A truncated Complete Tour of Gujarat


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Day 10: (27 Jan 2015):

Junagadh, Porbandar & Dwarka

In the lap of Lord Krishna

(Note: If you have come to this page while searching for some travel related information of Gujarat, I suggest you start from Page 1 of this travelogue)

Yesterday when we arrived at Junagadh, it was dark. So after having the dinner, we slept off. We have to go for the local sight seeing today morning. But the temples open only around 7.00 am. So we had the Darshan of morning Arati in SNM. We also had our breakfast in the Mandir canteen. Then we vacated the room and left for the city tour.


{Junagadh has diverse weather conditions throughout the year. The climate of Junagadh is characterized by very hot summers and chilly winters. The city also enjoys a soothing effect on the weather due to the influence of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Cambay. It is the center of the religious places in which Mount Girnar is the famous Jain pilgrimage.

Junagadh is famous for Kesar (Saffron) Mangoes. One sealed tin of 900 grams Mango Pulp costs around Rs.100/-. You may also buy Jetpur Cotton Sarees; Source: Internet}

Uparkot Fort & Jama Masjid:

{The oldest part of Junagadh, and the center of any visit to the city, is the upper citadel, known as Uparkot. Over 2300 years old, with walls up to 20 mt high in some places, Uparkot is what allowed Junagadh to withstand a 12-year siege at one point. It is believed that these caves belong to 1st-4th Century AD and are gilded with beautiful pillars and entrances, water cisterns, horseshoe shaped chatiya windows, an assembly hall and cell for meditation. There is also a 300 ft.-deep moat inside the walls, which reportedly used to be inhabited by crocodiles, so that if any attacker managed to surmount the high fortifications, they would then either be exposed on the upper battlements or fall into the crocodile-infested trench.

Inside the entrance are the insignia of Uparkot’s former rulers and temples to Ganesh, Hanuman and Shakti. Close by are two medieval cannons named Neelam and Manek, forged in Cairo and brought by the Turks who sailed to Saurashtra to aid in defending Diu against the Portuguese.


Canon forged in Cairo

The Jama Masjid was originally the palace of Ranakdevi, but was converted to a mosque by Muhammad Begda, when he conquered the princes of Saurashtra. Perhaps for that reason, it is easily mistaken for a fort. It has a covered courtyard, which is very unusual in Indian mosques; Source: Internet}

While we were driving towards the Fort, a man approached us. He told us that he is a guide and will explain us everything. What a pity. We wanted to see the place with a guide, but we were short of time. So we saw the fort with the details that is available in the internet.


Uparkot fort


Inside the fort

Ashok Shilalekh:

{About 2 km east of Junagadh and 3 km from the foot of Girnar Hill, between the two places, is an edict of Emperor Ashoka inscribed on a rock dating from the third century BC. The Ashokan edicts impart moral instructions on dharma, harmony, tolerance, and peace. An uneven rock, with a circumference of seven metres and a height of ten metres, bears insciptions in Brahmi script etched with an iron pen.

Open: 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. No Holiday; Source: Internet}

From the Uparkot Fort, we went to Ashok Shilalekh. But the entry to this place is prohibited due to some renovation work.

A further down the road lies the Damodar Kund and Damodar Temple.

Damodar Kund & Damodar Temple:

{Damodar Kund is a sacred bathing tank located at the foot of Girnar Hill. It is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s garment fell during a cruise. It is 257’ x 50’ x 5’deep. It is considered to be a holy water tank as per Hindu mythology. By bathing in this river people get rid off their sins. Hindus also prefer to immerse the ashes and the bones left after cremation of dead bodies, due to a belief that the departed souls would get moksha here. (Other such famous places for immersion of ashes and bones (Hindu rite of Asthi-Visarjana) are Haridwar, Triveni Sangam at Prayag, Sri Ranga Pattana & Gokarna at Karnataka etc). The water of the lake has properties of dissolving the bones.

Shri Damodar Temple is above the Kund. The renovation of this pilgrim place was done during the regime of King Skand Gupta in 462 AD. The main temple is made up of two parts: Nij mandir’s shikhar is 65 feet and the height of saloha Mandap’s shikhar is 30.5 feet. In all the Nij mandir and the saloha Mandap has 32 arcs and 84 decorated and well crafted pillars. A flag has been hoisted at the apex of the Nij mandir. There is a cave where you have to crawl inside to get the darshan of Lord Shiva. From this temple you can see Girnar Mountain in the shape of a person sleeping!!

