This day 14 Jan 2004 is of Makar Sankranti and Kite Festival. The festival of Makar Sankranti traditionally coincides with the beginning of the Sun's northward journey (the UTTARAYAN) when it enters the sign of Makar (the CAPRICORN). It falls on the 14th of January every year according to the Solar Calendar. Sankranti means to go from one place to another place (to change direction). It also means one meets another. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is known as Makar Sankranti. This day has a very special significance because the day and night on Makar Sankranti are of exactly of equal hours. This day is celebrated as a festival right from the times of the Aryans and is looked upon as the most auspicious day by the Hindus.
In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is kite-flying day. This immensely popular kite flying festival is held in all the important cities of Gujarat. The festival lures expert kite-makers and fliers not only from major cities of India but also from around the world. A plethora of designer kites are also put on display.
The International Kite Festival is always held at Ahmedabad on January 14, to coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. The people of Gujarat celebrate Uttarayan with a lot of enthusiasm and all business comes to a grinding halt for a couple of days. It is also a celebration to mark the end of winter.
Now back to Confluence hunting. I came to Ahmedabad from Bhavnagar where I work for celebrating Makar Sankranti with my friends and thought of visiting one of the nearest confluences. I (Sriram Kris Sharma) along with my colleagues Rohit Gotkhindi, Uttam Malviya, Girish Hibare, Naveen Sirigiri and Yogendra Joshi started from Uttam’s house at Ahmedabad in three vehicles. Uttam’s Vespa Scooter, Byju Michael’s Bajaj Croma bike and Nandhagopal’s Kinetic Honda scooter. Both the latter are my colleagues who did not come with us. We all started at around 3 pm and went through the down town area and reached the western most outskirts and took a turn towards south west and went through the National highway NH8A. After nearly 5 km we reached a place called Sarkhej. From here we took a turn towards west and went through the State Highway SH 17. Then after traveling 15 km we reached a town called Sanand. Here we stopped for filling air in all our vehicles. In the mean time we had Tea at a near by shop.
Then we proceeded further towards Virmagam which was 35km from here. This Highway was very clean and smooth. It would have been probably laid very recently. Though, luck was not favoring us. Nearly 15 km before Viramgam one of our scooters the Kinetic Honda got a flat tyre. As there was a spare tyre in the scooter we managed to get it fixed. But still the volume of air was low and we couldn’t find any Tyre shop nearby. As Rohit was the leanest of all he rode the scooter alone and we went by triples in the bike.
We reached a place called Sachana and gave the spare tyre for getting repaired and told the mechanic that we will collect the tyre while returning back. Then we got the air filled and resumed our journey. Just before 2 km to Viramgam the road was getting forked. We took the one which was going towards south. After 7km the road again got forked. This time we chose the right side one. We went further more and at one place we reached 23° N. From here we took an off track road towards left. The road was muddy and we traveled nearly 1.5 km and at this place we couldn’t go further as there was a large embankment. The GPS was showing the Confluence Point at 1.3 km from there.
We parked the vehicles and started striding as we were getting out of time. After crossing the embankment we went through several dry Cotton fields. We really had tough time hopping through the fields and crossing small mounds. At last we reached the confluence at 6.25 pm. We couldn’t make out what was grown there. I took the photos of the usual NEWS direction and then the GPS. I found it very difficult to take the snaps in the low light condition. One interesting thing to note here was a small Flag of one mainstream political party (BJP) was exactly tucked in the confluence spot. Initially I thought some one might have already visited this before us. Later on I found that to be planted at many other fields while returning back.
We had to scoot the place as the sun was already set. In the twilight we managed to reach the place where we kept our vehicles. By this time it became dark. We couldn’t find the exact way we came, but approximately went through the direction on which the muddy road went and finally reached a very nearby village called Vittlagadh. From here we got back to the same road in which we came. At Viramgam we stopped at a Motel and celebrated my second Confluence visit with a sumptuous dinner. While coming back we picked up our repaired tyre at Sachana and returned home at around 10.30 pm.