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Gujarat Tour Diary: Day 08 |Nishkalank to Palitana via Alang

(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.)

On Day 08, we promptly checked out of our room and made our way to an interesting sounding temple.

Coconut Mata Temple
Yesterday we were little bit disappointed, because we could not see Khodiyar Mata Temple. While we were driving around 7.15 am or so, we saw many people walking on their barefoot. Suddenly my common sense told me that these people must be some devotees of some Shiva temple and they must be on their Padayatraa to some nearby temple.

So we asked them in Hindi- “Where are you people going?”

Prompt came the reply in Gujarati- “@$^&$^#^ Temple !%#^^^%*”

We in Hindi- “How to go to that Temple”

Again in Gujarati- “+(*^%&* circle &*^% right &*^%%^”

And our communication was over. So we went to the next junction, took a right turn and proceed a little bit. Of course, all along the way, we could see some devotees walking to the temple. And finally we were at the temple.

I don’t know the name of the temple. But I called it as “Coconut Mata Temple”. Due to language barrier, the localites could not answer our questions. Look at the photos, and you know why it is. We thought, as Khodiyar Mata wanted to show her face to us, she called us here to give us Darshan.

The coconut mata mandir
Now you know, why I called it like that
Coconut Mata Temple
Inside the sanctum sanctorum

Satisfied with the Darshan of Maata, we went to Koliyak.

Nishkalank Mahadev Temple at Koliyak
Earlier I had told you that the Gujarat sea line is different from the rest of India. And we had seen the proof of the same at Kavi Kamboi. Now let us explore the same a bit more.

Let me explain step by step. We were at the Koliyak beach at around 8 am. We parked our car at a convenient place and started taking some photos and videos. It was like any other sea beach. Calm and quiet. There were lots of shacks. Most of them were not yet opened, and those few which were opened were preparing some deep fried pakoda kind of breakfast. We were one of the first visitors of the day.

We could see two poles with flags deep inside the see, may be a km or two from the beach.

Koliyak Beach, Gujarat
The calm and quiet beach of Koliyak at 8.15 am. Your eye sight is excellent if you have spotted 2 parallel vertical lines
Koliyak Beach
A little while later. Can you notice the two poles?

Now let us watch the video taken at this point of time.

We waited patiently. And soon it was around 9 am or so. The water was slowly receding, bit by bit, inch by inch. The tourists also started picking up. Now we could make out that the sea is not deep but very shallow. And the two poles with the flags were more visible, and were clearer.

Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
Around 9 am or so
Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
Notice the boat and the poles

Again we took another look around 10 am or so. And we could see many people walking towards those two poles. The two poles were now clearly visible. They were looking like some Temple pillars. And there was some big stone kind of platform, surrounded by water all around. The water was receding slowly and the people were also walking towards that platform.

Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
Now look at the same spot
Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
Same spot a little while later
Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
People walking towards the temple

Now it was around 11 am. So we also decided to walk there. The coastline has moved forward substantially. The path was quite slippery. We removed our chappals along the way. We had folded our pants. And with utmost care, we were walking towards those two pillars. Soon, the water receded completely. And we were also nearing the pillars.

Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
Shop keepers are taking even push-carts to the temple !
Shiva Temple, Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar Dist, Gujarat
This is not the Dog that followed Yudhistir till Swarg

And oh, lol. It was a temple, Lord Shiva’s temple. That too, around 1.5 km inside the sea.

Nishkalank Mahadev Temple, Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar
Nearing the Nishkalank Mahadev
Koliyak Village, Bhavnagar
These birds are having a jolly time

{This is a “Temple inside the Sea” at Koliyak village. The legend goes like this: when Pandavas approached Lord Krishna to show the Maarg (Road) to sanctify the sins of Kurukshetra war, he sent them on pilgrimage with black cow and black flag. He instructed Pandavas to conduct penance wherever the black cow/flag becomes white. Here the cow/flag turned white and Lord Shiva appeared before Pandavas in the form of “Linga”. The sea water recedes at this point only for few hours and return back. Pilgrims patiently wait for the receding wave and have Darshan, return safely before the tides come back. source: wikipedia/internet}

No need to explain more in detail. Still- As usual, during high tides, the level of sea water raises by almost 10 to 15 feet. And during low tides it goes down by 10 to 15 feet. It is more vibrant during “Purnima – full moon” and “Amavasya – no moon” days. So when the sea water retracts during low tides, the shoreline stretches forward (towards the sea) by few kilometers!

