In Bhuj

Before boarding our train out of Gujarat, Billy and I spent a couple days exploring Bhuj, the capital of Kutch. On a rented scooter we drove the 90km north to take in the Great Rann. Instead of white, cracked earth, the monsoon had turned it into an inland ocean stretching into the horizon. From a high viewpoint on Black Mountain, we watched an approaching storm roll right through us, forcing us beneath the shelter of a hut for an hour or so before we headed back the way we'd come Bhuj. 





After two long weeks of racing through Gujarat, my brother joined me in Junagadh, a small town marked on the pilgrim trail for nearby Mount Girnar. The skies never cleared as we explored the city's odd mix of sites, from 2,000-year-old Buddhist caves to a 19th-century Muslim tomb, its spiral minarets rocking slightly in the wind. We climbed the 8,000-step sacred mountain the next morning before heading back to Rajkot. 



Somnath to Dwarka

I spent a night at each of Gujarat's holiest Hindu sites, Somnath and Dwarka, stopping along the way in Porbandar, Gandhi's birthplace. As usual for this state, I seemed to be the only foreigner around in all three cities. While circling Dwarkadesh and stepping into the ocean water beneath its busy ghats, just about everyone I asked agreed happily to a photo.

Somnath Temple

Veraval Harbor



A small stretch of hills in east Saurashtra marks the holiest sites of Jainism. While the original flush of temples was built in the 11th century, Muslim invaders razed them in the 14th. Today's temples and shrines date back to only the 16th century, but most impressive are their numbers: there are anywhere from 800 to 1300 structures on Shatrunjaya.  

I started early on the 3745-step climb from Palitana, passing a thin stream of mostly white-clad pilgrims. So as not to offend I'd left my leather belt behind. Focused on keeping my pants up somewhat discreetly, I forgot to take any water past the string of shops and dharamsalas at the mountain's base. Unlike the Hindu mountains' hundreds of chai stalls and snack shops, this holy trail was completely dry. Still holding up my pants, I reached the top a bit light-headed, and begged one of the priests for some water. He kindly shared before getting back to meticulously cleaning all the little tirthankar idols. Photos of these are strictly forbidden, but there was plenty else to shoot as I set off to explore a few of Jainism's holiest temples.