When Gujarat was afresh in our minds, we had planned to write a long post singing praises of the state. However, now, a considerable amount of time has passed. The detailed memories have started fading.
A few aspects stand out, & will continue to do so, till a contradictory experience occurs. Listing down 5 things we simply loved about Gujarat. Our experiences cover Ahmedabad, Dasada, the Little Rann of Kutch, Modhera, Patan, & all the towns & villages that fell along the way.
#1. Roads – We are a Delhi NCR couple. It is quite difficult to impress us with roads. But we are also travelers. We have seen the worst of roads. But, the roads in Gujarat were a delight to be driven on.
Not just the highways; the back of beyond villages had ‘pukka’ roads. We have always believed roads are the harbinger of growth & development.
#2. Water – The remotest of villages have running water. It is quite a feat to be able to guarantee water supply to every nook & corner, especially when you are a predominant dry state.
The capital of the country, Delhi, is unable to provide tap water to a number of its colonies, even though it has the best resources of the country at its disposal. Yet, Gujarat has achieved this.
It saves the womenfolk the drudgery of drawing water from wells and carrying it over long distances. & honestly, doesn’t the thought excite you that you can get a stream of water every time you open your tap?
Well, maybe, you take it for granted, for you have never known otherwise. Let us assure you – the alternate is not pretty…
#3. Electricity – Rural menfolk in white dhoti – kurta, women in colorful chaniya – cholis, children playing in the mud, cattle, goats, sheep & dogs freely roaming around, elders sitting under the banyan tree discussing sociopolitical affairs… this pretty much paints a picture of a typical Indian village.
What stands out is the fan whirring inside the hut, the bulbs twinkling at night, the small fridge to keep matters cool. This is not something you can see in every Indian village but it was something we saw commonly in Gujarat.
You can see the poles running through the length & breadth in every village but seldom have the wires carried current. In Gujarat, they did…
#4. No beggars outside temples – So, to be honest, we visited only one temple in Gujarat – the Bahucharmata Temple in Bahucharaji. The Sun Temple at Modhera does not count as it is a tourist attraction rather than a pilgrimage spot.
We have not been to a single temple in India where we have not been flanked by beggars asking us to give something to them. They either hound us till the time we enter the temple or our vehicle, or they sit forlornly, their bodies covered with dust, grime, sores & wounds.
It is not a pretty sight. We feel bad for the ones who are genuinely destitute, but we dislike being hounded. This is usually by those who are active and fit, & can easily pick up some sort of work. But, of course, beggary is an easy way out.
At the Bahucharmata temple, we did not see a single beggar. No old man, no young girl carrying a baby, nil, nada, niyat. It made us think – what is different here compared to the rest of India? Is it because Gujaratis as a community do not believe in asking?
Or is it because there is no need for anybody to beg? Or is it simply because the administration does a good job of keeping them away? Sadly, we could not ask anyone these questions but would love to unravel this mystery.
Whatever it was, it put us at ease. We did not have to look away out of disgust or guilt or helplessness.
The other aspect that stood out was the absence of hawkers trying to coerce you into buying offerings. Again, we have not been to any place of worship where the hawkers outside have not tried to sell me all sorts of offerings to make the gods or saints happy.
This is as true for a Hanuman Mandir in Delhi as for the Ajmersharif Dargah. In Bahucharaji, the hawkers peacefully went about their business, selling their wares to only those who approached them.
There was no shouting either by them, trying to seek attention of pilgrims. This is how a place of worship should be – peaceful and with the liberty for you to interact with the Almighty as you want.
#5. Tourist Spots – Spotlessly clean. Well – maintained. Adequate signboards and historical references. No hanky – panky. No touts. There were only ASI – approved guides at the Modhera Sun Temple, who asked you only once if you wanted their service.
If you said no, they would quietly move away to the next set of travelers. We were so pleased with their professionalism, we ended up engaging one. And do not regret it one bit.
To balance our post out, there were a couple of things we disliked about Gujarat.
#1. Disregard for traffic rules – We were constantly at the edge of our seat whenever we were on the road in Ahmedabad. There was a complete disregard of traffic signals, lane driving, overtaking rules etc. It was a miracle vehicles did not bump into each other.
We are quite paranoid on the road. The situation in Ahmedabad was pure horror for us. The plus side – it made us remember God more than we usually do.
#2. Food – What is the deal with making even the curries sweet? How do you differentiate between entrée & dessert? Perhaps, it is an acquired taste but it was quite unpalatable to us. After one Gujarati meal, we slipped back to north Indian cuisines.
Sigh! Long post but we felt we needed to write this as a tribute to the good time we had in Gujarat. We intend to visit again soon, hoping to cover all the other tourist spots that Amitabh bachchan has requested us to! 😀