Friday, 18 April 2014

Ahmedabad, a city full of warm hearted people -- Part II

The first part of the blog is here

Sabarmati Ashram

After visiting Hatheesing Jain Temple, our auto driver took us to Sabarmati Ashram situated on the banks of the river Sabarmati. Gandhi Ji and his wife lived here for twelve years.

  It is from here that Gandhi Ji started the famous Dandi march in 1930. The march had a strong influence on India's freedom movement and in recognition of that, the Government of India has established the ashram as a national monument.

  We saw the simplest of the simple room where this great man used to stay. There was also a demonstration on how the "charka" is used.

  There is also a museum in Sabarmati Ashram where many of Gandhi Ji's letters, writings, photographs are on display. While going through each one of them, my realisation of this great man increased more and my respect by leaps and bounds. The world is indeed blessed to have Gandhi who taught us non violence and self control.


Statue of Gandhi Ji



Original seating arrangement of Bapu

Vinoba Kutir - Mira Kutir

Kasturba - the Ashram's Mother

Mother and infant parakeet at Sabarmati Ashram



Sarkej Roza

  Our nest stop was Sarkej, which is 7 kms from Ahmedabad. It is the most famous Rozas in Ahmedabad. It was once an important centre of Sufi culture in India.

  The intricate stone carvings of the complex reflect the beauty of the soul of the Roza's patron-saint Ganj Baksh. Upon his death in 1445, the reigning monarch, Mohammed Shah ordered a mausoleum built in his honour. The credit for Roza's architecture goes to Azam and Mu'azzam; two Persian brothers. The complex was originally spread over 72 acres, surrounded by elaborate gardens on all sides.

  This was pretty much for the day's sight seeing. Our auto-walla dropped us at our hotel. We had been doing the city rounds for almost 6 hours at a stretch !! Our auto driver Akbar was indeed a nice man. In case you visit Ahmedabad and plan for sight seeing you can take his services.


Sarkej Roja

Adalaj Step Well

  We could not cover Adalaj on the first day we reached Ahmedabad. There are too many things to see in the city itself and so we had to keep Adalaj for the second last day of our Gujarat tour.

  Adalaj is situated little far from Ahmedabad city, almost 18 km towards Gandhinagar. It is better to book an auto or car for this trip. We reserved an auto for covering the to and fro journey.

  The Adalaj step well is magnificent and should not be missed. We kept almost 2 hours for seeing this vav. It is a five storied step well and the walls have intricate beautiful carvings. The design on the walls include flowers, elephants, leaves, trees and patterns.


Adalaj Step Well

Art work at Adalaj Step Well

Adalaj Step Well

Adalaj Step Well

  In the evening we went to the nearby Law Market. I don't think any shopaholic can afford to miss this place in Ahmedabad. There are rows of small shops on either side of the road that opens in the evening. Most of them sell dresses that are hand embroidered by the local artisans of Kutch. The dress colours are mostly bright and have exquisite embroidery and mirror work. One can always do some bargain before buying. I brought these four beautiful bandni ( tie and dye) pieces. Aren't they beautiful ? :)

Bandni Pieces
keywords: sabarmati ashram, ahmedabad, gandhi ji, travel, photography, ahmedabad travel blog, 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ahmedabad, a city full of warm hearted people -- Part I


From Bhopal, we took an intercity bus(Srinath Travel Agency) at 4:30 PM which brought us to Ahmedabad the next day morning. This bus runs regularly between Bhopal and Ahmedabad. At around 7:30 AM we got down at Paldi. We were approached by an autowala who told us that he would take us to a new good hotel where the room charges are resonable and he would charge us only 20 bucks!! We were so surprised... he would do so much for only 20 bucks...!

  Anyway, we got into the auto and the autowalla took us to a hotel. The hotel was indeed new and sparkling but the rate was above our budget. Then again this auto guy came to our help. He bargained hard on our behalf and brought down the rate. And at the end he took just Rs 20. Inspired by his honesty, wherever we travelled in Ahmedabad we always took auto and believe me we have never been duped. Mark my words, autowallas in Ahmedabad are honest, unlike their counter parts in Bangalore who fleece passengers with no mercy.

Jama Masjid

  We had less time to waste as we had a long list of places to cover for the day. After a quick ablusion we again reserved an auto for the city sight seeing. I already had a list of the following places to see in Ahmedabad.

Siddi Syed Jali Masjid
Jhulta Minar
Jama Masjid
Kakaria Lake
Huthee Singh Jain Temple
Sankej Roza
Sabarmati Ashram
Adalaj Step Well
*Akshardham Temple
*Ahmed Shah Masjid

  The first thing that catches the eye is that Ahmedabad is a clean city. The second thing is that the people are helpful and they will help even more if they understand that you are a tourist. Whenever we asked for directions from one person on the road, immediately 4 to 5 person would gather and start giving directions. This particular habit is someting I find very common in Bengalis too; and maybe that is one of the reasons why we instantly grew a fondness towards the Gujaratis.