Shri Radha Damodarji Temple, Damodar Kund; Time: 6 am – 6 pm; ph: 0285-2627815; ; Source: Internet}

As usual, we were the early birds here also. We saw an unusual scene at the entrance of the Kund.


Queue of begging bowls in front of Damodar Kund :-D

We went down to have a look at the Kund. As our interest was only to see the places, we did not take bath in the Kund. We saw the Temple and proceed towards the foot of Girnar Hills.


Damodar Temple

Holy hill of Girnar & Girnar Jain Temples:

{Girnar Jain temples are on the Girnar mountais located at a distance of 5 km from Junagadh. Mount Girnar is a gigantic five peaked rock formation of volcanic origin, the tallest of these rises to 3600’ MSL. The five peaks of Girnar are topped by 866 intricately carved stone temples. There are around 10000 steps from the trailhead to the highest peak. The five peaks, crowned by sixteen beautifully carved and sculptured marble shrines, forms one of the most beautifully situated group of Jain temples in India. It is a sacred place for Jains, Hindus and also for Muslims. Mt. Girnar is also unique in that both the Digambar and Shwetambar have temples on its hills.

It is advised that you start climbing at around 4 AM so that you can complete the entire reach up to Dattatray Girnar 10000 steps till 10 AM, since there is no place to take rest you are required to get down immediately, try to reach the mid top before 12 noon then you can rest here as there is space to rest.

If you cannot reach the top of the hill, at least have a look through binocular (Rs. 10 for one view) which available after 50th or 100th step; ; Source: Internet}

In fact if there was enough time, we would have done this climb also, like we did the Palitana climb. But this exercise requires more time than Palitana. And the sword of Damocles in the form of 2nd Feb was hanging above our head. So we decided to forgo this one.

Just to get a feeling, we climbed 100 odd steps. Palitana steps are better than these steps. They are laid more professionally. We also tried to see the top of the hill using the binocular. It was a scrap, and we paid him 10/ bucks.


Girnar Hills as seen from Damodar Temple


We saw this wild life :p at Girnar Hills

I am a fan of sweet mangos. But in order to save time, we skipped to buy those famous Kesar Mango pulp. Same with respect to Jetpur Cotton Sarees also.

From Junagadh, we drove to Porbandar...
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A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Nepal Earth Quake:

Today is 25th April 2015. Kindly permit me to take a break from my Gujarat Tlog.

It is a breaking news, a heart breaking news for me. A major earth quake shook the tourist friendly neighbor country Nepal. (Some of my friends from Karnataka Mountaineering Association are also struck in Kathmandu, who were returning from EBC trek. And luckily all of them are safe.)

I have trekked and toured this country few times. Lovely people and lovely place. I have couple of friends there.

Even our own countrymen of states bordering Nepal are also affected.

Very sad indeed. My heartfelt sympathies with all those affected people. May God give enough strength to those people to overcome this crisis.

I had recorded few videos during my EBC-Gokyo trek on the tough life of the porters there. Their life is really tough indeed. It is because of their hard work, that we are able to trek and see those beautiful terrains of the Himalayas.

I have uploaded one of those videos. Kindly watch the same and proceed further in my Gujarat Tlog.



A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary


{Porbandar is a coastal city, best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama (friend of Lord Krishna). Onshore explorations in and around Porbandar brought to light, for the first time, the remains of a late Harappan settlement dating back to the 16th – 14th century BCE, which is similar to that from Bet Dwarka. This is another evidence to suggest that the Harappan legacy of maritime activity continued till the late Harappan period on the Saurashtra coast. The discovery of ancient jetties along the Porbandar creek signifies the importance of Porbandar as an active centre of maritime activities in the past. The Indian mythology says it is the birthplace of Sudama, hence it is being referred to as Sudamapuri; Source: Internet}

As we try to enter the city, we get this magnificiemt temple on the left side of the highway. It is slightly off the main road, by around 2.5 kms.

