Saurashtra

Around the coastal region of the Saurashtra Peninsula are some of India's most remarkable religious sites, from Dwarka in the west to Palitana in the east, while the coastline itself is fringed with some attractive beaches and the former Portuguese territory of Diu. The historic town of Junagadh and wildlife parks also draw visitors. Northern Saurashtra, with Rajkot at its centre, is one of the major groundnut growing regions of India.

Rajkot

Rajkot is a bustling commercial city with a large number of shopping complexes and heavy traffic, but there are also some fine late 19th-century colonial buildings and institutions since the British Resident for the Western Indian States lived here. There has been rapid industrialization recently, based especially in the processing of agricultural products.

Although there is an early Palaeolithic site at Rajkot, there is very little evidence of the settlement. Rajkot was the capital of the Jadejas, who ruled earlier from a place named Sardhar on the Rajkot-Bhavnagar road, and later set up this new city which became the headquarters of the British representatives in Saurashtra. The British impact can be seen in the impressive
Rajkumar College
, a famous public school founded in 1870 set in vast grounds, and the richly endowed
Watson Museum
,
with exhibits from the Indus Valley civilization, medieval sculpture, pottery and crafts, and colonial memorabilia. The gardens also contain the
Memorial Institute
and its crumbling Lang Library.
Gandhi Smriti
(Kaba Gandhino Delo), the early home of Mohandas K Gandhi, is in Ghee Kanta Road, between MG Road and Lakahjiraj Road (rickshaw-wallahs know the way). The
Gandhi Museum
 in the Gandhi family home (1880), contains photographs and personal effects. Descriptions are mainly in Hindi and Gujarati; guides speak no English.
Rashtriya Shala
is where Mahatma Gandhi went to school and promotes one of his greatest ideals: handloom and handicrafts. Among the textiles being promoted is Patola-style
ikat
silk weaving.

Wankaner

On a bend of the Machchu River, Wankaner (
wanka
- curve,
ner
- river), another capital of the Jhala Rajputs, was founded in 1605. The old ruler, Amar Sinhji, was known for his flamboyant lifestyle but also introduced wide-ranging reforms in farmers' co-operatives, education, roads, tramways and internal security. He was also responsible for building the
Ranjitvilas Palace
(1907 extension to the 1880s British Residents' bungalow), visible for miles across the plains. It is built in a strange mix of styles (Venetian façades, a Dutch roof,
jarokha
balconies, a 'Mughal' pavilion, minarets, English clock tower, etc) yet all is very well integrated. The garage has an interesting collection of models from the 1930s and 1940s and a 1921 Silver Ghost, jeeps, wagons and old buggies, while there are Kathiawadi horses in the stables. A part of the palace is now a
museum
brim full of royal memorabilia of a bygone lifestyle. There is an interesting step well with marble balustrade staircases, cool, subterranean chambers and marble statues of Vishnu.

Dhrangadhra

The pretty little village town of Dhrangadhra is the government Forest Department's headquarters for the
Little Rann of Kachchh Wild Ass Sanctuary
. It was also the capital of a very progressive princely state, which had English and vernacular schools in 1855 and free education in the early 1900s. Full-day jeep tours of Little Rann, to see wild asses, salt mining communities and a bird sanctuary, is Rs 2000 for two, including a delicious home-cooked lunch.

Bhavnagar

Bhavnagar was ruled by progressive rulers from its foundation in 1723. Surrounded by flat and richly cultivated land, it is now a major industrial town and cotton export centre, and is rapidly becoming one of India's most important ship-building ports. However, most of its character is preserved in the bazaars of the Old City where you can pick your way through the crowded lanes amongst the old merchants'
havelis
.

The palace-like
Takhtsinghji Hospital
(1879-1883) was designed by Sir William Emerson. The 18th-century
Darbargadh
(Old Palace, extended 1894-1895), in the town centre, now houses the State Bank but is scarcely visible in the incredibly overcrowded and dirty Darbargadh Bazar.
Barton Museum
(1895)
in an impressive crescent-shaped building, has a collection of coins, carvings, geological and archaeological finds, farming implements, arms and armour, handicrafts, miniature paintings and excellent bead and silk embroidery. The better known
Gandhi Smriti
 is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi (he was at university here; his old college is now an Ayurvedic education centre). Photos portray his life and the freedom struggle. There are also letters and mark sheets showing his scores at university. The unremarkable marble
Takhteshwar Temple
on a hillock has good views over the city and the distant coastline.

