Day 4: Damodarji Mandir, Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, Shri Jalaram Mandir, Fun, Experiences, Feedback - My Journey through Saurashtra, Gujarat

28th Mar 2016


Lazy Morning


It is last day of the trip. We all are super exhausted after 3 days of chasing monuments, temples and lions. There is not much on itinerary today, except a scheduled stopover for shopping and few temples on the way. People are not in any mood except getting back to Ahmedabad and take rest, or Have fun. 

In fact, we are super cool when it comes to having fun. Right after our bus departed on Day 1 and we made customary introductions, joke sessions were already on. Many people shared their wisdom and experiences. In fact, I don't remember our bus sleeping even for few hours.

The Fun Begins


If we tried to sleep, something or the other will break the ice. After Sasan Gir visit, many of us were really tired and already sleeping. Guide had put old Hindi songs to soothe the process. One uncle, however, was in mood to listen to songs, only louder. I'd go to lower the volume and he'd request to raise it again. Everyone went into discussion over what's the right volume to listen to songs. And that's how ice was broken.

More often than not it would be our guide waking us up to see something passing buy, sometimes even under-construction temples. Just when we are about to catch a quick nap, a 10-15 min stopover for darshan of temples and monuments would get scheduled. And many of us may actually have refused to get down, only bowing to peer pressure, as one by one each of us got down.

girnar asoka edicts
 Asoka's inscriptions in middle of nowhere, Girnar. No clue what's written here, no translations available from this pali text to Hindi/English. It's a wonder it has survived over 2300 years, given it lies on roadside with no protection. (Text is very clear, zoom if you're not able to read)


Priya, the Tourist Officer


If nothing else, Priya mam, our travel supervisor, super enthusiastic almost all the time, would come into action. Mic was under her control and it was used mercilessly to get people on their feet. Requests, beggings, public pressure (when you announce someone's name and everyone claps enthusiastically), all tactics were used to pull people on stage. And when nothing worked, she'd pester aunties to send their husbands on stage, and vice versa. Ironically, almost all of us performed on stage eventually, except her.

Priya, Tourist Officer, Gujarat Tourism
Priya, Tourist Officer, Gujarat Tourism

Ibrahim Malek, our Guide


The stage was set by our multi talented guide, Mr Ibrahim Malek. His quips and jokes kept us grinning. He would recite stories of each city, region, temple or baba with utmost zeal, like a good orator. When Priya was asking everyone to come and sing on stage, it was he who picked up mic and sang "Aadmi musafir hai", like Md Rafi had sung. I have no qualms in admitting that I have not met a more entertaining, friendly, responsible and knowledgeable guide before in several of my travels.




Aadmi musafir hai - ibrahim malek

Bhajans and Jokes


Vidya Bhaskar uncle was always ready with few jokes in hand. And moral stories. Neelam aunty sang several bhajans for us, even songs later. Many sang a song or two or shared moral stories. One such story struck my mind. It was related to Numbers.



Jokes by Vidya Bhaskar uncle



Bhajans by Neelam aunty

Zindagi ka Safar

Jeevan mein Humsafar

Why is 108 sacred in Hinduism?


"Why is 108 a sacred number in Hinduism?" was the question an aunty tried to explain to us. Her simple answer was imbibed in the very name of "Ram-Ram", the beloved god of Hindu dharma. In Hindi it's written as "राम राम". राम is composed of letters र(27), आ(2) and म(25), whose positions in Sanskrit alphabet add up to 54. Therefore, positions of letters of "राम राम" add to 108 and hence 108 is sacred.

In fact, I found out that positions of letters of "सीता राम" also add up to 108. सीता is written as स+ई+त+आ. Positions of स(32), ई(4), त(16) आ(2) in Sanskrit alphabet add up to 54 too. Together, letters of "सीता राम" make up to 108, the most sacred number in Hindu dharma. Who could have thought, names of Ram and Sita are equivalent in certain mathematical sense, incomplete without each other, yet complete as a whole when together? It is beautiful.



Importance of 108 in Ram-Ram Naam

It was followed by couple of other responses. One interesting response was that the ratios of Earth-to-Sun's distance to Sun's diameter, Earth-to-Moon's distance to Moon's diameter, and Sun's diameter to Earth's diameter, all are 108. Rather unconventional answer came from Sadanand uncle, a practitioner and teacher of Yoga for many decades. Each half of our body, right and left, contains 54 (something I forgot, may be bones or veins or muscles) which add up to 108 for whole body. He even suggested me to do 54 Kapalbhati keeping one nostril closed each time, because it awakens these 108 body parts. 

As soon as Sadanand uncle came to know that I'm unmarried, he went on stage and announced I'm getting married this fall and everyone is invited. It couldn't be funnier that by end of trip almost everyone was convinced I'm getting married this December. At one point he would tell jokes, on the other some darshan on life and yoga. It was fun and educative listening to him.



Parody song by Sadanand Uncle on my failed relationships

Snikita, the Princess


Darling of our bus sat quietly in back of the bus, well quiet at least for the front rows. Her favorite song is "Maine kaha phuloon se, hanso to woh khil-khila ke hans diye", followed by a big pretty smile. She is very friendly, playing with all of us. But she's quite a princess. Before reaching Porbandar, she got this craving for coconut water, her favorite drink and was incessantly crying. Her mom, dad, nana, nani all tried to pacify her that once bus would stop they'd buy it but nothing worked. As soon as we reached Porbandar, they rushed to market and found a coconut water seller after lot of searching. However, by then she had lost interest in coconut water. They bought it anyway to stay on safer side for rest of travel. Quite a princess, no? ;-)

Snikita, in her trademark pose

Snikita with her family

Damodarji Mandir and Bhavnath Mahadev Temple


Damodarji Mandir is first temple we visit today. It's located in scenic Girnar, mountains are green and beautiful. As we enter, we spot two kunds on both sides. There is lot of rush in this temple for Pind Daan. Another temple is attached to this main temple via a bridge. It has small cave like structure, we make through it somehow. It's a great place to take pictures. Bhavnath Mahadev temple is close by.

