Monday, 11 June 2012

Ahmedabad and Champaner

After Udaipur it was a good run on fairly nondescript roads south to Ahmedabad. I was on the road by 7am, filled up with petrol, and then did a 200km stint without stopping! That beats my previous record of 160km in Thailand. I covered heaps of ground and it finally felt like nothing thanks to the big open and flat roads and minimal traffic. There were a lot of police on the roads as soon as you enter Gujarat (the state south of Rajasthan), but they were only checking on the trucks and none of them cared or even looked at me.

I stopped off in Gandhinagar which is where the capital was moved too from Ahmedabad in the 70s. Big open streets, lots of circular roads around the city center. Very much like Canberra. There's a big military area I went past and a big nuclear reactor too, first reactor I've seen. They're working on nuclear fusion here too so it says in the paper.

Just south of Gandhinagar is the Adalaj step well which was built in the 15th or 16th century. I was a little confused as to where to go here, all the signs are in Hindu and it just looked like a temple. On the way past I noticed someone had their camera out taking photos of me riding past so I gave a big wave from my bike. They came over and had a chat, they were university students from eastern Rajasthan who were on holidays down here. One of them wanted to sit on my bike.

There he is. And my rent-a-crowd gathered around watching me do everything.
 Then it was down into the step well to have a look. And a step well is just a series of steps down to a well... Pretty simple really. As I said I was a little confused where to go because there was no ticket booth, very odd for India...

This one had several floors too it. Each level gets smaller down to the well.

Crazy processed fisheye view of the well and the 5 floors.

Looking back out.

Elephant carvings on the wall.
Then it was into Ahmedabad. Traffic got a little crazy but I think I'm getting used to it to the point where it almost feels normal... The roadworks all through the city made it a bit more difficult though. I eventually ended up at Hotel Volga down a little alley way from the main road, at least my bike would be semi hidden again.

There's a few things to see in Ahmedabad but I didn't really get out much to look. The temperature was in the 40s again so moving about was hard work. And the other problem with this area was finding a shop that sold drinks. All I wanted was cheap non-room-serivce-ripoff water and a limca but I couldn't find any around a couple of blocks from the hotel. If I wanted shoes however, no problems (well maybe not in my size). There were some good restaurants in the area but I think my stomach is starting to reject all the Indian food I've been putting in it. So in the morning I went out to find McDonalds!

Crossing the bridge over to the new part of the city. Trash everywhere.

Guy taking his bananas out for a walk.
After McDonalds success I headed back to the hotel but by this time it had reached the mid 40s again. I didn't see anything else in Ahmedabad, there was nothing that I wanted to leave the air conditioning to see.

Next morning it was off again to head south 150km to Champaner. To get there I had to take the national highway 8 because the expressway is off limits to motorbikes. This road was filled with trucks though. Probably one of the more dangerous sections I've been on so far. But not because of the trucks, it's because cars are overtaking three wide down a two lane road.

There's not a lot of info about Champaner in the Lonely Planet or online or google maps about how to get there or what's there. I ended up in Halol which is the next closest town, but there is no real signage on how to get to this world heritage area. I eventually lucked my way through Halol making a few random turns and stumbled on the road out to Champaner.

Once I stumbled on the first site I took out my camera wanted to take a few pictures but it didn't want to turn on. Strange. The battery was still half charged last time I looked at it. I couldn't do much out there so these pictures are all courtesy of the phone camera.

Ek Minar Ki Masjid!  Well I know some of the words! Looks like 'One Minaret something Mosque'. Makes sense.

Ek Minar!
Then just down the road is the helical step well!

Spiraly. Built some time before the 16th century.

And a little bit further...

Sakar Khan's Dargah.
And then finally though the old city walls and into the bigger building.

Saher ki Masjid (Bohrani)


More inside.


Part of the fort wall you have to ride through to get to the mosque.

The city wall.
There's meant to be a place called the Champaner Hotel here, but I've got no idea where. There's no directions that I could find online. I could have asked someone but I thought it best to go the 50km back to Vadodara if I was having camera issues.

I ended up in Hotel Surya, quite expensive but secure parking and air conditioning! The first task was to try and charge the battery for the camera but the charger just didn't want to charge it. Then I set off to try and find camera shops. I was directed out to Saffron Tower where there was one shop there which sold some camera batteries and chargers. They didn't have the charger I needed in stock but they could get one in half and hour they said. So I waited for it to arrive. Once I got back to the hotel room I plugged it in and it looked like it was charging the battery, but after about 30 minutes of charging the camera still wouldn't turn on. Hoping it was a faulty battery I went out again to the camera shop and bought a new battery. I came back and put it in the camera and success! It finally turned on again! Phew.

I've learnt there's a safety circuit that disables the battery if you try and use it when it's too hot. However it's been cooler today and yesterday than in other places in India. No idea why the battery stopped working today though and not sure if it will recover itself. New batteries are cheap, but I have to remember not to turn on the camera in the 40+ degree heat.

Tomorrow it's off to Daman, where there's a very low alcohol tax (probably be there a while).


  1. great update,really enjoying following you along
    what do you do for security with the bike when sight seeing
    cheers clive

    1. Not too much! The panniers have padlocks on, and the tankbag is padlocked shut and connected to the handlebars via a small wire. I've never really had to worry about anything in South East Asia, I could have left it unlocked on the street and people would touch it but no one would try and take anything. In Nepal however someone stole my fuel so I'm a bit more cautious about leaving it on the street now. Someone also unscrewed the cap on the bottom PVC pipe so I lost some spares along the highway somewhere. India's a bit more intense with the hands on looking so I'm a bit more wary.

      The blue bag is camping gear, and the yellow box is tools. They're not locked to the bike and if I lose either it's a hassle, but it won't stop the trip. Other stuff I'm more attached to though...