Victoria Park
, 2 km from the centre, is a former royal hunting preserve. Far removed from the image conveyed by its name of a manicured British city park, it has rolling scrub forests and marshes rich in birdlife. Nilgai, hyena, jackal, jungle cat and monitor lizard can all be seen. A pleasant stroll from the Nilambagh Palace, it is a great place for walks.
Gaurishankar Lake
, a popular escape from the city with parks and steps along the embankments, is good for winter birdwatching when cranes, pelicans and ducks arrive. Plovers, terns and other birds nest on the islands.

Velavadar National Park

The compact 36 sq km of flat grassland broken by dry open scrubland and patches of thorn forest was set up to protect the Indian blackbuck, of which it has the largest population in the country - about 1000 permanent residents and another 1000 that wander in from the surrounding area. The Bhavnagar royal family came here for cheetah coursing, falconry and hunting and also harvested grass for fodder for their cattle and horses.

The blackbuck is the second largest of the antelopes and the fastest long-distance runner of all animals. It can keep going at a steady 90 kph. The black-and-white dominant males sport spiral horns; the juvenile males are brown and white while the hornless females are brownish, with lighter parts. It is one of the most hunted animals in India, and so is an endangered species. Impressive males clash horns to establish territory and court females. Wolves, their prime predator, have been reduced to only two families, but they can still be seen. The park also contains a few sounders of wild boar in addition to 50-60 nilgai, usually seen near waterholes, jungle cat, which can be seen at dawn and dusk, and jackal. Birdlife is rich with numerous birds of prey including the largest harrier roost in the world; some 1500 to 2000 of these light-bodied hawks gather here at sunset in November and December. During the monsoon the park is the best place in India to spot the lesser florican. In addition to the two rivers that border the park, there are three waterholes and three small pools that attract animals at midday.

Sihor

Midway between Bhavnagar (27 km) and Palitana, the former Gohil Rajput capital has the 17th-century hilltop
Darbargadh Palace
(now government offices). Though rather dilapidated, you can still see some intricate carved wooden balconies and pillars outside and 19th-century wall paintings inside. The Brahm
Kund
(11th-12th century), about 2 km west of Sihor centre and 500 m south of the main road, is a deeply set stepped tank (now empty). It has around 100 sculpted images of deities in small niches, a few of which are still actively worshipped. There are also pillared galleries with rich carvings of musicians. In the village nearby brass utensils are produced as a cottage industry by rolling scrap from the Alang ship breaking yard and beating it into attractive water pots. Villagers are only too happy to show you around their workshops. The
Khodiyar Temple
on the Bhavnagar-Sihor road is in a pretty setting among the hills.

Palitana

Palitana is renowned for the extraordinary Jain temple complex on Shatrunjaya Hill which attracts domestic pilgrims as well as foreign visitors. No one is allowed to remain on the hill at night, but even during the day there is a peaceful serenity as you listen to the temple bells and pilgrims chanting in the City of the Gods.

Palitana was the capital of a small princely state founded by Shahji, a Gohel Rajput who belonged to the same clan as the Maharajah of Bhavnagar. The river Khari bisects the town. The east bank has hotels, eateries, shopping centres and bus and railway stations, while the west bank has the Willingdon Vegetable Market and some older raj and royal buildings. The last ruler died leaving wives and sisters to fight over the royal palace and mansions that are now decaying but show signs of impressive architecture. The better houses are on Taleti Road. The busy little town is also known for diamond cutting and horse breeding. South African diamonds are imported from Belgium for cutting and polishing before being re-exported back to Belgium.

Temple complex

Most of the temples are named after their founders and date from the 16th century, although the earliest may date from the 11th. It would appear that many others wer
e
destroyed by the Muslims in the 14th and 15th centuries, but later, when Jains obtained religious toleration, they began rebuilding.

The 863 temples are strung along the two ridges of the hill, with further temples in the hollow between, linking them. There are nine enclosures of
tuks
(fortifications) which provided defence. There are lovely views over the flat, cultivated black soils of the coastal plain, and on a clear day after the rains it is sometimes possible to see the Gulf of Khambat away to the east, and the Chamardi peak and the granite range of Sihor to the north.

