Page 3 of DavidandSara Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Gujarat » Rann of Kutch November 20th 2018

Today we’re headed to the Little Rann of Kutch. It’s a 4 ½ hour drive, but the roads are good. Along the way the vegetation is much as elsewhere in Gujarat, but as we near it becomes noticeably more dry and less cultivated, but still no sign of any salt flats. We arrive at the Desert Coursers EcoLodge at Zainabad just in time for lunch. A handful of circular mud build cottages – or huts - stand in a semi circle around an open area, and we’re shown to the green one. It’s small and basic, but the warm welcome and the sights of the Little Rann more than make up for that. At 4.00pm we go out in the jeep to the national park. We set off through the local village, which is poor, and ... read more
Jungle cat
Owl in flight

Asia » India » Gujarat » Rajkot November 20th 2018

A quiet day. We start at the Naulakha Palace, part of the medieval Darbargadh or fortified palace complex of Gondal, which was the original seat of the ruling Maharajahs. The main building was built in 1748, and is ornately decorated with stone carving and ornate jarokha balconies. It’s not clear where we go, and the only person visible speaks no English. We climb the steps up to the first floor of the main building, but everything is locked. As we descend, a young man greets us and starts to open up the various rooms of the palace. The main building was the Maharajah’s residence, and houses a large durbar hall with stuffed leopards glaring snarlingly down from the four corners. Most of the other rooms and buildings are devoted to little collections of items either commemorating ... read more
Gateway of Naulakha palace
Swamirayan Temple
Gateway of Swamirayan Temple

Asia » India » Gujarat » Junagadh November 18th 2018

We set off for Gondal. It is in total about four hours total driving. The road is rough out of the Sasan Gir greater area, but then the roads improve. We pass through a flat landscape, with mile and after mile of cotton fields and dusty townships. You do not come to Gujarat for the scenery, or for pretty villages, but that is true of much of India. We stop off in Junagadh. This is a town that in the Middle Ages was the seat of the Nawab of Junagadh, who owed his allegiance to the Sultan of Gujarat. The old town in incredibly densely packed, with lots of old and interesting buildings, but there is nowhere to stop and park to allow us to take photos. The traffic is carnage as we approach the Uparkot ... read more
Mahabat Maqbara, Junagadh
Gujarat goat herder
Abandoned Jama Masjid, Uparkot Fort Junagadh

Asia » India » Gujarat » Gir National Park November 17th 2018

At 5.15am the next morning we drag ourselves out of bed. We have slept well, but sleep has been disturbed intermittently by what sounded like rats trying to eat through the wall by our bedhead. Our gypsy sets off at 5.35am and we repeat the rigmarole at the ticket windows. This time the driver does not assist and David does it on his own, with a sharp pair of elbows to help. Into the park and it is very cold. We have our fleece sweaters on but forgot our gloves. It is magical though to be going through the forest as the sun comes up. Suddenly, we see three or four jeeps on an adjoining track. Our guide yells to a ranger he sees, and tells us we have permission to join them – they are ... read more
Roaring lioness
Eying up breakfast
Crested eagle

Asia » India » Gujarat » Gir National Park November 16th 2018

On our way out of Diu, we stop off at the bird sanctuary. We’ve been looking forward to this, but there are disappointingly few birds to see, so we’re soon on the road to Gir. The surface is poor, but it only takes a couple of hours. We’re staying at the Gir Birding Lodge, which is tucked away behind other larger hotels and is not easy to find. We settle into our little cottage, and enjoy a very tasty lunch before getting ready for our first game drive. Getting into an Indian national park is always a bit of a bureaucratic palaver, but Gir has elevated this to stratospheric levels. We had to book our safaris months in advance - in fact, that’s why we booked with the lodge because their owners were willing to arrange ... read more
Grey heron
Fine plumage