Sri Hari Mandir:

{The Sri Hari Mandir at Shandipani Ashram, also referred to as the Sandipani Vidyaniketan was established in the year 1992 (2006 completion) with 85 acres of land. This monument has a length of 105 feet and it comprises 66 pillars. The deities of this temple are believed to be the incarnation of Pujya Bhaishri’s faith. The temple houses deities of Shri Lakshmi Narayan, Radha Krishna, Karunamayi Maa, Janki Vallabh, Hanuman, Ganesha, and Shri Veda. At present, the temple is one amongst the premier educational institutes providing Vedic Education; Source: Internet}

This is a magnificent new temple and it will fill your eyes. Don’t miss this temple when you are at Porbandar. At the back side of the temple, there is also a school.


Sri Hari Mandir, Porbandar

From here, we went to Bileshwar.

Bileshwar Mahadev Temple:

{Bileshwar Shiva Temple is an ancient temple since early 7th century, situated at a distance of 15 km to the east of Porbandar. Bileshwar Shiva Temple is built in Gujarati architecture style. The building of the temple is multi storied, made in pyramid like shape rather than a spire. The exterior of the temple is embellished with arc like theme; Source: Internet}

The description of this temple did not tally with the actual temple we saw. We went there as per the direction of Maps. And the priest also told us that this is THE Temple we are referring to. Not a great attraction of the city.

We entered the Porbandar city. As usual, the city traffic was chaotic. Some how we found a safe place to park our car, very close to the Sudama Mandir.

Sudama Mandir:

{According to Hindu mythology, Sudama was a dear friend of Lord Krishna. The friendship of two is an example sited between friends even today. To pay homage to the great soul, a beautiful temple was built in the center of Porbandar. This temple is the only temple in the entire country that is dedicated to Sudama; Source: Internet}

Architecturely it is a simple temple with carved marble pillars and shikhar, open from all the sides. There is a garden and lots of trees around the temple. The whole atmosphere is very cool. There are cement benches to take rest also.


Inside Sudama Temple

The small maze outside the temple is what we liked. It has a simple one way entry and exit, with the walls hardly up to our ankles height. Many tourists were going around the maze, and it was fun to watch them. It is said that one who crosses the maze will get rid of all sins.


Maze in front of the Sudama Temple

:):) Some interesting statistics about Sudama and Krishna: You might know that Sudama and Krishna were classmates during their childhood days. They studied together at Mathura (in present day UP), which is around 1275 kms away from Porbandar. Later Krishna became King at Dwarka (present day Bet Dwarka) and Sudama went to meet his childhood friend. This place is just around 135 kms from Porbandar. :):)

From here, we walked down to Kirti Mandir, which is also close by.

Kirti Mandir:

{Kirti Mandir was the house of the Mahatma and Kasturba. Mahatma was born in this house. It is now converted into a museum. There are exhibits of old photographs, some of his very few possessions. There is also a nice library of books either by him or relating to Gandhian philosophy and practice; Source: Internet}


Kirti Mandir, Gandhiji’s birth place


The exact place where he was born

This is also well maintained. This is also a must visit place at Porbandar. There is no entry fee.

We had our lunch at Porbandar. After we came out of the Hotel, we saw many Paan shops close by and decided to have one.


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
:):) Why Gujaratis eat too much of Paan? :):)

If you have toured Gujarat before, then have you observed too many Paan Shops there? In my many tours across the length and breadth of Mother India, I have observed maximum number of Paan Shops in Gujarat State.

When you travel in Kerala, the Gods own country, you might have observed too many Jewelry shops through out Kerala. Even in small towns we can find big jewelry shops. Maximum no. of Keralities are working in Gulf countries. They are investing in Gold, as it is a safe bet. Hence we find so many jewelry shops there.

Similarly in Gujarat I did observe too many Paan Shops. Even in small villages, I could see many Paan Shops, that too adjacent to one other. Why only Gujarat State has got so many Paan Shops and not any other State?

This question came to my mind, but I don’t know the answer. But a small guess.. may not be true also…. After all I am not a research student. I am just a traveler. So don't mistake me, if I am wrong.

Among the big states, only Gujarat has got total Prohibition in India. And every Man must have some habit. Whether it is good or bad, it does not matter. But we need some habit. Some people take alcohol, some one want to smoke, some one want to play rummy, some one want to go to a movie, some one want to play cricket and so on and so forth.

People like you and me want to tour.