There are two routes up the 600 m climb. The main route starts in the town of Palitana to the east of the hill, while a shorter and steeper route climbs up from the village of Adpur to the west. Both are excellently made stepped paths. The main pilgrim route starts in Palitana. Over 3500 steps - you will be told more by the
dhoolie
carriers at the bottom - lead up to the temples. There are two long flat stretches, but since some of the path is unshaded, even in winter it can get very hot.

Temples in this southern group include one of
Ramaji Gandharia
(16th century), and the
Bhulavani
(labyrinth, 18th century) which is a series of crypt-like chambers each surmounted with a dome. The
Hathiapol
(Elephant Gate, 19th century) faces southeast. The
Vimalavasi Tuk
occupies the west end of the south ridge. In it is the
Adishvara Temple
(16th century) which dominates the site. It has a double-storey
mandapa
inside which is a large image of Rishabhanatha with crystal eyes and a gold crown of jewels. The
Vallabhai Temple
(19th century) with its finely clustered spires and the large
Motisah Temple
(1836) occupy the middle ground between the ridges.

The
Khartaravasi Tuk
is the largest and highest temple complex, stretched out along the northern Ridge and includes the
Adinatha Temple
(16th century). There are quadruple
Tirthankara
images inside the sanctuary.

A comprehensive restoration project is being carried out on some of the temples, with many of the old stone carvings being 'refreshed' using a butterscotch-coloured mortar. It is interesting to watch the craftsmen in action, but some may feel that the new decorations lack the sculptural finesse and timeworn appeal of the originals.

If you wish to take the track down to Adpur turn left out of the complex entrance courtyard where you leave your shoes. Follow the sign to Gheti Pag Gate.

Alang

The beach at Alang has turned into the world's largest scrapyard for redundant ships, the industry yielding rich pickings from the sale of salvaged metal (bronze, copper) and the complete range of ship's fittings from portholes to furniture, diesel engines and lifeboats. Alang village, which is 50 km south of Bhavnagar, has developed this surprising specialization because of the unusual nature of its tides. The twice-monthly high tides are exceptional, reputedly the second highest in the world, lifting ships so that they can be beached well on shore, out of reach of the sea for the next two weeks. During this period the breakers move in unhindered. Labourers' 'huts' line the coast road though many workers commute from Bhavnagar.

Even though entry to Alang port may not be available, the last few kilometres to the port are lined with the yards of dealers specializing in every item of ships' furniture. Valuable items are creamed off before the 'breaking' begins, but if you want 3-cm-thick porthole glass, a spare fridge-freezer or a life jacket, this is the place to browse. However, customs officers always get first choice of valuables as they have to give permission for vessels to be beached, so don't expect too much. Some have found the journey not worth the trouble since they couldn't enter the fenced-off 'lots'.

Alang is only open to tourists with
special permission
, obtained from the
Gujarat Maritime Board
 or in Alang itself. Foreigners report finding it difficult to get permission to enter the beach/port area. Hotels in Bhavnagar may be able to help individuals gain entry but permits for groups are virtually impossible. Photography is not allowed. Strong shoes and modest dress are recommended.

Mahuva and Gopnath

The picturesque town of
Mahuva
(pronounced Mow-va), south of Palitana, was known for its historic port. Beautiful handcrafted furniture with lacquer work and intricate hand painting is made here.

About 30 km northeast of Mahuva,
Gopnath
is where the 16th-century mystic poet Narsinh Mehta is said to have attained enlightenment. Near the lighthouse is the 1940s summer home of late Maharajah Krishna Kumar Singhji of Bhavnagar, part of which is now a hotel. There are pleasant rocky, whites-and beaches - dangerous for swimming but good for walking - and a 700-year-old temple, 1 km away.

