When in doubt, travel.
Adages can be cliched but this one isn’t. I am one of those lucky creatures who during a downtime just grab their bags and go for a short and unplanned adventure. My travel journeys in most cases have been aberrant and spontaneous. I start hunting for last minute vacation deals because that’s how it always ends up for me and my family. I haven’t traveled alone to be honest and I don’t regret it one bit because I have a family who shares the same views as I of what an ideal travel experience should be. I do have certain times when I have major FOMOs when I travel to a new city and fear I’ll not be able to visit all the best sites the place has to offer.
Often bemused by my life’s incidents, I long for a rejuvenation from the overwhelming city life. This excerpt is a verbatim report of what supposedly turned out to be my graduation trip in May 2017. I am putting down my thoughts after almost 10 months since the experience for the sole purpose that I should have put them down anyway. “So, what could the destination be and where could I get an adventure?” asked my bewildered mind.
Flashback to the time when I visited Jim Corbett National Park in March 2017 and it came to my realization that I was in love with jungle safari rides that included exploring the wild, being in a jungle surrounded by nature’s astounding beauty. Moreover, the free flowing water streams, the birds chirping, exotic flora and fauna and the sturdy jeeps as our travel conveyance machine. It all fits into a coveted natural experience.
So, I deduced that I couldn’t wait for my next Safari ride and upon researching I found that the nearest to my city was Gir National Park. My alacrity to put this into my travel list couldn’t wait and I booked a resort on MakeMyTrip. It was quite difficult to find a decent resort for a last minute trip in the vacation season. However, I managed to book Gir Lion’s Paw Resort in Sasan Gir. It came to my knowledge that the Safari to the Gir forest could be booked only on the official government website of Gir. It was easy to book and I picked the slot for 3 PM to 6 PM for the Gir Jungle trail. It is advisable to get a morning slot because that’s when you can catch a glimpse of majestic animals around the forest. I crossed my fingers and prayed to spot the Asiatic lions in my afternoon slot.
We hit the road for a 600 km journey on 14th May, 2017 for Sasan Gir from Surat, Gujarat. A 12 hour ride by road included a distinctive road quality from a smooth flowing asphalt highways to jaw-jarring gravels. Belonging to a Jain family we visited quite a few religious temples on the way like the Kalikund temple in Dholka district of Gujarat. We were served a delicious meal and people were flocking there in great numbers. The whole passage was covered with an archway of Bougainvillea flowers and the temple is a treat to visit. A site to cherish in the summer.
In 4 hours we were at Junagadh and our target was to reach the resort before sunset. By 7:30 PM we were at Gir Lion’s Paw Resort in Sasan Gir, Junagadh. Knowing that I had booked this place on MakeMyTrip and I hoped it would be a satisfactory stay. But, travelling by road into the the charmingly bucolic scenes of the countryside was an eye candy.
The resort is not situated on the main road and we had to take a short badly constructed road to get there. It is all available on the Google maps and we had no problem finding the place even though it was getting a little dark and there were no streetlights. We were greeted by a receptionist and the staff was kind enough to take us to our rooms. The resort looked decent and had a pool and a relaxation area. The dinner was delicious and it also had some non vegetarian options.
We were told that at night there are chances of lions lurking around the resort so the place is tightly fenced. My heart skipped a beat so I enquired if there were any cases of attacks. Thankfully, we were all safe inside the resort.
So, here comes the most spontaneous part of the trip. I had booked the Safari for 16th May and we had a full day of 15th before us with no plans. I googled and found out that Diu was just a two hour drive from where we were staying. The desultory and randomness of our journey brought us to Diu. At morning 10 O’clock we left after breakfast for Diu. This is one of the best decisions I had made for this trip. By 1 o’clock we were at our destination. Since we hadn’t booked a hotel for a night at Diu, I quickly surfed through the MakeMyTrip website and searched for options.
It was holiday season and mostly every resort was booked. I came across Sea Village Resort and it was right by the beach. We headed straight there to checkout the place. To be honest it was not even a 3 star but being right by the beach was something that I really wanted to be so we all agreed because we had come for an adventure and luxury could be another day’s story. The restaurant there served non veg food so I started hunting for a vegetarian restaurants after getting some help from the reception.