  While writing this post, I realized that this one will be a long post so I am breaking it up into two parts; the more the parts the merrier...the less writing for me and more pictures for you.

  I will be covering the first five places in this post and the remaining three in the next. Sorry for the last two marked in stars. Though those were there in my list but ultimately I could not see those two places. So here it goes..

Siddi Syed Jali Masjid

  This was the first stop in our itinerary. Located near Lal Darwaza, the mosque of Sidi Sayed is one of the most prominent mosques in the city. The masjid was constructed in 1573 by Sidi Syed. The most amazing things to marvel in this masjid are the semi circular windows intricately designed with mesh patterns commonly called 'jali' in Hindi. It is because of this mesh patterns that the masjid is famously called "Jali Masjid". The mesh patterns show very rich Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.

Art work at Jali Masjid

Jama Masjid

  Next we visited the famous Jama masjid built by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the founder of the Ahmedabad city in the year 1423. This mosque demonstrates a very rich mix of both Hindu and Muslim style architecture. We left the place a little early as we were told that Mr Amitabh Bachchan was supposed to be there within the next half an hour for the shoot of a commercial. Though we wanted to say a "Hi" to the legend but we left the place because we knew that in the next 30 minutes there would be a sea of people to catch a glimpse of him and all the roads may get blocked.

Jama Masjid

Inside Jama Masjid

Jhulta Minar

  Jhulta Minar or the swaying minarets is an absolute architectural wonder and is a classic example of superb craftsmanship. The two minarets adorn the gate of Siddi Bashi mosque. The minars are constructed so intricately that a small child's push can make the minar sway. However now pushing the minars is prohibited.

Jhulta Minar

Art work at Jhulta Minar

Art work at Jhulta Minar

Art work at Jhulta Minar


Kakaria Lake

  The Kakaria lake is a huge manmade lake located in the city. The lake was built by Sultan Qutab-ud-Din in the year 1451 A.D. It is basically an artificial lake with thirty four sidesThe lake is closed on Mondays and since we were doing the city tour on a Monday, so we could not get inside the lake premises. There is also a zoo adjacent to the lake.



Huthee Singh Jain Temple

  This is a beautiful Jain Temple built in the year 1850 by a wealthy Jain merchant Seth Hathee Singh. The temple is dedicated to the 15th Jain Trithanakara named Dharmnath.

Hathe Sing Jain Temple

Pillar at Hathee Singh Jain Temple

  OK, with this I bring to a halt my first part of Ahmedabad blog. I will write the remaining part in a day or two. Till then just as Television show anchors say "Stay Tuned" I would also like to say the same "Stay Well and stay tuned" :)

keywords: Siddi Syed Jali Masjid,Jhulta Minar,Jama Masjid,Kakaria Lake,Huthee Singh Jain Temple,Sankej Roza,Sabarmati Ashram,Adalaj Step Well, ahmedabad, gujarat, blog, travel blog

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lothal, Site of Indus Valley Civilization in India

On our way from Ahmedabad to Velavadar, we decided to stop at two places. First at Nal Sarovar (pronounced as Nar Sarovar) then at Lothal. Both these places would actually fall on your way and you just need to take a small detour.

  Now you must be wondering why Lothal?

Walls
  Well, when I was in school, just like everyone else, I too had studied about the Indus Valley civilization and wondered how much advanced men were at that part of the world; so much advanced that they built houses with brick walls where all houses had proper sanitation, had a port, a large granary, wells... all these at around 2400 BC!

  Until I started my research on Gujarat, I always had thought that the Indus valley Civilization was only in Mohenhjaro and Harappa, both of which are now in Pakistan post partition. And to my amazement, I came to know that the Indus Valley civilization is scattered all over Gujarat as well, out of which Lothal is one such settlement.

Dock

Drainage system

Part of brick wall
  Since there are no guides to take you around in Lothal, it is best that you first visit the archaeological museum and get an idea of the place. The archaeological museum is just next to the protected site. The museum is closed on Fridays. You can refer this link for the museum, in case you need more information http://asi.nic.in/asi_museums_lothal.asp

  We roamed in and around the ruins for about an hour. We saw the upper acropolis, lower acropolis, cemetery, bead factory, a dock, warehouse and old wells. Though everything is now in ruins, you can still make out how magnificent it was when the civilization was alive.

Upper Acropolis

Lower Acropolis

Lower Acropolis

  Since my knowledge of history is limiting, you can have a look at the link below. It is really a good article on Lothal: http://www.harappa.com/lothal/text.html

  While exiting the place, two very nice grandpa's befriended us :) They were locals and on seeing our cameras, they asked us to take their photos. They were very happy to know that tourists from far flung places came to see Lothal, which is now their home.

Grandpas
  Next we hit the highways, our destination... Velavadar.

keywords: lothal, travel, gujarat, harappa, mohenjodaro, travel

Monday, 3 March 2014

Nal Sarovar, birding paradise close to Ahmedabad

Our next destination from Ahmedabad was to Velavadar. As you may know, Velavadar is famous for black bucks; and we had planned to see these beautiful creatures for a long long time.