Gondal

The fascinating old town of Gondal, 38 km south of Rajkot, was the capital of one of the most progressive, affluent and efficient princely states of the British period. The exemplary state, ruled by Jadeja Rajputs, had an excellent road network, free compulsory education for all children including girls, sewage systems and accessible irrigation for farmers. The rulers rejected
purdah
, their palaces have no
zenanas
, and imposed no taxes on their subjects, instead earning revenue from rail connections between the port towns of Porbandar and Veraval with Rajkot and cities inland. The
Naulakha Palace
(1748)
with a sculpted façade, pretty jharoka windows and carved stone pillars, has an impressive Darbar Hall and a museum of paintings, furniture, brass and silver. Silver items include caskets, models of buildings and scales used for weighing the Maharajah (he was weighed against silver and gold on his 25th and 50th birthday; the precious metals were then distributed to the poor). A gallery has toys from the 1930s and 1940s. The
Vintage and Classic Car Museum
 is one of the finest in the country. Exhibits include 1910 New Engine, 1920s Delage and Daimler, 1935-1955 models, horse-drawn carriages, etc. Boating is possible on
Veri Lake
nearby, which attracts large numbers of rosy pelicans, flamingos, demoiselle and common eastern cranes and many others, particularly in January and February. You can visit the
Bhuvaneshwari Ayurvedic Pharmacy
, founded in 1910, which still prepares herbal medicines according to ancient principles and runs a hospital offering massages and treatment. The early 20th-century
Swaminarayan Temple
has painted interiors on the upper floors.

Junagadh

The narrow winding lanes and colourful bazaars of this small town, entered by imposing gateways, are evocative of earlier centuries. A large rock with 14 Asokan edicts, dating from 250 BC, stands on the way to the temple-studded Girnar Hill, believed to be a pre-Harappan site. But the modern town is marred by ugly new buildings and dirty slums.

Established by the Mauryans in the fourth century BC, from the second to fourth centuries Junagadh was the capital of Gujarat under the Kshattrapa rulers. It is also associated with the Chudasama Rajputs who ruled from Junagadh from AD 875. The fort was expanded in 1472 by Mahmud Beghada and again in 1683 and 1880. Sher Khan Babi, who took on the title of Nawab Bahadur Khan Babi, declared Junagadh an independent state in the 1700s. At the time of Partition the Nawab exercised his legal right to accede to Pakistan but his subjects were predominantly Hindu and after Indian intervention and an imposed plebiscite their will prevailed. The Nawab was exiled along with his 100 dogs.

The old
Uparkot citadel
 on a small plateau east of the town, was a stronghold in the Mauryan and Gupta empires. The present walls are said to date from the time of the Chudasama Rajputs (ninth-15th century). The deep moat inside the walls is believed to have once held crocodiles. The Ottoman canons of Suleman Pasha, an ally of the sultans, were moved here after the Muslim forces were unable to save Diu from Portuguese naval forces. The town was repeatedly under attack so there was a huge granary to withstand a long siege. The
Jama Masjid
was built from the remains of a Hindu palace. The 11th-century
Adi Chadi Vav
, a
baoli
with 172 steps and an impressive spiral staircase, is believed to commemorate two slave girls who were bricked up as sacrifice to ensure the supply of water. The 52-m-deep Naghan Kuva is a huge 11th-century well, which has steps down to the water level through the rocks, with openings to ventilate the path. The
Buddhist cave monastery
in this fort complex dates from Asoka's time. Two of the three levels are open to visitors. The drainage system was very advanced, as shown by the rainwater reservoir. The ventilation cleverly achieved a balance of light and cool breezes. Other
Buddhist caves are hewn into the hillsides near the fort.

In the town, the late 19th-century mausolea of the Junagadh rulers, not far from the railway station, are impressive. The
Maqbara
of Baha-ud-din Bhar with its silver doors and intricate, elaborate decoration, has an almost fairground flamboyance. The
Old Mausolea
at Chittakhana Chowk (opposite
Relief Hotel
, which has views of them from the roof), which were once impressive, are now crumbling and overgrown.

The
Durbar Hall Museum
 houses royal memorabilia, including portraits, palanquins, gem-studded carpets and costumes.

Further east,
Asokan rock edicts
 are carved in the Brahmi script on a large boulder. The emperor instructed his people to be gentle with women, be kind to animals, give alms freely and to plant medicinal herbs. The 13 edicts are summed up in the 14th.

Girnar Hill
, rising 900 m above the surrounding plain, 3 km east of town, has been an important religious centre for the Jains from the third century BC. The climb up this worn volcanic cone by 10,000 stone steps takes at least two hours. You start just beyond Damodar Kund in teak forest; at the foot is the Asokan Edict while a group of 16 Jain temples surmounts the hill. The climb can be trying in the heat so is best started very early in the morning. You will find tea stalls en route and brazen monkeys.
Dhoolis
are available but are expensive. The charge depends on weight; for example, Rs 1500 for 60 kg to the first group of temples, which are the most interesting. There are good views from the top though the air is often hazy.

