Mumbai to Gujarat Road Trip

Our last vacation was in September’2019 – a road trip to Mahabaleshwar. Since my daughter was appearing in Standard X Board Examination in March’20, no vacation was possible till that time anyway. After that, we were supposed to go to the US to my sister’s place. Ticket bookings, visas, etc. were done. But then, Corona arrived. Our plan got jeopardized like that of the rest of the world. The US trip got canceled and like others, we did start following the rule of ‘staying at home’ strictly. As days, weeks, months passed by, we started getting restive for a road trip. As a family, we typically do not go out for dining, watching movies, mall hopping, etc. for recharging our batteries. What we look forward to is road trips, once in every 3-4 months, of 2 days or 2 weeks depending upon the situation, to freshen up us. So, finally, we decided to take the plunge in the Christmas-New Year holiday of 20-21. We decided to go to Gujarat.

The reason for choosing Gujarat was twofold. Firstly, it would be a long drive after a gap of more than one year. Because of the lack of activity during Covid-19, the level of physical fitness was expected to be below the required level. So, we have to choose a destination that was not too far to keep the driving effort reasonable. Secondly, for the entire trip, we were looking for Club Mahindra accommodation. In my previous road trips, I extensively stayed at properties of GTDC, MTDC, RTDC, HPTDC, and in many budget hotels. But this was ‘Covid’ time.

Gujarat was meeting both the requirements of travel distance and accommodation. So, we decided on Gujarat.

The planned itinerary was as follows:

Day 1 (25th December 2020; Friday): Mumbai to Ahmedabad with a detour to Champaner Pavagadh Archeological Park

Day 2 (26th December 2020; Saturday): Day trip to Rani Ki Vav, Patan; Sahastra Ling Lake, Patan; Modhera Sun Temple; Bai Harir Vav (Stepwell), Ahmedabad; Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad and Siddi Sayeed ki Jali, Ahmedabad

Day 3 (27th December 2020; Sunday): Ahmedabad to Gir with a detour to Khambalida Buddhist Caves

Day 4 (28th December 2020; Monday): Afternoon Gir Safari

Day 5 (29th December 2020; Tuesday): Day trip to Junagadh (Junagadh Rock Inscription of Ashoka, Baba Pyara Caves, Navgan Kuvo, Uparkot Fort, Uparkot Caves, Adi Kadi Vav, Khapra Kodiya Caves, Mahabat Maqbara Complex) and Somnath (Prabhas Patan Caves, Suraj Mandir, Sutrapada, Daityasudan Mandir, Somnath, Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple)

Day 6 (30th December 2020; Wednesday): Morning Gir Safari and then to Diu

Day 7 (31st December 2020; Thursday): Local sightseeing at Diu

Day 8 (1st January 2020; Friday): Local sightseeing at Diu

Day 9 (2nd January 2020; Saturday): Diu to Nadiad with a detour to Shana Dungar Buddhist Cave; Firangi Deval and Harappa port Town, Lothal

Day 10 (3rd January 2020; Sunday): Nadiad to Mumbai with a detour to Galteshwar Mahadev Temple, Sarnal, and the Statue of Unity

During the trip, we made multiple changes in the plan, skipped a few places because the trip was getting hectic. But before talking about that in the day-to-day accounts, let me first share some selected photos of the trip.

Day 1 (25th December 2020)​

We booked our accommodation at Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort for that night and the next night. It is a Club Mahindra resort. Though Club Mahindra markets it as a property in Ahmedabad, it is quite far off from Ahmedabad – a good 50 km away from Ahmedabad towards Rajkot.

There were two plans for the day.

Plan A was going directly to Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort. In that case, the approximate distance to be covered was 541 km.


Plan B was taking a detour for Champaner-Pavagad Archaeological Park from Vadodara provided we manage to reach Vadodara by 2 pm. The idea was that if we could reach Vadodara by 2 pm, we would be able to reach Champaner by 2.30 pm. It will take a couple of hours to see the attractions in Champaner-Pavagad Archaeological Park and we would start from Champaner around 5 pm and would reach Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort by 7.30 pm. The expected distance to be covered under Plan B was 621 km.


Champaner-Pavagadh was not part of the original plan. I included this at the last minute and with hindsight, I know that it was a mistake.

We were supposed to start from our residence at Gokuldham, Goregaon (East) at 7.00 am. But, we were late by 40 minutes. In no time, we were at the Oberoi Mall Signal. We got onto the Western Express Highway and took the right turn at quarter to 8.


We crossed the toll gate of Mira-Bhyanader around 8 am without any significant fuss.


