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Gujarat Tour Diary: Day 6 | Around Vadodara and Anand

(If you have come to this page while searching for some travel related information of Gujarat, I suggest you start from Day 0 of this travelogue.)

Yesterday night we had settled down in the room without doing the Vadodara local sight-seeing. Today we thought we will cover the places in the morning as early as possible. We didn’t want to waste any time, so we vacated the room at around 6 am. (Till now, after vacating the room, we used to travel to new places in the early morning).

In South India, the temples normally open any time between 5 to 6 am. But here in Gujarat, we found that the temples open only after 7 am or so. This means we were forced to waste 1 hour. It is all part of the game, and that is how we have to learn new things.

 Our first place of visit was

Sri Radha Shyamasundar Mandir Temple, ISKCON
As we were there in the early morning, we were lucky enough to see the early morning rituals in the ISKCON temple. In case if you get a chance, don’t miss it. It is a delight to watch the first pooja of the day.

Sri Radha Shyamasundar Mandir Temple, ISKCON, Vadodara
Observe the three priests with Conch in their hands
Iscon Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Inside the Sanctum Sanctorum

And if you are late, kindly note that in the Govinda’s Restaurant (within the temple complex) you can get lunch and dinner.

Our next visit was to Tapovan temple

Tapovan Temple
This is a temple complex, consisting of many temples. Don’t miss it when you are in Vadodara.

Tapovan Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Inside the Tapovan complex
Vadodara, Gujarat
What is Life, according to Bhagavad Gita
Tapovan Temple Complex, Vadodara
One more temple inside the complex

From here we went to EME Temple

EME Temple
Normally our Indian Army does not have separate places of worship for the different faiths. This temple is built by the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) corps. It is constructed entirely out of aluminum sheets. It has Dakshinamurti (Shiva) as an ultimate teacher. This uncommonly modern-looking temple has holy Gods from various faiths/religions. It is open from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm.

We need to take the permission from the reception to visit this temple. Producing our ID card, the job was done.

EME Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
EME Temple

We had breakfast after visiting EME temple. Then we proceeded to Kirti Mandir.

Kirti Mandir
It is not a temple, as we thought. It is a cenotaph of the Gaekwads. It was built in 1936 by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III to perpetuate the glorious memory of his beloved ancestors. The sun, the moon and the earth in bronze with the undivided map of India adorn the shikhar of Kirti Mandir.

Kirti Mandir, Vadodara
Kirti Mandir

 From Kirti Mandir we went to a Palace. On the internet, it is named as Lakshmi Vilas Palace. But the name board says that it is Bhav Vilas Palace. And worse, there is not entry of it in Google Maps. I made this complaint to the concerned authorities there, but as on date it has not yielded any result.

As there was no entry in Maps, we wasted some time locating the Palace. Now over to the Palace.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace:

{The Lakshmi Vilas Palace, an extravagant building of the Indo-Saracenic school, was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890 at a cost of GBP 1,80,000. Major Charles Mant was the architect. It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built in the 19th century and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continues to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda.

Its ornate Durbar Hall, which is sometimes the venue of music concerts and other cultural events, has a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic decorations. In the 1930s Maharaja Pratapsinh created a golf course for use by his European guests. Palace also boasts of a zoo and a museum. Mondays & public holidays closed. The ticket charges (RS 170/) include a free audio tour in English.

Time: 1100 – 1700 hrs; Ph: 0265-2411022, 2431516, 9825017004; source: wikipedia/internet}

So, that is about the Palace. Don’t worry about the ticket money. Just visit the Palace. It is worth it. You might need more than an hour to see the palace completely.

Bhav Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Bhav Vilas Palace

After the Palace visit, we were searching for the Solar Panels over the Narmada Canal. We were proceeding towards Anand and suddenly we came across these Panels.

Solar Panels over the Narmada Canal
{Giving a shot in the arm to Gujarat’s initiative in tapping solar energy, state-owned Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) is all set to start building a 10 MW solar power generation plant over Narmada canal in Vadodara. The foundation stone of the canal top solar photovoltaic grid connected power plant that will come up at a cost of Rs 109.91 crore will be laid by CM Modi on February 14, 2014. The plant will be completed in six months and will produce 16.2 million units in the first year.

