Cat without a cage in Junagadh

Tiger

 

If you happen to visit the city of Junagadh in Saurashtra, and it is really well worth seeing, do not miss taking a stroll around the city’s Sakkarbaug Zoo, one of the oldest zoological gardens in India.

It is justifiably famous for its lions and tigers, which are housed in reasonably spacious cages. The zoo also helps conserve the wild Asian Tigers in the nearby Forest of Gir national park.

Just after viewing the big cats in their barred enclosures, I turned around and had a shock. I saw what looked like a real tiger lazing on the grass outside the cages. I could not believe my eyes for a few seconds until I realised that this ‘creature’ was actually a realistic life-sized toy tiger, which people used for including in their photographs and ‘selfies’.

Elsewhere in the zoo, there is a model of a dinosaur, but this is not nearly so realistic.

Incidentally, the zoo, which is a little way outside the historic city centre is opposite a great value, comfortable hotel, The Hotel Magnum Inn.

Two zoos

To date, I have visited two zoos in Gujarat: Junagadh and Vadodara. I have yet to visit a third, that in Ahmedabad.

The zoo in Junagadh is laid out over a large area of ground. Large animals and those which like to run around are in spacious enclosures. The zoo is pleasant to visit. It has wide paths, many of them with trees to provide shade.

Currently (January 2019), the zoo in the Sayajibaug Gardens in Vadodara is somewhat of a building site. This zoo is undergoing major rebuilding. The zoo is divided into three areas: birds, hippos and big cats, tigers and bears. There are also ponds containing crocodiles and alligators. The highlight of our visit to this zoo was seeing a new born hippopotamus with its mother.

The cages at the zoo in Vadodara are mainly very old fashioned. Hence, the building works whose aim is to create modern enclosures and a veterinary hospital.

I know that these days not everyone approve of keeping animals in zoos, but both zoos described above are well worth visiting.

On the bus in Gujarat

Hop on a bus and travel through Gujarat: see the country and enjoy the people

More excerpts from “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and DIU“, a travelogue by Adam Yamey, available HERE IN PAPERBACK and HERE ON KINDLE

 

BUS 0
Narendra Modi on the bus

During our eight weeks of travelling through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu, we made much use of public transport. We used mainly buses. As in other parts of India, some buses are run by private companies, and other by the local state, in our case Gujarat, which operates under the name ‘Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation’ (‘GSRTC’). At the outset, we made the assumption that privately-run buses are bound to be better than those run by the state. It was only near the end of our travels that we discovered that we had made an erroneous assumption.

 

BUS 1 Daman
Local bus in Daman

Here are some extracts about buses in Gujarat from my book “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu”:

On a private bus between Junagadh and Porbandar:

BUS 4 to Porb

Our vehicle stopped frequently. Whenever the conductor saw someone standing by the side of the road, he leaned out of the open passenger door, shouting our destination repeatedly: “Porbandar! Porbandar! Porb…” More and more people boarded our small bus. All the seats became occupied as did the space at the front of the vehicle around the driver. As the bus picked up even more people, even the standing room became used up. People were jammed against each other and their arms and baggage invaded the seated passengers’ space. A lady began resting her bag on Lopa’s head. When she objected, the woman said: “Where else can I put it?” Another person almost sat on Lopa’s lap.

There was hardly any room for the conductor. He spent most of the journey leaning out of the passenger door. When Lopa asked him whether this was dangerous, he responded cheerfully that it was part of his job. After about an hour, when the bus was already incredibly crowded we stopped in a village where a large group of people were waiting for our arrival. The bus driver told the conductor that there was no room for any more people. The conductor ignored him and squeezed many new passengers on board.

BUS 2 Daman

Our fellow passengers were a varied crowd. They included men with curling handle-bar moustaches wearing turbans and loose-fitting white kurtas with baggy trousers. Their clothes were often stained probably because they were worn whilst doing work on the land. At many rural stops, women wearing colourful garb boarded. Many of them were tattooed on whatever parts of their bodies that could be seen and probably also on parts that were not visible in public…

bus 6 Diu
Diu bus station

On a GSRTC bus between Diu and Bhavnagar:

We boarded a bus belonging to the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (‘GSRTC’). This and other buses belonging to the state-run bus company are superior to any of the private busses we had travelled on. The GSRTC vehicles: are cleaner and more comfortable than the private ones; only stop at bus stands with good facilities; do not tout for business at random wayside stops; and do not admit more passengers than there are seats to accommodate them. We wished that we had not assumed, wrongly, that privately-run buses would be better than those run by the state.

