India – Day 18 – close to Viramgam to Palanpur

Today: 187 km
Total: 2640 km
32 degrees Celsius, completely clouded, lot’s of rain showers.

It took some time before we could leave this morning. We ran out of cash. The hotel advertised credit card payment was possible, but they had connection problems… strange, internet worked fine for us. So we had to go to an ATM to get some money for the hotel. Next to the hotel was a gas station, tyre repair guy, rickshaw repair shop and an ATM. The ATM had no money. Back to the hotel. The manager arranged a guy with a motor cycle to drive me to another ATM. The first ATM was closed, because it’s always closed on Mondays. Today is Thursday. So next the motor cycle guy heads for a small village a couple kilometers the other way. The driving skills of the driver were not better than those of a three year old on a kick bike and his traffic understandings can best be compared to the understanding a turtle has of a formula one circuit. Before we arrived at the ATM we almost changed a couple sheep into shoarma and I almost got my leg stuck between the motor and a rickshaw in one of the very narrow streets. But the result was there, we had money again.

After we replaced the two flat tyres and a difficult engine start we noticed one of the rickshaws lost all power in third and fourth gear again. That carburater should really be replaced…. but that’s only possible in a city. So for now, we are stuck with something that is somewhat fixed by a repair guy that says we should just go slow. Going slow doesn’t get us from Chennai to Delhi in four weeks, but let’s not try to explain that. In this area no one speaks english, but we get by quite well with guestures and pointing. Time to start driving.

First stop is the Sun Temple in Modhera. Indian people pay 5 rupees to get in, we pay 200 rupees. This temple is not in use anymore, so no ceremonies or rituals this time. The temple is almost a thousand years old and dedicated to the sun god Surya. The temple itself sonsists of two separate building, with a lot of pillars and extensive carvings, both inside and outside. The main building smells terribly of bats. Once in, we see hundreds in the back of the building. In front of the temple there is a huge water bassin. It’s like a complete pirimad could exactly fit the bassin. The stairs go down some six meters, before you reach the water level. We estimate the deepest point is somewhere between 25 and 30 meters deep. Also this bassin is covered in carvings and small towers.

Next we go to Patan. It has a stepp well, called Ranki-ki-Vav. The entrance fee is 5 rupees for Indians and 100 for us. The well is also almost a thousand years old. Steps lead down into the well, with pillars all over the place and again huge amounts of carvings in the walls and pillars. Because the well was completely covered up and only discovered in 1980 it is very well preserved. An entire school was also visiting this place. For them the main attraction should be the well, but it turned out the foreigners in the rickshaws were much more interesting.

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