I thoroughly enjoy travelling to offbeat places. There's isn't much said or known about such places which adds to thrill of exploring a new land without any preconceived ideas or notions. It's like sailing into the unchartered waters, but you need to have an open mind to travel to the lesser known places for they might or might not turn out to be what you expect.
I chanced upon one such offbeat place, totally out of blue and it turned out to be a beautiful travel experience. My father was travelling to a few places in Gujarat and was in transit at Rajpipla. Since he was going to be at the place for a couple of days, I decided to travel from Mumbai to meet him there.
There's no dearth of travel options to Gujarat from Mumbai, a lot of trains and buses shuttle between the two places. I took a train and landed in Rajpipla. Once a princely state under the rule of Rajput dynasty, Rajpipla is a scenic city in South Gujarat. Most of the schools and administrative offices here, still function in the palatial buildings. It is also known to be an academic town with the highest number of English and Gujarati medium schools and educational institutions.
Though small, the city is self-sufficient with almost all the amenities and facilities as that of the big cities. Rajpipla is located on the banks of river Narmada and blessed with abundant natural beauty. It is surrounded by two rivers - Narmada and Karjan (a tributary of river Narmada), lush hills of the Satpura Mountain ranges, thick forests, numerous streams and valleys.
How To Reach Rajpipla
By Road: Rajpipla is well-connected by road with major cities like Bharuch, Ankleshwar, Vadodara, etc. Regular buses, both state transport run and private, shuttle between various cities of Gujarat and Maharashtra, as it located close to the Gujarat-Maharashtra border. Alternatively, you can plan a self-drive along the scenic views, especially around monsoon.
By Rail: Bharuch Junction is the nearest major railway station at 65 km, that is well-connected with major cities in Gujarat, as well as places including Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi, Kota, Amritsar, etc. Alternatively, one can reach the Ankleshwar Junction which is 68 km away or Vadodara Junction which is 73 km north from Rajpipla. I had journeyed in an overnight train from Mumbai to Ankleshwar.
By Air: Vadodara, also known as Baroda, is the closest airport to reach Rajpipla. It is about 78 km away. You can take a bus or hire a taxi from here to reach Rajpipla.
Best Time To Visit
Given its scenic beauty and the fact that it is surrounded by forests, valleys and rivers, Rajpipla experiences a pleasant weather throughout the year. I had visited the place in monsoon. Monsoon is the best time to visit as the monsoon showers enhance the beauty of the place. On my visit, the gray stormy clouds, intermittent showers, rain washed landscape and a lush greenery had turned the place into a surreal beauty.
Places To Visit In And Around Rajpipla
It was an impromptu visit for me and I was in town just for 2 days. Upon inquiring with the locals about places that could be visited in and around Rajpipla, majority replied with a long list of temples. As the Narmada River, which is considered sacred, flows from here, there are numerous beautiful and old temples and places of pilgrimage in the region. We visited a few which were nearby and planned an itinerary after gathering information about nearby places.
We started with a leisurely stroll on the banks of Narmada River near Rajpipla. Most of the places have ghats or embankments to facilitate the devotees who wish to take a holy dip in the sacred waters of the river. The stretch along the river is dotted with numerous temples of god and goddesses that one can visit.
PC: Jitesh Ukani
Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev Temple
We drove for about 20 km on Kevadia Road to reach the beautiful Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev Temple. With the light drizzle and the entire landscape rain-washed, the drive was a pleasant one. The Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev temple is an old but beautiful Shiva temple located close to the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Its location is a scenic one and the place offers picturesque views of the lush surroundings.
Sardar Sarovar Dam
A drive for about 9 km took us inside the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary to reach the famous Sardar Sarovar Dam. Built on river Narmada, this dam has been in news for various political reasons, nevertheless, while you are in Rajpipla do visit the Sardar Sarovar Dam - one of the largest dams built in the Narmada Valley.
Around late afternoon, the rains got a slightly stronger so we decided to call it a day and drove back to Rajpipla. Next morning we grabbed a quick bite and started early. Once again we drove till the Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev Temple as our next destination was on the route that bifurcated here. The previous day, we had crossed the Narmada River and taken the path from its left bank. Our destination this day was, however, on its right bank.
A drive for about 8 km from the Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev Temple through the Gora Colony took us to the forest check post. After paying the entry fee and getting the permit from the forest office we trekked towards the Zarwani Waterfalls. Located deep inside the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the densest forests of Gujarat, the glorious fall was the highlight of the trip. The trek through the sanctuary, which is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, was exciting and interesting.
Hidden deep inside the forest, the waterfall is located amidst an artistic rocky gorges. Monsoon had brought out the real beauty of the fall and the place looked breathtakingly beautiful. A dip in the cool water was extremely refreshing and instantly rejuvenating. After spending a leisure time playing and swimming, we ate our lunch and started back for Rajpipla. The gems we discovered on a visit to this offbeat place will be treasured forever.