Monday, 15 April 2019

A walk with a difference - tracing the footsteps of water!!

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water said W H Auden many years ago. Water is Life. Who better than the people of Rajasthan would know the true meaning of these statements. The land that has forever lived with scarcity of water. The important word here is “lived”! Yes, lived and survived and thrived. And continues to do so.

Today, let us make an attempt at understanding the creations of the masterminds of the people of yore. How in such trying times they created a self sufficient system of rain water harvesting, and created channels which guided the stored water to the end user without wasting a single drop!

Our story telling friend is a knowledgable water-space professional who also has a deep connection with the water systems of Rajasthan. As deep as 300 years stacked one on top of the other! To know more about this connection, come with us and walk through an era. We start from today, take you 300 years back and bring you to the future. 

The dry state of Rajasthan might be very low on water supply but has no dearth of hope and positivity. We don’t measure our water in litres, we talk of millions and zillions of droplets! Just how someone would put a mirror in a tiny room to make it look bigger. 

Best time to navigate through the water system and the different eras connecting it, one must reach the Nahargarh Fort by 7 am in winters and 6 in summers. Behold a breathtaking sunrise and proceed to a captivating story of water, experienced on feet.

To make it simple to understand - there are three main components in the whole water system viz., the catchment area, the channels and the accessible storage tank. The catchment area is generally higher than the rest of the system simply because in the days when there were no electrical pumps available, the gravity was used to propel and move the water down the channels. The channels are very thoughtfully designed with no scope of any overflow resulting in any wastage of water. The thickness and height of walls, manual valves to control the direction of flow of water and apertures in the walls to reduce the force of water were the various means of controlling the flow of water. How and where the catchment areas were made, why were those spots chosen, why are the channels so different all along the path somewhere very wide and somewhere very narrow, and how were the direction controlling valves installed - get all of these answers during your walk with us. Just click here to write to us.

Our water walk is named thus because we follow the path of water otherwise calling it a history, geography, cultural, culinary and everything walk would be an understatement. Our storyteller shares the ancient food wisdom, the cultural significances of various practices followed in ancient times, the patterns and fabrics of garments worn then, the basics of how a fort is built, how are dams built and so on and so forth. The information he shares is so immense that we recommend you carry a small notepad and a pen!

As we proceed through the walk and inch towards our ending point which is the tank made famous by the Amir Khan starrer Rang De Basanti, we cross many temples and shrines, we meet a whole lot of different species of birds and also a few dogs who joyfully escort us out of their territories. The most interesting part of the walk is the storage tank which is flanked by a dam and ramparts on one side and a very smart water flow control system on the other. There are steps leading down the tank which are of ornamental purpose only as one can not reach the steps from the edges of the tank. Thoughtfully designed ramps and slopes guide the water to the storage tank, reining its speed and force along the way. The details of these systems are better seen than read about. For pictures you may go to our Instagram page.

The water walk is not long in terms of distance traveled but is definitely long in terms of information assimilation. Keep sipping water all along the way to keep yourself hydrated. Similar walks are conducted at Amer Fort too and a water walk at Ramgarh also is coming very soon. All of these and for many other off-beat travel experiences, write to us here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The disappearing Temple : Shree Stambheshwar Mahadev

A road trip across Vibrant Gujarat is like a treasure hunt but with no clues given. Nonetheless, a very exciting treasure hunt where you keep stumbling upon wonders after wonders. Just take a map with you and ask a little bit around and go ahead explore the lovely land. Better still, ask us because we have “been there and done that” and can help save you precious time and effort. Click here to get in touch.

On one such road trip across Eastern Gujarat, our map led us to this bewildering wonder of a temple - Shree Stambheshwar Mahadev Mandir in Kavi Kamboi, Jambusar. We were literally on a treasure hunt of sorts and were visiting one hidden gem after another. Our minds were still busy processing all the information we received at Balasinor (read here about the Dinosaur fossil site) when we snaked our way through narrow village roads to a spectacle like none other. There stood in front of our eyes in the water of Bay of Cambay a beautiful wall-less orange and white temple that looked like a gazebo from afar. This was the legendary Shree Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple dedicated to lord Shiva. What we were told was that this temple gets totally submerged in the sea at high tide and emerges completely to the bottom at low tide. Of course then how could we not visit this marvel!

