A ride to Hingolgadh Sanctuary

A cycle ride till Hingolgadh was in my mind since long. The reason behind delay was the distance – its about 68 km single side. Obviously we can ride for 136 km in a day, but it might be too much of ride and then we can not enjoy time in the sanctuary. We decided to leave office one Saturday afternoon and ride to Hingolgadh, stay overnight there, enjoy stroll in sanctuary in morning, and ride back to Home. The plan was fine, but on searching we couldn’t find any stay option near Hingolgadh. Fortunately we found a host for a night in a nearby village – Gundala, which is some 5 km from Hingolgadh.

Hingolgadh Palace
Hingolgadh Palace

On the planned day, we left office at 1pm, took lunch in nearby restaurant and came back to office for changing cloths. By 2.30pm we were completely ready to start riding. We started in full sunshine and busy city traffic. It took almost an hour to cross the city to reach highway towards Hingolgadh. We stopped at a small tea stall for little rest and refreshment. There was very lesser traffic on highway, which was plus point for us. After riding some 25 km, we reached Raj Samadhiyala, from where we left the highway, and took countryside road. This road was mostly in good condition with rare potholes. On riding few kilometers, suddenly rain started, and it was literally pouring. We couldn’t find any shelter nearby, so we stopped on the road itself, put our mobile phones and other gadgets into polybag and started again. The rain didn’t lasted more than a few minutes, but we were completely in drenched condition till we reached Bhupgadh. We had no alternate than keep moving on as we had to reach destination before dark. We continued ahead with head wind, and so many up and down but mostly ascents. Riding against wind direction was difficult and we needed to stop for a short break every 3-4 km.

Till we reached Kamlapur, we were totally exhausted and tired. We stopped at a roadside dhaba for some snacks and rest. After a good half an hour halt, we felt refreshed. Our planned route was to take off road from next village – Kaduka to reach Gundala, but dhaba owner there suggested to take on road route only, as that off road might not be suitable for riding after dusk. The sun was about to set. We loaded our cycles with head and tail lights, and started again. By now, we got habitual with headwind & ascents, and weather was cooled down too, so further ride was not that much tiring. We reached Lilapur where the highway meets again at eight in the evening, we didn’t stop anywhere and kept riding. Gundala village was just five kilometer from here and we were at our host Somabhai’s place at 8:30.

Somabhai and his wife took very good care of us. A delicious traditional kathiawadi dinner was arranged at Somabhai’s home. After dinner, we went for a stroll in that small village and then sat relaxing below a large pippal tree. The atmosphere of the village was so silent and cool that anyone can fall in love with it. How fast and noisy life we live in urben area! In fact, people in such small villages are more happy than us, although they do not have physical and electronic luxury. Well, we went to sleep at around 11, planned to wake up early and to enjoy sunrise from the Hingolgadh.

When we woke up in dawn time, it was raining and was continued till eight, which spoilled our plan. However, till that we completed daily routines and were completely ready. Morning tea with breakfast was served by Somabhai’s wife. As soon as rain stopped, we said ‘Good Bye’ to Somabhai and left Gundala.

On the way to Hingolgadh, there is a small but beautiful temple – Bileshwar Mahadev Temple. The temple is surrounded by large tree everywhere and very good place for a day picnic. After enjoying few minutes we left for Hingolgadh Sanctuary. There was a kilometer long steep climb to reach the entrance of the sanctuary. There is a small fee for visit. The person at the counter was amazed by knowing that we rode cycles all the way from Rajkot. This was first time in his career at that counter that anybody has visited this sanctuary by cycle! Well, after completing entrance formalities, we started riding, towards the center of sanctuary, called Bhim Kui. Vehicles (including cycles!) are allowed till Bhim Kui only. We were disappointed by knowing this. We had dreamed of cycling in forest area, but alas! we couldn’t do it. We locked our cycles in the parking area, and explored the forest by walking.

View from watchtower

Hingolgadh sancuary is small sanctuary surrounded by arid neighbouring lands. The sanctuary turns a lush green during monsoon, the best time to visit. The forest consist of thorny shrubs and savannah type grasses. The sanctuary habitats large number of resident and migratory birds, animals like chinkara, blue bull, porcupine, and number of reptiles. Hingolgadh is promoted as Nature Education Sanctuary and nature education camps for school students are organised by GEER Foundation. Trees of various types are marked with details like their common name and scientific names, their importance in human beings and nature, etc.

We enjoyed strolling in forest area by walking, but was not lucky enough to spot any animals but few blue bulls. We were late for bird watching, they might have gone in search of food, but we spotted so many nests there. We found a very few of birds in Bhim Kui area.

By 12:30 we left sanctuary and went for lunch at a dhaba in Hingolgadh village. After having delicious lunch there, we started riding back towards home. On our return way, we selected to ride on highway via Jasdan. Few kilometers towards Jasdan was ascents & descents and sun was at its peak, it was tiring ride. We stopped for refreshment at Jasdan and then at Atkot. Return ride was supported by tail wind but it was mostly boring on highway. By eight in evening, we reached home.

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