A truncated Complete Tour of Gujarat


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Day 15: (01 Feb 2015) Continued...

(If you have come to this page while searching for any comparison or difference between Konark , Modhera or other Sun Temples, then you may skip all the details about Gujarat, and directly go here.

And if you are interested about our Gujarat tour, I suggest you start from Page 1 of this travelogue)

Some 'Vaaaaav' places of Incredible India from my List:

Before I tell you about Rani Ki Vav, and you say ‘Rani Ki Vaaaaaaaaav’; I must take you around India, to few of the rarely-seen-places. I say rarely seen places, because I consider these places as some of the best places that I have seen; but they don’t fall in popular regular tourist circuit. There are many other beautiful places, but they generally fall in the popular-and-visited-tourist-places.

Lonar Crater, Maharshtra (Pic taken in 2009):


This is one of it’s kind in the country. The best season to visit is after the rainy season. (We got time to visit it during the month of April).

Lonar Crater Lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 kilometres and is about 449 ft below the crater rim. The meteor crater rim is about 1.8 kilometres in diameter. The circular depression bears a saline water lake in its central portion. The crater's age is usually estimated to be 52,000 ± 6,000 years (Pleistocene), although a study published in 2010 gives an age of 570,000 ± 47,000 years.

For more details - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonar_crater_lake

Mud Volcano, Andaman (Pic taken in 2009):


This is also a unique place like Lonar Crater. Many people visit Andaman but they fail to visit this place. This may not be a great place you might say; but it is a unique place in India.

Frozen Water Fall, Zanskar River, Chadar Trek (Pic taken in 2012):


There is only one major winter trek in the Himalayas, and it is the Chadar Trek or the Frozen River Trek. I went there during Jan 2012 along with my friend Manish Lakhani from Vadodara. Oh, it is -40 degrees in the night. And it is white, white and simply white every where. One will start admiring God’s creation and beauty after visiting such places. The high point of the trek is this Frozen Water Fall.

For more details - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chadar_Trek

Kutumsar Caves and Kailash Gupha, Chhattisgarh (Pic taken in 2008):


I have seen most of the famous Caves through out India; in Andaman, Andhra, Chhattisgarh, Jammu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya etc.

Chhattisgarh is not in most of the tourists’ visiting list. I guarantee you; you can spend a week in this state. Nice state, .. and it was still unspoiled when I visited it in 2008, along with my family. There are two out-of-the-world caves here. They are Eastman Color caves where as most of the other caves are Black-and-White caves.

In case if you want to see the best caves, nice forests, Chitrakoot Water Falls etc, then let it be your next destination.

Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Meghalaya (Pic taken in 2011):


Our dirty politicians are best suited to divide the people. During 'Ram Sethu' controversy, one such dirty leader said ‘from which university your Ram got his Engineering Degree?’

And when I saw this DDLRB, I shouted ‘can your so called Engineers even think of this kind of a bridge?’

When Man joins hands with Nature, then God will be in his side. This is a true example of this. It is in the beautiful land of the Meghalaya. It is a tough trek of few thousand steps. But don’t worry, it is a ‘full paisa vasool’

Phutkal Gompa, Zanskar, Ladakh (Pic taken in 2010):


Who says that these types of Gompas can be seen only in Tibet and Bhutan. This is very much in India. However it is a tough trek either from Padum or from Palmo. All your hardships will vanish in a second, the moment you see this wonderful place.

For more details - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phugtal_Monastery

Drang Drung Glacier, Padum (Pic taken in 2010):


Thought that this is a ‘Concrete Road’?. No, this is a Glacier.

But to see this Concrete Road, you will have to travel in ‘one of the worst roads in India’.

On the way to Padum from Kargil, you get this lovely place.

For more details - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drang-Drung_Glacier

Moon Land View, Srinagar-Leh Road (Pic taken in 2010):


If you have traveled by road from Srinagar to Leh, then you can’t miss this. This is really ‘Moon Land’. I never thought that God can create so much of beauty in a plain Sandy Land.

