Pleasant Climes At Last

Oct 5: It rained heavily in Palitana yesterday night (by local standards at least). Kids enjoying getting drenched, a sight to watch. Memories of a carefree childhood die hard indeed.

Rains ensured a cloudy day, a blessing for me the rider. I started off on the road to Diu, avoiding the typical highway route. The road was OK, a state highway maintained in average condition. The road I took skirted the Shatrunjay dam, the largest in this part of Gujarat, for a while. Then it wandered off into the hills. I had been warned discreetly by a tea shop owner to not take out my valuable electronic equipments till I reached a place called Jhesar. The hills here have a semi barren look, and the place has picked up a reputation for unsavoury elements. I took my precautions and nothing untoward happened. The sun was trying all the while to pierce the veil of clouds, but didn't succeed until afternoon. And only barely then, at that.

I am not too happy with breakfast in Gujarat. I find it hard to belive that they have such a drab breakfast every day, mostly namkeen made from besan . Some kind of sauce to go with it. Extremely dry and unfulfilling. Also, one needs to be careful in hotels. Ask for naashta instead of khaana , a word reserved for lunch and dinner.

Taking interior routes has its upside and downsides. On the positive side, there is a chance you may meet more local people who may have time enough to speak with you. Less traffic on the interior roads as well. The downsides are comparitively bad roads, and less choices for food. Most small places here seem to have a shop selling cold items, like ice cream and carbonated drinks, These places need not have a tea shop. If you are thirsty, try the carbonated drinks or local ice creams.

There is a tendency here to sell finished goods, like soft drinks, rather than locally made items like sharbat. This probably indicates economic prosperity. Bad thing for a cyclist, since it reduces the chances for the cyclist to indulge in talk with locals, who tend to be more busy, rather than less. This only increased my desire to stay in a village today.

I reached Albert Victor on the highway by evening. This place is close to the sea. I made a small plan : ride my bicycle till darkness. Hopefully I'd hit a village and get a chance to stay. Two things foiled the plan. First thing : I ended up on the highway towards close of the day, not a good place to meet the right villagers. Second reason : unexpected rain.

Luckily, I was near a small village hotel when the rain struck in full force. Me and passengers from a local motorycycle-rickshaw all ended under the same roof. The rain stopped and the others left. I got an idea that I could stay here for the night, listening to any stories the old man had to say. Plan foiled by the old man. He was eyeing me suspiciously - even feeling around my bags searching for a bomb! Looks like these guys are expecting a terrorist attack as well. Though I sympathised with the old man, I had a hearty laugh at his plight. The next place to find accomodation was Nagesri. It was dark by this time, so I continued with lights. 8 km more to go.

Two guys on another bicycle were having a difficult time dodging the potholes on the road. I helped them by riding next. Another conversation started. These guys were going to guard their fields from deer. They shine the torch at the deer to scare them away. Apparently, twelve tigers have been released to hunt the plentiful deer too! I'm not buying this last part of the story. The guy on the backseat says that he ran away from home at age 9, went to Mumbai, worked there for 17 years, and then came back. Says Mumbai is not a good place for a simple and trusting person like him, and thats why he chose to come back. I don't know why, but I have seen many people entertaining this idea of 'one can get get rich only at the expense of others' in all sorts of places, including in Bangalore's auto rickshaw drivers! Such thinking, I have observed, leads to frustration in the concerned people. Creation of wealth become's someone else's prerogative, not the persons' responsibility.

Next comes the much awaited hotel and guest room at Nagesri. Turns out to be a nice hotel, but no facility to stay. No problems for a cyclist, given the nice dhaba owner, a young chap from Rajasthan. He tells me that the people here are quite simple. Due to the recent terrororist problems, local people find it a little hard not to take a close look at outsiders. My cycle finds a place inside a room, and I sleep without a care on the spring-laden charpai outside!

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  1. I love gujju food for lunch, never had gujju breakfast 🙁
    now even in western ghats people make detailed inquiry before giving a shelter.
    enjoy your village stays!


  2. Thanks, Mallik. I stayed in a village yesterday night. Got chapatis for breakfast. That’s much much better than dry snacks !

  3. Shree, all the best maga…
    ur doing it alone as always??
    where in the village do u stay?? in temples??

  4. Don’t you get Dhoklas or Poha? Had them when I was in Ahmedabad for a brief time.

  5. Hey Shree,
    Planning to Visit Gir? once try to get a look at the Asiatic lions in the wild?

  6. Shree,
    I dont know if you have this in itinerary, but try to visit RANAKPUR temple near udaipur.
    Nice Jain temple, supposed to be nominated for 77 wonders.
    If you are going to Jodhpur from Udaipur, one of the non-highway roads should lead you here.
    I guess the lat=25.1347174

  7. Great observations around Shree. Thats a lot of text typed out of the pda. Hey not complaining here. Its good 🙂 Envy you for the way you find yourself ‘exotic’ places to stay.

  8. Shree,

    Dont Miss Kumbhalgarh Fort (84 kms from Udaipur, Rajasthan)
    This fort has the second longest wall in the world (i guess we all know which is the first one 😉 )
    Circumference of 36 Kms.

    The place can be accessed on the way to Jodhpur from Udaipur.
    This place seems to be close to Ranakpur that I have mentioned in my previous comment.


    From the map, it looks like Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh are either side of Sadri (seems like a big town)


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