We reached Hotel Ashiyana which served Gujarati Jain Thali food. It was decent for anyone who wishes to get an unlimited vegetarian food option in Diu. Also, there is an old Jain temple right across the hotel to visit. After stuffing my mouth with lots of food we headed straight to the Diu Fort because heritage sites would have been closed by evening.
The best thing about Diu is that everything is nearby and you can reach from one spot to another very quickly. I was pretty impressed by the view at the Diu fort. The enthralling Diu fort was surrounded by water from three sides and you can get a magnificent view of the Arabian sea. What I find incredible is that even after about 500 years of its construction, ruins of the walls, the enormous gateways, the beautiful arches, ramps and huge bastions carry a ravishing view of the military defenses of the fort.
After enjoying the view and clicking a plethora of pictures we quickly started exploring Diu because of my major FOMO. We headed to the St. Paul Church. I really like visiting churches because they have a beautiful silence that helps you connect with God. Next to it was the Diu Museum which turned out to be a disappointment because there was not much to it. Throughout the driving around Diu we could see the beach right next to us along the road. We decided to chill by Jallandhar beach for a while. Here, are some pictures.
I was eager to visit the Naida caves and it is like a photographer’s paradise. It was truly magnificent seeing the formation of orange rocks and how the sunlight beamed through the cracks of the structure. An actual explorer’s site. If you visit Diu then this underrated place is a must visit.
So, I gathered that my resort was right opposite the INS Kukri Memorial. An amphitheater feeling structure cum sunset point cum memorial site. I was astounded by how beautiful it looked. The unending water body, the beautiful sunset and a great view. If you visit Diu then you must add this to the list as well. It was the highlight of Diu for me. As the sun set it felt peace and I was overjoyed by the fact that I could spend the night under the stars by the beach with the rhythm of the waves. I walked from the memorial towards the beach to reach my resort. For dinner, we headed to the other side of Diu where there was street shopping and some restaurants.
Morning of 16th May and I took a quick morning walk by the beach while I waited for my Dad to take a quick swim. Who doesn’t love to wake up with a view of the beach? The day awaited a lot of adventure because today was the day for the jungle safari. I longed to see a Asiatic lion and it was all a matter of luck if you could spot one. We reached the venue for our jungle safari ride and there are strict rules to carrying any packets around and littering is strictly prohibited. If you have some time then you can shop some souvenirs and visit the little museum at Sinh Sadan like we did.
There are various routes to enter the forest and the guides are perfectly trained and constantly updated on the whereabouts of various animals. Mostly, every tourist wishes to spot the Asiatic lions. My excitement level was reaching another level.
After halting at a point for 20 minutes where we were anxiously expecting a lion to be spotted. To all of our surprise, a beautiful Asiatic lion emerged from the camouflaging background. I was ebullient and overwhelmed on seeing the majestic creature. It was terrifying and beautiful to see him walk in pride and truly looked like a king of the jungle. After living here for all my life I have learnt that the denizens of Gujarat are warm and welcoming. Here, are some pictures I clicked on my safari.
We left for Girnar the same day because the next morning was all about another adventure. The next day awaited a hard and challenging task of climbing 4000 steps of the Girnar mountain. Girnar is an important pilgrimage for Jains and it is a very difficult climb all the way up. In the summer heat it was beautiful to kiss the clouds on top of this beautiful place and have a soulful experience. Here is a glimpse of it.
In the evening, mostly we were exhausted after our climbing. But, it was the last day of the trip and I wished to see Junagadh’s heritage sites. I dragged everyone to the Uperkot Fort and it has lots of stories around it. It also gives a beautiful view of the city.
We also visited an Instagram worthy Mahabat Maqbara Palace. It was sad to watch that such a beautiful site is now used as a cricket playground by kids. It truly looks like a princess’s castle. I managed to walk up to the stairs of one of the winding staircases of the minarets. It gave a spectacular view. But, before I could manage to click some pictures I was called down by the security because the staircase was quite unstable.
That’s all that I could gather from my highly spontaneous trip to Saurashtra. My mind left for home feeling extremely positive and ready to open a new chapter of life after graduation. What I ascertain form my dubious travel expeditions is that no matter where you go for an adventure you will never return empty handed.