The Sight and the Site

There were quite a few visitors here with lots of cars parked around the single road that ends abruptly next to the open land around the temple. A short walkway leads one from this road to the temple. The walkway has a shed over it to protect the devotees from the harsh sea-sun and villagers from around here line the walkway with their wares and knick knacks to sell. Many “holy” symbols such as replicas of the temple, multi-metal rings, vastu-fengshuiesque tortoises, pyramids, evil eyes, charms and talismans, small Shiva Lingas in different stones for the home-temples, pictures of Gods and of course plastic baskets full of Pooja pre-requisites like Flowers, Betel, Incense sticks, Prasad etc are all sold here. Local berries of the season and fresh fruits also have made their way to the walkway!

Beyond the walkway where the temple stands, on the right is a slightly higher temple built for Shiva’s trusted Gate Guardian and “transporter” Nandi the bull. This temple remains unaffected by the tides. The main Shiva Linga stands in the sanctum sanctorum which is a couple of steps down from the main land. This probably is the simplest Shiva temple we have seen so far with nothing except the Shiva Linga and brick tiled floor with iron rails and a wrought iron gate. The gates are opened only when the tide is fully receded revealing the entire length of the Shiva linga as well as the entire floor. You may step down to pay your respects and perform your Parikrama. People from across faiths can be seen here, such is the following of this vanishing temple.

The legend

The legend behind this temple’s coming into existence is as interesting as the temple and the tide phenomenon itself. It is believed that Lord Kartikeya who also is Lord Shiva’s son was quite remorseful after killing Tarakasura - a demon as Tarakasura was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. During this remorseful and guilt ridden time he met Lord Vishnu to help him find a way to absolve himself of the sin he felt he committed. Lord Vishnu comforted Lord Kartikeya by first making him understand that the act he deems a sin was actually a service to the mankind as Tarakasura was known to torment the people and secondly by advising him to make a temple for Lord Shiva and by worshipping him everyday. Hence came the Shiva Linga at Stambheshwar that still stands to bewilder us humans.

What else to do

The locale is quite picturesque and photographers can delight in coming here with their gear. The Bay is a vast expanse of bluish grey haze with silhouettes of the settlements across the bay visible from this end. Seagulls and other marine feathered friends hover around diving sometimes to catch a stray fish and sometimes to catch the chips that people fling at them. Not a great idea though, but we did notice people feeding Farsaan to the seagulls and other birds. The entire coastline next to the temple buzzes with activity during low tides - there are pony rides, pony carts, tiny versions of ferris wheels and camel rides available here. A few ATVs also are available for the adventure seekers. Those who want a boat ride, contact the local fishermen whose boats are anchored along the coast. The Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple and its vicinity are a popular picnic spot for the people from around the area. We in fact even saw a few families enjoying their evening suppers on mats they brought along. At low tide, the entire coastline is an expansive play ground.

What to eat

The Prasad offered here is sweetened mawa which, believe us, tastes heavenly! The golden brown sweetened and thickened milk is a common Prasad at most of the Shiva temples. There are hand carts besides the road that leads to the temple offering street foods like Pav Bhaji, Bhel, Samosa, different types of farsaans and Kutchi Dabeli too. Thirst quenchers come in the form of Nimbu Sharbat (Lemonade), local cold drinks (if you have ever had a Kanche wala sharbat while growing up you would know) and the array of cold drinks that the MNCs brought to India. You may also choose to sink your teeth into a slurpy drippy Choco bar or Mango Dolly sold by the ice cream vendors.

The Vanishing Act

As I already mentioned that we reached the destination when the tide had already receded with only a foot of water remaining near the Shiva linga, we could really not witness the whole spectacular phenomenon of “now you see me” and “now you don’t”. Those of you who wish to see this entire cycle of submerging and emerging must come prepared to spend the day here. At high tide the top domes of the temple only can be seen, the pictures of the submerged temple here have been taken from internet while all the other pictures were clicked by us during our visit. 

Image source : Youtube

There are so many such wondrous places in Gujarat that a road trip of ten days also proved to be too short even for covering only one-fourth of the state. Then of course, that gives us a strong reason to again pack our bags and go exploring the other three quarters! Wonder, what marvels would we discover next!

