Last year I went on a pilgrimage tour in Gujarat, India with a cousin. It was a wonderful experience and I can still relive every beautiful moment. We flew from Pune to Ahmedabad and then drove around the state of Gujarat along the coast. We visited the island city of Dwarka and the islet of Bet Dwarka. Then took the coastal road southwards along the Arabian Sea to Somnath temple. This is the first of the 12 Jyotirlingams (primary Shiva temples). Then we came back eastwards and stayed in Gir Forest.
On the way from Ahmedabad (in the middle of the state) to Dwarka (an island city) on the west coast, we stopped at the Swaminarayan Temple. This is a quieter and a more peaceful version of the famous Akshardham Temple in Ahmedabad. Although it is comparatively new, the architecture emulates ancient Indian style. Going around the temple was a fascinating experience.
It took us 7 hours to drive from Ahmedabad to Dwarka city. Most of the original kingdom of Dwarka is submerged under the sea. But a small portion of the land where the original Dwarkadheesh Temple (Lord Krishna temple) and Bet Dwarka temples were built still exist!
Bet Dwarka – reachable only by ferry
Near Dwarka there is the Nageshwar Temple which is also considered one of the 12 Jyotirlingams. We paid our respects to Shri Nageshwar and proceeded south along the coast.
We proceeded to Somnath Temple which is in Prabhas Patan on the Arabian Sea coast.
Note: To maintain the sanctity of the Lords no one is permitted to take photos inside the temples. Hence I do not have pictures of Shri Dwarkadheesh, Shri Somnath, Shri Nageshwar. But when you read on Google that there are more than 1,00,000 visitors per day at these temples you can imagine what an awesome experience it is!
Once the pilgrimage part of our holiday was over, we looked forward to some adventure. Now we moved back eastwards to Gir Forest, which is the only place where you can find Asian lions in their natural habitat.
On the way to Ahmedabad airport we visited the ancient stepwell built by Queen Rudabai in 1499 to prevent drought in her kingdom. It is another architectural marvel. It takes all day to explore the landings and steps. If you zoom in you will see what looks like a never ending array of landings…
Adalaj ni vaav (stepwell)
At the end of a wonderful week, my cousin and I drove back to Ahmedabad city and returned home with more than 1000 photos and a lot of stories to tell. BTW, Gujarat is definitely the cleanest state in India! Even small villages and fishing hamlets are surprisingly clean. I hope to go again soon…