Sasan Gir National Park

The sanctuary covers a total area of 1412 sq km, of which 258 sq km at the core is the national park. As a result of over-grazing and agricultural colonization, only about 10% of the park is forest. However, the scrubby look of much of the area represents the original, natural vegetation. The area has rocky hills and deep valleys with numerous rivers and streams, and there are extensive clearings covered with savannah-like fodder grasses.

The
Asiatic
lion
once had a wide range of natural territory running from North to West India through Persia to Arabia. It is now only found in the Gir forest; the last one seen outside India was in 1942, in Iran. Similar to its African cousin, the tawnier Asian is a little smaller and stockier in build with a skin fold on the belly, a thinner mane and a thicker tuft at the end of its tail. The 1913 census accounted for only 18 in the park. The lions' natural habitat was threatened by the gradual conversion of the forest into agricultural land and cattle herders grazing their livestock here. The conservation programme has been remarkably successful. There are now reckoned to be around 350 animals in the park; too many, some say, for the territory to support. These, and 300-plus
panthers
, make Gir arguably India's best big cat sanctuary, while the existence of a handful of Sudanese villages in the park add to the slightly surreal African-safari feel of the place.

Though there have been attacks on villagers by park lions, these are thought likely to have been provoked as there are few reported man-eaters. Nevertheless, relations between the lions and the human settlements within and around the boundaries are becoming increasingly strained, with several reports of revenge killings of lions (principally for hunting livestock) being reported in the last couple of years. Deaths by poaching are also beginning to occur with disturbing regularity.

During the course of three to four jeep safaris you have a reasonably good chance of spotting lions. They are more likely to be seen with the help of a good tracker and guide, but the government system for apportioning guides to a different group each session means it is impossible to guarantee the quality of your tracker from one drive to the next; inevitably, some visitors return disappointed. If you don't see one, the Interpretation Zone's safari park has a few lions.

A
watch tower
camouflaged in the tree canopy at Kamleshwar overlooks an artificial reservoir harbouring wild crocodiles but it is poorly located and overcrowded with bus loads of noisy visitors at weekends. Other towers are at Janwadla and Gola. For birdwatching, Adhodiya, Valadara, Ratnaghuna and Pataliyala, are good spots. A walk along Hiran River is also rewarding.

The Tulsishyam
hot springs
in the heart of the forest (Tulsishyam is also a Krishna pilgrimage centre), and Kankai Mata
temple
dedicated to Bhim, the
Mahabharata
hero, and his mother Kunti, add interest.

Gir Interpretation Zone
 is 16 sq km of Gir habitat fenced in as a safari park to show a cross section of wildlife; the four or five lions can be easily seen in open scrubland in the area. The lions here are less shy than those in the sanctuary, but you may be frustrated by the briefness of the encounter. Other Gir wildlife include spotted deer, sambar, nilgai, peafowl. Permits are available at the reception.

Crocodile Rearing Centre
 is full of marsh crocodiles, varying in size from a few centimetres to 1 m, for restocking the population in the sanctuary. Eggs are collected in the park and taken to Junagadh for hatching under controlled conditions. Unfortunately, keepers prod the crocodiles to make them move.

Veraval

Veraval is a noisy, unbearably smelly and unattractive town which provides a base for visiting the Hindu pilgrimage centre of Somnath at Prabhas Patan. Its importance now is as a fishing port - hence the stench. Seagoing
dhows
and fishing boats are still being built by the sea without the use of any modern instruments, traditional skills being passed down from father to son.

Prabhas Patan (Somnath)

Somnath Temple
 a major Hindu pilgrimage centre, is said to have been built out of gold by Somraj, the Moon God (and subsequently in silver, wood and stone). In keeping with the legend, the stone façade appears golden at sunset. Mahmud of Ghazni plundered it and removed the gates in 1024. Destroyed by successive Muslim invaders, it was rebuilt on the same spot. The final reconstruction did not take place until 1950 and is still going on. Unfortunately, it lacks character but it has been built to traditional patterns with a soaring 50-m-high tower that rises in clusters. Dedicated to Siva, it has one of the 12 sacred
jyotirlingas
.

Nearby is the ruined
Rudreshvara Temple
, which dates from the same time as the Somnath Temple and was laid out in a similar fashion. The sculptures on the walls and doorways give an indication of what the original Somnath Temple was like.