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Hidden gems of Gujarat : Balasinor

Gujarat does not seize to surprise ever. Having explored the seas, the forests, the deserts, the barren expanses, the tribal life, the arts and crafts, the cuisine, nature’s gifts, mountains, rivers, markets, cultural varieties, monuments, excavated ancient cities : do we have anything left that is yet to be explored? What if I told you that you haven’t yet visited the Dinosaur world of Gujarat? Would you believe that there is a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils right inside the heart of Gujarat? And that till now only a tiny little bit of the site has been explored? And that the fossils excavated here are of Rajasauras and Rahiolisaurus as well as the longed necked Titanosaurs - the giants from the Dino world? A visit to the Balasinor Fossil Park will leave you completely spellbound. You have to see it to believe it, the dinosaur bones are all right there for everyone to see! And don’t be too surprised if we tell you that Balasinor is considered to be the 3rd largest dinosaur excavation site and 2nd largest hatchery in the world!!

Dinosaur fossil sites in India are found in the Narmada valley across Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Millions of years ago the Narmada nurtured what today is a dinosaur graveyard as geologists like to refer to it as. Thousands and thousands of dinosaurs lived, bred and thrived here. A natural calamity caused their sudden extinction. The theories are many and you need to have a great storyteller in a guide to truly appreciate your visit to Balasinor.

We travelled through the rural belt of central Gujarat crossing many small and big hamlets and settlements, finally taking a narrow snaking road through Balasinor and Rahioli to reach the Balasinor Dinosaur Fossil Park. The first sight that meets the eye is a museum complex on the main road itself where a dinosaur sculpture greets the visitors. The museum is under renovation and will soon have a collection of fossils and literature about the Rajasaurus narmadensis and Rahiolisaurus gujaratensis on display. It will also have information and pictures of the dinosaurs from India as well as the world. Once open it shall be one of its kind museum in the whole country. The museum displays have been done by Vama Communications, Ahmedabad and it is owned by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited.The locals, not too many around though as the site is in one faraway corner of the inhabited villages, did not know much about the fossil park. But you must not give up, as we experienced and drove upto the 200 m far fossil park. Another dino sculpture and some selfie boards to take selfies against greeted us here. While we were still lost and looking for boards to guide us, came a motorcycle rider clad in an off-white pyjama kurta. He introduced himself as a local guide for the Fossil Park. We jumped at the opportunity of being taken on a guided tour across the fossil park. After all, it is not every day that one comes for a rendezvous with the biggest form of life to ever inhabit the Earth! 

We walked together in the warm winter sun towards the green railing bound enclosures towards the interior of the park. Our guide had the details of how the site was discovered and told us that Dinosaur fossils were first discovered from Rahioli- Balasinor area by Mr.Dwivedi and Mr.Mohabey in 1983 during the course of systematic geological mapping. Mr.Mohabey also found the first dinosaur eggs from this area from a cement factory’s quarry. Later, Mr.Suresh Shrivastava, as team leader with Geological Survey of India was assigned the task to excavate the fossils. Soon, more palaeontologists and geologists descended on the land and confirmed that this probably is the largest reserve of dinosaur fossils in India. Work to unearth the fossils and carbon date them to know more about the discovery began in 1981 and was carried out in intervals till 1999. Geologists and palaeontologists from over fourteen countries partook in excavations and carbon dating and assembling the fossilised skeletons of dinosaurs found here.

Radio metric carbon dating revealed that the fossils were at least 65.5 million years old and that not just one or two but thousands of dinosaurs are buried here. The fossils are from the late Cretaceous age. The site probably was a nesting ground for dinos as many fossilised eggs huddled in nests are found here. The forest department, Govt. of Gujarat has carefully erected enclosures around the major rocks that contain visible fossils. How interesting it is to walk around these enclosures with a knowledgable guide who with a stick points out the features of the fossils. You can spot a femur, pelvic bones, a knee, cranial cavity, a spine and other unidentified bones.

How did the world of dinosaurs suddenly get buried and vanish? The theory behind this is that due to an impact of an asteroid hitting the earth, and the repercussions following the impact like climate changes, acid rains, water bodies getting contaminated etc and rising of the dust and heat choking the entire stretch of land, making it impossible for the flora and fauna to survive in such conditions.

