The Gujarat Trip - Day 2

We had started from Bangalore and reached Dwaraka on Day 1.  It was now Day 2.

All of us were up and running by 6.15 AM, being told that Dwarkadhish Temple (the flagship temple in Dwaraka) opens for darshan at 6.30 AM.  The Hotel being close to temple, it was a two minute walk.  We could see the Arabian Sea in the horizon.

Besides many other items, cell phones (read mobile cameras) are not allowed inside the temple.  So we had left this in our hotel. There is a counter to leave your belongings but I am not sure if you want to leave expensive phones there (especially when "we are not responsible for your belongings"). The Dvaraka Pitha (also called Sharada Math,) adjoins Dwarakadhish temple.  (This is one of the four mathas that Adi Sankara had established).

The 6.30 AM darshan was quite crowded and there was quite some jostling to have a darshan.  There are separate queues for ladies.  Some of us were asked to take a "short-cut" which led us to the inner sanctum before others.  The darshan was good, though I felt the crowd management could have been better.  Of course, in a few minutes the crowd had dispersed.  After visiting Dvaraka Pitha, we climbed down the steps on the "back" side of the temple to see Gomti Ghat. Being summer, the river Gomati had barely any water, though many devouts were taking bath and performing ceremonies.

We crossed Sudama Sethu (a newly constructed bridge over Gomti river) to visit a small temple (which had among other idols, Sage Durvasa). Sudama Sethu is a suspension bridge (only for pedestrians) and an entry fee needs to be paid to use it.

The checkout time in our hotel was noon.  We were not sure if we would be able to come back to our hotel after visiting other places by then. So we decided to checkout before proceeding further.  It was around 8 AM.

Bhadkeshwara Temple

Lighthouse
Our next stop was Bhadkeshwara Mahadev Temple, about 2 km from where we were staying. While there is a concrete pathway leading to this ancient temple, we were told the path is covered with water in high tide, which makes it an interesting experience.  From this place, we could see the Lighthouse as well as sunset point - a couple of sight-seeing spots (more interesting in the evening than at this time!).

From here, we proceeded to Rukshmani Devi temple. (Yes, Rukmini is pronounced and written as Rukshmani here) - a small, but crowded temple when we went - the crowd compounded by the priest canvassing for donations. It seems that area does not have potable/drinking water (due to some mythological reason).

We then left to Bet Dwaraka. This is an island off Okha port.  There are ferries to Bet Dwaraka and travelling in one is an experience in itself.  We had done ferry rides in Ernakulam, but were unprepared for the uncovered boats that could apparently seat (to be precise, stand) seemingly infinite people.  The engine of the boat itself was accessible by entering through a small window after asking passengers to make space!
Rushmani Devi Temple

The alternate option is to hire a "private boat" (exclusive for you and family).  But we summoned courage to board the normal ferry.  It was a short ride to Bet Dwaraka.  There are no "tickets" - the ferry operator collects cash in the boat - Rs.10/- per head.

Our first destination in Bet Dwaraka was a hotel for breakfast - it was close to 11 AM and we were famished.  (In retrospect, we should have had breakfast before checking out). By now, we also had reconciled to having roti for any meal. Arguably the hunger made the food tasty, and stomachs full, we went to visit the temple.  No cell phones allowed in this temple as well, so we took turns to visit the temple, rather than deposit this in the counter.  The temple is under renovation, but is quite beautiful.
The ferry ride

The ferry back took a longer time (since it take a different route to handle the ocean current) and we were smarter this time to get shade behind the structure housing the engine.

Gopi Talab was our next desination, a few minutes from Bet Dwaraka. "Talab" means pond and there is a pond adjacent to the temple. The sand in this area is considered to be "chandan" (that we smear on our forehead).  Remember, it was noon and quite hot (40 degrees plus), so we could not appreciate the place much!
Siva Statue Nageshvar

We then drove to Nageshvara Jyotirlinga, close by. There is a giant Siva statue adjacent to the temple (a modern structure, for sure).  The temple was open and not crowded. Like all jyotirlingas, the idol is below ground level. There is a controversy on whether this is indeed a "jyotirlinga".

This rounded up our Dwaraka temple visit. It was around 2 PM and we had a five hour drive to our next desination - Somnath.  The route is pretty much along the coast and we saw plenty of windmills.  We had to take brief detour where a bridge was under repair.  It had got damaged in the 2015 Gujarat cyclone.
Gandhiji born in this room

We stopped for lunch on the way.  Also, we stopped at Porbander to visit Kirti Mandir, memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.  It adjoins the house where Mahatma Gandhi was born. The house is under the protection of Archaeloogical Survey of India.  There is also the house of Katurba Gandhi nearby - I had to navigate a narrow lane with four barking dogs to get there though!
Sudama Puri

We also went to Sudama Puri temple, also in Porbandar, the birth-place of Sudama (Kuchela), Krishna's friend. This is a beautiful complex which houses a temple as well as garden, flocked by pigeons.

Porbandar otherwise is dusty and dirty.  Most of the road were dug up (perhaps to lay pipes) and untarred. Hopefully it is getting developed.

We passed by Chorvad, Dirubhai Ambani's ancestral village.  There is also his memorial on the main road.

It was 8 PM when we reached Somnath and got settled in our Hotel Shubh Suvidha. There was an adjoining Hotel Sukh Sagar (not the Bangalore chain), where we decided to have dinner.  We were too tired to visit Somnath temple after the long drive, though I believe it is beautiful decorated in the night.

What did Day 3 have in store for us?

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