Thursday, July 16, 2009

Porbandar - The Port town at Western Coast, where Gandhiji was born

Porbandar was a free state of Kathiawad. Not only by name, it's really a port on the coast of Arabian Sea. The wharf of the port has been modernized today. In ancient past, it had trade and commercial transactions with Persian Gulf countries and African states. The sea beach is very charming. Roads and streets of the port city are simply beautiful. The town owes its development to its reputation as the birth place of the Father of the Nation and envoy of peace in the 20th century,Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In distant past, it was known as Sudamapuri in the name of Sudama, one of the intimates of Krishna. Cement, chemical and textile industries have flourished today in Porbandar. Dry fish industry has also flourished.

How to reach Porbandar:

Come to Porbandar, 122 km from Somnath by bus. It is just 4 hrs journey.

On Fridays and Saturdays ,2906 Howrah-Porbandar Express leaves Howrah at 23-15 arrives at Porbandar via Ahmedabad/Rajkot/Hapa/Jamnagar broad gauge and reaches on the 3rd day at 20-35; returns from Porbandar on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6-30.

9215 Sourashtra Express from Mumbai Central at 7-55 reaches Ahmedabad at 19-25, Rajkot at 1-25, Hapa at 3-05, Jamnagar at 3-20 and Parbandar at 6-05.

211 Fast Pass from Hapa at 15-20 arrives at Porbandar via Jamnagar.

On day Mondays and Thursdays 9264 Express leaves at 8-25 from Delhi Sarai Rohila reaches Jaipur at 14-25,17-25 to Ajmer, and reaching Ahmedabad next day at 2-55 and then to Porbandar at 13-20 via Rajkot/Jamnagar.

Other than these trains, several State Transport buses go to Dwarka, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Junagadh, Verabal, Diu and various other cities of the state. Even Private bus services to all over western India are available from Porbandar.

Porbandar is 475 km from Ahmedabad, 107 km from Keshod and 2564 km from Kolkata.

This article is originally published in Travel India and India Study Channel

Places of interest in Porbandar:

The building where Gandhiji was born in 1869 is kept intact and a Kirti Mandir has come up around the place. When he was 12 years old, Gandhi (1881) went to Rajkot. The place where Gandhiji was born (marked with the sign of Swastika), reading room, bed room still bear the memory of the great soul. On the 79th birthday of Gandhiji (1950), industrialist Nanji Kalidas founded a temple of 79 ft height that reminds Gandhiji's age at the time of his death. Every evening, 79 lamps are lit in Kirti (age) Temple.

Around the entrance are engraved on the walls, the episodes of his life is depicted. A library for Gandhian studies, a museum based on the collections of his uses, the Charkaghar or room where the spining wheel is kept, children's school, prayer hall, everything is open to visitors.

On the way to Kirti Mandir, you can see the Temple or Palace of Sudama, Sree Krishna's childhood friend. A girls' school, Kanya-Gurukul Girls' School, the school teaches according to Indian tradition which has earned world-wide appreciation. Gandhiji introduced this methodology of teaching.

To the north of the city crossing the Jybeeli (old Jubeeli) bridge is India Temple. In the big orchard, there is a huge relief map of India instead of deity. Gods of Ramayana-Mahabharata-Purana are depicted in Bass relief on the walls and pillars of the temple. The six mirrors in the veranda reflects distorted images of the onlooker.

Opposite to it, is the Nehru Planetarium, where whole day program in Gujarati are conducted. Also there is Hanuman Temple, Gayatri Temple besides others.

Porbardar Sea Beach, which was once pleasant and beautiful, is full of stench today. In the past it was known as Wellingdon Marina Beach. The old palace, more known as Huzur Palace is still there on the coastal beach.

The factory, making cigarette case and vanity bag made of gold & silver is a place of interest as well.

Towards Dwarka go 35 km to visit Koyela hill and view the Temple of Harsad Mata founded by Sree Krishna. The deity there is Devi Jagadamba. According to legend, the scion of the Yadav clan worshipped the Devi to appease the wrath of king Jarasandha.

65 km from Porbadar towards Somnath is the Marriage place of Sree Krishna or Madhabpur Temple, 35 km from here 7th century Bileswar Shiva Temple you may also see. Bileswar Ghumli Garj of Solanki era, 12th century Vikia Vav made in Gujarati style of architectural design are also worth visiting spots.

This article is originally published in Travel India and India Study Channel

Attend folk dance at Degam (5 km) and Kuchdi village (9km) by arrangement with BDO, Porbandar. Similarly, you can visit the bird sanctuary spread over 1 sq km at the heart of the city, 5 kms from the Railway Station. There are Flemingo and other species of birds. Barda Lion Sanctuary (14 km) where you can see panther, neelgai, sambar etc. Permission for visiting this place to be taken from : Assistant Conservator of Forest, Porbandar WLS, Porbandar . Ph: (0286) 223368.

Please Note:

All places in the Porbandar can be seen in 3 – 4 hours. Covering Porbandar on the same day you may go to Dwarka. Dwarka and Somnath bound buses allow 1 hr lunch break in Porbandar. Keeping the bus conductor on alert, take auto or tonga and visit Kirti Mandir, Sudama Mandir, Sea beach and enjoy glimpses of the city life before availing the same bus you have come by. 4-hrs is the bus journey from Porbardar to Dwarka. Trains also reach Dwarka through a longer route. Bus is better for tourists.

Accommodation at Porbandar

On the beach a spectacular rest house is there called Villa.

The residence of Pandu Rangaji, the ex-Dewan of the state, is Bhojiwar Rest House Swami Vivekananda lived here as a state guest of Dewanji for nearly a year. To commemorate his stay, a memorial temple has been built on the 1st floor.

Circuit House, Advance booking: Deputy Engineer, PWD, Porbandar.

TCGL's Toran Tourist Bungalow, Chowpatty, Porbandar. Ph:(0286) 2245476, Advance booking : Regional Manager, TCGL, Rang Mahal, Dewan Chowk, Junagadh.

New Oceanic Guest house, Lai Palace Hotel, Neelam Guest house, S T Road, Dharaini Guest house, Moon, S T Road, Rajkatnal Guest house, MG Road, Flamingo Hotel, M G Road, Sheetal Hotel, Roopalee, Ghayal Lodge, Annapurna, Green Lodge, Evergreen, Ashoka, Everest Lodge, Dreamland, Gita Lodge, Himachal Guest house,. Hotel Indraprastha, near Swaminarayan Temple, Ph: 2242681Hotel Kuber, off ST Road Ph: 2241289, Hotel Hoast, Ph: 2241901, New Oasis Hotel Ph:242917 are few of the hotels at Porbandar.

Dharamshalas are there as well. Railway Retiring Room is also there in Porbandar.

Food : There are plenty of hotels for food in Porbandar. At M G Road, Adarsh is famous for vegetarian food, National for non-vegetarian, Swagat for Punjabi & South Indian dishes; at S T Road,Royal for non vegetarian are popular.

This article is originally published in Travel India and India Study Channel

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