As we approached Vasai creek crossing from there, we encountered a traffic snarl. Because of some repairing work, one arm of the bridge over the Vasai Creek was closed. So, both north and south-bound traffic were crossing the Creek using the other arm in alternating order and that was causing the traffic jam.


Finally, we managed to cross Vasai creek at 8.25 am after wasting a good 15 minutes there.


After that, the tarmac became as smooth as it could be. But the traffic was not exactly like that. It seemed that we were not the only family desperate for a road trip. Nevertheless, we were progressing smoothly under the watchful glances of the Western Ghat range with occasional clogging at few places.

Our first stop of the day was at a Burger King around 8.45 am. The service was quite slow. We resumed our journey at 9.30 am.



We crossed Vapi around a quarter to noon and then took a second halt. This time, the reason was to satiate the apatite of the fuel tank.

The road condition, as well as traffic, were worsening as were approaching Vapi. It further deteriorated after Vapi. In my opinion, the Vapi-Surat stretch is the worst stretch of NH48 between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. We crossed the river Tapi near Surat at 1.20 pm


After that, the road condition started improving. There was a perceptible thinning out of traffic. Driving became more enjoyable.

We took our lunch break at 2 pm, not at any restaurant but under a roadside tree somewhere before Bharuch. We were carrying some foodstuffs which met its logical end there. It was homemade food and not an elaborate affair. We were back on road quickly and started approaching Bharuch fast.

Bharuch is an ancient city. It is the oldest city of Gujarat and the second oldest city of India after Varanasi. From the middle of the first century BCE to the middle of the second century CE, India had a thriving naval trade with the eastern Roman empire. Though South India was the principal beneficiary of that trade, considerable trade used to happen with Deccan and North/North-West India too. Bharuch was the most important port of Deccan for trade between the eastern Roman empire and Deccan and North/North-West India. At that time, it was known as Broach/ Barygaza/Bharukachha. It got a mention of the book named ‘Periplus of the Erythrean Sea’ written in the middle of the first century CE by an anonymous writer. In that book, it was further reported that there used to be a system of pilot boats to escort the oceangoing vessels into its tricky anchorage to the mouth of Narmada,’ where nothing can be observed with certainty. At that time, Broach was mostly under the control of Satvahanas, who was ruling in Deccan from their capital at Pratisthana (present-day Paithan, of Maharashtra). However, goods produced in Kushana kingdom (ruling over North as and North-West India from their primary capital at Purushpur, present-day Peshwar, and secondary capital at Mathura) and Shaka kingdom (ruling at present-day Kathiawar region as a vassal state of the Kushanas initially and later independently) were used to be exported to the eastern Roman empire through Broach too. The Shakas and Kushanas used two routes from the north-western frontier to reach the western coast. Both these routes converged at Taxila and were connected with the Silk Route passing through Central Asia. The first route directly ran from north to the south, linking Taxila with the lower Indus basin from where it passed on to Broach. The second route, called ‘Uttarapatha’, was in more frequent use. From Taxila, it passed through the modern Punjab up to the eastern bank of Yamuna. Following the course of Yamuna, it went southward to Mathura, from Mathura passing on to Ujjain of Malwa, and again from Ujjain to Broach on the western coast. Goods like muslins, pearls, iron goods especially cutlery, ivory, plants and plant products, etc. used to be exported from India through this port. In return for the articles exported by India to the Roman empire, the Romans exported to India wine, wine-amphorae, and various other types of pottery. Because of the considerable tax revenue potential on goods exported and imported through Broach, Satavahans and Shakas used to fight each other frequently to get control of this port.

We crossed Narmada and touched the ancient city of Bharuch at 2.30 pm.

After Bharuch, the road became great. I rate the Bharuch-Vadodara stretch of NH48 better than even the Vadodara-Ahmedabad expressway. The traffic became scant. We zipped through this stretch and reached Vadodara around 3.30 pm. There, we committed the second mistake. Despite running late by an hour and a half from the scheduled plan, we decided to go to Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is located at a distance of 40km towards the east from the Vadodara node of NH48. It’s a UNESCO heritage site. It essentially consists of two places – one hill named Pavagad and the plain at its foothill named Champaner. Pavagad hill is a volcanic formation that happened many million years ago. Its name came from ‘Pav Gadh’ meaning one-fourth hill/fiery hill. Champaner got its name in the 8th Century though humans had settled here from pre-historic time. The most powerful king of the Chavda dynasty, Vanraj Chavda, whose capital was Anhilwada (modern-day ‘Patan’), conquered this place and named it Champaner after the name of his friend and general Champa, also known later as Champaraj. As the Chavda dynasty got dislodged by the Gujarat Chaulukyas (Solankis) in the middle of the 10th century, Champaner came under the rule of Solankis. In the middle of the 13th century, the rule came to an end and this area came under the control of Khichi Chauhan Rajputs, who built their first settlement on top of Pavagadh Hill and fortification walls along the plateau below the hill. The earliest built remains from this period include temples, and amongst the important vestiges are water-retention systems.