Krishna
was believed to have been hit by an arrow, shot by the Bhil, Jara, when he was mistaken for a deer at Bhalka Teerth, and was cremated at Triveni Ghat, east of Somnath.

Diu

The island of Diu has a fascinating history and a relaxed atmosphere with little traffic. The north side of the island has salt pans and marshes which attract wading birds, the south coast has some limestone cliffs and pleasant, sandy beaches. Although often compared to Goa, it is nowhere near as picturesque. The island is still visited by relatively few foreign travellers though its tavernas attract those deprived of alcohol from neighbouring Gujarat and the bars can get noisy especially at the weekend. It's no paradise island, but if you're in the area it offers a welcome break from the rigours of travelling around Gujarat.

Diu town

The small town is squeezed between the fort on the east and a large city wall to the west. With its attractively ornamented buildings and its narrow streets and squares, it has more of a Portuguese flavour than Daman. While some visitors find it quite dirty and decaying, and are disappointed by the number of liquor shops, others find Diu an enjoyable little place. The night market is a great place to have a drink and to wander around.

St Paul's Church
(1601-1610), on Travessa dos Hospital, the road running from the fort, has a fine baroque façade, impressive wood panelling and an attractive courtyard. At this church, take the left-hand turning on to Rua de Isabel Fernandes for the
Church of St
 Francis of Assisi
(1593), part of which is a hospital (a doctor is available at 0930 for a free consultation). On Rua de Torres Novas is
St Thomas's Church
, housing the museum with an interesting local collection. It has been renovated and now houses stone sculptures, woodcarvings and shadow clocks, as well as a café and pleasant rooms to let. These, and the fort, are floodlit at night.

Diu Fort
(1535-1541)
considered to be one of Asia's foremost Portuguese forts, was built after the Mughal Emperor Humayun attacked the Sultan of Gujarat with the help of the Portuguese. Until 1960 it garrisoned 350 Portuguese soldiers. Skirted by the sea on three sides and a rock-cut canal on the fourth, it had two moats, one of which was tidal. The lighthouse stands at one end and parts of the central keep are still used as a jail but has few occupants. Despite being damaged, some of the structures - walls, gateways, arches, ramps, bastions - still give us an idea of the formidable nature of the defences. It's worth allowing an hour for a visit.

Makata Lane or
Panchwati
, near the Zampa gate, has some impressive old mansions of rich Portuguese and Indian merchants ranging from Venetian Gothic-style bungalows to traditional carved wooden or stone
havelis
.

Forte de Mar

Forte de Mar (Fortress of Panikot), built in 1535, was strategically important as an easily defended base for controlling the shipping lanes on the northeast part of the Arabian Sea. It has a lighthouse and a chapel to Our Lady of the Sea. It can be approached from Diu jetty when canoes or motor boats are available although landing is not permitted at present. The other fort at the eastern end of the island guarded the mint, while two others once guarded the west at Vanakbara and the bay to the south at Nagoa.

Bird sanctuary

The creeks to the north of Diu island have been declared a bird sanctuary. There are watchtowers to spot flocks of shore birds including oyster-catchers, sanderlings and plovers. Lots of herons and ibises, flamingos, pelicans, etc, visit seasonally. Jackals, jungle cats and porcupines are seen in the evening.

Beaches

Several beaches on the south side of Diu Island are easy to get to from Diu town by cycle or auto-rickshaw. Beaches between Nagoa and Vanakbara are safe all year except between May and July and are often empty, as is the beach along Ghogla. However, beware of the giant thorns that are hazardous to cycle tyres.

Jallandhar Beach
, to the south, is pleasant and the nearest to Diu. There have been several reports of groups of teenage boys, who not only come to watch and pester tourists but aggressively offer sex.

Chakratirtha Beach
, just southwest, has a sunset view point, an open auditorium and a small beach which has been spoiled by the glut of beachside cabins.

Just east of Diu Town
Fudam
(or Fofrara) has the air of a Portuguese village with the crumbling Church of Our Lady of the Remedies.
Malala Mines
are limestone quarries off the Nagoa road.
Gangeshwar Temple
nearby has an attractive
Nandi
and Siva
linga
washed by the sea at high tide.

