July is not the best time to go around in Gujarat. Monsoon is usually half-hearted and the summer heat is yet to subside. But then there is a thing such as lack of choice. We could afford just one day while in Vadodara to see River Narmada. The two nearest locations on Narmada are Nareshwar (pronounced नारेश्वर) and Garudeshwar, the former being a wee bit closer. So Nareshwar it was.
We set off fairly early towards Dabhoi. We passed under the Ahmedabad expressway and set off along Dabhoi road. The weather was a shade better than anticipated, owing to thick clouds and the bygone rainy night. The traffic was sparse.
As I guess now, we were supposed to turn to Nareshwar at Dabhoi itself. But our dependence on road signs betrayed us and we overshot the turn by nearly ten kms before realizing all wasn’t right!
A passer-by indicated to us an alternate route which would take us to our destination without retracing our path to Dabhoi. We turned right and headed into true-blue rural Gujarat.
The charms of road travel in unfamiliar terrain soon revealed themselves. We drove for a long distance alongside this metre gauge railway line which passed within a yard of the road, with nothing but a few bushes in between! As luck would have it, a toy train showed up to accompany us on our sojourn.
We also passed by this really tiny “railway station”.
A village lake.
On arrival at Nareshwar, we noted, with a little disappointment at a personal level, that the place was hugely crowded on account of Gurupurnima. Devotees were standing in a long queue outside the temple.
This dimmed our already thin interest in the spiritual dimension of the voyage and we decided to concentrate on the metaphysical!
The oversized entrance purportedly proving the devotion of some NRI Gujarati.
The peacock arch.
The banyan tree, an indelible part of temple precincts, especially in Western India.
Life-size statues such as this one stood in splendid isolation amidst the jostling crowds.
The Narmada river is a little distance away from the temple. It offered an awesome sight as expected, though the surroundings were not very clean.
We thought of making a boat trip across but skipped it since it would have taken a minimum of two hours – excluding the time taken to make up the passenger quorum!
The monk-singer with the folk instrument Ektara.
Those river-facing apartment blocks seen in the picture are being constructed for the pilgrims!
The presiding saint of Nareshwar. I was given to understand that his statues, sculptures etc always feature him wearing glasses.
There wasn’t much else left to see or do. So we turned our (w)heels, hit the expressway and headed back to Vadodara.