The Colossal Statue Of Unity
Sometimes you don’t need to plan to visit a place, rather it just happens. Similarly, it happened to me. when my wife said that we are invited for a wedding and that to at her maternal uncles side at Surat. Initially, I was apprehensive as it was in Surat which was neither in my list of places to visit nor a famous tourist place which anyone can chooses to visit purposely. Still, as per the phrase “Blessing in Disguise”, I got a massive reason to plan this trip; the tallest statue of the world “Statue of Unity” which is just 154 km from Surat.
At the afternoon of 7th Feb 2020, we left our home without any idea that it is going to be an eventful journey. We have to catch Rajdhani from New Delhi station but due to an expo was happening on the same day, the traffic was quite heavy compare to normal days and which resulted in missing our train by 5 mins. Now, it meant we had to look for another option. The air route was too costly considering the short notice we had in our hands. We looked for another train and able to found the reservation in Darshan Express at 9:35 PM from Hazrat Nizamuddin the same day. The only challenge was that all our seats were scattered between two coaches. Post that, there was no surprise event happened until we reached Surat at 1:12 PM. As soon as we deboard the train we were well versed with the change in temperature. Compared to chilling Delhi, Surat is hot; but not humid. Surat station has good facilities for the passengers especially elders and handicapped. There was a battery cart running between each platform and station entrance to carry passengers who were in need. At the entrance of the station, our driver was waiting for us to drive us to the wedding destination.
The wedding destination, Cassa Marina, is 45 km from the Surat railway station and situated at Ubharat beach. We reached the resort at 3:30 PM. The guests were having lunch and we were also a bit hungry after that long eventful journey. So, whats better than having delicious food to start the vacation. After lunch, we went to the Villa which was arranged for our stay. The Villa is spacious comprised of rooms on two floors with a private garden and swimming pool. We were tired and after having heavy lunch, it’s time to rest. We woke up at dusk and get ready to attend the ring ceremony, although I was still sleepy. The ceremony went on till late at night. After the ceremony, we went to spent sometime at the beach but it was too dark to visit. Only a couple of orange lights were flickering. So, we came back to the Villa.
The next morning, we woke up before sunrise as I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to watch the sunrise at the shore of the Arabian Sea. At the beach, cold breeze was blowing. The orange lights were still flickering. There was no one at the beach except me, my wife and the sun which is rising with every passing minute. We removed our slippers and enjoyed nature’s sand spa. As the sun rises, we saw the voluminous Arabian Sea in front of us. The sea was peaceful from outside but I was sure there is a massive cataclysm going on inside. We walked 10 km at the shore collecting the conch shell on the way. As time passed, the people started coming to the beach. We head back to our Villa at 10 AM for breakfast. The rest of the day went into attending and celebrating the pre-wedding ceremonies. The wedding ceremony started at 6 PM and went on till late at night. During this time, I got the chance to meet many relatives of my wife.
The next day, Monday, after breakfast we left for Surat in the car. Despite being Monday, there was no traffic on the road. Out of curiosity when I enquired about this, uncle told me that the businessmen divided the shop opening time between them. Some people opened the shops at 9 AM and some opened at 11 AM, which ensured that there is not much traffic on the road at a particular time. We reached uncle’ house at 11 AM. The afternoon went into family chit chat over lunch and then took rest till evening. In the evening, we went for a stroll at a nearby market. The market was quite peaceful and not much crowded. We tried ginger, kiwi and mint-flavored non-alcoholic shots. After that, we went for dinner at another relative’s home. In the meantime, we also booked a self-driving car from Revv for the next three days.
The next morning at 7:30 AM, we got a call from Revv driver. He was there with the car much before the schedule. The car, Grey colored Maruti Ertiga, was quite clean and well maintained. We left for Vadodara at 9:00 AM via NH48 to visit a Jain Temple. Mamaji told us about Varnama Jain Tirth which is just 16 KM kilometers before Vadodara. The highway was well maintained and not much traffic on the road. The drive was pleasant and the view was worth watching, clear blue sky and no pollution. The drive was uneventful, however, we took a couple of halt for some necessary rest and lunch as it was quite a long journey. We reached the temple around noon. The temple was beautifully built and maintained. The place was peaceful and was pleasing to the mind and soothing to the heart. We spent a few hours there before moving to our next destination.
We were on SH63 driving towards Kevadia where we were going to witness the world’s greatest creation, Statue of Unity. We passed through many villages. The journey was fun. There were many patches where the road was covered by trees on both sides and made a covering layer like a roof over the road. Many new tent houses were being found for the tourists to stay as we were approaching near to the statue. By the time we reached Kevadia, it’s almost 7 PM. Now, our first priority was to find a good place to stay. We found the BRG budget stay. It was a refurbished old government building. The premise was quite spacious and divided into three blocks. The rooms were available at quite economical rates, only Rs. 470 per person for a day. A maximum of three people can stay in one room. GST is applicable only if the total amount of a room goes beyond Rs. 1000. The room was big, cleaned and well maintained. The hotel was a budget hotel but there was no compromise with maintaining the high-level standard. As it’s being quite late by the time we reached there, so we decided to have dinner in the hotel only. However, the hotel was a budget hotel but the food cost is equivalent to a high-end restaurant. However, the food was good in taste and quality. We head straight to bed as we were tired of the long travel. Before sleeping, I booked regular entry ticket with a gallery visit of 8 AM for the Statue of Unity. There are three types of ticket options available for the entry; regular entry, a regular entry with Visiting Gallery and express entry with Visiting Gallery. The tickets can easily be booked by Statue of Unity website to avoid hassles of standing in line at Shrestha Bharat Bhavan. The website is informative and well maintained. If anyone planning to visit there, the website is quite helpful to plan the stay.
