Ahmedabad to Udaipur via Gandinager, Adalaj, Modhera, Chanasma, Patan, Rapar, Dholavira, Radhanpur, Palanpur, and Udaipur – 728km
Wednesday 18th March to Tuesday 31st March 2009
We arrived at 8:48AM in Ahmedabad the former state capital via an overnight bus from Pune. To make up for all the time spent site seeing at the caves we decided to bus this part of the highway which we were told was uninspiring. As we will be visiting Delhi to pick up the Iranian visa we thought we could also skip Mumbai.
Jain Temple - Gandhinagar
We had an unsatisfying breakfast of fried snacks and made our way to the state capital Gandinager. By the time we got there it was almost noon so we visited the Jain temple and took shade under a nearby tree. Later that evening we cycled within 5km of Adalaj and camped in a front of a concrete store front type structure.
Adalaj Step Well
On Thursday 19th March 2009 we were the first tourists to be welcomed by the smell of burning incense at the step-well. Monkeys soon started to gather around as the sun rose with the changing light.
Adalaj Step Well 1
Adalaj Step Well 2
We visited the town to get breakfast and vegetables – coconut oil and masala for our evening meal. We ate a fermented-sponge-rice -like-yellow cake called Khaman with tea that we made at the side of the road.
tea and khaman for breakfast
We cycled past Mahesana, but not before getting two flat tires and having to fix them with an audience at the bus stop. Later that evening we camped within a few kilometers of the Modhera Sun Temple.
Paid 100rs each to see the Sun Temple. Took lots of snaps and then used their bathroom facilities to wash ourselves. We inquired about getting kerosene and were invited to Shailesh’s home to cook our breakfast. Turns out he was a former army officer who now sells crop insurance to the local farmers. Adrian cooked our breakfast using his wife’s kitchen which I don’t think was the done thing as we were informed that it’s the women who cook not men. After we cleared away our dishes she went crazy making chapatis and smothering them with ghee. I do have to say that they were the best chapatis we have had so far. We had another wash, a nap and headed for Chanasma.
to the Sun Temple
Stopped in a field at the side of the road to make dinner and drew a crowd of onlookers. Adrian was given fresh buffalo’s milk for his tea and we were invited by Mayur to camp at a truck stop under an open air cafe. This turned out to be one of the best offers yet as that night we may have gotten soaked. We got a
Sun Temple 1
tour of the town on his Honda Hero and he brought us sugarcane juice with added jeera and salt.
We also visited his local Shiva temple. As we drove back to the truck stop an electrical storm lit the sky purple, then came the
children in Modhera
this lady makes the best chapatis in all of India
Mayur at Patan Step Well
Rani-Ki-Vav, Patan 1
wind and a downpour we would have drowned in if we didn’t have cover that night.
Saturday 21st March 2009
We were not planning to visit Patan as we had already seen the step-well at Adalaj, but Mayur insisted that we go and even took us there and back on his Hero Honda. He also explained all the depictions and stories, which we would need a Ph.D in Hindu mythology to figure out.
Got back on the road and camped 20km outside of Radhanpur. On Monday 23rd March we cycled towards Rapar. Stopped in a few towns along the way to find a cyber cafe but we were not successful. Most of the day was spent cycling along NH15, a straight long road with nothing to see either side of it. We arrived in Rapar the next day looking for an internet cafe so we could contact our host Jitu. He ended up finding us first as not many foreigners come to these parts. We came to find out later that a friend of his had seen us getting mobbed trying to get breakfast in Adesar. He sent a text to Jitu in perfect English stating that two foreigners on cycles are here…
Jitu was born in an ashram that one of Gandi’s disciples founded. This ashram was essentially a boarding school for boys and girls whose parents ordinarily could not afford to send them to school. Jitu has his own place outside the ashram, but he and his family prefer to live there. At first light the children were collecting the cow patties, sweeping the dust up in every direction, and cleaning the latrine; everyone has a tasks to do. That morning I tried to use the latrine without an audience and had to yell at the kids before I was finished doing what I had to do.
We took an early bus to Dholavira, a small village in the heart of the Rann, to see the salt flats. Since part of the road is still being built this trip took about 3 hours to get there even though it’s only 90km from Rapar. We hung out with a friend of Jitu’s who took us to see the nearby ruins that afternoon. While there we were joined by a multitude of border police who obviously had nothing better to do than follow us around.
Welcome to the Kutch
posing at the ruins
Dholavira at night
Rann of Kutch
That night we slept in our tent and I’ll have to say it ranked in the top 5 of our best nights under the stars. The family compound consisted of a semicircle of detached rooms with the kitchen in the center. They kept insisting that we sleep in one of the rooms to the back, but we finally convinced them that we would be fine in the tent.
We got back to Rapar the next day and Jitu took us around the village high street. Made us try lots of fried snacks and hooked us up with access to the internet at a local Vodafone shop as there are no cyber cafes. One of the five questions were either directed to us or Jitu, but one precocious child asked us ‘what is your village?’ and I just had to laugh and reply that our village is London.
The road towards Upaipur is part of the east-west corridor of a highway that is still under construction. As these roads are flat and new we were able to make good time, but there are no service stations, hotels or corner shops sometimes for up to 100km. On the way we stopped at a village market street in Thara to pickup rice, sugar, cooking oil, dal and vegetables for the evening. What should have been a very routine task turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. Some of the town’s people mobbed us, kept playing with the gears on the bike, and cursed us in Gujarati. It got to the point where one of the stall holders gave us the basmati rice for free perhaps he felt sorry for us. We escaped back to the highway and were flagged down by a smartly dressed guy.
Vikrant in the middle
Vikrant, a mechanical engineer, apologized for everyone at the market and invited us for tea at the Timber Mart and oil filter system business he was managing. He had seen everything that had happened in the market and rushed back to the factory in order to intercept us. He also went back to the market to pick up the rest of the supplies that we had decided to leave because of the mob. He invited us to come back and stay at anytime even though he’ll be immigrating to Australia soon. After many cups of tea, photo taking with all the staff it was time to get back on the road.
the road stops here - on the way to Updaipur
rush hour traffic
We arrived in Updaipur on the evening of the 31st. That night we stayed at the Gangaur Hotel near Jagdish Temple. The hotel staff were cool and found space for our bikes as we had tried a few other places, but they didn’t understand that we couldn’t leave the bikes on the street. The next day, while hanging out at the internet café trying to stay out of the mid-day heat, we bumped into Louis and Elke, a touring couple from Germany. They had seen us before in Goa, but couldn’t get to us in time as they were eating in an upstairs café and where not able to run down and catch us in time. We spent much of the next two days lounging around, eating and swapping stories of our experiences on the road. Elke and Louis have been touring the world since 1995, they have a winery on the French/German border where they live, and Louis is a chef who owned and ran a restaurant many years ago, Elke is a hairdresser and has taken lots of great photographs of these roadside barbershops as well as many other amazing photos of their trip so far.
Elke and Louis world cycle tourers
Louis has decided to go vegetarian for this trip, but his dreams are filled with bratwurst, rotisserie chicken, and the ching ching of wine glasses. They even use to carry wine glasses as part or their touring kit. We look forward to visiting them once they are back from their two year journey.
As Vikrant would say they lack lane discipline
it's a mashup
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- it’s a mashup