During this low tide, the temple emerges out. And it is time for the tourists to visit the temple.

There are five Shiva Lingams, representing five Pandavas. As they got rid of their blemish (Kalank) in this place, this temple is known as Nish-Kalank Mahadev Temple.

So, let us look at another video shot at this point of time.

Now let us look at some photos also taken at this point of time.

Nishkalank Mahadev Temple
Can you believe that some time back this was under deep sea

Don’t worry. There will be lots of people selling all kind of pooja items along the way and on the temple even during this low tide time. Of course, that is their bread-and-butter. There are few priests also to perform pooja and other rituals.

Nishkalank Temple, Gujarat
There are priests to do the Pooja etc
Nishkalank Temple, Koliyak Village
There are five Shiv Lings belonging to five Pandavs
Nishkalank Mahadev Temple, Koliyak Village
The crowd becomes more as the time flies
Nishkalank Mahadev Temple, Koliyak Village
Oh God, kindly give an opportunity to all my readers to visit your holy place
Nishkalank Mahadev Temple, Koliyak Village
And what a happy time for these birds

So, in a nutshell, how can I describe the whole experience?

Well, your Gujarat tour is incomplete without a visit to this temple

Surprisingly, even Gujarat tourism department does not have this temple details in their website. But don’t worry. I have given all the details. Don’t ask any type of questions, but just go and visit this place. Whatever may be your faith or religion; whether you are theist or atheist does not matter.  Just go and visit this place.  Because, every day you don’t get a chance to visit such rare places.

Our next place to visit is Alang.


What, after all the places, you are going to visit Alang?

Yes, Alang!

Have you gone mad, are you crazy; Don’t tell me that Alang is a tourist destination?

Once I tell you about Alang, you decide whether our decision was right or wrong?

And before I tell you more about Alang, I have to make these four points very clear.

  1. I had read on  the internet about Alang while preparing my Tour Guide. But while writing this travelogue, I am not influenced by the information available on the internet. Everything is my own experience and through my common sense.
  2. Today (25/01/15) was a Sunday. Alang being an industrial area, it was closed for weekly off.
  3. Our next destination was Palitana. We wanted to finish Palitana also today itself at any cost, otherwise we were going to waste one full day tomorrow. So we were at Alang for just one hour only, that too including lunch break.
  4. Hence whatever I have written here may not be 100% true. And if I have given wrong information, kindly accept my apologies in advance.

Now over to Alang
After Nishkalank, we were approaching Alang with the help of Maps. When we were near a village called Sosiya, we saw a left turn. This left road was better than the main road to Alang shown by maps. Out of curiosity, we stopped a two-wheeler and asked him for Alang road. He directed us to take the left road, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us. Soon we were at Alang. We went on the road from one end to other end. What we saw was beyond our imagination.

There were lots of industrial plots between the road and the sea shore. Each one was few acres in size. And almost all the plots were active. We could see at least one ship in each plot, on the beach. And those ships were broken, some partially, some half, some 3/4th etc. Most of them were without any workers, being weekly off. The entire area was almost deserted because of weekly holiday, followed by Republic Day. We asked few watchmen for taking photographs, but we were curtly denied permission. However we were able to take photos from distant places.

Alang, Gujarat
Ships seen from distant place
Alang, Gujarat
And a closer look

What is Alang? All the sites on internet tell you that Alang is a graveyard of ships. I beg to differ with all of them. It is a ship breaking industry; and not a graveyard. Ships are neither burnt here nor buried here. Or for that matter, not thrown here-and-there after dismantling.

In fact it is not even an industry. You all have seen your neighborhood workshops. We call them as “welding shops”. So you may call Alang as a “de-welding (breaking) shop”, nothing more than that.

Let me explain in detail now. Like every vehicle, even ships also have a life span. Once it gets aged, it has to be disposed off properly. Ship contains lots of metal and other items. So it has got a scrap value. Entrepreneurs buy these old ships from all over the world. And they bring it to Alang.

