Bhavnagar was a disappointment. Despite being the capital of a major princely state, it has very little to offer in terms of architecture. Just about four monuments can me mentioned including the palace which is now a hotel.
Barton Library is a landmark. It was under repairs when we visited.
Alfred High School is another notable structure along with the nearby buildings housing the law courts.
The Ganga Chhatri is a finely designed 1893 make structure badly in need of some care. It is a memorial to a queen who died in childbirth. People are urinating, plants are growing between the pieces of marbles. It would not be long before it is gone unless something is done urgently.
A parrot atop the Ganga Chhatri
The Victoria Park in the centre of the town and the adjacent lake are environmentally important places providing the leisure space and quite a bit of minor wildlife. The important aspect of the Victoria Park is that it’s tree species are all locals.
A few miles outside the town is an important mechanical device, a gate which maintains the water level at low tide in a shipyard. The adjacent Bhavnagar port, however appears to be past its days.
Beyond Bhavnagar and up to Bharuch which is located beyond the Gulf of Khambat, there are not many places on the coast which would be of interest to us. However, we intend to visit as many of them as possible. The next important place on the coast is Khambat but before that we decide to visit two more places which are not exactly on the coast but within a 30 Kms. distance which is the limit we have set for ourselves.
The first of these is the Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary & National Park.
Velavadar is closed for the monsoons which end on 15th October for the department of forests of the Government of Gujarat. It is a 4 months holiday. We are stopped on the public road which passes through the sanctuary to reach the villages beyond and admonished for taking photographs. We are to stay at the Blackbuck Lodge a couple of Kms. beyond. The Lodge is excellent and well managed. I wish we were visiting during the migration season when the park gets a number of migratory birds. We still hoped to see an indigenous but local bird- the Lesser Florican. We spent almost half a day with a local guide. No success. the grass is grown a bit more than what is ideal for it’s sighting. There are other birds like this spoonbill which are not migratory.
We enjoy our one night stay at the Lodge. It is a place to remember. This was our cottage.
The migration season is just starting and we could see a female Montagu’s Harrier and an European Roller. The local Guide Amit Velavadar is an young student but quite knowledgeable of the local and visiting species. The thing to remember on the wildlife side was the sighting of a leucistic female Blackbuck. There are two of them in the park. It is not common because the leucistic specimen of animals cannot expect to survive long in the wild as they lack the natural camouflage of their species.
Another interesting thing we find at the Lodge ( and around it) is a wild variety of Ochra(Bhendi). It is growing naturally and has similar flowers but the fruit has a design on it which is not found in the domesticated variety. No, we did not taste it.
We come of the Park area and drive towards Khambat. On the way between Bhavnagar and Khambat , one can see an interesting twist of history. We cross Dholera, the proposed megacity , the Hong Kong of India and drive towards Lothal an Harappan city at least 4000 years old. The two places are quite close by. By the time Dholera is fully complete, Lothal would around 25 Kms. across.
There is not much in Dholera at the moment except for the very promising billboards and hoardings offering all kinds of real estate.
Lothal gives you a good insight into the Indus Valley civilization townships. The factories, the port, the Chief’s residence are all there. This site is not as big as Dholavira in Kutch but is important as it was a maritime place with a port and trade with several overseas territories in the Persian Gulf as well as Africa.
The chief stayed here.
A part of the Harbour. The Archaeological Survey appear to have done a good job. The small museum at the site is helpful in understanding many aspects of the Harappan life. The place does not have the usual tourist crowd and hence is clean and neat.
This is the part of the harbour where the ships of overseas traders docked. Now it is several kilometres from the river which connects it to the Arabian sea.
12th to 14th September 2016
Posted on 16th September from Bharuch.
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