In 1494 CE, Mehmud Bageda, the grandson of Ahmed Shah, the founder of the Gujarat Sultanate, defeated the Khichi Chauhans and got control of the hill fort after 20 months’ siege. Then he decided to shift the capital of Gujarat Sultanate from Ahmedabad to Champaner. He renamed the city "Muhmudabad Champaner" and constructed mosques, built elaborate ornate structures, fortified both the forts, made the hill fort his Mauliya (meaning Lord of the Hill), and his citadel over 23 years. Champaner got developed as a city with well-planned streets and whitewashed stone houses. During this period, Champaner was famous for mangoes, sandalwood trees (used then for house building and sword blades), and colorful silks. Merchants and craftsmen prospered. Mahmud died in 1511 and his successors continued to rule from Champaner. In 1535 CE, the city was sacked and looted by Humayun. After the death of the then ruler of Gujarat Sultanate Bahadur Shah (1536), the capital of the Sultanate went back to Ahmedabad. Champaner became completely deserted and slowly immersed into oblivion. People again started living at Champaner during the British period.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape that includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, the hill fortress of the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the Gujarat Sultanate. It also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures, and water installations, from the 8th to 14th centuries. The Kalika Mata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city.

At the underpass of the Vadodara flyover on NH48, we took a right turn to get into Vadodara-Halol road. But before taking the right turn, an unforeseen stoppage of 10 minutes took place. The wife and daughter were not wearing masks. In the recent past, there was a court order in Gujarat that if someone was found not wearing a mask at a public place, he/she will be fined Rs. 1000/-. As per Gujarat Police, inside of a private vehicle is also a private place while it is on road. So, they stopped us at the underpass of the flyover. We tried to reason with them to the best of our ability. Because of the force of our argument, or lack of it, they fined one instead of two or none (depending upon your perspective). So, we lost Rs. 1000 and 10-15 precious minutes.

Vadodara-Halol road was an excellent road. I had driven on it sometime in 2019 for going Ajmer Sharif and Puskar. It was in good condition then and it was in good condition his time too.
For reaching Champaner from Vadodara, you have to cross Halol which comes around 8 km before Champaner. There is a bypass there. We took that. After coming back to the main road again, in a short while, we crossed an old gate. We had more or less reached Champaner.


After crossing that gate, we drove for another 10 minutes and reached a market. There was a fort wall on our left with an entry point, wide enough for a vehicular entry. But we were not sure whether the vehicle was being allowed inside and even, if yes, what was there inside. So, we got down there and asked a shop owner how to reach Jami Masjid since that was the main attraction of Champaner. He asked us whether we were tourists and whether we had our vehicle. On getting an affirmative answer, he advised us to enter that fort compound and assured us that vehicular entry was allowed. There would be the ‘Saher ki Masjid’ as well as a ticket counter. From the ticket counter, we would have to buy a combined ticket for ‘Saher Ki Masjid’ and Jami Masjid. After visiting ‘Saher Ki Masjid’, we would have to come back to the main road and continue our journey in the same direction and would have to take a left turn from where the wall ended to reach Jami Masjid. He further that Jami Masjid could be reached from ‘Saher Ki Masjid’ using the roads inside the fort too.

As per his advice, we entered through the gate.


Immediately after the entry, we saw a board with ‘Saher Ki Masjid’ written on that. The adjacent parking lot was quite spacious with 3-4 cars already parked there. The ticket counter was there only. On reaching the counter, we were informed that because of Covid related restrictions, no tickets were being issued across the counter. We should have booked tickets online before coming here. That was the prevailing norm for all ASI-maintained monuments.

Looking at our reaction of despair, the gatekeeper became sympathetic to our plight and came forward to help us out. He showed us a link on the signboard and told us to buy tickets using that link. He helped us also to navigate through the site. After 4-5 minutes’ effort, we managed to book the ticket and entered the ‘Saher ki Masjid’ compound. The ticket price was Rs. 40 per person which was valid for Jami Masjid too.

