Pictures of the entire trip here -
On Diwali, we decided to go Manish's home town Udaipur in Rajasthan. We thought we would go for sightseeing cum pilgrimage this Diwali. So we took 2 weeks off to Gujarat and Rajasthan.
We left for Ahmedabad from Bangalore on 29 Oct 2010. We had planned to go for a family tour prior Diwali. So when we reached Ahmedabad to Didi's place, they were preparing for the tour. Didi's family, Bhaiya's family and mummy were joining us for the jain pilgrim Palitana. Next day, all of us (7 adults + 6 children + 1 driver) started in afternoon from Ahmedabad. The journey was very scenic but hot. Lot of chaos as was expected with so many children. On the way, we stopped at Ayodhyadham just half-way to Palitana. Reached Palitana in the evening around 7pm. Checked into the Takhatgarh Jain Dharamshala. It was very clean - much better than the 4 star hotels.
Off we went to Palitana city for dinner. Not much options since its a pilgrim center and most of the Jains eat before sunset. At night, you have options of fast food like Pav Bhaji, Dosa, Idli and all and sandwiches. And not that hygienic north indian food. On the first day in Palitana, we had North Indian food. By God's grace, nobody had any stomach problem after eating it.
Palitana is the main jain pilgrim - temples situated on the top of the mountain. We had to walk to the top - around 4.5km of uphill walk. Not that tough if you are alone. But with children, it was a challenging task. Eva was cool during the journey. She didnt have much for dinner. We got her milk and she was off to sleep. Other children were pretty old and independent except Ridhi (1 yr old who relied on mother's milk on most of the journey). We decided to start early next morning. The early you start - the better it will be - since you avoid the sunny day.
We were up by 4 am - got ready by 5am. But finally started climbing the hill by 6.30am.. what a start :). We took two Doli for children. Initially it was used to take water and other stuff with us since none of the children wanted to sit in it. Eva was also adamant. Manish carried her entirely to the top. I had doubts that if I took her - somebody will have to take me. So, it was all on Manish to make Eva climb the mountain - most of the times in his hand or on his shoulders.
We reached the top by 8.45 am. Eva had slept on Manish by that time - making his climb all the more difficult. On the way - there were many smaller temples. We visited all of them. All of us were dispersed according to our speed and capacity. We reached the top the first - so had to wait for everybody to start entering the temple. It was equally difficult for mummy to climb - for her age (58). But believe me, today she is much well off than all of us. She climbed without any help. So the doli was not used at all - all the children didnt budge.
After everybody reached the top, we entered the temple - Didi's family wanted to take a bath and then offer Puja. So we waited again. Finally after they were ready, we started with darshan.
At around 11.45am, we started our way back downhill. We reached at around 12:45. This time, the doli was occupied by me with Eva. She wasnt ready to sit alone. So I sat with her to relieve Manish. Other doli still came back empty.
We reached down and were all damn hungry. Entered the firstrestaurant serving sugarcane juice and yummy Jain Bhel. Then we went to the hotel to rest and wait till all of the family members arrived. At around 1:30, other arrived and we went for lunch in the nearby Bhojanshala.
Then came back after the sumptuous meal and off to sleep... Got up for a tea in the evening and then went to Hastipur - another Jain temple on a hill - here the car goes till the top. A very beautiful spot - amidst nature. Then at around 7 pm, headed back to Palitana. Then off to dinner. We had Pav bhaji this time and other snacks. We roamed in the market - yes we had the energy - females always have energy to shop.
Had ice-creams and then back to room. Manish and myself wanted to have goti-soda and ice gola. But we were so full that we gave them a miss.
Next morning started our journey to Sasan Gir - around 180km from Palitana. Reached Sasan Gir at around 3.30pm. Then Manish enquired about the safari and Jiju looked for hotel. We got a decent hotel - inspite of the great Diwali rush. We had enough time - so we headed to Somnath merely 40 km from there. We thought we can get to Somnath by sunset. Sunset is the significant thing in Somnath - you should not miss it... the sun sets in the sea. We were on the beach by 5pm. But the sun was in the clouds... So inspite of being there on time, we didnt actually get to see the sun setting in the sea.
Nevertheless, all enjoyed in the water and the camel ride. Then we went to the Somnath temple. A very very beautiful one - we were lucky to not have much rush. So, we got to admire the temple at peace.
