After all the excitement and defying death to get on the train, and then all the hassles of finding we’d been bumped down the waiting list by VIPs and having to sort out sleepers at 1am at night, the rest of the journey was pretty slow. Only entertainment provided by the late running train was lots of great platform snacks, and passing through the town of Wankaner. Checked in at the Hotel President, Teen Patti, Jamnagar and had tiffin in our room, before walking up to Lake Lakhota along with hundreds of locals out for an evening stroll. Interesting night market and a nice holiday atmosphere, and saw an owl. Tasty dinner at the Fresh Point restaurant on Town Hall Rd and then back to our rather noisy room and bed.
Next morning Aidan had the shits so left him behind and went to Lakhota Fort, in the middle of the lake, former home of cricketing prince Ranjitsinghji. Interesting fort, with weird stuffed animals, a museum and lots of water birds roosting there as well. Also some annoying staff who followed us and kept telling us all things we weren’t allowed to do. Continued over the bridge to see the Hanuman temple that is only famous for its worshippers chanting for 40 odd years without stopping. If they weren’t doing this I doubt anyone would visit this nondescript temple. Next the Kotha tower, Jain temples, which were closed, a shabby market, and then back to hotel for paneer pakoras. Caught an auto back to the Jain temples in the evening, which were very colourfully decorated with paintings, chandeliers and mirrors. Dinner at the Kalpana restaurant, a bustling place with lots of yummy dishes near Bedi road at Teen Patti Chowk topped off with icecreams from a friendly ice cream parlour.
When we arrived in Jamnagar we found that as it was public holidays we couldn’t visit the bird sanctuary or the coral reefs, so today we hired a car for the day to go to Balachadi beach and attempt to get into the Khijadia sanctuary. When we got to the very flat and uninspiring park the staff wanted 1300RS each to let us in, so we told them to forget it and went to the beach instead, where we saw more amazing birds than at the sanctuary (at Lakhota lake we even saw maybe 30+ species too!). Beach was pretty much mud flats as it was low tide, but had nice sand and lots of bird and marine life and bizarre religious statues stuck in the mud. Walked for miles before finally getting a glimpse of the Gulf of Kutch, which was still at least another 3km away. Anyway, nice to see the sea at last, and you could also see the giant ships being dismantled on the mud flats, and also the famous training school there which used to be the Rajah’s summer palace. Also a very out of place and very large mosque! After a rest back at the hotel Merrill still wasn’t feeling great so went up to the lake again and watched birds and people for a while before having a South Indian cooking oil curry at the Madras hotel. Early night as its a bus tomorrow morning.