Sunday, January 7, 2018

Trip to Kutchh - Part-2 : Narayan Sarovar-Koteshwar-Lakhpat Fort - Dec. 2017

In continuation of Trip to Kutchh - Part-1 : Bhuj and Mandvi - Dec. 2017

Day-3
This was to be the busiest day of our Kutchh trip. The day's travelling involved a round drive of over 300 kms covering Ashapura Mata temple, Narayan Sarovar, Koteshwar temple and Lakhpat Fort. Thanks to the excellent road condition, we could plan our ambitious travel programme for the day.
 
Ashapura Mata Temple (95 kms from Bhuj).
We had kept the visit to Ashapura Mata temple as an optional visit on our return journey from Lakhpat Fort subject to the time at our disposal as we had heard that being the peak tourist season, there would be a large crowd of devotees. This temple is highly revered by the people of Gujarat and the adjoining states. Hence, the owner-driver of our tourist car who was a devotee of Ashapura Mata was keen that we visit to the temple on the way to Narayan Sarovar which we agreed.
 
We took an early complimentary breakfast and started from our hotel at 8.30 am. We reached Ashapura Mata ji temple in less than 2 hours. Due to congested road leading to the temple, and being Sunday, there were more than usual number of vehicles leading to the traffic jam. We had to get down from the car and walk down to the temple.
 
From the road end to the gate of the temple, we walked with the jostling crowd of devotees. As was our apprehension, there was a long queue of devotees for the darshan of Ashapura Mata. There were different queues for ladies and gents. Seeing the crowd of devotees and the packed sight-seeing programme ahead of us, we decided to skip the darshan..
 
While taking a round of the temple, we noticed that a few devotees were directly entering the central hall of the temple from the backside to have a darshan of Ashapura Mata ji within the watchable distance. We also took the opportunity and had a good darshan of Mata ji. It appeared that one can directly enter from the back side of the temple only for darshan while those devotees who wish to make offers to Mata ji, need to stand in the queue as they need go up to sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

After spending about 30 minutes in the temple complex, we left for our next destination - Narayan Sarovar.
Ashapura Mata ji temple in Mata No Madh village. A long queue of devotees for darshan.
 
Front view of the temple.
 
Narayan Sarovar (58 kms from Ashapura Mata temple).
After leaving Ashapura Mata ji temple, we had a tea break on the highway before taking a left turn for Narayan Sarovar. The road to Narayan Sarovar passes through open flat land, probably marshy land which has now been dried up. One can notice some patches of salt. It took us about an hour to reach Narayan Sarovar. 
 
As we reached the place, Narayan Sarovar was not visible. To see Narayan Sarovar, we had to passed through a temple complex which has Trikanraiji (a form of Vishnu) temple  surrounded by the temples of Adityanath, Goverdhannath, Laxminarayan, Ranchoddas etc. Narayan Sarovar lies in the backside of the temple and is reachable through a gate.
 
The temple complex is fortified by very high walls on four side with walkway. Those who have the fear of height should avoid walking on this parapet. Other wise one can get a 360 degree view including Koteshwar temple and the western-most part of India.
Flat land leading to the sea shore. Clicked from the car on road to Narayan Sarovar.
 
Trikamraiji temple on the shore of Narayan Sarovar (not visible). The temple complex is surrounded by high walls with a walkway (see right). Narayan Sarovar is behind the high wall.
 
View of the subsidiary temples from the walkway on the high wall.
 
Partial view of Narayan Sarovar from the gap of the high wall.
 
We proceeded towards Narayan Sarovar through the gate. It is a sweet water lake though the sea shore is hardly a couple of kms away. The water looks greenish-bluish with lot of aquatic weeds. It is said that in summer, the lake dries up.
 
Narayan Sarovar is an important pilgrimage centre. It is one of the five sacred lakes mentioned in Bhagwat Purana. Other four sacred lakes are Mansarovar in Tibet, Bindu Sarovar in Sidhpur, Pushkar Sarovar in Ajmer and Pampa Sarovar in Hampi.
Narayan Sarovar.
 

Panoramic view of Narayan Sarovar. 
 

The reflection of the blue sky with patches of  white  clouds with aquatic weeds in the water of Narayan Sarovar gives a different scene of the lake than what normally appears. 
 
