people! (I heard lion roar and scream, which were used as horn. I have the choicest words for such people!)