The new project will cover a distance of 5.5 km from Vishwamitri Siphon to Railway Siphon. The project would have around 33,000 to 36,000 panels. The project has been designed in a manner that the panels will sustain a wind velocity of 150 kmph. Since it is coming up over the canal, the wastage of water through evaporation will help save a lot of water. There is no land acquisition required and this saves money besides disputes involved in taking over of land,” an official said; source: wikipedia/internet}

What more can I say on this? This is a new initiative done by Modiji. And this is a one-of-its-kind in the world.

solar panel, Vadodara
The name boards and the solar panels tell everything about Modi’s initiative.

sardar saorvar, vadodara

vadodara, gujarat

vadodara, gujarat

Vadodara, Gujarat
A panoramic view

Our next place of visit was Anand District.

{Anand is known as the Milk Capital of India. It became famous for Amul dairy and its Milk revolution. This City hosts the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) of India and Anand Agricultural University. The Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) campus is also situated in Anand. IRMA runs a Post Graduate Programme in Rural Management which is considered to be one of the best in the world.

Anand district is also famous for Dakor – Lord Krishna’s Temple.  Nana Adadh is part of Anand and is home to the Swami Narayan Mandir along with Revadas Ni Khadki and Darvaja Vali khadki; source: wikipedia/internet}

 Amul Industry
{Amul (Tel: 1800-258-3333) formed in 1946, is a dairy cooperative in India. It is a brand name managed by an apex cooperative organization, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF), which today is jointly owned by some 2.8 million milk producers in Gujarat. Amul has entered overseas markets such as Mauritius, UAE, USA, Bangladesh, Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and a few South African countries. It produces milk products like Amul Butter, Amul Cheese, Amul Ice-creams etc.; source: wikipedia/internet}

Visitors are allowed to visit the Dairy. We showed our ID cards and got the visiting pass. First we were asked to go to a photo gallery. Here a guide, with the help of photos, explained the history of the milk movement and formation of Amul. After this we were taken on a factory visit. In this Unit, butter and cheese are produced.

Amul, Anand, Gujarat
All the products manufactured by AMUL

After we came out of the Unit, we went to the Parlor which is inside the compound. There was a sales girl.

I told her: “We have come from Bengaluru. It is the headquarters of Nandini Dairy. It is second biggest dairy in the country. There are many unique items (like Mysore Pak, Besan Laddoo, Dharwad Peda etc) available in our Dairy. Can you give us some unique product of your dairy? We want to taste it”.

She gave me several items including sweets, ice creams, flavoured milks etc.

For all those items, I told her “This is not a unique item; it is available in our dairy also”.

She thought for a while. Then she opened an almariah, took out a box, gave it to me and said: “Sir, here it is. This is unique. You can’t find it anywhere else”.

I opened it and appreciated her presence of mind. It was a momento (vessel) with “Amul” monogram written in it. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the same.

After tasting some ice creams in the Amul, we headed towards Dakor.

Gopal Namkeens, Anand, Gujarat
Gopal Namkeens

We saw this scene en route. I must tell you some thing different now.

You all know how MNCs like LAYS, KURKURE etc sell “air” to us, in their packets. I hardly found any of these MNC snacks packets in the entire Gujarat. Almost every where we found only local brands like Gopal, Balaji etc. It is tasty, and they DON’T SELL AIR. It is quite cheap compared to MNCs, and they give more quantity. I wonder, why such products are not available through out the country?

Modiji, can you do some thing under ‘Make In India‘ for this also?

{The city of Dakor is a mythological cauldron, and being there is like taking a drink from fabled waters. It is said that Rishi Dank had his ashram here, so the temple and the village are named after him as Dankpur or Dakor, and the Danknath Mahadev temple stands on the banks of Gomti Lake. As you approach from faraway, you see the swaying flag on the tall and beautiful shikhar of the Ranchhodrai Dakor Temple inviting pilgrims. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Mirabai have both come here to pay homage to its idol.

