Let me begin the travelogue with some interesting, imaginary humour:As the winter is setting in,Lalu said "hit the west for fun n beaches" and traveled to Somnath.Being a great devotee of Shivji,he visited the Jyotirlinga temple and also found Modi in the magnificent sanctum sanctorum.Seeing him he grumbled to the Lord,"Why he got the Nano project when I can run even the train so efficiently for India,let alone Bihar".Laughing in his sleeves Modi said,"Lord,tell him that Nano doesn't eat chara".
It was an early,cool morning as we(myself and my wife Poonam) reached Somnath by a sleeper-couch(bus) from Ahmadabad,an overnight journey.Within sometime got a good room at a reasonable price though it was Mela(fair,Kartik pournima) time from the next day.After some rest,bath and nice tea, we started for the 'darshan' to the huge,beautiful temple on the shores of Somnath in such a place that there is no land mass between it and Antarctica(around South Pole).An aesthetically carved stone pillar with an arrow in the temple premises indicates the direction .Constructed by the vision and guidance of Late Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel in 1951,it was a sorry state of affairs to see that even today it was fully guarded by heavily armed men in uniform due to the present,hideous terrorist menace;creating unease and fear in the minds of people.
This historic temple at present,has a well known background of stupendous riches and ruthless plunders.The temple is said to have been built for the seventh time and the earliest mythological versions were: in gold built by Soma,the moon god;in silver,built by legendary Ravana;and in wood built by lord Krishna.
The present temple,Kailash Mahameru Prasad, in hard stone was designed by famous temple architect Prabhaschandra.157ft. high at the pinnacle,with a 10ton shikhar(top) and a37ft. flag pole,the temple is one of the most beautiful temples of India in Chalakyan architectural style,reflecting the skill of Sompuras the master masons of Gujrat,perhaps the richest state of India at present!Having 'darshan' and moving inside and outside around the temple seeing beautiful sculptures was a rare treat to the eyes and mind.
As we came out ,it was lunch time and we headed for a Gujju restaurant;straight away ordered thalis with chapatis and other dishes being served.And lo,we were clean bowled by the courtesy and affection of the young waiters even while serving water!But there was undheo(very special Gujrati curry with various ingredients like small brinjal,potatoes,yam,raw bananas,broad beans and a variety of spices and a very complicated procedure!),lasaniya batata
kadhi ,etc. too!The reason of Gujarati people's happiness and well being was evident!Went back to the room a bit drowsily, and had a great siesta.Early in the evening we were ready for the vast,lovely beach.
It was Mela time and the beach dazzled with bride like dressed up camels and ponies,glittering in the evening sun;and thelas(push carts) ,stalls of delicious chat ,panipuri and ice golas(shaved ice and syrup balls) attracted young and old, energized by the sun,the sea and the passionate mood of the promising sunset. No longer,holy places belong to aged pilgrims as many by now know that the most beautiful and scenic places in India are invariably the pilgrimage centers!We moved along the beach feasting the phenomenon of sunset.The shipping vessels and boats ( the historic fishing port Veraval is nearby) became more delineated as the hues at the horizon turned yellow,then orange and then scarlet with the drowning sun.Birds gracefully dived for their catch and playfully rested on the shores to take off again in the invigorating breeze.We walked and ran for 3 to 4 km. and returned at a slower pace,delighted by the surroundings.
We bought icegolas and relaxed looking at,commenting to each other about the camel and pony rides and the buzz we were seeing around.After spending some time,we got up and I put my hand in the pocket for the wallet to pay the money.I missed a heart beat as the wallet was gone,don't know where on the on the huge beach!Soon I realized that there was no point trying to search it; just some money, but credit cards and tickets of further journey were also in it.Reconciling,Poonam paid the money.Disappointed,but trying to be geared up,we started returning and when we were near the temple I thought of having 'darshan' and complaining(in a lighter vein) to Shivji like Laloo did!But there was another obese politician present in the temple and common people were not allowed inside.Then we straight away went to the small,insignificant office of the person who booked our further journeys and as I started mentioning about our loss,he produced my wallet wrapped in a paper and telling,"Yes,i know you have lost this;it was found and returned to me by a family.Here,take my cell phone and thank them as they were keen to know that you got your belongings back!"I gratefully shook his hands as my face shone like the moon with happiness and I blessed all the good people of Somnath and the world!
Next day, we had a tour of places like Bhalka Teerth(where Lord Krisha was hit in the heel by an arrow of a poacher),Dehotsarg Teerth(where Lord Krishna parted with his worldly body)at the confluence of three rivers,Veraval fishing port where you'll enjoy the stench of fish for Kms. together,etc...All the places are abundant with colorful mythology and history.Do visit them and add color, charm and the deodorant Stench(available at the stinking fishing port, for men only) to your life!Quite macho;Don't be dandyish and fool yourself buying fancy deodorants!
Raja Ram Atre.