03-Jul-2004 -- Wow, this one was full of adventure and fun! My second confluence, the first being 18°N 75°E.
As soon as I got the invitation for my friend Manish's wedding I started looking for my map. I wanted to know if there is a confluence near Ankaleshwar. It seemed that Ankaleshwar was right on 73E, but between 21N and 22N, a tad closer to 22N.
A look at multimap.com, an excellent site told me that the confluence is on land, and near the town of Amod.
I forgot about the thing for about a month, and suddenly one day I found myself on the bus to Ankaleshwar with my wife, Shiwanee, and our friend Pradeep Akkunoor. We reached Ankaleshwar on the day before the wedding day, and so had the whole of Saturday 3rd July for us.
Ankaleshwar is a small town, but is accompanied by a fairly big indusrtial estate. We took an auto to the railway station and started inquiring for transportation to Amod. At first we saw a bunch of SUVs for rent. They said it will take Rs 1500. which was too much by our estimate. Next came a Jeep owner, who said 700, and as we were negotiating with him, a byestander offered to take us there for Rs 400 in his diesel 3 wheeler. We exchanged cell numbers with him, and returned for lunch.
Harun, the auto owner was at our doorstep just as we were done with the delicious lunch. He proved to be a friendly chap, and being of about the same age group as us, mixed well with us. He also appeared to have had some college education, and so could easily understand this idea of finding the spot where whole degree of latutude and longitude crossed. In the morning, we had faced a lot of quizzical faces when we said 'we want to go to a spot near Amod, and we don't know where exactly it lies, we will know it when we are there". This guy got the whole thing right. Being a local, he knew exactly which way we should be going.
There are two roads going north of Ankaleshwar. But one goes slightly eastwards, and the other slightly westwards. Amod is on the Westerly branch. There appeared to be a town called Karjan on the eastward branch, and our spot was somewhere between the two. The map we had consulted in the morning didn't show any road connecting the two towns. But Harun said there is one.
With our hopes high, we left Ankaleshwar, and crossed the Narmada River into Bharuch. The river used to be about 2Km wide, but is somewhat less these days because of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. There is an 125 Year old steel bridge crossing the River. It's called the Golden Bridge. A truely Awsome sight.
From Bharuch, we moved on the western arm of our Y. Now the road was all through countryside. completely covered with trees, riding on the road was an eye candy. There was an old (but still used) narrow gauge railway line alongside the road. And this being the season of the festival of Gauri, the road side was dotted with groups of girls and women on outing. I didn't quite figure out the nature of this festival. It just seemed as an outing where only women and girls are allowed. But they sure were having a good time!
Somewhere just before Amod, we turned East, towards Karjan. This road was through even remote rural surroundings. The roadside crowds got more beautiful, and so did the farms on both sides. The road was sometimes taking us away from our goal, and sometimes bang towards it. with our hopes falling and rising with that, it was a real adventure. Sometimes there were canals without any bridges, and we had no clue what we may have to cross till we reached the conluence. Ultimately it turned out that the spot was barely 150-200 m away from the main road. The place where we have to leave the main road is very easily marked by a unique tree, the shape of a sounding fork. This is the tree in the main photo. Our confluence spot is about 200m behind this tree.
We finally found the spot in a cotton field. While we were taking photos, the farm workers started gathering. Gujarat being the Texas of India, the workers were interested to know if we were from some oil company and were looking for a spot to drill! But Harun was even ahead of their imagination. He told them we were from some Agro comapny, and were there to inspect their fields for pests. I didn't like the whole idea much, but he said, those workers were illiterate, and wouldn't understand anything about latitudes and longitudes. They may probably think that we urbanites were looking for some treasure. wow, I could really imagine them digging up the whole farm after we left!
So, we clicked the usual bunch of photos, and headed home. We wanted to be in town before 6:30PM to attend some of the pre-wedding-day rites. (The wedding itself went great, and Manish_Shweta are on their honeymoon trip to Kerala as I'm writing this)
There is one thing I want to mention about this confluence. My wife was with me on my first two attempts to reach a confluence. Both of them had failed. On the one successful attempt at Indapur, she was not with me. So she was beginning to think that I can hit a confluence only if she is not around. This confluence has proved that wrong! And I'm very happy about that!