About 7 km from town, facing the Arabian Sea,
Nagoa
offers the best location for a quiet stay away from Diu town. Its semi-circular palm-fringed beach suitable for swimming is popular with foreigners but also large numbers of Indian tourists who come to watch. There are quieter beaches nearby and the forests are pleasant for walks although the entire stretch from Nagoa is being landscaped for development. A
sea shell museum
has opened on the road from the airport to Nagoa. It displays a large number of mollusc and crustacean shells, corals and marine life from all over the world, collected by a retired merchant navy captain.

The fishing village of
Ghogla-Ahmedpur Mandvi
on the mainland is also part of Diu. Its name changes to Ahmedpur Mandvi on crossing to the Gujarat side of the border. The beach is good for swimming and it has splendid views of fishing villages and the fort and churches on Diu island.
Jyoti Watersports
and
Magico Do Mar
offer a variety of watersports here including parasailing, speed boating and waterskiing. Beware of the rip tide just a few metres out to sea, which has claimed several lives.

Bucharwada
, to the north, lacks attractive beaches but has cheap spartan rooms in
Viswas
Hotel
.
Gomtimata
, a secluded white sand beach to the west, is where a
Tourist Hostel
is expected to open.
Vanakbara
, the fishing village on the western tip of the island, has the Church of Our Lady of Mercy. Get to the early-morning fish market and watch the colourful trawlers unload catches of shark, octopus and every kind of fish imaginable. The drying fish on 'washing lines' and waterside activities provide photo opportunities. You can also watch traditional
dhow
building.

There is a ferry service across to Gomtimata.
Simbor Beach
is a pleasant and little- known beach. It is 27 km from Diu town, off the Una road, and can be reached in 45 minutes from Diu by hiring a moped or scooter. Take food and water.

Porbandar

The former capital of the Jethwa Rajput petty princely state, Porbandar was previously named Sudamapuri, after Krishna's devoted friend, and has a temple dedicated to her. The
dhow
-building tradition that continues on the seashore to the present day reflects a history of maritime trade with North Africa and Arabia. Today, Porbandar is closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi and is also known for its production of gold and silver trinkets, fine-quality silk and cotton manufacture and chemical and cement factories.

Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar in 1869. Next to the family home with its carved balconies is
Kirti Mandir
, a small museum that traces his life and contains memorabilia and a library.
Darbargadh
, a short walk from Kirti Mandir, the old palace of the Maharanas of Porbandar, was built in the 1780s but is now deserted. It has some intricate carvings and carved balconies; the rooms inside (if you can get in) have interesting paintings.
Sartanji
(or Rana-no)
Choro
(1785), near the ST stand, is the beautiful pleasure pavilion of Maharajah Sartanji, a great poet, writer and music lover. The pavilion has domes, pillars and carved arches and its four sides represent the four seasons. The Maharana's deserted sprawling
Hazur Palace
is near the seafront. Ask for permission to visit the rooms inside at the office.
Daria Rajmahal
, the splendid turn-of-the-century palace of the Maharana of Porbandar, now a college, has intricate carvings, courtyards, fountains, carved arches and heavily embellished façades. The tower has excellent views of the seashore.
Chaya
, 2 km from Chowpatty sea face, is the old capital of the Jetwas. The
Darbargadh Palace
with a beautiful carved balcony, is believed to have secret tunnels and passages to temples and places of safety.

The
Bharat Mandir Hall
in Dayananda Vatika garden is across the Jubilee (Jyubeeli) Bridge. It has a large marble relief map of India on the floor and bas reliefs of heroes from Hindu legends on the pillars. Nearby
Arya Kanya Gurukul
is an experiment in education for girls based on ancient Indian tradition. The dated
planetarium
has shows in Gujarati only. The architecture incorporates different religious styles illustrating Gandhi's open mind.

Jhavar Creek
attracts scores of waterbirds. Flamingos, pelicans, storks and heron can be seen from the road in the mangrove marshes. Fisheries have appeared around the creek where the fish put out to dry attract thousands of terns and gulls.

Jamnagar and around

Jamnagar, now an expanding town, was a 16th-century pearl fishing centre with one of the biggest pearl fisheries in the world until the early 20th century. The famous cricketer Ranjitsinghji was its ruler from 1907-1933.

