We leave Porbandar without knowing what would be our next night halt. Our Google search reveals that the next town with any kind of hotel accommodation is Veraval 124 Kms away which would be quite a long jump for us. We start driving until we come to a place near Navibandar to be told that a bridge on the road to Veraval had collapsed more than a year ago and a diversion has to be taken. We take it and make it to Navibandar with some difficulty.
Navibandar as a port does not have much of an activity especially after the collapse of the bridge. We visit it nonetheless mainly because we had since beginning decided to visit all Lighthouses. The Lighthouse here is a functional unit and not a grand affair. It is manned by only person who was away when we visited. Hence we do not know if they allow to climb the place.
We return to the main road which is at the other end of the collapsed bridge and are about to drive southwards when a flock of birds flying catches our attention. We stop and walk towards a small lake. This place would have been famous had it been near a city. Being a freshwater body near the sea, it supports quite a number of bird species.
But the main attraction turned out to be a smaller pond with this:
The road ahead is smooth and straight. A pleasurable drive brings us to another surprise. Madhavpur Beach is surprisingly long, sandy and clean. And more importantly it has a reasonably good hotel. So we decide to stay the night at Madhuban. As we move around we learn that apart from the bridge the village has the remains of a 12th Century temple. I think in the 12th century people did not have any work other than building temples.
We also come to know that the village has a Osho Ashram. That’s quite interesting though not surprising. There also another Ashram called Gokul. Both these places offer accommodation presumably to their affiliated people. A long ditch between the two places offers birding opportunities.
The next day (4th September) we start from Madhavpur and proceed to Mangrol. This is a large fishing harbour and boat-building place. The town is quite large ( 150,000 souls). We spend some time at the harbour watching some activities related to operationalizing the fishing boats after the same were laid up for the monsoons. Some were already at sea and the others were being readied.
Some new ones are being built.
Mangrol has a fish market, two in fact, one for the wholesale trade and one for retail.
We buy some fish and proceed on to the New National Restaurant. It is too early for lunch and we have to help Khansaaab with his preparations including cutting the onions.
Shri Goswami owns a tanker that supplies drinking water to the fishing vessels about to sail. He insists on being photographed with his water tanker.
The Port has a Lighthouse. Permission has to be sought for visiting and if granted one has to climb 200 steps on the staircase. No, thank you.
The next place we visit is Chorwad made famous by Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of Reliance group. Before we visit the Memorial ( which is the place where spent his childhood), we reach the beach. A rocky beach with the remains of a palace built by the ruler of this principality. The palace built by Mohabat Khan was appropriately named Dariya Mahal. It was advertised as India’s first Beach Palace hotel. One can only see its ruins now.
The beach is quite good but we could not see it at low tide. We wanted to stay back and started making enquiries about possible accommodation. There is none. During the enquiries an outrageous suggestion was made by the person selling coconuts on the beach. ‘There is a hospital in the town and they offer rooms’, We did not bother to verify the truth or try out the option.
Of course we go on to see the Memorial to my one time employer. Nothing much from outside and photography is not allowed inside. This is the entrance to the town. the memorial is a short distance ahead o the left.
Somanth is of course is among the famous temple towns of India. Apart from the main temple, it also has several other temples and also a large one under construction.
Among the others is the Surya temple which has a lot of plants growing on it, in defiance of the powers of the Sun God.
Then there is the Triveni Sangam, confluence of three rivers ( and probably the Arabian sea) , a place where Lord Krishna had breathed his last.
Currently on the Triveni Sangam is the statue of Mr. Morarji Desai, ex Prime Minister of India being badly treated by crows
In this story I have missed the town of Veraval. It will be included in the next.
3rd & 4th September
Posted on 5th September.