Gujarat – an unlikely destination
This is a travel note which has been a prisoner of lethargy for the better part of this year. I am attempting to write it down mainly for the reason that Gujarat does not find a place in the usual tourist map – the space there is usually reserved for Rajasthan, Kerala, Kashmir….
When we decided to move around Gujarat last Dec – Jan, it was more of a choice by elimination than by selection. The whole of North India was reeling under a cold wave and all the places we shortlisted were under its grip. Gujarat seemed more moderate in comparison. So, Gujarat emerged as a compromise candidate and like all compromise candidates it did well !
Places to cover : It was a fairly easy decision to pick the circuit. Surat – Baroda belt did not appear very appealing. So we drew up an itinerary covering Kutch and Saurashtra. It was a fairly long one – 11 days in all and looked like this…
Do it yourself or : The next question was whether we should approach a tour company or make bookings on our own. We had a harrowing experience 4 years back on a trip which a leading tour company booked for us – tickets were not booked correctly, hotels were not the ones promised, there were several subagents who did things as they pleased and so on. So this trip was going to be on our own – travel, hotel, route and everything else. I had to keep a good week of late nights and three week-ends to get everything done (from research to bookings). In hindsight that was time well spent.
Lonely planet (LP) : I was highly prejudiced against LP thinking it is the westerners guide and would not suit the domestic traveller. I travelled to Ladakh region in mid 2009 with a couple of colleagues. One of them, an ardent follower of LP converted me during that trip and I was fully convinced that LP would be my core reference for Gujarat trip. It worked pretty well for us.
For ease of reading I’ll split the note into various areas we visited. Look out for follow up posts…