In fact I have seen such formations during my road journey from Pokhra to Muktinath in Nepal also.

Valley Of Flowers, Sikkim (Pic taken in 2010):


Most of us know only VOF in Uttarakhand. Very few have heard about a VOF in Sikkim. The best season here is April - May. Lakhs and Lakhs of Rhododendron flowers, in five-six colors, bloom here during this time. You can go here by any vehicle.

Let this be your next Honeymoon destination.

For more details -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yumthang_Valley

During my many tours covering length and breadth of Mother India, these are some of the rare few places that I have come across. I treat them as special places, which should not be missed by any true traveler. They are both God made as well as Man made.

And why am I telling you all these now?

Because, when people talk about tourist places in Gujarat, most of the people are ignorant about this Rani ki Vav.

No, I know... that you know about it.

But if you are a non-Gujarati and if you book a Gujarat tour from your local tour operator; then most likely he will be skipping this place.

Whether you are on a religious tour, or on a jolly tour, a visit to this Temple-Well is a must....
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A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Vaaaaaaaaaaav, It is Rani Ki Vav:

Wav, oh, what a Vav it is!, in future I would like to add Rani Ki Vav into my above list. So what is it all about?

Just imagine a 7 storied temple on the ground. Typically it may look like this: the ground floor will be big in area; as you go up, the area of each floor decreases; lots of stone-carved statues will be there on the outside walls of the temple and so on. And in the seventh floor, in the sanctum sanctorum the chief diety’s statue is housed.

Now let us come to RKV. So think of this 7 storied temple, under the ground, instead of over the ground. We will be having 7 underground floors, each one smaller than the previous floor. And in each floor, we can see lots of statues, depicting Ramayana, Mahabharata, Dashavatara and such other stories; on the inside wall of these underground floors. At the end, in the 7th underground floor, you have a well, filled with water. And this is RKV for you.

If you have not seen RKV, then you have not seen all the important places in Gujarat. (Just to remind you, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has mentioned about this Vav in his Budget speech this year - 2015). So let us go ahead with this information.

{Rani ki vav (Queen’s step well) was constructed during the rule of the Solanki dynasty during 1022 to 1063 AD. The step well was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s. When it was excavated by the ASI, the carvings were found in pristine condition.

This magnificent east-facing step well is approx 64 mt L, 20 mt W, 27 mt D. A stepped corridor compartmented at regular intervals pillared multistory pavilions is a unique feature. It was one of the largest and the most sumptuous structures of its type. It became silted up and much of it is not visible now, except for some rows of sculptured panels in the circular part of the well; Source: Internet}


The board says everything


And this is the Vav


A full depth photo


Photos at different stages


Photos at different stages


Photos at different stages


Photos at different stages


And finally, a panoramic view

What to do, the time is fast catching up. Other wise we could have hired a guide, got many more details and given you a detailed story.

So let us move on.....


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Skipped places from my original list:

Now I am taking you to the places that we were supposed to visit according to our original plan. We skipped all these places due to paucity of time.

Sahastra Linga Lake:

{The Sahastralinga Talav (lake) is on the left bank of river Saraswati. Siddhraj Jaysinh built the reservoir Sahasralinga Talav, in 1084, over a lake originally known as Durlabh Sarovar, built by the King of Durlabhray. During his rule he had many artificial tanks built in different parts of Gujarat, but this one surpasses all the others, technologically, artistically, and spiritually}


{At Siddhpur, you come across rows and rows of palatial wooden 19th century townhouses. Painted in subdued pastel colours and built three-to-four storeys high, most of them were erected by the Bohras, Gujarat`s affluent mercantile Muslim community. Today, most of the houses remain locked for most part of the year and exhibit an oddly quiet and desolated European town look. But once a year (generally in December), the streets again pulsate with life, because the Bohra families return to Siddhpur for social ceremonies}

Balaram Mahadev Temple:

{Away from the crowd, Balram Mahadev at Banaskantha is calm and quite. It is situated on bank of river inside a green forest. Nearby is Balaram resort. From Balaram Mahadev we can go to Ambaji, the road goes through Balaram Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary.