Now the next question is, why Alang and why not any other place in India? Luckily you are following me from Sanjan, beginning of my Gujarat tour. I have also shown you Kavi Kamboi (Stambheshwar Mahadev) and Koliyak (Nishkalank Mahadev) temples. The reason for these two sea temples is the special coastal line of Gujarat. The high and low tides. This is the same reason for Alang to be the biggest ship breaking yard in the world. It is comparatively easy to bring the large ships to the shore and anchor them during high tides. And once they are anchored, the breaking work of ship starts.

Once the dismantling work starts, all the items are sold as scrap. Depending on the size and type of ship, it might take a couple of years to completely break a ship. Hence it is a livelihood to lots of workers.

Alang, Gujarat

Alang, Gujarat

Alang, Gujarat

Alang, Gujarat

Alang, Gujarat
After taking a couple of shots, we went to Annapurna Hotel at Alang Circle. We had our lunch there.

Alang, Gujarat
Too many cooks did not spoil the food

After the lunch, we thought our visit was over and we left Alang. But there was more to come. We were shocked to see what was on the way ahead.

Alang, Gujarat
Used washing machines for sale at Alang

You see, a ship can be like a Lorry or a Bus. I mean, it can be used to transport Goods or can be used as a Cruise. So basically a ship contains everything, i.e., a room, office, canteen, stadium, theater, swimming pool, hospital, kitchen, tank, container vessels, helipad, football stadium, mini airport etc. In fact it contains many more things that we can even think off.

And all the items used in the ships must be of extremely excellent quality. The reasons are simple. One is the salty sea water. Other one is that you can’t get a replacement in the middle of the sea, if something goes wrong. So all the items used in the ships will be of #1 quality.

So, when the ship is broken, all these items are also sold in the second hand market. So what all these items could be? Good question. You think of it, you have it. Just look around your house, room or office or wherever you are. Anything and everything that you can see surrounding you, is available in these second-hand shops.

To name a few: Computer, table, fan, TV, switch board, bulb, motor, grinder, kitchen item, vessel, dining table, stove, window, door, wash basin, washing machine, electric motor, pin, stapler, curtain, bed sheet, cot, turbine, generator, rope, fishing net, belt, I mean the list is endless.

Alang, Gujarat
Second hand Wash Basins and other items

There are shops on both side of the road for almost 3 – 4 kilometers. Due to lack of time, we did not stop at any of these shops and enquired. But I am damn sure; you can get them for a better deal compared to OLX, Flipcart, Snapdeal etc. And the quality also must be damn good.

Alang, Gujarat
Fishing nets, Machinery parts etc

So that was Alang for you. I repeat again, whatever I have written here may not be 100% true. And if I have given wrong information, kindly accept my apologies.

It was already 2.15 pm, and we were around 50 km away from Palitana, our next destination. We must hurry up, otherwise we will loose one day.

We reached Palitana around 3.15 pm or so. We asked a localite for the direction to visit the temple. He understood Hindi very well, and replied us- “Sir, now the time is around 3.15 pm. You can’t go to the top of the hill to see the temple at this time. You can see all the temples in the ground. Stay here for tonight and go up tomorrow”.

I had seen many such people in my various tours throughout India. Such people get some pleasure by giving false information to tourists. So we ignored him and went ahead. Then we went to the bottom of the Palitana hill where the steps starts.

Oh, sorry. I forgot to give you the details of Palitana. Here it is:

{The Palitana temples of Jainism are located on Shatrunjaya Hills. It is also nicknamed as “City of Temples”. Along with Shikharji in the state of Jharkhand, the two sites are considered the holiest of all pilgrimage places by the Jain community. Jain temples are called as DERASARAs. As the temple-city was built to be an abode for the divine, no one is allowed to stay overnight, including the priests. Every Jain believes that a visit to this group of temples is essential as a once in a life time chance to achieve nirvana or salvation.

There are around 900 marble-carved temples on top of the hills. The main temple is reached by stepping up 3500 steps. It takes approximately 2 hrs to make the 3.5 km climb. Start as early as possible, say 5 AM, and return back by 10 AM. Carry enough water. There is also a shrine of Muslim saint ‘Angar Pir’, who is reported to have protected the temples during Muslim invasions.

