20-Nov-2005 -- This is my eighth confluence visit. My previous one was to 22°N 70°E. Exactly two years before I had visited my first confluence of 22°N 72°E.
On 20 November 2005 I along with my friends Ashish Gohil and Sajid Shaikh started from my home in a Tata Indica taxi along with driver Vijay Bhai at around 9 am. We knew that we have to travel some 260 km so this time we thought to take the shortest possible route. But realised later on that it turned out to be a blunder.
We took the State Highway SH 25 towards Rajkot and after 10 km took a right turn at Nari Chowk and picked the SH 36 which goes towards Dholera. Then after 8 km took a left turn towards West. This road is a short cut to Vallabhipur and was very narrow but a smooth tarmac. Actually there is a proper way to reach there through a major road. Though the distance is one and the same but with the latter one we can save some time as the traffic is scanty. At Vallabhipur took a right turn and picked the major road which leads to Ahmedabad. After 30 km reached the village of Barwala and took a left turn and travelled 55km through the villages of Ranpur, Chuda, Vastadi and reached the National Highway NH8A. Again this was a short cut route where the actual one was from Barwala to go to Dhanduka then to Limbadi and catch this same highway.
It was around 12.30 pm, in the highway we stopped for a while in a Motel called ‘Darshan’. We had Hot dogs, Sandwiches and Pepsi. After spending some time there we started and after 10 km reached Sayla and took a right turn towards north. Then we passed the village of Muli and reached Sarala after 20 km. From here we had to reach the village of Sara, but as the road was under renovation we had to go through the muddy roads and several hamlets and after a tough time we finally managed to reach a small town called Halvad. It took nearly 2 hours for us to cover just 35 km. We had to ask for the directions with many of the passer-by villagers. As it was already 3.30 pm we felt hungry. To our luck we found the only one good restaurant there called ‘Gayathri’ was open and we had a nice lunch there.
We took the main road towards west which gets connected to NH8A at Malia miana which leads to the major Port of Kandla. The GPS was showing the CP to be at 14 km and the arrow was pointing straight for quiet some time. We were anticipating that the CP might fall exactly on the road. After 15 km we reached 71°E. At this point the CP was lying 2.4 km inside. We took the road towards south. After a km we reached the village of Devalia. Here we asked the villagers if any roads are going towards the directions of CP. They were inquisitive to know why we wanted to go there. My friend Ashish right away told them that we were from a mobile phone company and we are looking out for a place to install a new antenna tower. As the villagers showed us a muddy path, Ashish and Sajid could not resist and started scooting with élan following the GPS.
I and driver Vijay had to wait for a herd of cattle to cross the road and proceeded up to a place where the CP was 500 m. We parked the car in a farm and the driver stayed back there and we three went through the cotton field. After that we had to go through some thorny bushes and reached a dried brook. We had to cross that and climb up a large gorge. Then after a few distance we reached a muddy road and were very surprised to see as it should be coming from the village. Again as like my previous visits we missed the nearest road. The CP is just 60 m from this muddy road.
At last we reached the confluence point at 5.15 pm. This CP is located in a fully grown Cotton field in the village of Devalia. Ashish went to the farmers who were working there and asked for permission to go into the field and take some photographs. They let us and I took the mandatory photos and of GPS. After a while they all came to us and to the maximum possible extent we tried to make them understand why we were there. By this time the owner of the field Mr. Meguba Govindsinh Parmar came rushing towards us. We came to know from him that the news has spread throughout the village and he was told that some engineers have come to his field and found out an oil well. They were referring to us. We couldn’t control our chuckles. Then we took out a paper and drew the latitude and longitude and managed to explain him somehow.
We bid a bye to all of them after this hilarity and the owner offered to drop us till the entry point of the village in his motorbike. As we were four in number including him, we told him that we will go by walk. By the time a villager passed us and he stopped him and told the situation. Then they both of us dropped us at the entry point. This is the speciality of the people in villages. They have very much helping tendency than people who live in big cities and metros. We called our driver through cell phone and asked him to come there. Then after coming to the highway we stopped at a Tea stall and refreshed ourselves with a cup of tea.
While returning we did not want to take any chance by going through the short cuts. Hence we came back to Halvad and didn’t take a turn and went straight. After 30 km we reached Dhrangadra and on the highway we stopped for a while for natures call. The place was very dark and the winter sky was very clear. I showed them the Orion constellation and explained them to find the directions using the famous stars Al-nilam, Al-nitak and Mintaka. And also showed them some recogonisable stars and the famous Pleades star cluster often referred as ‘The Seven sisters’. Then after 35 km reached a town called Surendranagar. Here I withdrew some money from one of the ATMs and we had some Lemon Soda at a nearby fruit stall. After 32 km we crossed the village of Limbadi and at one place I saw the astonishing view of moon rising from horizon. We stopped there for a while and took some photographs. Though being an amateur astronomer it was the first time in my life I saw a moonrise. Then we travelled another 130 km passing Dhanduka, Barwala, Vallabhipur and finally reached Bhavnagar at around 12.30 am. While returning nearly at eight places we had to take a diversion as the roads were under renovation. Though the condition of road was poor at many places but mostly we had a pleasant journey. We had our late dinner at one of the famous Sainath Restaurant. My friends left after dropping me at my home. The lesson I learned from this confluence visit is how much ever may be the distance, it’s always better to take the highways or major roads rather than taking the unknown short cut routes.
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