More of the Village, and Somnath

Oct 7: Woke up really late, at 6:45. Ok, I'm still in the village, and relaxing. No need to hurry yet. I've willingly piled up the delays today.

First, a visit to one (out of three) temples in the village. The old man has changed to spanky clean white clothes. Looks like the shoddy ones are for the market ! Half an hour of prayer, I'm about to yawn. Imagine me the atheist sitting in a small temple trying to look a little devout! Next up was what we, in kannada, call the somari katte. The old man was joined by another person from the same family tree(kutumba). Many more people joined us - farmers, the local politico and the local headmaster. I was the center of attraction. Many things were freely discussed - from the rains in north Karnataka to my salary !

Other elements of the village life were visible in the converation too. Advi village is 13 kms from the periphery of the Gir Forest. Indeed, it was part of the Gir forest in the bygone days. That was before the forest was cleared and farming started. Even now, many of the smaller cats and bigger cats are sighted here frequently, including Lions a few times a month. The smaller cats poach on the domesticated animals with some amount of impunity. Only the previous day, my host has lost two little calves. In such cases, the villagers intimate the forest department. These claims are verified (typically footmarks) and the parties compensated according the the age of the killed animals. This is good, else who knows what the hapless villagers would do ?

It's 10 AM by the time I take leave of my hosts. The sun is up, the headwind is up. Life's a misery. I take many bouts of rest under shades of banyan tree. 50km passes by, and I'm at Somnath.

Somnath seems to have more of history going for it, than what the present has to offer. The temple is protected by metal detectors. No mobiles, cameras, etc allowed. The currently standing temple at Somnath was constructed by Sardar Vallabbhai Patel. An old temple is also in the complex, but heavily mutilated. Half the damage definitely done by Ghazni & Co. There's a statue of the Iron Man of India standing right outside the temple. He's described on the plaque as the 'welder of Bharat', which, though factually correct, certainly doesn't seem too nice in English. Jaswant Singh should see this !

I end the day at Verawal, 7 kms away. Verawal is a city of reasonable size. Sizable boats are built here. Seeing the boats being built reminds me of a hollwood movie where there's this guy building an Ark. Each boat apparently takes 3-4 months to build, and lots of woord.

I settle at Ajanta Lodge, near the bus stand. When I see the lodge manager taking his time to tell me the price and treating me with a lot of courtesy, I see a discount coming my way. 120 rupees for me compared to the regular charges of 300 rupees. Welcome tea, hot water, kind words. Mr Gohel is indeed a nice man. He also arranges for me to be woken up in the morning at 5 AM, and morning tea as well. Discount of 5 rupees at the nearby bhojanalay, such is Mr Gohel's influence. The 10 rupees I give to the lodge boy are returned to me as well...

Before sleeping, I discover that I have something of a fear of bats. A small bat has wandered into my room, and I'm trying to quickly shoo it away. The image of bats in my mind is not good, and more as conveyors of disease rather than as blood-sucking dracula. The bat settles on my track pant, causing a frenzy from me. Finally, I'm able to open the door and guide the bat outside. Phew!

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  1. The bat gave you some hard work at the end of the day i guess. These things happen just when you think things around are perfect. That was a good celebrity experience you had at the village.

  2. Yeah, the village was a nice experience.

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