School Friends, Rann of Kutch, with a surprise called Mandvi attached! 

17th Nov 2017
Photo of School Friends, Rann of Kutch, with a surprise called Mandvi attached! by Sonam

Let me commence narrating this excursion by thanking my dearest school friend for getting married. Yes, you read it right.

Had it not been for her wedding, we wouldn't have visited the celebrated Rann of Kutch, nor would we have been able to spend some days in this quaint little town called Mandvi - the surprise!

So again, thanks to her to get wedded at a not-so-wedding-destination destination.

Day 1

It started with the moment we came to know of the date. All of us were to travel from different cities, so our assembly point was Ahmedabad.

Somewhere around the midnight, we went to the railway station from the airport, to catch the Kutch Express to Bhuj. Safe as Gujarat is, this commute was no hassle at all.

Day 2

Next day morning, we alighted at the Bhuj station only to get welcomed by the White Rann Resort representative ready with a comfortable bus for riding us to their splendid resort in the white desert. Their hospitality impressed us everytime there on.

In about 2 hours we reached the resort. Everything else taken care of by the staff, we could freely move around and explore the resort designed in a classic Gujarati way.

The resort already had an eased out itinerary planned, all we had to do was to go with the flow.

The evening agenda was a peaceful encounter with the white desert. Hardly 5 minutes from the resort, the bus goes till half way, post that one can either walk up or take a camel cart till where the white desert starts from.

Rann of Kutch

Photo of Bhuj Railway Station, Railway Area, Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Sonam
Photo of Bhuj Railway Station, Railway Area, Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Sonam

The infinite sheet of white, the breeze, with a background score of Gujarati folk song and changing shades of the setting sun was an inexplainable experience. That, which must only be felt by being there.

In addition to the beauty that it is, what stands tall interestingly is the molecular structure of salt. Known as NaCl in chemistry, it was thought-provoking to see how a minute single particle of salt actually looks like.

It looks like "that is not the salt we eat!!??!!" :)

The molecular structure of salt (NaCl)

Photo of Rann of Kutch, Gujarat by Sonam

Unfortunately, or fortunately, it was windy during those days, so the water had covered most of the desert which prevented us from going much inside. But we could still experience how is it to stand on a lot of salt and some water.

Anyway, it is advised to wear shoes while going there as there might be some water in some parts of the desert.

As the sun went below the white horizon, we started walking back to the resort thinking how can there be so much white!

After the dinner, the resort arranges a cultural night under the starry sky. It literally was. With a lot of garba, lots of fun and slight chill in the air our day ended as we locked ourselves inside the warm bhungas.

The resort offers two types of accomotions: tents and bhungas. Bhungas are cylindrical rooms with conical roof tops. The construction style is unique to Gujarat owing to its high intensity earthquake risk.

We took a one night package, beaus of the time we had in hand, so the next day morning was our check-out but the itinerary had not ended yet.

After a sumptuous breakfast, the day plan was to visit two places: read on.

Day 3

Our first stop was the hamlet of Nirona. This little village is actually the home of a very unique art form called the Rogan painting. Rogan means oil in Persian. Only possible by experienced and skilled artists, this painting is done with thick needles, brightly colored castor oil seeds and the palm being the palette.

The credibility doesn't stop here. This painting was also presented to Mr. Obama by Mr. Modi during his visit to the US in 2014.

We were lucky to witness live Rogan painting being done by the artisans there, which makes into gorgeous bags, wallets, stoles and dress materials.

No matter where you go in Gujarat, shoppers will never get disappointed. There is always something for them, everywhere.

From Nirona, we travelled to the city of Bhuj. We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, after which we headed to a memorial that is bound to make every Indian proud - Vande Mataram Memorial, Bhujodi.

Bhujodi Vande Mataram Memorial

Photo of Nirona, Gujarat, India by Sonam

A careful replica of the Sansad Bhawan, the memorial is a living journey of India's freedom struggle from the revolt of 1857 right up to the country's Independence in 1947. Goosebumps is an understatement of the mix of feelings that touch your bones as you go through the episodes showcasing the valor of the then freedom fighters through effigies dramatized with lights and sound.

Note: Pl keep in mind, you are NOT allowed to take anything to eat inside the premises. And you CANNOT carry your bags, phones, wallets etc. inside the building. They do have a safe locker system there.

The memorial offers all the due respect to the people who have given their lives for the free India that it is today. And enhances the reverence one has towards Mahatama Gandhi, who is the son of that land.

Reliving the brave history of our nation was a perfect end to that day as it left us feeling privileged and proud to be called Indians.

As we bid good bye to our hosts (White Rann Resort reps), our cab was ready and waiting to take us to the surprise - Mandvi. From Bhuj, it is about 56 km.

Hardly have I seen or read Mandvi on a tourist's itinerary or recommendation. But after spending two days there, it compels me to question, why hadn't I?

Mandvi was a busy schedule - but a busy-ness that no one would like to avoid. On one hand, the joyous event of the bestie's wedding and on the other hand the impromptu plan of exploring the city.

Mandvi is really a small town located where the Rukamati River meets the Gulf of Kutch.

Day 4

Next day morning we visited the Mandvi beach. But before that we had hogged on the famous gujarati breakfast - fafda and jalebi.

Known for water sports, camel rides etc., the morning was absolutely calm at the beach for us to just hear the waves and the sun just enough for the needed morning warmth.

Like mentioned before, this state is a shopper-friendly state, so our evening was booked for the local market visit, window shopping and shopping.

Day 5

After a small morning ceremony, we headed to visit the royal palace on the beach - Vijay Vilas Palace. It is the famous summer palace of Jadeja Maharao of Cutch. The royal family of the Kutch state still uses the palace whenever they are in the city. The palace also houses a museum and one can witness the royalty by walking around the entire palace.

Vijay Vilas Palace

Photo of Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi Rural, Gujarat, India by Sonam

The palace also has a private beach that offers AC tented accommodation.

The red sand stone is beautifully carved into jaalis, jharokas and murals that make up this royal residence.

Closer look at the Palace

Photo of School Friends, Rann of Kutch, with a surprise called Mandvi attached! by Sonam

The time spent in Mandvi and the explorations that we did was the most refreshing and peaceful getaway we ever had.

The completion of the wedding ceremony called for our dispersion. And so we did with a lot of wonderful memories, discoveries and accomplishments.

And now we can say "humne kuch din guzaare Gujarat mein". Those "kuch din" were in the company of the specials of our lives, for a special reason, in the safest state of the utmost hospitable people, that has to its name royalty, bravery, art, culture and vibrancy.

Plan, go and "kuchh din to guzaaro Gujarat mein" :)