Lots of fossils collected from this park are at display at the museums in Kolkata and Jaipur where the Geological Survey of India has its research centres. As many as approx 400 bones were discovered by opening seven pits which contained bones of both herbivores and carnivores. More bones were of the herbivores while few were of carnivores but the carnivore bones were more interesting as they found a brain case with jaw and many teeth and a horn and on the basis of these bones they were able to reconstruct a nearly complete skull of a dinosaur not found anywhere in the whole world except for india and in 2003 they announced to the world a new species of dinosaurs calling it the Rajasaurus narmadensis! it measured 30 feet in length (9 meters) height was 2.4 meters and weighed approx 4000kgs!! Yes, we are talking about the largest life form that ever walked this planet! They lived in the late cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. As many as 75 bones from a single skeleton have been found here. The fossil park is 3rd largest dinosaur fossil park and second largest hatchery / nesting area of dinosaurs in the world! The fossil park is spread over 52 hectares of forest land and is guarded day and night. 

Balasinor Dinosaur Fossil Park is an ideal place to visit during your next vacations. Take young and old, everyone with you. Let the imaginations run wild, Mr.Steven Spielberg has already given us so much to amuse at! Such vast fossilised treasure lays buried here that you don’t have to go looking for it, it is all around you, right under your feet.

Get in touch with us here and we shall make arrangements for you to have an experienced and knowledgable guide to make your visit worthwhile plus a beautiful heritage home to stay at. 

Monday, 24 December 2018

Statue of Unity - A true Marvel !

The latest addition to our “places to visit in India” and “Places to visit in Gujarat” definitely is the much talked about Statue of Unity. Dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the iron man of India, the statue indeed is a creation par excellence. We take you on a tour to Sadhu Bet, the island which the Statue stands on, today.

To start with, there are three different tickets available for the visit - one that takes you all the way up to the observation deck, the second one that allows entry till the base of the statue and the museum too and, the third one that gives you freedom till the gates of the walkway to the statue only. Our advise - go all the way up for that experience. And do keep this in mind that the Statue is closed on Mondays for maintenance. 

The statue is built on an island in the river Narmada - Sadhu Bet named after a monk who prayed here. The destination is easily accessible from Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara the last being the closest and most preferred ; just 96 kms. Buy your tickets online and drive to Kevadia, Rajpipla Gujarat. Just 14 kms from the statue and you see the first hazy silhouette of the mighty iron man! Seven kms from the statue is the barricade or the gates where you are required to show your tickets, park your car and queue up for the shuttle buses. In no time you hop onto one of these comfortable buses and are on your way to your appointment with the world’s tallest statue! There are guides on each bus who speak fluent Gujarati and Hindi with knowledge of English too. In view of generating employment and uplifting the nearby villages, these guides are men and women, girls and boys from the same region itself. With a little training, they are now the face of tourism at The Statue of Unity. They would share the vital details of the project and keep you amused with trivia during your very short ride. Keep looking out to your right as that is where Sardar Patel stands. What a sight it is when you get those first glimpses. Mighty as can be!

You arrive at your destination and disembark. The local natives have set up some make-shift kiosks around here and sell snacks and toys still trying to figure out as to what would appeal to the urban visitors. They are learning and evolving. Just as you lift your gaze up from the tiny market , lo  and behold the tallest statue in the whole wide world catches your eyes! The pathway from the bus drop point first leads you to the Wall of Unity which is made with soil and iron collected from a whopping 1,69,000 villages! A true tribute to the son of the soil, a farmer’s son, the soil and iron from these many villages was collected and used in making of the statue as well as this wall of Unity. The colour, texture, fragrance, minerals present in each soil give it a multilayered, multihued look.

Move on and show your tickets at the entry point of the walkway to the statue. The walkway is some 300 meters long and has travellators on both the sides. Walk the distance or just hop onto the travellator. The short walk / ride takes you to the platform on which the museum is built. The statue stands above the museum. Enter the museum for an insight into the making of the grand structure and also the life and times of the great personality it is dedicated to. A prototype of the statue adorns the centre of the museum that glows orange, heels tap on the shiny granite floor, utilities on one side and the path leads you to a small theatre where a short movie depicting the life history of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel plays. Into the library and out next to the elevators. Queue up for your ride up and in no time you are 400 ft above the base of the statue which is roughly around 40 floors up!! The observation deck is created around the chest of Sardar Patel and we peep through his jacket at the Narmada below. Your ticket entitles you to two hours in the deck, but there isn’t much to do here other than gazing at the mighty river and taking many many pictures. Take your ride down and you would exit at the base of the statue which is the roof of the museum. A flight of stairs and you arrive at the feet of the statue which are almost double your height! A closer look from here and you can see the minutest details that the artisans have taken into consideration, like the skin texture on the hands, the nails, the tassles hanging from Sardar Patel’s shawl. A lot of scientific knowledge goes into creating such majestic structures and the many air passageways below the jacket of the statue clearly show that. Wind direction and sun direction were considered before deciding which direction the statue would face. The breeze as strong as it might get, loses its strength when hitting the statue as there are vents and passages made for letting the wind pass and not destabilise the structure. You can spend as much time as you want here and then descend the stairway / escalator and while admiring the “Hollywood” style signage of “Statue of Unity” walk / ride back to the main entrance. 

