In a land replete with pilgrimage sites, Narayan Sarovar is a different kind of holy experience. At almost the westernmost point of land in India, it can only be reached by traveling over 100 km from Bhuj across the barren scrubland of Kutch. A journey after which the appearance of a vast lake will surprise you even though you have come to see it and its spiritual significance will be tangible.
Narayan Sarovar Lake is one of the 5 holy lakes of Hinduism, along with Mansarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa and Pushkar in Rajasthan. The lake is associated with a time of drought in the Puranic area, when Narayan (a form of Lord Vishnu) appeared in response to the fervent prayers of sages and touched the land with his toe, creating the lake, now revered as holy to bathe in (though this is not recommended).
There are temples to Shri Trikamraiji, Laxminarayan, Govardhannathji, Dwarkanath, Adinarayan, Ranchodraiji and Laxmiji, built by the wife of Maharao Desalji. These are of more interest to those on religious pilgrimage here; other visitors are likely to find Koteshwar a more interesting option.
According to Hindu theology, there are five sacred lakes collectively called Panch-Sarovar (‘Sarovar’ means “lake”). Namely, Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar. A fair is held here on the 11th to 15th days of month Kartik of the Hindu calendar (November/December).
Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya during his lifetime is said to have visited Narayan Sarovar and spent time here as such the site is sacred also for follower of Pushtimarg.
Here, you can see red antelopes or chinkaras and in year 1981 the area around was notified and named after Narayan Sarovar as Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary.
How to reach:
By road: From Bhuj, 125 km away, buses go to Narayan Sarovar twice a day (morning and evening). However, that is the only public transportation available. Koteshwar Temple is a mere 2 km from Narayan Sarovar, on the coast, but visitors to Lakhpat (28 km further) or Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary (15 km) will need a private vehicle; this can only be hired in Bhuj. Prices for hired cars range from Rs. 5.50/- per km to Rs. 10/- per km depending on the type of vehicle and whether or not it has AC.
Unless you only want to visit the Narayan Sarovar lake and temples, hiring a car in Bhuj is recommended. Accommodation and food are available in Narayan Sarovar, but not in any of the other three sites (except the gurudwara in Lakhpat.) Visitors to the wildlife sanctuary should bring their own food and water.