But among these habits, only alcohol gives that extra kick :drinkers:. And as Gujarat is a dry state, those people who wants that special kick can not get it. Hence more Gujaratis are addicted to Paan than people from any other state. Because the tobacco and lime paste mixed with beetle nut and paan gives that extra kick.

This is my wild guess. I have written this in a lighter note, and not to hurt the feeling of any Gujarati brothers and sisters. So kindly forgive me if your feelings are hurt by my observation.


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
And from Porbandar, we went to Harsiddhi Temple.

Harsiddhi Temple:

{Harsiddhi mandir is located at Porbandar-Dwarka in Harshad, also known as Bhayani/Gandhvi Village. Harsiddhi Devi is Kuldevi of Krishna and Vaishnav and chouhan family. To kill Asuras, Lord Krishna worshiped Harsiddhi Devi and she established love and peace by killing Asura. This temple is very beautiful and old temple. This temple is on the edge of “Koyal Dungar Parvat”; Source: Internet}

It was around 2.45 pm or so, when we went there. The temple is above a hill. Not sure, whether the temple will be open at this time, we skipped it and proceeded to Okha.


Towards Okha


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

We all know that Lord Krishna’s kingdom was Dwarka. He ruled his state from the present day Bet Dwarka. (We already know that ‘Bet’ means Island). This Bet Dwarka is clearly visible from Okha. Okha is a Jetty (in simple layman’s words, it is a Ship-Stand like Bus-Stand). We parked our car in the parking lot and boarded a Boat close by.

There are regular Boat services from Okha to Bet Dwarka. They charge Rs 10/ to 20/ one way depending on the boat size and no. of passengers. The actual travel time is around 10 minutes but they take more time in order to collect the money from passengers.


Bet Dwarka as seen from Okha Jetty

It is fun to watch Seagulls while on the boat. People throw biscuits and other eatables towards them, in the air. Lot of seagulls competes with each other to catch this food. Normally their success rate is more than 80%. And if the stuff falls into the sea water, they will dive into the water and catch it. The whole scene is very pleasant to watch.


Seagulls everywhere


How am I looking ?

Upon reaching the Island on the other side, Auto rickshaw drivers will encircle us. I think they charge around Rs 10/ to 20/ to take us to the temple. We decided to walk up to the temple in the short cut route, and we reached well before the Autos.

So now you know how to go to the temple...


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

Bet Dwarka:

{Bet Dwarka, also known as Bet Shankhodhar, is a small island and was the main port in the region before the development of Okha. It offers opportunities to spot dolphins, marine excursions, camping and picnicking. Most of the archaeological ruins excavated here and religious manuscripts correspond with Bet Dwarka as the original abode of Lord Krishna; Source: Internet}

There is plenty of proof about this place as the actual residence of Lord Krishna. If you are interested, you may read more at following websites:

It was around 4.30 pm when we reached the Shri Krishna Temple. It was closed for the afternoon session, and was not yet opened. So we hired an auto and went to Hanuman Temple. This is around 6 km from the Krishna temple and we gave Rs 200/ for the Auto for both ways.


On the way to Hanuman temple

Dandiwala Hanuman Temple:

{One of the rare features of this temple is the idol of Hanuman’s son Makardhwaja. It is said that the celibate Lord Hanuman impregnated a fish with a drop of his perspiration, which conceived and gave birth to a son as strong as Lord Hanuman. Legend also says that during the famous war of Lanka, Ravana kidnapped and kept both Lord Ram and Laxman in Patal. Hanuman chose this place to enter Patal and had to fight Makardhwaja, who was guarding it. This is where they met and recognized each other as father and son; Source: Internet}

Architecturally this is a small and simple temple. You may visit this temple only if you are interested and have enough time.


Dandiwala Hanuman Temple

We came back to the Krishna temple. By this time, the temple was opened and there was not much rush.

Shri Krishna Temple at Bet Dwarka:

{Built by Shri Vallabhacharya, it enshrines an idol believed to be made by Rukmini. There is a story where Lord Krishna’s friend Sudama presented him with rice and so the tradition is continued by the visitors who present the Brahmins here with donations of rice. There are other smaller temples in the same vicinity of Lord Shiva, Hanuman, Devi and Vishnu. Bet Dwarka is also associated with the legend where Lord Vishnu slew the demon Shankhasura; Source: Internet}

Like Somnath Temple, nothing is allowed inside the temple here. So keep everything in the locker, which is inside the temple premises.

