This is the 2nd part of our Gujarat trip covering Somnath temple, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and Junagadh town. Initial content is taken from my Facebook posts and my reviews in another site on 12-Jan-2016. I will be enhancing this to add a proper flow to the narrative.
Somnath: Triveni Sangam: Simple fun trip
This is a small distance away from the temple (maybe around 1 km). You can walk, but the road / path is not very clean, and there is no shade – hence better to go in a vehicle. At the entrance you can buy feed for fish and birds – its a good experience. They have boat rides are at Rs. 5 per head – these are worth it – so don’t miss them. There are some pigs and dogs at the pier, but these are generally calm. If you feel like it, you can do some poojas here for a fee.
Somnath Temple: Plan ahead and take your time
You need to remove footwear before entry and there is about 200 metres walk to enter the temple. They don’t allow cameras or mobile phones inside, which you have to deposit at a place which is further away than the footwear stand (about 300 metres from temple) – hence deposit cameras first. Also buy bottled (and sealed) water before you go. After being inside for a while, we felt thirsty, but there was no water – and I had to go out all the way to external shops to get it (about 400 metres from temple). There is quite a bit of rush at Aarti time, but the central dome has some air coolers.
I noticed a few others had got some bottled water (‘Ganga jal’?), and they had some mechanism by which you could pour the water into a bowl near you and it automatically gets pumped up to fall on Shiva! Don’t miss a walk to the back edge of the temple from where you can view the sea. There is a tall wall, and you cannot get to the beach – there is actually no beach, mainly rocks here. But the view and the breeze is amazing. We watched the light and sound show for a few minutes, but walked out since it was not that interesting, commentary was in Hindi, unclear at times, and my kids got restless.
Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: Spotted 8 Lions!
We had booked our safari through the resort – hence no tension on that front. However, we had to get our passes at the entrance (Sinh Sadan) – which is often crowded. There is a souvenir shop inside Sinh Sadan – plan to spend some time here.
The route (they have 8 different routes), jeep driver, the guide get assigned at a small counter here. I believe they have pre-assigned drivers and guides for each resort? (our guide said something like ‘I was waiting for you’). I don’t recall our guide’s name, but he was below expectation. He spoke only Hindi, but wasn’t really good at explaining either – we often had to ask him for more details – only then would he talk 🙂 The whole point of spotting lions is probably ‘staged’. They all have walkie-talkie, and will know exactly where the lions are. Our guide kept telling us that we may see, we may not see, they spotted on this route, they did not spot on that route, lets wait here for a while, etc. Most of the trip is spent on dusty roads – if you have an expensive camera, watch out! We had completed about 90% of our tour without any lion in sight – and then suddenly there was this group of around 8 of them! 2 or 3 lionesses and their cubs resting near a man-made water body. But in the end, the wait was worth it 🙂 Another group that came behind us told us that they spotted a leopard too!
Junagadh – Mahabat Maqbara: Nice drive through
Junagadh is a really nice drive-through town. Mahabat Maqbara and several other amazing monuments were all in a row, and you can view them from our vehicle itself. We didn’t get down to go inside. However, I noticed that no one was actually inside – no gate, no ticketing booth, no tourists. Maybe they have timings. We were on the way from Gir to Bhuj and didn’t have much time to spend – hence the views from our vehicle was good enough. Check out my pics too.