Cambay Dreams: Gulf of Khambhat
Geography was my favorite subject. Gulf is one of the feature etched in my memory apart from the mighty mountains, deep seas, and the vast deserts from my school days. After completing one of the most challenging and breathtaking Himalayan Shimla-Kinnaur-Lahaul-Spiti-Manali circuit, I thought of going for a short trip.
At a distance of around 120 km’s from Ahmadabad lies the Gulf of Khambhat. One would say it’s a day ride for an average Joe. Personally it was more of a herculean task. 8-9 months ago when I was on my way to Khambhat for a ride with a fellow nomad, I couldn’t complete it owing to a momentous accident which put me down on bed for few weeks. I pulled through this only with the affection of my loved ones, specially my pretty lady. It definitely took more than some courage for me to ride down that same road again, which had brought me down like hay in a thunderstorm. But my passion for riding and my quest to explore, I was back on that same path, with these words repeating over and over in my head.
So here I am and I will not run,
Guts over fear, the time is here.
Guts over fear, I will not tear.”
The ride from Ahmadabad to Khambhat has some really interesting places en route, which are definitely worth mentioning.
The first place that makes you stop over is the “Meldi Maa na Mandir”. What makes this temple so interesting are the colorful sarees tied on the trees along the road which leads to the temple. This is comparable to the Buddhist prayer flags which are everywhere when you are in the lap of the mighty Himalayas. It makes me wonder what galore will it bring to the place during the festive times.
Moving along the single carriage road I came across tall marshy grass which gave its way to the wetlands. Following the track, an eye catchy view of migratory birds made me so fascinated that I stopped for a while. This place is indeed a bird watchers paradise.
And just when you think there’s nothing more interesting along the route, there comes the meandering road fenced by coconut trees on one side and a shallow rivulet on the other. The broad smooth tarmac and the parallel running rivulets pump up the ad reline, to twist the throttle a bit more.
Khambhat also known as Cambay was once an important trade center, but its harbor gradually silted up, and the maritime trade moved elsewhere. Gulf is notable for the extreme rise and fall of its tides, which can vary as much as thirty feet within the vicinity of the area.
Coming back to our story, upon reaching Khambhat I had no idea where to go and which area to explore. From my past experiences I knew that interacting with the locals would give me a direction. The first thing I got to know that it was the day of municipal elections. The streets were filled with political chit chat, banners and loudspeakers. Election in any part of India, apart from its political importance, literally transforms the whole place into some kind of festival or “mela” as I like to call it.
The city has little to offer in terms of monuments and structures. Teen-darwaza being one of them the gateway to Jumma masjid. Ralaj being another revered name, point where one can have a panoramic view of the Gulf or Dariya as the locals call it.
After feasting on some famous “Kachoris” of Khambhat, I decided to explore more of the downtown. It’s quite a thing to imagine this place bustling with merchants in the yester years.
My guides to these places were a bunch of enthusiastic kids who showed me all around. They were more than willing to tell me all the fables dear to Khambhat missing their day’s play. One rather tends to believe these innocent stories than question the authenticity of it. This is what actually makes visiting all these places, meeting all these people and the journey itself, much more worthwhile.
My little guides had a surprise in store for me as they took me to a salt cultivation farms. The tides along with the silt also bring a source of revenue for the local population. Watching this vast expanse of white fields where salt is being cultivated, I thought how little I know about the most necessary component of our food- SALT.
Promising my little fellas to return back for another visit to Khambhat, it was time to hit the roads. Returning to discover this place was what my heart thumped for even more after my accident. Never regretted any moment of it. As the holy Gita rightly says “Everything happens for a reason”.