The palaces of the Nawab and Hindu Temples are also worth seeing. The palace is in a neo-Classical Baroque style, with arcades and classical columns. It has now been taken over by a private entrepreneur, and opened as a resort. Don’t miss this place also}

Ambaji Temple, Banaskantha:

{This is the principal shrine of a Goddess who has been worshiped since the pre-Vedic period. She is often referred to as Arasuri Amba, named for the location of the temple in the Arasur hills, near the source of the Saraswati River at the south-western end of the Aravali mountain range. The red flag above the small temple dances welcomingly in the wind. Made of white marble with gold cones, the temple was originally built by Nagar Brahmins. There is a main entrance in the front and only a small side-door, because it is believed that Mataji has forbidden the addition of any other door. The temple is surrounded by an open square called chachar chowk where ceremonial sacrifices called havans are performed.

The inner sanctum of the temple has silver-plated doors. There is a gokh, or niche, in the wall on which is fixed a gold-plated marble inscription of the Viso Yantra, a Vedic text on sacred geometry, which is the main focus of worship. There is no idol of the goddess, perhaps because the temple is so ancient that it predates idol-worship, but the priests decorate the upper portion of the gokh in such a way that it looks like an idol of a goddess from a distance.

No purses/mobiles/cameras/footwear are allowed inside the temple, leave them in your car; carry some water; do not miss buying the Prasad; queue starts almost at 4 am near temple gate.

Time: 0700-1130, 1230-1630, 1830-2100 Tel: 02749 262236, 264536, 262930, 262636}

Note: All the information are from the internet....


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Differences, Similarities between

Jantar Mantar, Konark, Modhera and other Sun temples of India:

Before I take you to Modhera Sun Temple (MST), kindly allow me to explain few sentences about JM (Jantar Mantar at Jaipur), KST (Konark Sun Temple), and the like.

If you search the net, you can see that there are many Sun Temples across the whole world. And in Inida, I have seen the Sun Temples at Konark (Odissa), Arasavalli (Andhra), Suryanarkoil (Tamilnadu), Naravi (Karnataka), Somnath (Gujarat) and ofcourse, now at Modhera. I have also seen the Jantar Mantar (JM) at Jaipur.

I am an ordinary tourist, and my only interest is seeing the beauty of Mother India and Mother Earth.

I am neither an expert nor any research student of any temple architecture or the like.

So, if anything in my following observation is wrong, then my apologies in advance.

They are not intentional, and hence forgive me, as it has come from an ignorant, stupid, idiot fellow like me.

Now kindly allow me to proceed… My point is......, what are the differences or similarities between Modhera, Konark, Jantar Mantar and other Sun temples? How can we compare these temples with respect to each other?

Jantar Mantar at Jaipur:

I am not going too deep into its construction, architecture etc. It is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. It was built by Sawai Jai Singh, a Rajput king. It was constructed around 1730s. At JM, the best and most attraction is the Sun Dial, or the Samrat Yantra. From this Yantra, we can know the exact time of the day, all round the year.


Sun Dial at Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan (Pic taken in 2010)

To know the technical beauty of this great master piece, you must hire a guide and spend at least a couple of hours.

Arasavalli, Suryanarkoil, Naravi and Somnath Sun Temples:

These are temples where the main deity is the Sun God. They are in no way different from any other temples of any other God.


Arasavalli Sun Temple, Andhra (Pic taken in 2014)

Konark Sun Temple:

The KST was built around 1250s, by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is in the shape of a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A major part of the structure is now in ruins. Again, hire a guide and try to get the technical details of this Temple.

I can confidently say that Konark Sun Temple is TECHNICALLY the only one Sun Temple that I have seen so far.

No other temple, including the one at Modhera, is technically a Sun Temple.


Sun Temple at Konark, Orissa (Pic taken in 2010)

What I meant by Technically?

Like in Jantar Mantar, at Koark Sun Temple also we can find out the exact time of the day, throughout the year. What about night? Yes, we can know the time of the day, even at night. (But unfortunately, today we don’t know how to see the time during darkness).