Asia » India » Daman & Diu » Diu November 15th 2018

The Portuguese came to Daman and Diu in 1535 and formally established it as a colony in 1537. It survived independence in 1947 and was only annexed to India in 1961. It was the longest surviving colonial rule by any European power. The historical centrepiece is the Diu fort, about 15 minutes from Nagoa beach where our hotel is. It was completed in 1547 and is a formidable structure, with double walls on the landward side and a moat, and the sea on the other three sides. It is seemingly not curated in any way, and there are no signboards or any explanatory boards, just a useless map at the entrance. Form the moment we enter the fort, we are assailed by “hello one photo please”, all requested perfectly politely by respectful youths, polite young girls ... read more
St Paul church Diu
Naida caves Diu
Diu museum

Asia » India » Daman & Diu » Diu November 14th 2018

We’re kept awake till midnight or so by the wedding guests heading in and out of each other’s rooms, noisily, but eventually they all head off to the wedding and we’re able to sleep at last. It’s no surprise there are very few people at breakfast next morning at 7.30! The satnav tells us it will be a five hour drive to Diu, but in the end it takes six. The quality of the roads slowly but surely deteriorates as we head deeper into the countryside. The two lane highway turns to one lane each way, then the roads narrow, and eventually the smooth tarmac breaks up. At times our average speed drops to just over 20mph.We pass through a series of small dusty towns where we crawl through traffic. To either side of the tarmac ... read more
Gujarati man reading his paper
Black and white kingfisher
Local Kartawari dress

Asia » India » Gujarat » Bhavnagar November 13th 2018

We’re heading south now towards Diu, a coastal resort. It’s too far to drive in a day so we’ll stay one night in Bhavnagar, 4 ½ hours away, with a stop at Lothal Harappan. Lothal was a major port, trading and bead making centre under the Harappan or Indus Valley civilisation from around 2400BC to 1500BC, so before the arrival of the Aryans in India. The Harappans were trading along the Silk Road long before the concept existed, buying copper from Oman and Afghanistan and selling beads and other goods as far west as Turkey and Egypt. They used standardised weights and measures, and installed mains drainage and sewage thousands of years before the Romans. The towns were built on a grid pattern with all dimensions of roads etc standardised. The town of Lothal is thought ... read more
Lothal remains
Salt poisoned landscape near Bhavnagar
Migrating flamingoes in a smelly landscape

Asia » India » Gujarat » Vadodara November 12th 2018

Champaner is just over an hour from Vadodara (or Baroda as many still call it), and one of the main reasons to come to Vadodara – not that many foreign tourists do, as we have only seen two white people here in two days. Champaner expanded and flourished at the end of the 13th century when it came under the Delhi Sultanate. The distinct Gujarat architectural style – a blend of the local Hindu style and the Islamic – came to prominence at the beginning of the 15th century with the establishment of the Gujarat Sultanate. Champaner is said to be the only complete pre-Mughal city in India. It flourished until around 1534 when the Mughal ruler Humayun conquered the city briefly. It was then in and out of Mughal control until the early 1600s when ... read more
Shahar-Ki-Masjid, Champaner
Jama Masjid windows, Champaner
Mughal style tomb of Qutubuddin, Vadodara

Asia » India » Gujarat » Vadodara November 11th 2018

We’re up early to take in one last sight in Ahmedabad before driving to Vadodora. It’s the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kalupur, the temple of a Hindu sect that worship Swamirayanan who founded their sect. It was built in the 19th century of brightly painted teak wood. We enter through a massive gate into a courtyard with a haveli on three sides of the square and the temple on the fourth. At 8.30am it is teeming with people who have come to make their devotions. We are surprised to see what looks like a large yellow bell shaped tent approaching. There seem to be two women inside, and David is ordered to move away with all the other men, as only women are allowed in the immediate vicinity of the moving tent. Mystified, Sara looks on as ... read more
Shrouded worshipper, Swaminarayan Mandir
Laxmi Vilas Palace Vadodara
Entrance gate to Laxmi Vilas Palace Vadodara

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