The food court is to your right as you exit the statue premises. Above the food court is the viewing gallery for the daily light and sound show. The food court has many local and international snacks to choose from. Beverage options galore too. A souvenir shop that sells replicas, magnets, t-shirts, caps, mugs and the likes and you are headed back to the bus stop. Hop onto any bus that is leaving and your ride through the Sardar Sarovar Dam begins. The bus has a couple of stoppages on its way out. You would not be taken out from the route you came by. The first stop is the valley of flowers. The immaculately landscaped gardens grace the whole valley where flowering plants have been planted in beautifully laid out patterns. This too is a sight in itself. Soak in the beauty of a river close by, the tallest statue in the world and the vibrant colourful valley of flowers. Again, you may take any bus from here.

Next stoppage is near the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Another wonder, the Dam itself is a magnanimous structure making it one of the largest in the world. The flora and fauna around here and the beautiful Narmada take your breath away. A bird watchers’ paradise, may we add. Next stop on the bus ride would be on one of the Sarovars or lakes where The newly set-up tent city can be seen on one side and a huge water body on the other. A lot of birds can be seen here, and lucky you are if a crocodile might also make a rare appearance. Moving on, we cross another phase of the tent city as the road snakes around lakes and hills. This tent city sits flanked by the lake on three sides and the road to one. The ride comes to an end when the bus brings you back to the main entry barricade.

A statue of Goddess Khodiyar (Devi Narmada) sitting on a crocodile can be seen near the entrance. Find your car / bus and leave for your next destination with a realisation that you just witnessed the tallest statue in the world and visited one of the largest dams in the world!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Hidden Gems of Gujarat : Dholavira

The allure of a full moon night at the great Rann of Kutch has attracted many a tourists, photographers and even locals month after month year on year. The experience is definitely unmatched. The silver sky above and a silver land beneath! But the experience we got at Dholavira was like none other. One, we were all by ourselves with no one, absolutely no one around to break the continuity of the snow globe we were floating inside. The occupants of just one car and the moon and the white desert! Two, it was a full moon night obviously and was pretty late in the night with the moon almost being overhead.

Dholavira now ranks on top of our favourite destinations and we are sure to visit this magnetic wilderness again and again. The long drive to the resort where we were booked to stay seemed like a never-ending trail. The sun had already set and there weren’t many vehicles to give us company on the 100 odd km long stretch to Dholavira from the closest city of Rapar. An odd blue bull somewhere, a stray camel, eagles ominously hovering above us as if signalling to their teams about the arrival of life from somewhere far away, a single road lined with thorny bushes with absolutely no sign of inhabitation around it and us in our white tourist vehicle with an enthusiastic driver to keep us amused. To be a little honest here, there was a little apprehension somewhere deep inside with all this atmosphere around us. But wait till you read about our experience at the resort.

We moved on with google maps of course ; though it wasn’t needed as there was only one road to take us to our destination. Nonetheless, we city dwellers like to know where we are heading so we kept our map on. The map showed a large expanse of “blue” on our way with our road cutting across it. Google map “blue” is normally a water body and we wondered as to what were we about to cross to reach our destination. To add to that anxiety, our destination is called Khadir Bet where Bet means an island!

Anxiety levels rising with the moon we reach the “blue” which looked “black” and just as we entered the zone it magically turned grey to silver. This sight compelled us to stop and soak in this so so amazingly dream like scene. The “blue” turned out to be the white Rann of Kutch. The pristine white, not trampled upon by human feet. Cool November breeze and this magical sight, we wanted to camp there itself! But the anxiety soon returned and we felt it best to reach our resort on time. We felt like Dora the explorer and moved on towards our resort. After the “blue” stretch got over, we entered a village which too was eerily silent with no one around to even ask for directions. People in rural India and especially in such remote villages wind up early and truly follow “early to bed and early to rise” principle. Some BSF signages and a couple of boards mentioning our resort’s name gave a sigh of relief. We were headed in the right direction!