  However before reaching Velavadar, there were two places for us to cover as both the places fall on the way to Velavadar.

1. Nal Sarovar
2. Lothal

  Nal Sarovar is famous for its birds and Lothal is one of the sites of the famous Indus Valley Civilization.

  Since both me and Ankur are photographers and naturalists, so a visit to Nal Sarovar was well pre-planned. The best time to visit Nal Sarovar is from November to February when the migratory birds arrive. And similar to any wildlife sanctuary, the best time for bird spotting is early morning.

 Nal Sarovar is roughly 65 km from Ahmedabad and the best way to reach there is by hiring a cab. We had booked a cab for 4 days which would take us to Velavadar, Gir and back to Ahmedabad. We started early at 6 AM in order to reach Nal Sarovar at sunrise. The condition of the road is good and we drove past a few villages as we were to enter Nal Sarovar.


Greater Flamingo


  We saw several painted storks, cranes, herons on either side of the road when we were still about 1 km away from the sanctuary gate. We also saw flocks of flamingos flying past the village.

On reaching the sanctuary gate, you are no longer allowed to take your car inside. We brought entry tickets and then got up on a shuttle taxi that took us inside the sanctuary. The shuttle taxi driver told us that we need to wait till the taxi is full or else if we pay 100 bucks he would not wait for passengers and start immediately.

  Since our only aim was to see the flamingos, we opted for the latter option. Waiting for the shuttle taxi to get full would mean delay for us and less chances of flamingo spotting. So instead of the regular Rs 10 fare we gave the driver 100 bucks.


Lesser Flamingo

Flock of Lesser Flamingo, about to land.


  Once inside, we had to take private boats that would take us inside the lake from where the birds could be seen. We were approached by brokers who initially quoted us Rs 6500.

  Both of us were like WHAT(???) 6500 for boat ride? We told them that we had come to see just flamingos and nothing else. We are not interested in any leisure trip or view points. After sometime of haggling, the price was brought down to 1500.


Lapwing

Gull

Gull

Kingfisher


We got onto a boat. There was one boatman and a guide. The lake is shallow and about 4 feet deep. The boatman took us to a secluded place after rowing past places that were filled with tall grasses. And what we saw, we were mesmerized....... hundreds of flamingos were in front of us. There were both greater and lesser ones, all busy in feeding. We had to maintain a minimum distance of roughly 50 mtr from them so that they didn't fly away. We got some of our best flamingo shots.

Into The Wild

The Boatman

Flying Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

Flock of flying Greater Flamingo

Flock of Flamingos, just before landing


 Once we reached the disembarking place we gave a little token to the boatman; and how happy they were...!
  They are poor people and do not get much money from the brokers so a little token brings a lot of smile on their faces.

Contended with great sightings and photographs we headed for Lothal.


nal sarovar, flamingo, lesser flamingo, greater flamingo, bird, photography, travel, nal sarovar travel blog, nal sarovar blog
   

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bhimbetka, prehistoric rock shelters


After marveled by Sanchi, we headed for another UNESCO world heritage site, Bhimbetka. Bhimbetka lies about 45 kms south east of Bhopal. The place is an UNESCO World heritage site and is famous for its pre-historic rock shelters and rock paintings.


Cave structure
 We entered the premises after paying an entry fee of Rs 25 per person. Cameras are not charged. From the entry gate, the rock shelters are about 1 km inside.

 Once inside we were simply amazed. There is a continuous sequence of Stone Age cultures from the late Acheulian to the late Mesolithic period and also some of the world's oldest stone walls and floors. There are 15 rock shelters that are open to public to see; the remaining are all scattered. It compelled us to wonder that it was the same place where our fore fathers had made the amazing cave paintings some thousands of years back, while they were still cave dwellers.


Cave Painting

Cave painting

War scene

Hunting scene


 Most of the walls have paintings on them. At least some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo erectus(mind it, not sapiens) more than 300,000 years ago. Some of the paintings are more than 30,000 years old and depict animals, people, hunting scenes. There is one popular rock shelter called "zoo rock" which has drawings of elephants, deer, bison and sambar. Some of the relatively recent paintings depict battle scenes.

 The place gets the name Bhimbetka because in the Mahabharatas, which is one of the holy epics of the Hindus, it is written that Bhima or Bhim (one of the Pandava brothers known for his great strength and massively strong build) used the rocks as his sitting place.

 we just had an hour for this wonderful place. And we did not know that the place spreads over a large area; otherwise, we would have reserved more time for it. We would advise that you keep aside at least 2.5 hours for visiting this place. This place is huge and interesting. It is good if you can see the place at noon.

 There is also a temple very close by, but sadly because of our time constraint we could not visit it.


Cave Map

Animals

Group of People

Different paintings

Bhimbetka from outside

Cave System

Taking photograph of Cave shelter
bhimbetka, cave drawing, bhopal, travel, blog

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