Champaner and Pavagadh

Trip Start Mar 09, 2006
Trip End Mar 28, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Friday, March 24, 2006

We woke up fairly early this morning so that we could get to Champaner at a reasonable time. Champaner-Pavagadh is the medieval capital of Gujarat and has become a world heritage site. It continues to be a place of pilgrimage for Hindu believers.

The bus was easy to catch and our stop was the last one the bus made so there was no way we were going to miss it. We got off the bus and soon realized that this was not a place that was used to tourists. First of all we couldn't find one person that spoke English and none of the jeep or rickshaw drivers ever approached us to ask if we needed a ride somewhere (that was the clearest sign that tourists weren't common). We asked for Hotel Champaner and got pointed in a couple of different directions before we got started in the right one. Later we would find out that everyone was probably pointing us to the jeeps but we thought they were pointing to where we needed to go. So we found a path and started in the direction we thought was right. Immediately there were a set of steps that looked like they would never end. Normally that wouldn't bother me but we did have our packs and by this point they were pretty heavy with the stuff we had bought. After about 10 minutes of stairs we consulted the travel guide and noticed there was something about taking a jeep half the way to the temple. However, I didn't know if that meant taking a jeep after we got to the hotel or before and since none of the jeep drivers approached us, which was usually the case, I didn't know if that was the way to go. I say I in all of this because I had the heavier pack so it was up to me to decide if we kept walking because Rachel didn't care. It was one of those moments when you have already started down a path and if going back was wrong then you would have to start all over again but you know that if you keep on the path you are you will eventually get there. So I decided that we might as well keep walking.

About 5 kilometers all uphill and 2 hours later (during the hottest part of the day) I realized we probably should have taken a jeep. In the beginning we met two young guys who showed us the trail we were supposed to follow and walked with us for a bit which was nice. Later we met two old men who were walking the same path and offered us some type of snack while we were resting. It tasted like sugar but I think it was more than that. It was obvious that all of the people we saw were wondering why we were carrying such big bags up the path when we could be taking a jeep. I figure the whole experience built character and I felt truly accomplished by the end. I would have to say that I have never been more happy to see a city then I was when we got to the top and the small town of Champaner.

After checking in to the hotel we headed out to get lunch and then headed to Pavagadh which is a temple at the top of the mountain. Luckily we didn't have to keep walking the rest of the way to the top because there was a gondola that you could take. I will admit that I am a little confused on exactly what is Champaner because there is a small town (and by small I mean one area of about 10 shops and a couple of houses) where the jeeps drop you off and then there is a small town at the top of the gondola but that is mostly made up of shops. Maybe it is all Champaner.

Once off the gondola we still have to climb a set of stairs to get to the temple. In the temple a priest gave us some type of blessing but I have no idea what it meant. There is a picture of me and Rachel with the priest.

Later while we were taking in the view we noticed that a very large group of men were coming towards us and we wondered if we were doing something wrong. Not to worry though they just wanted to have their pictures taken with us. None of them spoke English and it was pretty amusing trying to figure out exactly what they wanted. After the pictures we started heading down and decided to walk instead of take the gondola. It was a nice walk and the view was really great.

I really loved this small city partly because we could walk around without anyone asking us to buy anything or asking if we needed a ride somewhere but mostly because the people were really nice. Most of them didn't speak English so it was a pointing game with a couple of common words but we always understood each other in the end.
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