Our journey to Palitana was off to a bad start with first our bus being cancelled, meaning we had to get an auto to Una. In Una we found that the bus to Palitana was also cancelled, so we had to hire a minivan which we shared with a nice Italian couple. Got to Palitana wuite quickly in our nice Chevrolet and first checked in to the recommended hotel but it turned out to be a total hovel (thanks Lonely Planet) and we moved to the government owned hotel that had hundreds of rooms but we were the only guests! Credit to the staff at the Sumeri hotel that opened up the kitchen for us and got up the next morning to make us breakfast. Walked up to the evening Willingdon Market which was busy and vibrant, busy little street with some very cheap souvenir stalls too.
Early start for the big climb up to the Jain temples of Shetrunjaya. Commenced the climb after some helpful advice from the elderly ticket sellers, and lots of offers from guys with palanquins wanting to carry us up. A band of drummers serenaded us up the hill too. Much easier gradient than Junagadh, and only 3500 steps this time! Lots of friendly people on the way, not as many photo requests and saw a Jain nun that I was told does the climb 3 times a day.
Many temples at the top, full of worshippers making offerings and queueing for ages to enter each temple. Fantastic views too. Harder coming down, steps on odd angles that put a lot of pressure on your feet and knees, and it was after all only a week since the last hill. Wish these Jain saints would choose flat landscapes to achieve enlightenment. Really nice place yet again, India really needs to market Gujarat better. After some much needed drinks it was off to the bus station for a bus to Bhavnagar.Found a reasonable business hotel called the Blue Hill after our first choice was full. Nice comfortable rooms with views over a park where every tree was full of nesting painted cranes. Went off to look at Gandhi museum which had excellent photos but no English descriptions. Looked around old town then back to our hotel’s excellent restaurant, Nilgiri, which had the best palak paneer ever.
Nice breakfast at hotel, then off to the bus station and onto a comfy bus to Ahmedabad. Unfortunately we were dropped off god knows where, couldn’t even work it out on the map, so then ended up getting ripped off by auto driver paying a lot to go what turned out to be around the block. Hotel Pinnacle was really nice if a little noisy being right on a big intersection, but it was a nice suite and we rather enjoyed watching the chaos from our window. Especially amusing was an entire family that worked on building a traffic island, even with toddlers helping out in the middle of the traffic. Saw a few accidents, arguments, assorted cows, horses and camels, never a dull moment. Met up with Dylan, spotted him as we arrived. he had made an epic journey over 3 days via ferries, trains, buses and planes from an island in Thailand, via KL and then Mumbai, and then a train to Ahmedabad. Felt very proud that he’d done it, and that we’d taught him to be such a great traveller at the age of 19. The kids shared another room which was a bit cramped but they were happy. Had room service lunch before heading off to explore the old town. Started off by visiting the nearby MD Library, home of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal book collection. Nice white washed building but sadly neglected inside, with collapsing shelves, dust and even a dog wandering about. Staff however were very nice and took us into the back room to see the Gandhi collection, which was very eclectic, ranging from children’s fiction through to mathematics and philosophy.
Easy walk there from our excellently located room, over the river into the old Muslim quarter. Unfortunately the heat and dryness of the air caught up with Tara and she felt faint. But she recovered and was Ok to have dinner at a nearby restaurant, the TZ. Crashed into bed despite the noise.