Bharuch or Bhadoch in Gujarati or Broach at an earlier time is another historical place on the Gujarat coast. A medium size town with a population of c. 400,000 and with two large industrial areas- Dahej and Ankaleshwar close by.
Although it has a history, Bharuch has very little in terms of monuments to vouch for it. It is said that after Varanasi, Bharuch is the oldest continuously inhabited place in India. If true, much needs to be done to document it. Very few people in the town know about it’s past. To make things worse for us, it was raining.
As landmarks we could see the Railway Station.
The fort which is in bad condition but offers beautiful view of River Narmada.
The Nawab’s haveli is in good condition. We had the good fortune of meeting the Nawabsaheb who is keen traveller himself. He showed us around a part of the haveli on the ground floor and showed us a number of antique objects in his collection. It includes a number of clocks and watches, very old but still functional. No. Photography is not permitted.
The city has two bridges ( 3 if you count the railway bridge separately) connecting it to the sister city of Ankaleshwar. The logistically important is the new bridge but the one of antiquity of 125+ years old is the 1412 meter long Golden Bridge by which the city’s inhabitants swear.
The Golden Bridge is a scary affair. It is a two-way bridge but scarcely any space between two cars. We had to retract the rear-view mirrors
Ankaleshwar is an out and out industrial town. Hence we decide to give it a miss as ‘industry’ is not a part of our tour agenda unless it is historical. Still we decided to take a drive-through trip of Dahej as it was coupled with visit to another place en route. Dahej ( & Lakhigam which is almost indistinguishable from it) has port terminals and a host of industries. It rained and we had to confine ourselves to the car and miss out on a few things including the Lighthouse.
The place we intended to visit is called Aaliya Bet, an island in the river Narmada. It is located off the road to Hazira to be crossed at a fishing village called Badbuth.
They are in fact two islands. The smaller one which is also nearer is simply called ‘bet’ or island. It is inhabited but does not have a name. Strange. We understand that the people on the ‘bet’ rear cows and the milk is sold at Basdbuth. We make enquiries about a boat to cross over to Aaliya Bet. We are persuaded not to. ‘There is nothing there’. ‘only villages and farming’, ‘there is no boat currently available’ etc.
On the banks of river Narmada, this village is engaged in Hilsa fishing which is sent as far east as Howrah market in West Bengal.
In this smallish village we could count at least 5 temples on the river bank itself, including one under construction.
Our next stop is another island in the river Narmada. Kabirwad is a famous place. Made famous by a religious place called Shuklatirth on shore and a huge banyan tree on the island. The tree is associated with the Saint Kabir and is said to have spread over two and half acres. ‘Said to have’, because we could not see it.
The boat service to the island is suspended for about 4 months now. We are told that there is a dispute between the Government and the contractor. Nobody is willing to take us across.
‘How about the people living on the island? How do they manage?’, ‘People on the island have their own small private boats’. Not for hire.
We saw a boat crossing to the mainland from a distance. We rush upstream but are told that it is a single crossing for the day. The boat will not comeback until the next day.
On the Banks of Narmada, opposite Kabirwad Island. The fruit for sale is the Star Fruit or Carambola.
16th &17th September 2016
Posted on 19th September 2016