The walled city
is famous for its embroidery, silverware and
bandhani
(tie-dye) fabrics produced in workshops in the narrow lanes.
Pirotan Island
in the
middle of the Ranmal lake in the Old City, reached by a stone bridge, has the
Lakhota Fort
and
Kotha Bastion
with its arsenal. The
fort museum
has a collection of sculpture and pottery found in ruined medieval villages nearby. It is also a pleasant, cool and quiet spot just to relax while listening to the strains of
Shri Ram, Jai Ram
,
Jai Jai Ram
wafting across the lake from the
Bala Hanuman Temple
. The temple is worth a visit, especially early evening. The bastion has an old well from which water can be drawn by blowing into a small hole in the floor. The
solarium
uses solar radiation to cure diseases. A group of
Jain temples
in the Old City are profusely decorated with glass, gilding and mirrors.

Northwest of the town centre is the
Ayurvedic University
, www.ayurveduniversity.com
, at present the only one in India, which teaches courses to bachelor and postgraduate level in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. A limited number of places are available for suitably qualified foreign students.

Khijadia Lakes
, are three freshwater lakes surrounded by salt pans and salt marshes. Entirely flooded in the wet season, the lakes remain fresh throughout the dry season, though they occasionally dry out completely. The lakes, a bird sanctuary, are an important staging post for migratory birds, including swallows, martins and wagtails, and many waterfowl.

Marine National Park
 offshore from the southern coast of the Gulf of Kachchh, comprises an archipelago of 42 islands noted for their coral reefs and mangroves. It is possible to see dolphins, finless porpoise and sea turtles and a variety of colourful tropical fish. The area also attracts a host of waterbirds. The best island to visit is 1.5-sq-km
Pirotan
. To get there hire motor boats for 15-45 people from Jamnagar jetty (or from Okha) and take a guide. Permits are needed and are available from the Director, Marine National Park, Rajdarshan Ground, Jamnagar. Pirotan is uninhabited except for lighthouse staff.

Dwarka

A small coastal town on the tip of the Kathiawad Peninsula, Dwarka is one of the most sacred sites for Vaishnavite Hindus. It has the unique distinction of being one of Hinduism's four 'Holy Abodes' as well as one of its seven 'Holy Places'. Heavily geared up to receive pilgrims, the people are easy going, friendly and welcoming, even to the rarely seen tourist. The beach is good but without any palms for shade.

Archaeological excavations indicate that present-day Dwarka is built on the sites of four former cities. Work in 1990 by the marine archaeologist SR Rao discovered triangular anchors weighing 250 kg similar to those used in Cyprus and Syria during the Bronze Age, suggesting that ships of up to 120 tonnes had used the port around the 14th century BC. Marine research in early 2002 revealed evidence of a substantial city off the coast more than 100 m below current sea level, reviving the debate about the origins of Dwarka's offshore archaeological sites.

The present town mostly dates from the 19th century when Gaekwad princes developed Dwarka as a popular pilgrimage centre. Celebrated as Krishna's capital after his flight from Mathura, thousands come for Krishna's birthday and at Holi and Diwali.

The 12th-century
Rukmini Temple
has beautifully carved
mandapa
columns and a fine sanctuary doorway, but much else is badly weathered. The mainly 16th-century
Dwarkadisha Temple
 was supposedly built in one night, and some believe that the inner sanctum is 2500 years old. The sanctuary walls probably date from the 12th century. The exterior is more interesting. The soaring five-storey tower is supported by 60 columns. Non-Hindus may enter after completing a form to show some level of commitment to Hinduism and to Krishna, but no photography is allowed inside and cameras must be left at the entrance. A
lighthouse
 stands to the west of the temples. The good-humoured keepers may treat you to a free private guided tour in exchange for any foreign coin (they all 'collect'). The views are beautiful; it's a very peaceful place to rest a while.

Outside Dwarka, the
Nageshwar Mandir
contains one of the 12
jyotirlingas
in an underground sanctum. It helps to be agile if you wish to catch a glimpse.
Gopi Talav Teerth
is associated with Krishna (and Arjun) and has several shrines in the complex.

Okha

A small port at the head of the Gulf of Kachchh, Okha is 32 km north of Dwarka. You can visit the Marine National Park by hiring a motor boat from the jetty . A pilgrimage to Dwarka is not complete without a visit to the island of
Beyt Dwarka
off the coast from Okha. This is where Krishna is believed to have resided while Dwarka was his capital. The 19th-century temple complex contains several shrines and images of Krishna and his 56 consorts. Archaeological excavations have revealed Harappan artefacts which date from the second millennium BC.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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