11-Oct-2004 -- It's the festival season here in India and it was the best opportunity for us to take a break and go for a holiday. My brother-in-law Kishore lives in Daman, which is a Union Territory between the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It was formerly a Portuguese colony and is now an important industrial area.
The plan was for us to go to Daman by train and we would then hire a car and visit Nasik, Shirdi and Aurangabad. It also looked like a great opportunity to go confluence hunting! Before our trip, I took a look at the maps of the region and found that we had at least 5 confluences that could be reached from Daman and on the road trip we planned to take. These were 21N73E, 20N 73E, 20N 74E, 20N 75E & 20N 76E. Kishore and I decided to do the first two (21N 73E & 20N 73E) while we were in Daman as they were near enough to travel to by motorbike.
We reached Daman on October 10th and while the family rested, Kishore and I set out to 21N73E on October 11th on his motorbike. According to the maps. This one was located near the town of Navsari in Gujarat. The GPS indicated a straight-line distance of 66 kilometers from Kishore's home. We left Daman at 0830 and rode towards the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway (NH#8). Once we reached the highway, we turned north on this excellent road towards Valsad and Navsari. It was a new experience going confluence-hunting riding on a motorbike. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway was one of the smoothest roads I've been on in the country and we made good time.
We bypassed Valsad and Navsari and continued on till the GPS started to indicate that we would need to turn right off the highway. With about 3.4 kilometers to go, the GPS indicated a full right turn. We slowed down and started looking for a right turn. Almost immediately, we found a good road going in that direction, but we had to ride 2 kilometers further up the road and make a U-turn and head back. Once on the road, the GPS counted down rapidly as it seemed to lead right up to the confluence. Visions of the CP in the middle of the road passed through my head! But, at 200 meters to go, the GPS indicated that we would have to go left. We found the open gates of a farm at that point and decided to ride in. We finally stopped at 60 meters from the confluence, parked the motorbike and walk to 21N73E.
This was Kishore's first confluence, so I let him carry the GPS and walk us to the point. We found that the CP was in the middle of a hedge separating the farm we were in and a dirt road. After a few minutes of trying to get the magical "zeros", we stopped and took the mandatory photographs. The time was 1130 hrs and the altitude recorded was 14 meters.
On the walk back to the motorbike, we met Kallu and Deepak, a couple of farm hands who were working in the farm. We tried to ask them in Hindi about who owned the farm and what they grew on it. Unfortunately, we were in Gujarat and these folks knew very little Hindi and seemed to talk only Gujarati. I anyway requested a photograph, which I took on the digital camera and showed to them. We thanked them and headed out to the road. At the road we met Ram Milan, a salesman with his cart of wares. He told us that we were about 1 kilometer from the village of Phera. After chatting with him and talking a couple of photographs, we turned back towards the highway.
The ride back was uneventful and we returned home at 1430 hrs for a delicious lunch. This was an easy confluence to reach. Kishore was buoyant that all the others would be easy too. I did not want to dampen his enthusiasm as I knew the next one we were going to attempt (20N73E) looked like a tough one, as there were no roads leading close to it. After a quiet evening, we planned to head out the next day towards 20N73E, which was to the South of Daman in the state of Maharashtra. A nice way to start a holiday!