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Published: March 16th 2018
Our next destination on the tour of Gujarat was Ahmedabad, the main city & textile centre and also the former capital of Gujarat. En route we stopped at the Modhera Sun Temple, built in 1026, which consisted of a large “stepwell tank” with steep steps leading down into the turbid green water. Two small sandstone temples, decorated with multiple carvings of Hindi deities, elephants and intricate designs, were situated nearby.
After a further hour of travelling we stopped at another spectacular 11th-century stepwell, in the shape of an inverted Temple which plunged deeply down steep steps into the depths. Numerous shrines and elaborately carved statues were present on the walls and steps - a most unusual and interesting structure.
That evening we enjoyed our first Gujarati Thali - a meal consisting of many small dishes of curries, rice, breads and unidentifiable but tasty morsels!!
We explored the old heritage centre of Ahmedabad the next day. Walking through narrow alleys, backstreets and small squares marvelling at old havelis - former cotton and spice merchants’ houses. Numerous small Hindu shrines and colourful street-food stalls were present on corners and the occasional “holy cow” blocked the narrow lanes!! Ahmedabad was a
typical Indian city, with blaring car and scooter horns, poverty, colourful scenes of street life abound everywhere and there seemed to be constant activity - the blazing sun raised the temperature to 38c by mid afternoon, when things quietened down somewhat and we returned to our hotel for a much needed break. What a wonderful city - and very few other tourists appeared to be there!!
Long drives thorough open countryside and farmland, watching ancient agricultural techniques carried out with old antiquated implements, past nomadic gypsy encampments, small villages and narrow dusty lanes, saw us arrive at our next accommodation at the Blackbuck Lodge. On a safari through the National Park we saw numerous Blackbucks, distant views of Grey wolves and a wide variety of birds.
Next day, after leaving the game reserve, we visited the magnificent Jain Temple of Palitana. The only problem was that it was situated on top of a large hill and involved an uphill walk of 4km and 3800 steps - and a shorter but steeper walk back down. Although we started not long after sunrise, it was not a mean feat, as the temperature rose inexorably throughout the morning. The Temple was
spectacular and well worth the climb - but very few photos as photography was not allowed within the temple. This intense exercise activity left all group members with aching legs!! and so we were all relieved to have a couple of easy days at the beach resort of Diu where an early morning visit to the fish harbour and market was the highlight.
We moved onto the Sasan Gir National Park for another safari through open woodland and forest areas with the hope of seeing Asiatic Lion but again we were unlucky and disappointed as we saw nothing more than a Jackal and occasional birds. Tomorrow we will visit another temple and the former home of Mahatma Gandhi before taking a short flight to Mumbai for the final stage of our trip.
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