Vadodara – day 49

Having had the best nights sleep that both of us have had in a while (the benefits of posh hotel beds and sheets!!), we got our free newspaper that was left outside our door and headed down to the restaurant for our complimentary breakfast (think were really trying to suck up to us at this point!!). The rainstorm made the ‘Times of India’ paper – part of me was expecting to see a photo of the two of us wading through puddles!!  Left the hotel and headed to the local bus station to catch a bus to Champaner, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Gujarat’s former capital. Surrounding the town is an 800m volcanic hill which looks like a piece of the Himalaya has been out there! The city was once surrounded by 6km of fort walls but there is very little of it remaining. We started off by heading into the Sayer-Ki-Masjid. This ‘Mosque of the City’ was a private mosque built for the royal family and nobles of the Gujarat Sultanate (15th-16th century), in a mixture of Indian and Islamic style. Next, we headed to the Jami Masjid. Located outside the royal enclosure, this colossal mosque is classified as one of the finest mosques of Gujarat. Dating from 1513, it took 125 years to build, and has a wonderful carved entrance and imposing courtyard. Inside, the main prayer hall is supported by hundreds of columns and the ruler’s prayer hall is divided from the main space by jalis. We then decided to throw caution to the wind and use our sense of direction to find some of the other decaying mosques ‘lost’ in the landscape. Found the Lila Gumbaj relatively easily where Jayne was able to climb up the narrow stairs to the rooftop (I wasn’t as brave – it was pitch black in the staircase!!). Took us a little long to find Kevda Masjid and ended up walking through a field and climbing over a fence to get in… It had globe like domes with beautiful carvings of floral and geometrical designs. The mosque ground also comprises of a cenotaph, a well, a tank for ablutions and a few ruined brick structures.  We then walked out of the city to find the Helical Step Well and the Sakarkhan’s Dargah. Got followed into the step well by a dog who stayed with us for a while. Think he thought we had better snacks – he turned his nose up at our crackers and curry nuts!! The step well dates back to around the 16th century and the steps are supposed to represent the coil of a snake.  Started walking up the hill towards the temple near the top of the volcanic hill but, as it took us so long to get up to the first gate, we realised we’d never make it to the top and back before sunset so we turned round and went back to the bus station. Got a bus back to Vadodara and got the second female bus conductor during our 7 weeks in India but she was also the only one who has been annoying – taking our photo and clearly laughing about us with other passengers. We were glad that we got to sit in the drivers section as there were no seats left on the main bus. Back in Vadodara, we decided to try a new drink – Rim Zim – a masala flavoured soda. It’s fair to say that curry flavoured cola is not something either Jayne or I would buy again… It was disgusting!! Found a cafe near our hotel to have dinner and then stopped for ice-cream. A hot shower to wash off the grime and chilling out watching ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’ on TV. 

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