Gujarat is very close to my heart. Being born and brought up in the lanes of Bhavnagar town, I always get nostalgic when my flight hovers over the city of Ahmedabad. I have been to most of the destinations in Gujarat – Gir National Park, Rann of Kutch, Dwarka, Somnath, Saputara and many more. Here, I am going to share my experience of visiting the historic cities of Somnath and Dwarka which gauge substantial interest as a part of pilgrimage trails in Gujarat.
The distance between Somnath and Dwarka is 236 KM, making it a good road trip idea as well. You can reach Junagadh which is the closest railway station from Somnath and has a direct overnight train from Mumbai. You can opt for Pune Veraval Express and you will reach Junagadh in 16 hours. From Junagadh, your road trip will start. There are cabs available for hire at the Junagadh railway station and you can bargain a good rate here. If you prefer traveling by flight, you need to land in Rajkot and start a road trip from there.
Being popular tourist destinations, Somnath and Dwarka have plenty of good accommodation options. The Hotels in Dwarka and Somnath start at a price as low as Rs 800 per room. However, these are basic lodges without any amenities. If you have a decent budget, you can opt for Mercure Dwarka. For Somnath, you can look for options which are close to the temple so that you can just walk in for the morning and evening prayers.
When I visited Somnath, I had clubbed it with Gir National Park. Located at a distance of around 70 KM, I would highly recommend visiting Gir national park along with Somnath Temple. After spotting the regal lions in their natural habitat, I headed to Somnath. When I reached this town, it didn’t impress me. The dusty roads, dotted with shops on either side, make the town look as touristy as any religious spot. But, when you walk into the temple premises, you will be welcomed by an impressive complex, plush with intricate carvings on the walls. A sea breeze accompanies the serenity at the Somnath temple. A wall perimeter is built around the temple area. However, this wall wouldn’t block the bountiful views of the Arabian Sea. If possible, check the tide timings and visit Somnath temple when it’s high tide. The waters used to splash off the wall, showering droplets on you. However, now they have placed rocks to control the ocean’s force during high tide.
Somnath Temple (Image Source: Official website)
Similar to Somnath, the temple of Dwarka is also in proximity to the ocean. Apart from the excellent architecture and peaceful ambiance, Dwarka is stepped in the glorious history of Lord Krishna’s reign. The temple is called Dwarkadhish Temple, which means “Temple of Dwarka’s King”. According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Krishna spent his adult years here in Dwarka. While visiting Dwarka, you can also consider going to Bet Dwarka, an island which can be reached from Okha town by ferry. You can reach Okha from Dwarka by local bus and it would take around 1 Hour. During the ferry ride, your boat will be accompanied by fluttering seagulls, all the way till you reach Bet Dwarka. You can feed them as you enjoy your ride.
Before you reach Bet Dwarka, you can spend some time at Okha lighthouse, which offers a 360-degree view of surrounding landscapes. The bus doesn’t reach here and you might have to hire a private taxi.
What I loved the most about these two temples is the impeccable cleanliness maintained by their staff. Also, there is no VIP line here, and everyone has to go through the same line. Along with these impressive points, these sea-side temples offer not only peace of mind but splendid views as well.
If you’re planning to visit Dwarka and Somnath, along with Gir National Park as suggested earlier, you can climb the Girnar peak as well. The 10,000 steps will lead you up to the top of Girnar hill where splendid views of the Gir forest await you. While climbing, if you are lucky, you might just over hear a roaring lion somewhere in the backdrop.
Have you been to Gujarat? Tell me where did you travel in Gujarat? If you’d like to ask me any questions, feel free to post them in the comment section below.