Someone dared the Sun
Daring the Sun

Damodarji Mandir
Damodarji Mandir

This little girl is devotee. Offered chandan to everyone without asking for alms.
This little girl is devotee. Offered chandan to everyone without asking for alms.

Pind Daan, Damodarji Mandir
Pind Daan, Damodarji Mandir


Feed the cows and earn Punya
Feed the cows and earn Punya
Bhavnath Temple
Bhavnath Mahadev Temple

Notice the beautiful Shivling colored building in background
Notice the beautiful Shivling colored building in background

Shopping at Rajkot


After visiting Damodarji mandir and Bhavnath Mahadev temple, we went straight to our shopping center at Rajkot. Sun is super hot and so are the prices. Everything is expensive here, probably even dearer than Ahmedabad, and fixed rate, non-negotiable. Nevertheless, we bought several items. Aunties bought sarees, suits etc. I bought a Gujarati ethnic dress for my friend's daughter. One uncle, a successful businessman of his time, was not interested at all. "We get cheaper clothes in Delhi than here, this is complete waste of money!" he argued. He bought one dress for his granddaughter in the end, partly under peer pressure and partly due to my continuous pestering. We also see Shri Jalaram Mandir nearby. Food is served free here.

Shopping spree at Rajkot
Shopping spree at Rajkot

Gujarati Hospitality at Toran Restaurant


Its very hot and we are very hungry by now. We stop at a Toran restaurant, not a hotel, and witness the awesome Gujarati hospitality. The food is delicious. Chapatis, sabji, rice, dal everything is tasty here. Everyone is so hungry that food shortage is frequent - food comes and goes in seconds. There is shortage of chairs so manager brings few from his home. Now its time for dessert and Suji ka Halwa is on the menu. Manager has taken the bowl in his hands and is personally serving all of us at our tables. If we ask for one spoon, he is serving us two with a smile and lot of pestering. Few aunties gather around me and ask him to pour even more halwa on my plate. I had lot of halwa that day.

Experiences


We are tired and our tummes are full, yet no one is sleepy. Chit chats are on. I collect phone numbers and emails to share pics and videos (our whatsapp group is very active). Few rise to share their overall travel experience, which mostly range from good to awesome with few complaints.




Sharing overall experience

Feedback


Complaints and suggestions are mainly related to services and planning. Given that all the travellers are outsiders, pick and drop from stations and airports is desired. Also, an evening check in at nearby hotels makes sense for a trip starting as early as 6am in morning. This becomes even more important when 80% of your travellers are retirees and of old age.

I had some issues with timing and planning. We missed live darshan of Aartis at both Dwarkadheesh temple and Somnath temple due to callous planning. At Dwarka, we took an unnecessary detour via chowpaty and at Somnath, we were stuck at puja rituals for hours. Somnath had great beach but we missed it completely. Many temples and monuments are skippable as they mostly have local significance. Saurashtra is all about seas but we don't visit a single beach open for bathing. Finally, last day is unnecessary with no significant itinerary on paper. We could have made it to Ahmedabad by last night without any hassle.

Sasan gir is worthless for tourists from far distances. I would have loved spending whole day in actual Gir forest, which is not much expensive. Instead of Junagarh, we could have gone to Diu, a wonderful place to spend a day with its beaches and monuments. Bhavnagar is en route to Ahmedabad from Diu which hosts Blackbuck national park, another beautiful place to be. All in all, this trip is great, very popular too, but it can be greater.


Gracias and Dasvidaniya


Ahmedabad is about to reach and I'm first one to deboard. Saying goodbye to everyone is emotional yet pleasant. Aunties are unanimous in suggesting I should get married at the earliest and next time I travel I should bring her along. Once they come to know I'm jobless and hence ineligible, they give many blessings for my startup endeavours.

Toffee Khaoge?
Toffee Khaoge?














What makes a trip great? Beautiful places, Solid management and Great company. Well, we had all three. Three Cheers!
What makes a trip great? Beautiful places, Good management and Great company. Well, we had all three. Three Cheers to Us!

Shubhi


My suitcase is still broken but I don't care. I'm dying to meet Shubhi, my niece whom I have missed terribly in last four days. She is very upset with me that I left without saying goodbye to her (this trip started at 6am!). I have bought many things for her, like flute, purse, toys made of sea shells, a Krishna idol etc. At first she wouldn't talk to me but soon falls into my lap after seeing so many beautiful gifts. As we start playing together I have already forgotten about my arduous journey. My energy levels are fully recharged by her charms and I don't feel tired anymore. She has emptied my bag and packed herself instead. I wonder if I could carry her like that with me. After lot of cajoling she comes out and helps me pack my bag. My train is late night but she comes to see me off anyways, to the station. My sister tells me she's already asleep while going back home. Well, so am I!

2 comments:

  1. If you happen to visit New Delhi, please be my guest. Keep writing to hone your skill further. Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you uncle. Pls do ping if you're around Bangalore. Have a great day! :-)

    ReplyDelete