Wanted to set off from the Dhaba as early as possible, but still ended up pushing off at only at 7. I continue on the road, leading towards Bhavnagar, with Shatrunjaya being todays stop.
Long boring ride it turns out to be. The hot sun is aided here by the lack of trees close to the road. The only thing of interest on this road were the salt factories. These churn out mounds of salt. It is interesting to see salt formed in various crystalline structures in pools of water.
The land is parched in most parts along the road here. Villages are five kilometers away from the highway, a surefire indicator of where the more hospitable land is. Dried-up rivers have left in their trail a white residue, which can only be salt. Elsewhere too, there are small dry patches of land tinged with white. I have had enough of this salt and heat, except that my body is losing some.
I stop for lunch at Vartej, a little distance before Bhavnagar city. No hesitation at all to order a Gujarati thali. The Gujarati thali provides standard fare. Typically a few chapatis, two vegetable dishes or curries, a small cup of rice. Night's thali gets you rice is cooked with turmeric and green gram. Turmeric is supposed to help prevent cold. Another popular item is either kadhi , or daal. These items are typically sweet, compared to the rest of the country which I don'r think adds sugar to these dishes. There is a good chance that one of the side dishes will turn out to be tomato sev , which seems to be available in most hotels. Generous doses of onion are supplied on demand. Fried chilli finds a place on most thalis as well. Many people choose to gulp down all this with buttermilk. Each shop keeps a good stock of half liter packets of Amul Buttermilk, equivalent to two glasses.
After lunch, I take a break till 2, again to escape the heat. Then I'm off to Palitana. The road is slightly hilly and the heat slightly less oppressive, or so it tooks like. The road turns more hilly after Songadh and I take a small break, dozing off in a bus stand. I wake up an hour later feeling somewhat dehydrated. My hands are itching. When I take off the gloves to satisfy the itch, I find a few bubbles on my arms. Bad! I ride the remaining distance to Palitana slowly, with a few breaks, reaching at a leisurely 8 PM. No problem finding a room in hotel Shravak. Nice room for 200 bucks. The room is big enough to hold my bicycle too. Keeping the fan on at all times is necessary, such is the heat... One look at the mirror shows me how much of a toll the heat has taken. Reminds me of this ad which shows a tennis player. The ad says, 'aksar apka body ka rang aapke face se nahin milta'(often your body is not as fair as your face). In my case, the situation is reverse! I am also filled with some serious doubts about the feasibility of this trip. Imaginining the situation in Rajasthan makes me think of alternate plans...
I take a hurried bath since I'm feeling sticky and an itch in my hands and legs. Crashed into bed after dinner, don't know when