This video is by “Phenomenal Travel Videos”. Hats off to them. I have used their video without their permission, but acknowledging their name here. Just watch this amazing video.

How is Konark Sun Temple?

Beautiful, wonderful, gigantic, splendid?

No, my English vocabulary is not that good to describe this masterpiece.

It has made such an impression in my mind that, I came to the opinion that in any Sun Temple, we must be able to tell the “Time Of The Day”.

Iron is used in the construction of Konark Sun Temple. It is believed that Konark Sun Temple was very close to sea shore, when it was constructed. (Later the sea moved southwards and hence now the temple is around 2-3 kms away from the sea shore)

Those people used iron in the temple’s construction. And even today also we can find this iron bars lying on the ground inside the temple premises. Oh what a wonder, these iron rods are not rusted, even though it is constantly exposed to sun, rain and sea winds. Again, unfortunately today we don’t know how to manufacture rust-proof iron.


Iron rods used in Konark Sun Temple

Not only technically, even architecturally also KST is superb. The sculptures, statues, scenes from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kamasutra etc are all narrated very well here.

Khondalite, Chlorite and Laterite stones were used in the construction of this temple. And these stones have withstood the test of time.

Modhera Sun Temple:

Now let us come to Modhera Sun Temple and see how it is?

It just pales into also-ran compared to Konark Sun Temple. Almost all the web sites in the internet tell us that Konark Sun Temple and Modhera Sun Temple are the most beautiful Sun Temples of India. Same is true with all the guides, whenever the topic of Sun Temple comes in, during my many visits across many places in India.

But I beg to differ partially. Konark Sun Temple is the ONLY SUN TEMPLE of India.

You put Konark Sun Temple in one side of the scale, and put all other Sun Temples in another side of the scale. Konark Sun Temple will go down (more weight).

So Konark is Konark; no parallels or no comparisons.

What I meant was only technicality of the Sun Temple. See, in any other temple (like Shiva, Rama, Krishna, Vishnu, Amba or any such Temples), this issue does not arise at all. But in a Sun Temple, as the Sun is in charge of the Time also, I am interested in knowing whether I can find out the Time also from the temple.

May be, my whole thinking could be wrong.... so just ignore my writings....

Then, did I mean that Modhera Sun Temple is nothing, and need not be visited at all?

I must be stupid to make that statement.

Who am I to judge these masterpieces?

Modhera Sun Temple just stands out from the rest of the temples in Gujarat.

It is also beautiful, wonderful, gigantic, splendid etc etc. (Architecturally, the Galteshwar Shiva Temple at Dakor, Anand comes close to MST in Gujarat. I have already shown you this temple on Day 6 of our tour. Unfortunately, not many people visit this temple)

So now I must explain how is Modhera Sun Temple . With respect to sculpture, stone work, statues etc, in my opinion, it can definitely be compared to the Belur Chennakeshava Temple of Hasan, Karnataka.


Channakeshava Temple at Belur (Pic taken in 2014)

The stone used in Belur Temple is Soapstone and has withstood the test of time. The stone used in MST is Sandstone, which is relatively soft. It has failed to pass the test of time. Due to the salty wind from the Arabian Sea and natural wear and tear, the statues are worn out at many places. Even then, whatever left out is a masterpiece worth to watch.

So while in Gujarat, a visit to MST is a must.

(I might be wrong in the details that I have provided here. So my humble request is that, don’t take these information for any other purpose other than only for tourist interest. And once again, my apologies if I am wrong. My only interest is to compare Konark and Modhera Sun Temples)....
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A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Modhera Sun Temple:

Now let me start all over again. Some information about the temple from the internet:

{Set along the backdrop of River Pushpavati, surrounded by a terra-formed garden of flowering trees and songs of birds, rests the famed Sun temple of Modhera. As you relax and soothe your nerves, become one with nature and open your mind to the poetry in stone, dedicated to the sun god, living glimpses of the era far elapsed emerge out of the intricacies of narrative sculptures. The remains of the Sun Temples at Modhera are relics of times gone by when reverence of the natural elements fire, air, earth, water and sky were at their peak sharing space with myriad manifestations of Vedic gods.