This very large and imposing masjid was constructed for the exclusive use of the Sultans. It has five mihrabs. At the front, the entrance has an arched doorway with a large dome, with smaller domes at the four sides and minarets on either side embellished with a projection which is inclined chhajja. The other two openings flanking the central doorway are embellished with jharokhas. A rectangular ablution tank is seen on the platform.


We started from there around 4.40 pm and, following the guidance given by the shop owner, we were at Jami Masjid by 4.45 pm.


It is located about 150 feet (46 m) east of the city walls (Jahdnpandh). It dates to 1513. This mosque is a place of pilgrimage for those who seek blessings from the pir who is buried in one corner of the mosque gardens. The two impressive towers at the entrance of the masjid and the fine blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture are stated to constitute a fine model of "symmetrical composition, the perfection of details and decorative beauty particularly intricately carved ceiling of the prayer hall.”

The building is double-storied, with both Islamic and Hindu styles of decoration. Its plan is similar to that of the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad. It is rectangular with an entrance on the east side. There is a portico that has a large dome built over a podium. There are steps to the mosque from northern and southern directions. Towering minarets, 30 meters (98 ft) in height, are situated on both sides of the main carved entrance. There are two floors of an open arcade with decorative carvings and jaali over the courtyard with pillars. The two minarets at the entrance are octagonal. The prayer hall has eleven domes with the central dome, a double-storied structure, built on pillars in an arcade form. A typical Gujarat style of architecture is seen in the form of oriel windows with distinctive carvings on the outer surface. An ablution tank of octagonal kund appearance was used for rainwater harvesting and washing before prayer. The carved roof contains several domes, and the courtyard is large. There are seven mihrabs, and the entrance gates are carved and fitted with fine stone jalis. This mosque had three oblong mural plaques, one at the top of the pulpit and the other two on the sides, with engravings of hymns from the Koran.


Eastern entrance porch of the Jami Masjid compound


View of outside from the eastern entrance porch


Eastern entrance porch as seen from the inside of the compound


The main mosque


Inside of the main mosque

We were out of the Jami Masjid by 5.05 pm and we decided to go to Pavagad hill. That was the third mistake of the day.
To go to Pavagad hill, you have to come back to the main road and drive back a bit towards ‘Saher Ki Masjid’ and then there is a left turn for Pavagad hill. This turn cannot be missed because there is a huge gate.

The hill road was in excellent condition. There are multiple parking lots and sightseeing points along the entire stretch of the road. However, we did not stop anywhere and continued to drive to the top without any specific plan in mind.


After reaching the top, we parked our vehicle in the parking lot and asked for the direction of the ticket counter and boarding point of the cable car for reaching Kalika Mata temple is operating. On reaching the ticket counter, we found that there was no queue. So, we booked return tickets for three which costed us Rs. 425 and went to the boarding point.


The cable car ride was a hair-raising experience. After an initial horizontal movement, it started going up with a steep gradient. Though we were enjoying the vistas below, we were scared too.


After getting down from the cable car, we saw a cemented path with a gentle gradient ahead. There were shops on both sides of the path.


We assumed that this path was leading to the Kalika Mata temple and accordingly started walking. That assumption was correct. But where we went wrong was the distance of Kalika Mata temple. After walking for a kilometer or so, we reached a lake (Dudhiya Lake). There was a cemented path surrounding the lake and from the eastern side of the lake, there is a steep climb for the Kalika Mata temple. There we gave up. We circled the lake, saw the sunset, and came back to the cable car boarding point for return.



While there was no queue for coming up, there was a huge rush for going down. Because it was well past 6 pm and everyone was eager to return. We waited for 10-15 minutes in the queue for our turn. When we came back to the parking lot, it was quite dark. The parking lot was crowded while we came and now it was almost deserted. We tried to set the final destination in the google map but that was not working. Anyway, we started the downhill journey.

When we reached Champner in the foothill, it had already gone into sleep mode. Somehow, we managed to get an open tea stall and ordered him for tea. While waiting for tea, we kept on trying to activate google. Finally, it got activated and we got the shock of the day. Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort were at a distance of 178 km. As per Google map, it would take three and a half hours to reach there. It was 7 pm by then. So we would not be able to make it before 10.30 pm. And we started our day at 7.30 am.


When I planned the detour for Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, there was no specific ‘to do’ or ‘to see’ list. The idea was to spend a couple of hours here and to see whatever was possible at that time. But somehow, we lost track of time and spent 3 hours instead of 2 hours. That was on top of a delay of one and a half-hour in reaching this place. While planning, I took note of the distance of Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort from Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park but somehow, it slipped out of my mind.