After the Darshan of the Lord, we returned to our car parking lot (Okha Jetty) via another Boat.


Seagulls on the way back


Sunset and Seagull

The whole exercise turned out to be easy, smooth and refreshing. It was a pleasant one. From here, we went to Nageshwar...


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Nageshwar Jyothirlinga Temple:

{Located on the route between Bet Dwarka and Dwarka city, is this important Lord Shiva Temple. It is enshrined by one of the 12 swayambhu (self-existent) jyothirlingas, in an underground sanctum. A 25 m tall statue of a sitting Lord Shiva and a large garden with a pond are major attractions of this rather serene place. Some archaeological excavations claim five earlier cities at the site; Source: Internet}


Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple


Huge statue of Lord Shiva

There were hardly any devotees even in this Jyotirlinga Temple.

There is also another Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple at Aundha in Maharashtra. I had visited that temple also in 2009, when I did a similar tour of Maharashtra along with my family.


Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, Aundha, Maharashtra (Pic taken in 2009)


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Devbhoomi Dwarka:

After visiting Nageshwar, we went to Dwarka. There is a SNM here also, but it does not belong to BAPS group. We had the Darshan of the Mandir and then approached the reception for a room. Rooms were available but they were in very pathetic condition. So we decided to stay in a private Lodge.

Dwarka city roads can be compared to our Bengaluru’s Chikpet area roads, with narrow lanes and bylanes. I am not boosting us, but to be frank, no Taxi driver would have agreed to drive in those chaotic by lanes. But we were two people and GMaps was there with us. So we went in search of a room close to the Main Krishan temple, and finally we found a decent lodge for the night.

Hotel Shree, Devi Bhuvan Road, Dwarka. 094286 48444. Rs 400/

The Gopuram of main Dwarkadhish Temple was visible from our Hotel room. We walked to the Temple. We kept our belongings in the Temple Locker and went inside. Surprisingly, here also there was hardly any rush. We had ample time in the Lap of the Lord.

Dwarkadhish Temple:

{Dwarkadhish Temple aslo known as Jagat Mandir or Trilok Sundar Mandir; is the main temple at Dwarka, situated on Gomti creek. Originally believed to be built by Vajranabh, the great grandson of Lord Krishna, more than 2500 years ago, it is a glorious structure seeming to rise from the waters of the Arabian Sea. Its exquisitely carved shikhar, reaching 43 m high and the huge flag made from 52 yards of cloth, can be seen from as far away as 10 km. Source: Internet}

Museum of Sharada Peetha Math:

{Located within the premises of the Dwarka Temple, Sharada Matha or Peetha is the first among the four cardinal Mathas. It is also known as the Kalika Matha, and as per the tradition initiated by Adi Shankara, is in charge of the Saama Veda. The wall paintings illustrate incidents from the life of Shankaracharya, while carvings on the inner surface of the dome depict Shiva in various stances. It has the temples of Sharadamba. The Matha also runs an educational society, an arts college and a Sanskrit Academy which prepares scholars for doctorates in Sanskrit and Indology.

Buy: Prasadam offered to God – Rs. 25/ at the temple counter. Decorative items made from marine shells.

The Administrator, Shree Dwarkadhish Temple, Dwarka – 361335; Ph: 02892 234080 & 90

Time: 9 am – 1 pm, 3 pm – 6 pm ? ; Except Public Holidays.

Accommodation: 02892 236750

http://www.dwarkadhish.org/; source: Internet}


Dwarakadeesh Temple during night

After visiting the Adi Shankara’s Sharada Peeth inside the Temple Complex, we had Prasadam also. And we come out in search of some South Indian food.

Our lodge manager told us to try out a Madrasi Hotel very close by. Fortunately, everything is at a walkable distance and we found out the Restaurant quite easily.

Mr. Subrahmanyam, T.N. Restaurant; Home Guard Chowk, Market Road, Dwarka; Ph: 094272 81034; 094272 78255

It is a South Indian food joint. And those who are away from their traditional food for a long time can definitely give a visit here.


Today’s route by Google Maps

Total distance covered: 326 kms.

On Day 11 of our Gujarat tour, I will take you to yet another ‘not-to-be-missed’ place of Gujarat…