A Weekend Roadtrip to Statue of Unity and Baroda!

19th Apr 2019

The newest world record statue was just few kms away from Surat (I, was in Surat for few days!). So I, and R, started for Ahmedabad to meet his client, by road and upon reaching Bharuch, client cancelled the meeting. We were in rut as to what to do and upon opening the Google Maps, we found that we were just 60kms away from Rajpipla where Statue of Unity is.

Day 1

Our first pit stop was at Jhagadiaji Tirth. Being Jain, we have made a habit to visit temples on our way to new places. God knows, when would we get chance to visit them if missed now! The temple is very old and popular.

Entire route to Statue of Unity was awesome and scenic. The statue is so high that it could be seen from very far. Though upon reaching visitor centre, we paid entry tickets that's inclusive of internal hop on hop off bus services. We also paid entry for car as cars are not allowed without ticket. The entire premise is about 22kms. If you are travelling by car, then I suggest you take your car within the premises. Though hop on hop off services are good but there are long queues at some places.

Our first stop was Valley of Flowers. Now you must be thinking what are we doing here instead of actual SOU? Well, we deliberately put the statue in last of the order cos we were sure that we would meet long queues and crowd at the elevator and at the observatory. Rather than wasting time in queues, it's sensible to check other places and then go to the main point. So talking about valley of flowers, it's manmade on Narmada River banks with view of statue on right and dam on left! It's picturesque and beautiful.

Since it was Mid April, it was immensely hot outside. Our car needed to cool down in the heat so we parked it under the trees at the parking of VOF and took off to the dam via Hop On Hop Off Bus. Its just 10mins away. Though you can't go upto the dam, you are dropped off at the dam and river viewpoint. For us, both River and Dam were running dry. But considering the dam controversy over the last few decades, the view and visit is worth it. Started by Jawaharlal Nehru, the dam completed only few years ago!

Now, it was around 4.30pm and time to start for the observatory. We drove to the parking allocated for SOU visitors. To our expectation, we walked into the elevator without waiting in queue after paying entry ticket (350Rs) to observatory. We saved paying for express entry which is whopping 750rs!!! The view from observatory is mind blowing. The dam, the entire Narmada River (dry for us!), and scenic nearby was astounding! We were speechless and proud! This is iconic statue! A world record statue! Though not very famous yet but worth a visit!!! We went down to other levels too! The facilities in the premises are top notch. Escalators, Travelators and Elevators, everything is there for everyone's convenience! We just couldn't stop ourselves from clicking pictures and more pictures. Our next agenda was to check their Laser show which I suggest is NOT to be missed at all! It starts at 7pm and we had lot of time on hand so we took the car and drove off the track to check the tents that are in within the premise for night stay! On our route, we came across very scenic Narmada Canal just around the time of Sunset. Oh man, what a ride that was from SOU to the tent!!! One should not really miss this route. Very few people go here as this is little off track but totally unmissable! Best part of our trip after SOU!!!

We reached just on time for light and laser show and were totally awestruck!!! Wow, every single minute, we felt more and more proud of the place we were standing on, the statue we were looking at! What beauty, what lights, what graphics! Yes, we were in India, very much in our India, watching our India at par with other country monuments!!! It was difficult to leave from there but we had to, with Only one hope that we don't spoil the place by littering or spitting or being uncivilised in any way!

We had our night stay in Baroda/Vadodara!!

Would I visit again? Yes, totally!!!

Day 2

Very well known and huge palace of Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad. Some part of palace is for public and one wing is the residence!! We were given audio guide, its free for everyone upon paying the entry, is very clear and comes with directions. The clarity, music and the sound of the audio guide is very clear and you are provided with loads of valuable information. There are about 11 or 12 areas which are numbered (point 1 till point 11/12). The audio guide informs you to walk towards the point and when you reach the point, you can listen to the information which corresponds to that particular number. The information is about the paintings, weapons used, rooms etc. The palace has its own cafe too! A must visit!

Huge collection of art including marble statues, Raja Ravi Verma's exclusive paintings which are uncomparable. The collection of art items is really huge, very interesting and proves how many efforts must have been put in by the ex-ruler. What really caught my eye was a actual mini train right outside the museum. That train was gifted to prince by the Maharaja so prince could travel to his school with his friends, which was in their residence premise. It's the same train shown in son Chakke pe Chakka song starring Shammi Kapoor!

Kirti Mandir is built in 1936 as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. Kirti Mandir is also known as "Temple of Fame" is the cenotaph of the Gaekwads. The marble treated interiors of the Kirti Mandir is wonderfully decorated with intricately carved murals. It is believed that Sayajirao Maharaja built this Kirti Mandir in the memory of deceased members of the royal Gaekwad family and the edifice is dedicated to Lord Mahadev.

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