The Sun Temple was built by Rushabh Bhimdev I of Solanki Dynasty in AD 1026. This was the time when Somnath and the adjoining area was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni and reeled under the effects of his invasion. The Solankis, however, regained much of their lost power and splendour. Anahilvad Patan, the Solanki capital, was restored to glory. Royalty and traders jointly contributed to build grand temples.


Surya Kund at MST

Solankis were considered to be Suryavanshi, Gurjar or descendants of Sun god. The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes. The temple is partially in ruins after it was also finally destroyed by the Allauddin Khilji. However, enough has remained of the temple to convey its grandeur.

Time: 6:00 am – 6:00 pm; Ph: 079-26589172, 09974335693; Source: Internet}

We hired a guide and he explained all the details in English. We thought that there was sufficient time for us. We were mistaken. While the temple closes at Sun Set/6 pm or so, the Museum closes at 5.30 pm. So we could not see the Museum.

As I said earlier, Iron was used in KST which has withstood the test of time. And at MST, Teak tree wooden sticks are used to join the sandstone pieces, columns, beams, pillars etc. They are 1000 years old and have withstood the test of times. Oh, what a splendid architecture.


Different views of Modhera Sun Temple


Different views of Modhera Sun Temple


Different views of Modhera Sun Temple


At Modhera Sun Temple


Different views of Modhera Sun Temple


Different views of Modhera Sun Temple


Different views of Modhera Sun Temple


Sunset as seen through the pillars of Modhera Sun Temple

The time was around 6.30 pm. And it was time to say ‘Good Bye’ to our Gujarat tour. So we decided to move on to Mehsana.

We knew that Mehsana has a BAPS Swami Narayan Mandir. It is easy to stay in SNM guest house.

Also, the Dudhsagar Dairy was in our hit list. As we could kill both these two birds in one stone, we went to Mehsana….


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

{ONGC: Established in November 1967, the Mehsana fields are one of the highest onshore-producing assets of the ONGC, covering an area of 6000 km2, with 28 fields in 2007–2008. Mehsana also has 1311 oil wells and 16 gas wells producing 5800 ton/day. Source - Internet}

Dudhsagar Dairy:

{The city is known for its local Mehsani breed of buffaloes. The Mehsana District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd., popularly known as Dudhsagar Dairy, is a member of the state-level – Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., Anand. Dudhsagar Dairy is the largest dairy in Asia, processing on an average 1.41 million kilograms of milk each day. It has established a network for procuring milk from 4,500,000 milk producers through 1150 village milk cooperatives. Tel: 02762 253201-05. Source - Internet}

It was pitch-dark when we reached the Dairy. :( We very well knew that not even Buffaloes will be there at Dudhsagar Dairy at this odd hour to welcome us :(. And we did not expected the Dairy to allow us inside at this time. The sales counter is just opposite to the Dairy. We went there and relished some ice creams and sweets. As we will be heading towards home, we also bought some sweets for our family.

To our pleasant disbelief, we noticed that the BAPS SNM is just next to the Dairy. We went to SNM, had the Darshan of the swami and settled down in the room.


BAPS SNM at Mehsana


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

Today’s route map using Google Maps

Total distance covered: 383 kms.

I had a great satisfaction in my heart. We were able to cover most of the tourist places in this tour. Even though we could not cover few places, I was not at all disappointed. Because God will not give everything a Man asks for...; if he gives everything, then Man will forget the God.

And I can always cover other places in a span of 4 - 5 days during my next visit, either to Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh.

So with complete I went to bed.

But I completely failed to notice the changes taking place with my friend MKR. Was it metamorhosis? No, not exactly. It was a change. I am sorry that I failed to notice it... And what was that?... you will have to wait till tomorrow, because I also noticed it tomorrow only....

So on Day 16 of our Gujarat Tour, I will tell you few more things….
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