All of us study about the ancient civilizations of India, but few ever get to visit the excavated sites from those periods. Was excited about going to one in Dholavira.
Like for many other legs I would do, there was no consensus amongst those I asked of the time and distance from Dasada to Dholavira. Estimates ranged from 3-6 hours.
The final reading: 290 km (181 miles) in 4:15 actual driving time; pitstops and photography times extra.
I may already done so a few times, but spotted a sign to say I am crossing the Tropic of Cancer near Shankeshwar. Proof of India being a tropical country. My air-conditioning was already on.
Stopped for a cola on the highway before turning into a state road – and could not help noticing the ads below. Go figure – pub intended.
And I was warned about the bad road from Rapar to Dholavira; a pleasant surprise awaited in the form of a newly laid road.
I had quite a few interesting animal crossings on the road to Dholavira: a tortoise, a snake, a mongoose and a squirrel. Not to forget sheep, cows and goats being herded by shepherds.
Got off to say hello to the tortoise. Could not believe the fellow could scamper so fast into thorny shrubs to save himself from ‘unfriendly alien’ me. Come on, I just shoot with my camera.
As I struggled to get my angles right even with thorns coming right through the soles of my Nikes, a curious farmer came over to figure what I was doing.
Due to language barriers he initially thought I was chasing a snake. Only to grin on seeing the tortoise; he gladly pulled it out of the thorns for me to shoot it.
The farmer held the tortoise in his hands while I shot. And then offered I take him with me – liked the thought but no thanks. He is best off in his natural habitat.
Noticed men sporting attractive gold ear pieces – kept postponing taking pictures of a few before missing out altogether. Next time.
But could not help noticing the many herds of goats, sheep, cows, buffaloes and camels being taken around. How do so many animals get fed?
Checked the Gujarat Tourism run Hotel Toran in Dholavira. Not as bad as I thought it to be. They made decent meals too. I have see much worse in other states.
But more wildlife in my room at night: there is a lizard coming through the bamboo roof above my bed. Will it come free falling down? I am banking on it possessing good traction powers!
There is a toad hopping around, hopefully it does not fancy my quilt at night and clamber up. Red ants are incorrigibly all over though, and I can’t rid of them. Some bite.
State and national tourism boards spend millions on advertising to attract tourists; why can’t they get their management of properties right? These should be privatized!
Cannot wait for morning and be on the road. Have settled my bill at night for an early start!
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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