White Stork in Marine National Park
Dhrangadhra is Jamnagar is some 177 km (75 INR) and frequent state transport busses ply between these two cities. Journey time is usually 6-7 hour. Morbi is a lazy little town enroute and worth for breaking your journey towards Saurashtra. While passing through, I witnessed some spectacular archeological sites under restoration. In some years, Morbi will become a major tourist destination of Saurashtra. Hanging bridge on the river is another sight I got to know. Morbi impressed me in that transient stint.
Towards the Shore Narara
After passing Morbi, Bus took the turn to the coast of Gulf of Kutch.. Precisely to Jamnagar…. Everyone in Gujarat watch comedy soap operas…even in the busses… They must be gaining the highest TRP here… Jamnagar is the industrial hub of Gujarat and only lures travelers interested in exploring the elusive coastline which stretches till Dwarka. This coastline is the part of Marine National Park and extremely rich with corals, underwater species. Getting a budget accommodation can be tricky in Jamnagar and we had to walk more than 3 km to find a decent hotel which was relatively on the higher range. Lodges in front of the Bus stand are too lousy to stay (even for one night).
Mangroves on the coast of Narara
Evening in Jamnagar took me back to the days in Kanpur….mid size city with a colorful and vibrant market.. Town hall is the center of the city where main market is located with plenty of food options. Before hitting the restaurant, we went to the forest department to get an understanding of the marine national park.. Its entry points etc…I was disappointed to know that Pirotan Island which was once the prime attraction of the park is now closed for the tourists. The only entry point the park was Narara which moved to the top priority around Jamnagar. Besides the park, Jamnagar is also known for colorful temples and a bird sanctuary adjoining the wetland. Regardless of the handful eateries, we ended up to a queer restaurant for our Dinner and yet again…a Gujarati on the table… Before hitting the sleep, we agreed on an impalpable plan to do meaningless roaming around Jamnagar.. towards the Khijadiya bird sanctuary and later hit the road to Narara…. Night arrived… Weather in Jamnagar was salubrious….
*** Pirotan Island is now closed for the tourists****
Aquatic Fauna at Narara Park
Colorful Fish under Algae
Sun came up… despite underlying unwillingness, we waited for the city bus to Khijadiya bird sanctuary which never came and finally reconciled to the idea of visiting Narara only. Visiting hours of Narara Marine National Park depends on the tidal behavior. Entry is prohibited during high tide. As per the Information from Forest department, Marine National Park was supposed to be open from 10 AM to 3 PM so we folded our belongings from Jamnagar and hit the road to Narara.
Algae on the coastal rocks
Khatra near Vadinar
Narara is just 55 km from Jamnagar but reaching there is hitch because of no direct connectivity. We missed the direct bus to Vadinar so boarded a bus to Dwarka and got down at Jhakar and then took the Khatra to Vadinar and again another Khatra to Narara. There is no connectivity between Vadinar to Narara so it’s recommended to keep the Khatra in waiting. Finally we made it to Narara Marina National Park.
This gorgeous shallow intertidal park stretches 170 km from Okha to Navlakhi on the coastline of Gulf of Kutch. Marine national park includes almost 42 inhabited cays surrounded by coral reefs of fringing or broken type. Besides rich marine life and corals, Park is also a home of many species of birds. During low tide, one can walk on and through the corals and witness beautiful colonies of countless tiny animals.
Shallow Water Corals
The outer area of the park comprises some lakes and mangrove forest. Mangrove forests are instrumental to save the fragile bio-diversity of this eco-system. After passing the mangrove forest, we reached to the sandy surface which adjoins to algae fringed coastal rocks submerged into tidal waves. Water level rises as you walk towards the sea and one can sight magnificent and colorful aquatic life underneath. Algae on the coastal rocks project a green beach kind of effect. It is one of those rare sites where one can see coral reefs without underwater diving. Rich biodiversity of the coastline attracts group of botanists and researchers. Besides the species of corals and sponges, one can also sight Octopus, grabs, prawns, seashells, sea cucumbers, sea horses, jellyfishes, starfishes and many more. It’s a fascinating site and will consume 4-5 hours easily.
Colors of the Coastline
We walked through the entire coastal rocks region and touched to the sea… Blue sea kissing the Green beach… What an amazing blend of colors it was… Without Guide, it’s difficult to identify the beautiful aquatic life you come across yet We could see some amazing corals and fishes.. It’s like a natural aquarium…winters are also the best time for bird sighting and I was fortunate to take some shots of white stork and greater flamingoes…. We were the last travelers of the day for Narara Park and water level started rising hinting us a warning sign… While retreating back to Park gate, we observed a peculiar behavior of the coral colonies….a humming sound due to bubbles forming on the coral surface for photosynthesis… The diverse eco-system of the marine park suffered badly due to oil pipelines and salt-panning along the coastline.
We touched back to the tracts of Mangrove tress surrounded by Pneumatophores coming out of sand. The intricate circuit of Mangrove roots is what catches everyone’s curiosity and we also were not exception…. Curiosity kills the cat and in our case it was 7 km walking with backpacks on…Wasted our precious time around the mangrove trees and by the time we reached to the park entrance, all the travelers were ebbed (further inland tough). Our hope of getting a free ride till Vadinar also diminished and we were left with our backpacks to cover 7 km on our own…walking under the sun… that’s the part of independent traveling most of us overlook…you should to be up for walking…always… After loading the backpacks, we started slowly towards Vadinar with a very bleak hope of getting a lift… This time we were not lucky so we toiled under the sun but I would be selfish if I say that walking was completely unpleasant… we stopped at the shore of the lakes and captured some stupendous photographs of great flamingoes in the backdrop of Mangroves… I was missing Khatra… Had we asked the driver to wait till we return…we would have been happier….
Mangrove and tilted roots
finally a very generous Gujarati family accommodated us in their vehicle for remaining 2 km and it was a great relief…. We were back to Vadinar negotiating with a Khatra driver to start our journey further west along the coastline of Gulf of Kutch… reached Jhakar with the courtesy of Khatra….Jhakar is however on Jamnagar-Dwarka route but still we could not get a direct bus so we headed to Khambhalia which has better connectivity to Dwarka.
Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order