Then went back to Sasan. Next morning we had to get early for the jeep safari. This time, we decided not to take children with us - since all of them were scared to go to the jungle. Only Jiju, Bhai and Bhabhi, Manish, myself and Eva went for the safari. Saw lot of wild animals - the forest is not that dense as compared to Corbett. Saw a lion sleeping in the jungle - his kill right besides him. The lion had eaten the flesh and was sleeping... Supposedly for 2 days. So we cud not get to see lion awake in the jeep safari. The safari was very disappointing for us - since we had lot of expectations - having been to Corbett and Kabini, we had thought of lot of animal sighting.
Then we went to the interpretation zone with children - did a bus safari where we saw lot of lions.
Then after that, we were on our way back to Ahmedabad. Reached back at around 9 pm.
Next day, started for Udaipur. Reached Kesariyaji at around 9am. And then reached home in Udaipur by 11.30am. Next two days, it was more of relaxing and preparing for next trip and meanwhile celebrate Diwali. After Diwali, we went to Sajjangarh in Udaipur. Its a nice place - a palace now turned in a nature interpretation museum and a sunset point. Its situated on the top of a hill from where you get a view of the city of Udaipur.
Next 2 days, we spent in Kanera - visiting our relatives after almost a year - seeing lot of peacocks in the farms and eating and enjoying the leisure.
After we returned back to Udaipur, we had next trip to go. Next day (10th Nov) we started for Ranakpur. Ranakpur has beautiful Jain temple - a temple surrounded by mountains.. Its world renowned for its carvings and its pillars. Lot of stories behind every carving. Then next was Pawapuri. On the way, we also stopped at Swarna Mandir in Falna. Its said that all the ladies of Falna contributed little gold for this Swarna Mandir.It has glass temple also.
Then we reached Pawapuri in the evening at around 7pm. Took accomodation there and then after dinner, we went for Darshan. I was awed by the idols - very calm and beautiful. Felt like looking at them for all my life. Eva was happy playing in the fountains there. There is a Jal mandir also.
In the morning, we took the cable car ride in Pawapuri. Stopped at the Gaushala where we got the privilege of feeding cows.
After such a beautiful journey of self, we headed to Bhairu Tarak and then Jay Jirawala.
Then spent evening in Nakki Lake, Mt Abu. Next two days, we went seeing the hill station - but it was again seeing the temples in the mountains. Went to Gurushikhar and the Adhar Devi Temple and Brahmakumari places. The best place i liked was the Nakki Lake - chilled out - had good food - window shopped and then had good food and ice creams. Both the evenings, we went to the Dilwara temple (8th wonder now) - in the morning there is not a place to stand and in the evening at around 7 pm - its calm and serene - no visitors - only Jains doing Bhakti Bhavana. We got enough time there - Eva was also in good mood - so we got to do the Puja the second day.
And then next morning (13 Nov) we started early again to reach Ambaji. Went to the temple in Ambaji. We hadnt thought if we would be able to go the top of the mountain by ropeway since we were running short of time - our return flight scheduled in evening from Ahmedabad. First we thought, we would visit the temple and then decide. When we reached the parking - an interesting thing happened - i wud say a miracle. A man came to us and said that come with me - i will show you the way. We decided to go with him since we didnt have time to think. He showed us the place to keep our chappals. Then in the temple, he took us to the pooja stall to buy flowers, prasad, chattra and coin etc. Then, he asked us to come with him. There was a long queue till outside the temple. I told him that we dont want to do darshan on camera. "Where was he taking us?" He said - trust me. Then he waved to the security guard and then to our surprise, we were infront the idol inside the temple... Could not believe that we had jumped the queue (not really) and saved an hour there. We took the darshan and back to the pooja stall to pay for the stuff we had bought. Then just for information, we asked if there was similar rush to go to the mountain... No - no rush there - pat came the reply. Only 3 minutes to go by ropeway and 3 minutes return back by ropeway. So, we saw each other and we were in the tram on the ropeway. On the mountain top, there is akhand jwala - the place is supposed to be the place where lord Krishna had shaved his head in his childhood. We cudnt believe that we were through both the temples in an hour ... inspite of a lot of crowd.. Thanks to the man and God bless him.
Then back to Ahmedabad, met Didi Jiju again and off to Bangalore flight.