From Champaner, first, we came to Vadodara using Vadodara-Halol road. We joined NH48 at that point where we left it at the earlier part of the day for Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park and took the right turn. We drove on NH48 for 75-80 km. The road condition was excellent. It was a well-lit road. There was very little traffic. So, I was maintaining a speed varying between 80 -120 km/hrs. But like every good thing in life, a good road also comes to an end eventually. After crossing approximately 20 km after Nadiad, Dholka-Kheda Highway and misery started.

It was a single-lane road barring a few places. It was mostly broken. There was quite a traffic, largely industrial. So driving was a pain. While approaching Dhokla, I tried to overtake a truck without realizing that the single lane had become a double lane and jumped the divider and came on the wrong side. Fortunately, there was no vehicle on that side then. We had to take a right turn after a few hundred meters from that point to bypass Dhokla town. There we came back on the right lane. After this painstaking driving for around 40 kilometers, we got onto NH47 at Bhayala and took a right turn. After driving on NH47 for 2-3 kilometers, we left it and took a left turn on Kerala-Nalsarovar road. This was the last stretch of the journey and it was 15 kilometers. Though this road was a single-lane road, the road condition was very good and there was absolutely no traffic. We were maintaining a speed of around 80 kilometers/hr. Finally, we reached our destination around 9.30 pm, an hour before the time predicted by Google Map – the only saving grace for the day, at a completely exhausted condition. We covered a distance of 648 kilometers on that day.

Now, let me tell you the mistakes with the benefit of hindsight. The direct distance of Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort from our residence itself is 541 km. So, I should not have added a detour in the first place. When we reached Vadodara at a delay of one and a half hours from the plan, we should have continued straight to our destination. Similarly, had we kept ourselves restricted to Champaner and did not go to Pavagad Hill, had we not taken the cable car, even after taking the cable car had we taken the return journey immediately, we could have saved some time and our day would become less painful.

Anyway, let bygone be bygone. The next day was another day.

Day 2 (26th December 2020)​

The original plan for the day was to do a day trip to cover Rani Ki Vav, Patan; Sahastra Ling Lake, Patan; Modhera Sun Temple; Bai Harir Vav (Stepwell), Ahmedabad; Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad and Siddi Sayeed ki Jali, Ahmedabad. But given the previous day’s exhaustion, wife and daughter neither could nor would get up early and start early. Since I was the only one to blame for the wrong planning of the previous day, I had neither the courage nor the moral authority to push them to start early. So quietly, I revised the day’s plan and struck out Bai Harir Vav (Stepwell), Ahmedabad; Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad and Siddi Sayeed ki Jali, Ahmedabad from ‘to see ‘list.

Kensville Golf and Country Club Resort had two types of rooms – Golf course facing rooms which had balconies and swimming pool facing rooms without balconies. In wintertime, both the swimming pool and swimming pool facing rooms are of no use. On the flip side, provided you are a smoker, have to go out for having smoke. So, did I. To make some utilization of those smoking sessions, I did click some photographs of the property. In a way, it was a justification given to me for going out.




We started our day at 11.30 am. The first destination was Patan.

The historical city of Patan was founded in the second half of the Eighth century/early Ninth century. The most influential king of the Chavda dynasty, Vanraj Chavda founded this city and shifted his capital from Panchsher to Patan. In the name of his friend Anhil Bahrvad, he renamed this place Anahilvada. In the middle of the Tenth century (940/942 CE), the last king of the Chavda dynasty, Samantsimha, who was heirless, got dethroned by his nephew Mulraja. Mulraja founded the Chaulukya dynasty which is also known as the Solanki dynasty. Anahilvada (Patan) became its capital.

During the reign of Bhima I, son of Mulraja, Mahmud of Ghazni attacked. Bhima I fled to Kanthakot of the Kutch area. Anahilvada (Patan) got sacked. Somnath temple got looted by Mahmud of Ghazni. After retreat Mahmud of Ghazni, Bhima I returned to Anahilvada (Patan). Then, slowly but steadily, Chalukyas regained their strength and influence. It reached its zenith during the reign of Jaysingha Sidharaj and Kumarpala, in the Twelfth Century.

After the death of Kumarpala, Chalukyas weakened on account of infighting, revolts by the vassal states, and incessant raids by Parmar, Ghuri, Yadavs, and Hoyshalas. Patan was sacked multiple times between 1200 CE and 1210 CE by Qutb al-Din Aibak. The Chalukyas rule came to an end in 1244 CE, when Vaghelas, who was earlier their generals, usurped them. The ancient Patan got destroyed in the hands of Alauddin Khilji in 1298 CE.