BUS 7 Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar bus station

On a GSRTC bus to Ahmedabad:

We boarded the newest and most comfortable bus of our trip at Baroda bus stand. Part of the GSRTC fleet, it was a Volvo vehicle. These buses are held in high regard by Indians. As far as buses in India are concerned, they are regarded as Maharajahs amongst the myriad of road transport vehicles. The coach driver asked Lopa her relationship to me. She replied that I am her husband. The driver shrugged his shoulder and replied in Gujarati: ‘It happens’.

BUS 5 Veraval

Whether the bus is privately, or state operated, a ‘back-seat driver’ like me cannot avoid being aware of the adventurous driving  of the bus drivers:

BUS 8 Pavagadh

Our driver sped along the good roads leading towards the eastern edge of Saurashtra. He overtook frequently and usually hazardously. Often, he had his head turned towards the conductor sitting left of him, chatting with him, rather than looking ahead along the road in front of him. He also made frequent ‘phone calls to people with whom he was doing business, buying and selling vehicles.

 

BUS 9 Volvo
A GSRTC VOLVO bus

Visit the zoo

The Sakkarbaug (meaning ‘sugar garden’) Zoological Garden in Junagadh was opened in 1863. The second oldest zoo in India, it was founded by the Nawab Mohammad Mahabat Khanji II. Admission charges are low. The zoo covers a large area (198 hectares). The animal enclosures are spacious. Wide, sensibly laid-out paths ensure that visitors do not miss anything, and there are many shady trees. 

Here are a few pictures that Adam Yamey, author of “Travels in Gujarat, Daman, and Diu”(available on Amazon and Bookdepository.com),  took when he visited in early 2018:

zoo 0

zoo 13

zoo 10

zoo 15

zoo 3

zoo 5

zoo 6

zoo 8

zoo 2

zoo 4

zoo 7

zoo 14

zoo 9

zoo 11

 

A poet of Gujarat

Another excerpt from “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu“, soon to be published by Adam Yamey:

[In JUNAGADH]

NAR 0

We went from the station to a busy road that borders the eastern edge of an almost circular lake named in honour of Narsinh Mehta (1414-81). He was a poet of Gujarat, who is revered like a saint. Born in Talaja (near Bhavnagar), he moved to Junagadh, where he lived until just before he died (probably in the town of Mangrol). We had come here to reserve coach seats at the agency that specialised in journeys to our next destination. We had tiny cups of tea nearby, before visiting a remarkable building…

Nar 2

… Without being asked, our driver took us to another of Junagadh’s landmarks, the Narsinh Mehta Choro. This place is built on the site where, during the 15th century, the poet/saint Narsinh Mehta used to conduct bhajan singing, meetings, and religious discourses. The compound, entered from the street via an archway, contains a small Hindu temple, another religious shrine, and a museum. The latter illustrates Mehta’s life with a series of panels. Most of them have text in Gujarati.

Nar 1

Here is a small sample of Mehta’s poetry, translated by Sachin Ketkar, copied from his website:

 

In this entire universe, you alone exist, Shri Hari,

Yet, in infinite forms you seem to be!

You are the divine in the human flesh,

The fire you become among the elements,

In the void, you become the Word, which the Vedas laud!

In this entire universe, you alone exist, Shri Hari,

Yet, in infinite forms you seem to be!

 

O Sustainer of the Earth! You are the wind!

You are the water and you are the Earth!

You are also the outstretched tree blossoming in the sky!

In this entire universe, you alone exist, Shri Hari,

Yet, in infinite forms you seem to be!

 

(SEE: https://sachinketkar.webs.com/narsinhmehta.htm):

Explore Gujarat soon…

Good news!

 

vijay vilas

Kutch Mandvi

I am awaiting the first proof copy of my new paperback “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu”.  Soon, I will also upload a Kindle version of the book.

baroda

Baroda (Vadodara)

To whet your appetite, here is a list of places that get a mention in the book.

junagadh

Junagadh

The places listed are where we managed to explore to a greater or lesser extent during our two-month long trip to this part of western India:

 

Nagoya

Nagoa Beach, Diu

 

Adalaj, Ahmedabad, Alang, Baroda (Varodara), Bhavnagar, Bhuj, Bombay, Borsad, Champaner, Daman, Devka Beach, Diu, Durgapur, Fudam, Godhra, Gondal, Halol, Jetpur, Jinalaya Temple, Junagadh, Kandla, Keshod, Khamabalida Caves, Kutch Mandvi, Nagoa Beach, Pavagadh, Porbandar, Rajkot, Rajula, Sandipani, Sanjan, Sarkhej, Sevasi, Sihor, Silvassa, Simbor, Somnath, Talaja, Udvada, Una, Vapi, Varodara (Baroda), Veraval, Virpur.

 

sihor

Sihor