Saturday, June 15, 2013

Swami Narayan Temple, Baruch.

Some days are just not meant to be a travel day. On such a wretched day there is some sort of evil cosmic force at play that spoils all your travel plans. It is one of those days when even your Plan B fails – almost. My original plan was to take a tour of the majestic Lakshmi Vilas Palace of Baroda and call it a day. Sure enough, I reached this royal Palace as planned, but to my dismay found that it was closed on this particular day owing to the auspicious eve of Navrathri. The Palace was to remain closed for public on these two days as special Poojas were planned by the Royal family. At this juncture that I would like to let my readers know that the Lakshmi Vilas Palace is one of the few Palaces in the country where the Royal family still resides - sometimes.

When the security guard told that the palace was closed it was as if I was hit by a thunderstorm. I experienced a brief moment of brain-freeze. I tried to reason with the security guard that I had come all the way from Surat just to watch the Palace. But somehow the fact that Surat was two and a half hours away from Baroda did not impress him. And then he gave me the stern don’t-mess-with-the-security-guard-look, which was my cue to retract my steps.

With Plan A failing, I had to come up with something to save my Sunday travel plans. Lucky for me, I had done enough tourism R&D over the past few weeks. I knew exactly what to do next. I took the return train to Surat, but alighting at Bharuch (halfway between the two stations). From here I took a rickshaw to the famous Swami Narayan Temple of Bharuch. Swami Narayan temples are famous for their grandeur and pomp, across the globe. And this wouldn’t be the first time I witness such a spectacle. A few years ago, I had the privilege of seeing the magnificent Swami Narayan Temple of Chicago. I was left totally awe-struck by the mastery of the craftsmen who worked their magic in stone.

Although I finally made it to the temple, to my disappointment I found that the temple was closed during the day. The temple was to open only around 4PM which meant I still had 3 hours to kill in the hot sun. Deciding against being dead meat in the hot Sun, I decided to take a quick look of the temple from the outside and head back. I spent a few minutes taking pictures of this magnificent structure and headed back to the Railway Station to catch my return train to Surat. And there awaited the third disappointment of the day. The next train will not arrive for at least another two hours. So I decided to take a bus to Surat. And to my dismay the Buses arrive literally at the doorstep of the Swaminarayan Temple. Had I known this before, I would have saved at least a couple of hours of simply running around from pillar to post in Baruch. And finally I found a bus back to Surat. Thanks to the awesome roads of Gujarat, we covered the 60 odd kms in less than an hour.

Getting-there: There are many trains plying between Surat and Ahmedabad via Baruch. After getting down at Baruch Railway Station, take an Auto to Zadeshwar Cross. The temple is a little further away on the Ahmedabad Highway.

Must-Do: Visit the temple during normal temple hours.
Must-Don't: Vandalism and spitting pan/gutka (Oh yes! that's Gujarat's biggest curse)

My Rating: 5/10