Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Gujarat Getaway! - Morvi (Part 2)

We woke up at Divan’s Bungalow and ate our last meal-delicious Bataka Pauva and Theplas for brunch. 

The Sabarmati Railway Station, Ahmedabad

Chai Addiction 
We left for the station a lot earlier, as we were told that the traffic is unpredictable in Ahmedabad. We were ready with iPods and books for our train journey on the Saurastra Mail. We overdosed on ‘Cutting’ Chai during our travel. We reached Wankaner late in the evening. We were booked at Darbargadh Palace, a 19th century heritage hotel in Morvi also known as Morbi. The hotel had organized a taxi for our pick-up from the railway station. It was one hour car journey from the station to the hotel. We reached perfectly in time for dinner. We were taken to our room – Kesarba Mahal. The room was large enough to play cricket in, it had gold upholstery and a beautiful four poster bed. The size of the bathroom was easily larger than our apartments back home. Our camera didn't do justice to the beauty of the room. :(  Even the walls surrounding us were covered with fabric with intricate gold motifs.  We had especially called the team at Darbargadh Palace in advance and asked them to prepare non-vegetarian food for us. We went down to eat dinner in the courtyard near the swimming pool. We were served chicken Biryani, Kadhai Paneer and Dal in the typical Neemrana style- warm and graceful. The famous homemade mango ice-cream that mostly all Neemrana properties across India serve, was served here too. Delectable!

Kesarba Mahal 

The list to do for the next day was to explore the not-so-known city- Morvi (or Morbi) . The city is known for the numerous ceramic tile manufacturers. There are approximately 500 such factories there! And of course, it is also known for Darbargadh Palace and the famous Art Deco Palace (1931 AD).

Darbargadh Palace with a large courtyard at the entrance, and a fountain in the centre, it seemed to take us back in time and feel like royalty. Wanting to explore the rest of the property, we started looking at the rooms. Each one bigger than the previous one, we were amazed by the grandeur and style of this heritage hotel. Like every other Neemrana property, each room had a different colour scheme and you could not find two similar rooms in the hotel. With a total of 8 rooms, this was a perfect weekend getaway for a large group. Breakfast was served in the open, the same place where we ate dinner the previous night. Paranthas, eggs and toasts with Neemrana’s own produce- flavoured jams gave a perfect start to the day. 

View from Kesarba's Terrace. 
We headed out to explore the city. Starting with the Mani Mandir, a temple built in 1935 by Thakor Saheb Sir Waghj. It was just a 10 minute walk from Darbargadh Palace. You could easily ask the hotel to organize a rickshaw to take you there as well. The Mani Mandir was under renovation at the time. It is situated in the courtyard of Wellingdon Secretariat. It is also known for its intricate carvings, arches and jaalis. It depicts images of Lord Ram, Goddess Lakshmi and Kaali. During the 2001 earthquake, Mani Mandi and Darbargadh Palace were both significantly damaged. The entire second storey of the palace was ruined and does not exist anymore. The Royal family of Morbi has now taken responsibility of restoring Mani Mandir and transforming the building into a museum. 

Mani Mandir

We walked back to Darbargadh Palace after a sneak peek of the Green Tower from a distance which is inspired from the ‘Eiffel Tower’ of Paris, Maharaja Lakhdhirji planned the Green Tower. It is absolutely green and hence the name! 

Breakfast, Neemrana Style 

Jhulta Pul, Morbi 

We were then taken to the Jhulta Pul or The Suspension Bridge over the Machchu River. This is where the locals come with their families in the evenings. There were toddlers running on the bridge. The Darbargadh Palace also has a private entry to the bridge! It was built to give a scientific identity to Morvi using the latest technology. It connects the Darbargadh Palace and Lakhdirji Engineering College. 

We then went back to Darbargadh Palace for dinner. There was paneer makhani with naan, spaghetti in white sauce and delicious crème caramel made especially for us. We overate as usual and then slept early as we had a 6 am train back to Ahmedabad and then an 11 am flight back home.