Koteshwar Temple ( 2 kms from Narayan Sarovar).
 A 2-km drive from Narayan Sarovar took us to Koteshwar Mahadev temple. The topography of the temple would indicate that but for the road from Narayan Sarovar, it would have been inaccessible especially during the high tide as it is surrounded by marshy land from all the directions.
 
Though it is said that the temple was first constructed in the 16th century, it has been rebuilt many time since then. The appearance of the present structure of the temple would indicate that it had been renovated in the recent years because the sandstones used in the temple have newer looks.
 
About 200 metre west of the temple is a BSF Check Post and beyond the check post is a jetty which is used by BSF for patrolling boats.  The place can be reached by walk on a paved path which runs through marshy land on its both sides. This is regarded as the India's western-most tip.

 Koteshwar Maharaj temple on a raised platform.
 
Panoramic view of the India's Western-most tip from Koteshwar temple.
 
Walking towards Western-most tip of India.
 
Black Egret  on a swallow waters near Koteshwar temple.
 
Light House with weather radar seen from Koteshwar.
 
Kori creek clicked from Western-most tip of India.
 
Lakhpat Fort (40 kms from Koteshwar).
When our owner-driver apprised  us of the story of Lakhpat Fort, I suddenly remembered the story of Hampi which was once a flourishing capital of Vijyanagar empire but ruined by a war with Deccan sultanate. However, in the case of Lakhpat which was established by Rao Lakha, a Sindh ruler who constructed the Fort at the sea shore some time in 13th century, was developed as an important trading centre due to its proximity to the sea. Once a flourishing trading centre, Lakhpat  was ruined first by earth quake of 1819 and then became a desert due to change of course by River Sindhu (Indus) which started flowing towards Sindh, an after effect of the earth quake.
 
Today, it is ruined city with hardly any vegetation and any vocational opportunity for its people. The Fort is used by BSF as a base for patrolling Indo-Pak boundary which is at the distance of around 50 kms. The population of Lakhpat which was around 15000 during its hey day has now dwindled to less than 600 as per Census of 2011.
 
The wall of Lakhpat Fort is 7 kms long and my guess is that to reach the other side of the wall of the Fort from the main get, we had to drive about 2 kms. So, it must have been a city within the  Fort. There are many round towers joining the 7 km long wall of the Fort. Each of the round tower is guarded by a BSF Jawan. From the Fort, the entire stretch of flat salt land can be seen. One can walk on the flat salt land through a damaged portion of the Fort wall. During monsoon and up to mid-November, the flat salt land becomes marshy. Thereafter it gets dried up until the next monsoon.
 
Lakhpat Fort is now not only a base for BSF, it is also a place of religious harmony. Inside the fort, there is a tomb of Phir Ghaus Mohammed, a Sufi saint, Hatkeshar temple and a Gurudwara.
Clicked from he car on way to Lakhpat Fort.


The main gate of Lakhpat Fort at the far end. A tomb on the left, a temple in the middle and a Gurudwara at the right.
 
There are watch towers in the regular distance on the walls of the Fort.  Sea is visible at a distance after the end of the salt desert.
 
 A solitary BSF outpost in the midst of a vast salt desert. Clicked from the Lakhpat Fort.
 
Another view of the salt flat land from Lakhpat Fort.
 
View of Lakhpat Fort  from the salt flat land. Notice the tyre marks of BSF patrolling vehicles.
After a late lunch (langar) at the Gurudwara reached Bhuj around 6.30 pm after a late lunch (langar) at the Gurudwara located inside the Lakhpat Fort. Since the tourist car was with us, we took a break near the bus stand for shopping and eating street food. This is a good place for dabeli, Wada Paav, sandwiches, lassi. For  non-vegetarians, different types of egg preparation is available. In the same street, the famous shop of Bhumi Handicraft is located.
 
Over to the White Rann of Kutchh which we are eagerly looking forward for the next day.
 
 

 
 
 
 


 
 

 

2 comments:

SANDEEP PANWAR said...

हमने भी अपने टिकट बुक कर लिए हैं आपके यह लेख बहुत मददगार रहेंगे यहां हमें क्या क्या देखना है आपके लेख के माध्यम से हमें समझना आसान हो गया है

Sadanand Kamath said...

Thanks.