How it all started:
I was in Roorkee at my sister’s place, when Priti sent a whatsapp message – “aap kahan hain? wapas aa gayin kya? Aa jayengi to baat karungi” ( Where are you? Are you back? When you come back, I would like to speak to you.) I called back, instead of replying on whatsapp. That’s the Jio magic. 🙂 She shared her plan to go out with her two female friends as their daughters are out on a school trip for a fortnight. Going alone with friends was on my mind for some time. I jumped at the opportunity, though I did not know about the other two women. I have known Priti for last one year and always felt an emotional connect with her.
Bhuj, the first choice:
It was the middle of February and this year was cooler in Ahmedabad than it’s normal temperature. We planned for Bhuj. By the end of February, we realized that Bhuj will be very hot by the end of March, when we were planning to go. Thanks to online resources, I checked the temperature on Accuweather and found it to be more than 40 C and more around the time of our tentative visit. So idea of Bhuj was abandoned and with it my dreams of visiting Bhujodi and other villages around Bhuj, seeing the handlooms, meeting the enterprising women and buy some creatively made sarees, stoles and home linens for my online outlet, “PUSHPNEER“.
Our first meeting:
We met at Madhuri’s place sometimes in first week of March to finalize the destination. Dates were fixed – March 25 – 27. My super senior citizen father stays with me and I can not leave him for more than 3 days at a stretch
After lots of discussion, it was decided that since we have only three days at hand, we will go to a place, which is at a distance of 3 to 4 hours journey. Polo forest was short listed but the place doesn’t require two night stay. We searched around some more places and finalized Balaram. One night stay at each place. This trip was mainly for relaxation, fun and lots of heartwarming gupshup.
Swati had taken the responsibility to arrange for the cab. I and Priti took responsibilities of bookings. Madhuri, was our pretty fourth partner, who planned for the small munching meals during the travel. Cab, Balaram Resort and Vijay Vilas Palace were booked well in time.
Planning For Home in Our Absence:
We all had to make arrangement for the family members left at home. I had to guide my cook about my father’s meals. My husband and son can manage their own affairs and can instruct the cook as per their requirements, so I have not made any arrangements for them. Priti had made sufficient arrangements for her mother in law and husband. Swati had to guide her cook two times a day to make life easier for her husband , son and mother in law. Madhuri was the only one, who have no one at home. One daughter in hostel, another gone on school trip and hubby outstation, she locked all her cooking worries at home.
The Journey :
We started at 7AM on 25th March, 2019. After driving for almost 3 hours,we had brunch at “Siddharth” a South Indian restaurant at Siddhpur. We all had our morning tea and biscuit before we started at 7 am, so 10 in the morning was just perfect time to have a sumptuous meal.
Swati had recommended this as she had tried it frequently. We had ordered masala dosa, steamed idlis and hot wadas with sambhar and routine accompaniments. We ended the food with sweet gulabjamuns. Food was good. The enlightened group of ours was free from “calories fear”. 😛
Arrival at Balaram Resort:
We reached Balaram Resort before noon. The weather was pleasant throughout. The guards at the gate were aware of our bookings and we had a smooth entry to the premises. Their security systems were good. The entry to the resort is restricted. We felt being in a safe place. The resort was on the outskirts of Chitrasani village in Banaskantha district of Gujarat. Huge premises and just 3 cars in the parking ?
Balaram resort is a palace situated on the bank of Balaram River in Chitrasani village of Banaskantha district of Gujarat, India. Built in 1936 for
Sir Tale Muhammad Khan, 29th Nawab of Palanpur state to be used as a hunting retreat. It is now converted into a heritage hotel.
Since then an additional new blocks have been added. Tent accommodations were also added. The complex was huge and very well maintained. There were only three cars at the resort. This showed the end of tourist season. We were allotted 2 adjacent rooms on ground floor. The rooms had a common sitout and a swing at the back of the rooms. So, the spot for first photo session has been found out. 🙂
After initial photo session, we ordered tea and coffee along with cookies as we have some hardcore coffee drinkers. To do justice with our efforts of bringing the tasty snacks, we supplemented our drinks with tasty chivada namkeen, thepla and spicy savouries. The weather was nice and we planned for our evening outing from the inputs given by the resort manager. An old Shiv temple, balrampur river, a nearby village to explore tribal market and living and Jessore Sloth Bear sanctuary were recommended and we decided to start around 4pm.
We had our tea and snacks after our power nap and started on time. The shiv temple which was referred to us was just half a kilometer on the bank of river Balram. It was not as old as we were told.It appeared to be a very recent temple, and river did not have much water. Our first destination was a flop visit. Thank God for the company, we had fun even in adverse situations.
Few more kilometers and we come across a village market. Me and Preeti were keen to visit a tribal settlement to have first hand experience of their life style and changes brought in their life by technology and (Jio) internet. But it came out to be any normal village and not a tribal settlement. On our way back, we come across two women walking by the side of road. They appeared to be belonging to some tribe from their dress. We got down and tried to speak, but they were not very keen… We clicked few pics, for which they happily posed. 🙂
As luck would have it, we came across a small settlement, and we just got down to explore. Swati was not keen to get down, so she remained in the car and three of us went out. It was a settlement of Ghrasia tribe family. They had cattles and sell their milk for living. Two brothers along with their families were living in few kachcha and pacca houses on a big plot .
The women were more outspoken and showed us their kitchen and indoors. One of them posed very happily in her silver jewellery. A spick and span household with fewer belongings but happiness and peace with themselves. Two young children go to the government school near by.
We spent almost an hour there and thus got delayed for the sloth bear sanctuary. We missed it.
We came back to resort in the late evening. The resort had good lawns and many locations for photography. We clicked many photos over lots of gupshup. We were so engrossed in gupshup and photography, little did we realise that we were the only occupants in this secluded resort. It was 9.30 pm and we were sitting out one of the many sit outs spread over the property. As dinner were to be served by 10 pm, we were headed towards the dining hall. After having dinner, we went into our rooms. I and Preeti were still gossiping and slept around 2am.
We got up early, around 6 am and did some interesting photography. After breakfast, we left for our next destination around 8.30 am.