As this was morning and weekday, I had expected very less crowd and my intuition was right, we were among the first few who entered the premise. The colossal Statue of Unity showcases the greatness of Indian statesman, freedom fighter, first Deputy Prime Minister and home minister of Bharat, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It is a great homage to the Iron Man of Bharat. You get mesmerized as soon as you see the statue and continue watching it. The 182 meters height of the statue represents the 182 districts of the state Gujarat. There are almost 15000 tourists visited every day. There were many government operating buses available from Shrestha Bharat Bhavan to the Statue of Unity (the distance is 6 km) and other viewpoints.
We went straight to the top for the visiting gallery. One can have a beautiful view of the Narmada Dam and the Narmada river from there. Along with that, a scenic and panoramic view of the valley of flowers was enough to add glory to the place. There was still some area left where the work was in progress. As the day was progressing, the crowd gathering was increasing at the visiting gallery. We head down towards to museum which was developed on the ground floor inside the Statue of Unity. The museum showcased the movies based on Sardar’s life and Narmada dam construction in multiple languages. Also, the gallery showcased the freedom struggle of Bharat. After spending learning time in the museum, we went to the food court to enjoy Gujarati cuisines. When we were planning to go to the Narmada Dam, we got to know that there is a river rafting circuit available too. The rafting operator arranged a jeep from Shrestha Bharat Bhavan to the rafting point.
The rafting route was quite amazing and there were multiple tides to enjoy. The route has also some smooth patches which were covered with trees and small mountain. The river was not deep, so one cannot go into the water during the rafting like you do in Ganga. The rafting was a lifetime experience to remember for. After rafting, the operator brought us back to the Shrestha Bhavan. We went back to the hotel to rest for a while.
Around 4 PM, we went to visit the Valley of Flowers. The valley of flowers is just beside the statue. The statue welcomes its visitors with the 17 km long patch of colorful flowers along with the banks of holy river Narmada. The flowers are set up in such a way that it looks like a rainbow on the earth. Also, the map of India also created using different flowers. This project covers more than 100 types of flowers.
We spent the whole evening at Valley of flowers before moving to watch the laser show on Sardar’s life at the Statue of Unity. The one-hour laser show showcases our glorious past and the struggle of Sardar during the freedom fight and after that uniting the princely states into the nation which today we have known as Bharat. We went to the shopping complex for the souvenirs. Also, we visited the circuit house situated on top of the nearby hill and give a clear view of the statue. The circuit house is well maintained as it got the chance to hosts many dignitaries from different lives. As it was dinner time, we went to Sardar Dhaba which was situated near to the hotel. The hotel was quite spacious and clean. The food was of good quality and economical.
Early morning the next day, I went to explore the places nearby like the local market. The place is quite peaceful and won your heart in the first glimpse. After I came back from the morning stroll, we went for a cycling tour.
The 14 km cycling tour starts from the Valley of Flowers. We took one electric cycle and another tandem cycle. The track is 5 km long and took 3 hours to complete. The first 500 meters was a tiring incline slope, but the next whole track is quite smooth and zip through hilly terrains and winding roads and experience aesthetic beauty of Vindhyachal and Satpuda on Two Wheels. One experienced a unique way of discovering the region. The place offers all aspects of nature – from lush green mountain forests to invigorating rivulets, the region offers scenic beauty, exquisite flora and fauna and an oozing dose of culture. And to explore all this on a cycle is a sure-shot ingredient for an unforgettable travel experience. The natural sight was a treat for the eyes and soul. Mountains, rivers, clean sky, greenery everything makes you felt like you are in heaven. The trip went through the tent city and other areas which are only open to people staying in tent city, VIPs and cyclists. There were no vehicles running on the route other than designated government buses. We came back by 1 PM at the tour start point.
At 2:00 PM we left for Surat which is 154 KM. The early patch was smooth for driving but after 20 KMs, it was like a pain. The next 60 KMs were badly broken and at some patches, it’s under construction. These 60 KMs was like a hell and completely tiring. I drove continuously with just one stop to fill the tank. Once we were back on a good road it was like heaven. We stopped at one Dhaba for some quick bite and tea. And then continue our journey to the Surat. We reached Surat at 6 PM and as expected the Revv driver was waiting for us to pick up the car. We gave the petrol bills to him and he uploaded that on the system. Within a few minutes I got the invoice in my mail id and the next day received the extra amount paid by us in my credit card. The service was too good. I would prefer to use their service again in the future.
The next day we spent the morning packing our bags. In the afternoon, we went to meet some relatives before heading back to Delhi. We left for the station at 5 PM as we don’t want to miss our train again. Our return journey was booked at August Kranti Rajdhani Express which was scheduled at 8:55 PM. The return journey was smooth and we did not face any challenges. The next day we are at Nizamuddin Station at 11 AM booking a cab to reach back to our nest.