It is said that 23 tirthankaras (except Neminatha) sanctified the hill by their visits. The main temple is dedicated to Rishabha, the first tirthankara; it is the holiest shrine for the Shwetambara Murtipujaka sect. They also build their temples in white marble to demonstrate purity.

The religious practice also involves pilgrimage by fasting throughout the journey to and from the shrines. Silence and prayers must be observed throughout. Fasting continues until you have returned to the auditorium of Anandji Kalyanji Trust at the foothill. Eating any food items when on the mountain is considered to be a sin; Source: wikipedia/internet}

So, that is about the Palitana group of temples from the internet. We started our climbing exercise at 3.30 pm.

A couple of years back, both of us had done Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek in Nepal Himalayas. We did the trek along with our families. (The ABC trek is one of the famous trek in Nepal. It requires climbing up and down thousands of steps each day for a week or so)

ABC trek in Nepal
The highlight of ABC trek in Nepal is the unending steps (pic taken in 2013)

Just remembering the hardships of the ABC trek, we started climbing the steps, as quickly as possible. In fact it is much easier than ABC trek.  The steps are evenly laid; it was only ascend while going up, plenty of places to take rest and plenty of water pots to quench the thirst. We carried a water bottle, a sun cap, and a sun glass.

Palitana, Gujarat
This magnificent temple is in the ground
Palitana, Gujarat
That was our way

We did not stop anywhere to take rest. When we were tired, we slowly went up, but we hardly stopped. And by 4.45 pm we were at the top of the Hills.

Palitana, Gujarat
At the entrance of top most fort-wall

En route, we hardly saw any temples. So what was in store at the top of the Hills was totally unexpected delight. Oh God. It was full of temples – tiny, small, medium and big. All are made up of marbles and granites. Each temple was more beautiful than the other one. As per the internet, there are around 900 temples. It could be true. Because other than the pathway, there was no open space.

Palitana, Gujarat
Path to the abode of Gods
Palitana Temples, Gujarat
Temple Temple every where
Palitana Temples, Gujarat
Group of Temples
Palitana Temples, Gujarat
Temples Galore
Palitana Temples, Gujarat
Temples and more temples
Palitana Temples, Gujarat
Some more temples

We went to the main temple. Woh, how beautiful the statue is. All the effort of climbing the 3500 odd steps vanished in one shot the moment I saw the deity. We were lucky to see the final pooja of the day, from a close distance. We spent a while there and came out to see the next place.

A little bit further uphill lies the Darga of Angar Pir. There were 2 – 3 Muslim devotees in the Darga. I think it is not visited by many people. So we could make it to the shrine comfortably.

Darga of Angar Pir, Palitana
‘Salam Alaikum’, at the Darga of Angar Pir

After having the Darshan of the Darga, we started climbing down the stairs at 6 pm. And we were back on the Parking area by 6.50 pm. There were some Pooja ceremonies going on.

Sorry no clue what this pooja was about

We were too hungry and tired. We slowly drove our car, looking for some decent hotel for our dinner. We saw one, and parked our car nearby and went to the hotel. It was more of a family run Mess than a commercial hotel. The owner was old aged, very kind. He served the food with love and affection. Both of us are not good eaters. But he forcibly served us and made us to eat more. I had not come across this type of service anywhere else.

After the dinner, we asked him for a decent place to stay overnight. (There is no Swami Narayan Mandir at Palitana). He directed us to a Dharmshala (Lodge), which was just 3 buildings down the line. And it happened to be the exact place where we had parked our car.

The owner of that Dharmshala was also a very kind gentleman. He gave us a beautiful room. In no way, it was inferior to Swami Narayan Mandir guesthouse. Neat, clean and 24 hr hot water. And the rent ? Just Rs 200/ for two of us for the whole night. May their tribe increase.

With lots of satisfaction at the events of the entire day, we slept off.

Mukti Nilaya Jain Dharmshala, Palitana. Ph: 02848 252165

route map to Palitana
Today’s route map from Google Maps – Bhavnagar to Palitana

Total distance covered: 127 kms.

On Day 09 we covered Sasan Gir, spending time and learning about the king of jungle – the Asiatic lion and later visited one of the finest and well known temples in Gujarat – Somnath Temple… read the full report here.

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