Camping has always fascinated me due to its challenges, explorations and the reflection that I get to do with myself. Little did I know that I would get to discover facets of nature, in such a small village. Well, this was a discovery of Hingolgadh, a wildlife sanctuary situated in the Rajkot district. It’s about a couple of hours drive from the city of Rajkot, India.
My Journey to Hingolgadh
I started my journey from Rajkot on an early Friday morning with a group of colleagues. All we had was a bus journey, some jokes to crack and scenic landscapes around us. We decided not to take the highway, and drove through the countryside roads. Ah, and we passed by the cleanest village of India, Rajsamadhiyada (pronounced as ‘raj-samadh-iyada’). The village has almost no thefts and cctvs installed in each of their homes! Wow! En route, you get to witness many wind mills by Suzlon and I grabbed the opportunity to observe one of them closely. Diverse flora varieties could be seen on the way, namely sesame plants, peanut plants and so on. Somewhere, a cute tailorbird nest was giving me a sneak peek
A Brief Topography of Hingolgadh
Hingolgadh is surrounded by a series of small mountains. The locals say these were active volcanoes during the earlier times. Located around 10 kms away from Jasdan taluka, Hingolgadh is also connected to Jamnagar near the northwestern area. Due to the presence of small mountains and open areas, the rainfall in this region is quite scarce. As informed by one of our team members, population of this town is about 2000.
How to Reach there?
Best route to reach Hingolgadh would be by road, from Rajkot. Just enjoy the view
Nearest airport: Rajkot, India
Nearest railway station: Gondal, Gujarat (India)
It takes about 20 minutes to reach there from Jasdan. You may choose to go via the highway or countryside.
Campsite and Stay
The campsite at Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary is maintained by the Samara camp. The stay in huts is quite decent. Seldom, lizards might give you a company.
Washrooms are located at a little distance from the huts, but that’s what experiencing camping is about.
The food is mouth watering, starting from entrees to dessert. But if you are looking for something contemporary, you will be disappointed. They serve authentic food, finger licking good!
Things to do at Hingolgadh
Well, Hingolgadh can just serve to be your weekend getaway if you are in Gujarat. You may choose to-
Trek along the dense forests (most of these are grasslands)
Go for some adventure sports
Visit the castle and museum
Enjoy the snake show!
Admire the Birds-Bird watching
Trek along the dense forests
Being a wildlife sanctuary, a huge repertoire of flora and fauna can be found here. I was delighted to closely look at some medicinal plants like Shatavari, Google (yeah thats the local name :P), even katho used in making those tempting masala pans that the Saurastrians love.
While trekking to the mountains, some species of deers like Chinkaras and Nilgai were also spotted by a few of my friends.
Along the trek, I tried locating a peacock from its calls but no luck.
We were given an activity on interviewing an object by our facilitator, Mrs. Radhika Khachar. Finding that unique object for myself was quite a task. Dung beetles were quite a show with their hard work.
The facilitators at the camp plan many activities based on what your duration and requirements are.
We landed trekking through the same way, four times. Nevertheless, each time it was a rare experience. Welcoming the sun in the morning gives you a heavenly feeling here, especially from the castle.
To experience the forest and sounds of the nature, we went for a short night trek too. Clear skies, animal calls and being with oneself give you a pleasant feeling in all.
The campsite is taken care of by Samara camps, so they have a couple of adventure sports as of now, like zipline and commando net.
Climbing the commando net was a lot of fun. I lost my balance twice, banged my head. But you keep the ‘never quit’ attitude alive and there, victory is all yours.
Visit the Castle and Museum
The castle was built in 1665 AD on an older fort. Thanks to Alokika Khachar, Rani Sahiba of Jasdan, I could visit the entire three floors of the castle. It holds a remarkable collection of brass objects, old furniture like tables, cupboards and beautiful antique lamps. Some of its rooms are partly renovated and still being used by the royalty of Jasdan.
It consists of the king’s and queen’s master bedrooms, plus one large sitting area that could host a gathering for 30 guests at a time! Speaking of bedrooms, the view from the king’s room is splendid. Other places worth mentioning are a horse stable (which also served as a shooting sight for enemies), and a few tunnels (these are worth discovering during your journey around the castle). Hingolgadh is also the only place of worship for ‘Goddess Hinglaj of Balochistan’, present in India.
The castle has a beautiful garden which has more than 30 varieties of cacti (a few of them could be seen in the photographs here).
It appears to be picturesque due to the presence of ducks, swans, lovebirds around. I caught sight of an African tree- Digitata, apparently it is found only in five places in India, including Hingolgadh.
Enjoy the Snake Show!
During our overnight stay, the camp hosted a snake show for us. Along with other animals, a large variety of snakes is also found in the forests at Hingolgadh. It was an awesome feeling to touch some of the snakes and just let yourself be, letting go of your fear.
And then the next day, I looked at a python on the castle. Must say, they are giants for real.
Admire the Birds-Bird Watching
The avian life in Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary is an absolute treat for nature lovers. If you are observant enough, you will spot more than 100 varieties of birds in your surroundings. Early in the morning, some of the migratory birds show up too. We could see many varieties of sparrows, red vented bulbuls, peacocks and hummingbirds during our stay.
If you love nature and are an avid camper, you must visit this place once and admire its beauty.
Word of Caution:
Visiting Hingolgadh in the right season is as essential as visiting it. Relish the monsoons there.