On Purnima of every month, this temple town awakens to thousands of visitors in colorful festivity. Inspired by the revered legend of Bodana, many devotees even today come on foot from great distances. But remember, your Dakor adventure is complete only after tasting its lip-smacking gotas accompanied by tea or dahi (yogurt); source: wikipedia/internet}

Gomti Lake, Dakor
{According to the Mahabharata legend, Bhimsen, on a journey with Sri Krishna, carved open a small pool of fresh clean water into a great lake for the benefit of the hermitage dwellers and forest animals. Spreading over an area of 230 hectares opposite the Dakor temple, it is named after the river Gomti from Dwarka. On its banks there are dharamshalas, havelis and other buildings for lodging pilgrims.

The three main embankments of Danknath Mahadev, Kaleshwar Mahadev, Bhattji Maharaj are well known. Another important one is Makhanio Aro, known for the visit of Ranchhodji, who rested at this place on a journey from Dwarka and was offered butter with sugar by Gangabai. Many pilgrims also pay respect to the seat of a Muslim saint on the banks of Lake Gomti. Today, this lake is also an attraction to go boating and feed turtles; source: wikipedia/internet}

Gomti Lake, Dakor, Gujarat
Gomti Lake

Ranchhodrai Dakor Temple
{The main temple is situated near the bank of the holy lake Gomti in the midst of the main bazaar of Dakor. The temple is covered with 8 domes and 24 turrets, with the central dome reaching a height of 27 mts Crowned with a golden kalash and a white silken flag, this temple is the tallest in the district. Though not very rich in carving, the main cupola derives its influence from the Maharashtrian style of temple architecture. The main hall features paintings depicting events in Lord Krishna’s life.

Lord Ranchhodji, meaning “he who left the battlefield”, inspired Gopal Ambekar (a shroff of a Peshwa’s court in Poona), in a dream to build a temple. The temple was built in 1772. The main Ranchhodrai idol is in black touchstone, 1 mt tall and 45 cm in breadth, richly adorned with gold, jewels and expensive clothes. Its throne, an ornate masterpiece of woodcarving plated in silver and gold, was presented by the Gaekwad of Baroda

Time: 0645 – 1145; 1615 – 1930.    Phone: 02699 244492; source: wikipedia/internet}

Dakor Temple, Dakor, Gujarat
Ranchhodrai Dakor Temple

After taking the blessings of Ranchhodrai, we went to Galteshwar.

{About 16 km from Dakor is a Shiva temple of the Solanki era, situated on the alluring confluence of the rivers Mahi and Galati, where it is said lived Galav Muni Chandrahaas of Puranic fame. At present the lovely rocky bank of Mahi and the beautiful old Shiva temple on it has one spring of the River Galati constantly sprinkling water on the Shiva linga. Rich in art and architecture, it has a unique eight-sided hall. The walls have carved figures of Gods, gandharvas, humans, rishis, horse riders, elephant riders, chariots, doli and the events of a human life, from birth to death, are all depicted in these carvings; source: wikipedia/internet}

Not many tourists visit this place. But I suggest you to. The temple is not a big one, but the carvings are excellent. People take bath in Mahi River and visit the temple. The river water is quite clean. And the whole atmosphere is beautiful.

Galteshwar, Gujarat
Confluence of Mahi & Galati Rivers
Galteshwar Temple, Galteshwar, Gujarat
Some views of Galteshwar Temple

Galteshwar, Gujarat

Galteshwar, Gujarat

We found many shacks near the temple, selling snacks. There were hardly a couple of people. And Gujarat is a Dry State. But there was no dearth of these people.

Galteshwar, Gujarat
This is a typical Gujarati Breakfast cum snacks …
Galteshwar, Gujarat
… and look at the variety
Galteshwar, Gujarat
Sunset seen through “The bridge across the river Mahi”

From Galteshwar we returned back to Anand. As usual, we went to BAPS Swami Narayan Mandir. Here our luck ran out. Due to some function, all the rooms were occupied in the guest house. We asked about the alternatives, with the receptionist. He told us either to hunt for a room outside, or alternatively, we can sleep in a common hall.

The common hall can be compared to a dormitory. From our experience, for us, even this dormitory is better than a hotel room. There is no need to hunt for a Lodge all over again; there are no parking problems, no dinner problem etc. As a trekker, we are quite used to even this type of sleeping. So we halted in the guest house itself.

route map
Our route map

 Total distance covered: 185 kms.

On Day 07 of my Gujarat tour, I visited the historic site of Lothal and spent time with black bucks at Black Buck National Park…check it here

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