Tea on my mind, some turns later we entered the coloured flags lined massive entry gates of the Dholavira Tourism Resort. We parked outside a round hut which looked more like a villager’s humble abode than a reception of a resort. Two lady travellers in the white tourist vehicle exchanged glances and wondered if they should actually step out and stay in this place which was in the middle of nowhere with just a few men hanging around and just a couple of light bulbs winking away at them. On top of that, our name did not even feature in the resort’s arrival list for the day! But going back meant hundred km on the same route with no one around and we weren’t sure if Rapar had any decent places to stay too. Shaky confidence on our tired faces, we stepped out to a very warm welcome from a gentleman who we later found out was the owner of the resort. Tea was immediately served, without even asking for it. And our names were quickly written in blue ball point ink in an “arrival register”. Since our names weren’t there, we knew the advance against our stay was also held up somewhere in the technical glitches. No cash on us, no internet connectivity here, no ATMs, no Banks around. What a situation to be in! But Mahendra Singh Ji did not even bat an eyelid before checking us in. A simple trusting man who believed that his guests who have taken pains to reach his resort did not have a motive to cheat on him! 

We were shown to our Bhunga, and what a lovely walk that was under the moonlit sky. We changed and with our hands and faces washed the anxieties away too. Dinner was served in the same Bhunga as the reception, a home style Gujarati thali. A couple of canine friends to escort us back to our Bhunga and believe us we slept so peacefully and absolutely stress free that night in our mud and mirror decorated round hut.

Enrapturing sunrise the next morning, cool breeze laden with unpolluted oxygen and I walked up to the reception to ask for some morning tea. The best tea that I had in all of Gujarat was served that morning. A home cooked breakfast later we left for our sightseeing tour. The resort package comes with sightseeing included in it. Sightseeing here includes visiting the excavated Harappan site of Dholavira, the museum, Wood Fossil Park, The signs of presence of sea long long ago, the white desert and the Dutt Temple. First stop obviously was the Harappan site.

The Indus Valley civilisation was way more developed than what we imagine it to be is evident from the excavations here. A detailed account of this historical wonder will soon appear on our blog page.

I was a bit under the weather due to so much of exhaustion of travelling (We were trying to cover 4000 kms of Gujarat in just ten days) so decided to take a very quick look at the site and head back but the guide who went with me was such a knowledgable story teller that I spent close to an hour and a half understanding each and every feature of the place. Museum is a treasure house of the items of daily use and artefacts unearthed from the site. 

A little drive later one reaches the Wood Fossil Park where fossilised tree trunks can be seen clasped between rocks. The rock formations clearly show signs of presence of the ocean here many centuries ago. The pitted rocks also have some sea fossils and variegated layers of different coloured minerals. Our guide showed us a few sea fossils back in the resort.

Walk down the rocks and you can step onto the white of the white desert. The white is all a crust of salt, the salt that we know as NaCl, our common salt and locals added it to their meals before the urbanised world told them about refined, iodine salt. We walked a few meters into the desert with the white crust crunching under our feet. This was that kind of an experience where one must connect with the elements around and feel one with the universe. The crust so white and reflecting the sun’s brilliance that we city dwellers would hide our delicate eyes behind the sun glasses. My pictures look as if I have clicked a white sheet of paper. Being a true blue tourist I cheekily picked a few salt crystals from here to carry away as souvenirs. 

Next stop was the Dutt Temple. The international border is barely 45 kms from here. People of Dholavira have relatives living on the other side of the International Borders. There is a BSF post also here where one needs to seek permission from for venturing out into the white desert towards the small yet prominent hill locally referred to as “Dungar”. It was on this hill that the saint Duttatreya prayed and hence in his reverence a temple is made on the mainland closest to the hill. The hill stands surrounded by the white desert. A few peaceful moments here and we head back to our resort. 

A cup of the “best tea” was an absolute essential before setting off on our long journey to Bhuj. Thankfully, our technical issues got resolved and the money too was transferred to the resort’s account but Mahendra Singh Ji assured us that he wouldn’t have stopped us from checking out even if the money did not come. What a gesture! He also informed us that the population in this part of the country was scarce and villagers knew each other well. All his guests who are on the “arrival list” are informed well in advance about the route, the wilderness and also that in case they get stuck somewhere help would reach them immediately. With those reassurances there isn’t any room for any anxiety I guess. But then, all unforgettable experiences have been made with being on the edge of the seats, right?