It is said that whatever happens, happens for a reason. And so I came to realise, after my plans of a ride to Varkala (in Kerala) fell through. I went on the hunt of a new travel destination, without caring how much it would cost. While browsing the 'Rides Calendar' on www.royalenfield. com, I came across an organisation called 'The Crazy Rider' which provided an option to rent a Royal Enfield bike and ride through the Rann of Kutch. Fate had led me to Kutch, and I clutched at it with all my might.
THE WHITE DESERT
It was the Valentine's Day weekend, and I was on my way to Ahmedabad (from Bengaluru). There were 18 other riders with me; people who had travelled from Pune, Vadodara and Delhi just to get a taste of Kutch. On the first day, we had breakfast and got ready to ride 420 km to Kalo Dungar, the Black Hill. Itâ€™s the highest point in Kutch, and lies about 90 km from Bhuj.
It is probably the only place in Kutch from where a panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch is noticeable. The mission was to reach before sunset or one would not be able to appreciate the ravishing and the alluring scenery of the setting sun. Most of us reached the destination in time, even though the ride had been delayed due to unavoidable reasons. Once we did reach Kalo Dungar, we were mesmerised by the beauty in front of us.
The white desert behind the hills became more beautiful with the dusk falling in. After spending a few hours at Kalo Dungar, we headed for Dhordo which was 50 km away. We checked in to The Rann Home Stay Resort, freshened up, had dinner and visited the nearby White Desert to enjoy its glimmering and glittering beauty under the luminescence of the full moon. The experience was so overwhelming that it cannot be translated into words.
THE LAST TOWN
Next morning, we geared up for our next destination--Lakhpath, which was 180 km away. Lakhpat is the last town of western India on the Indo-Pak border, and is enclosed by long 18th-century fort walls. The ride was tiring due to narrow roads which were in poor conditions, but the joy of seeing the majestic Lakhpath Fort made us forget all the fatigue.
The humongous pillars at the entry of the fort, the White Desert and the winds blowing at fast speeds were heavenly sights and sounds. It gave us the energy to ride further to Mandvi, 160 km from there. Mandvi, once a major port of the Kutch, has a 400-year-old shipbuilding industry that still makes small wooden ships. On reaching Mandvi at 8 pm, we checked into Hotel Kalash and crashed for the night.
We rose with the morning sun, enjoying the view of countless seagulls flying over the Mandvi beach. Next, we visited the shipyard on the banks of the Rukmavati river. One couldn't help but admire the craftsmanship behind the countless boats and ships.
Our next destination was Dholavira, a 280km ride, reachable via the beautiful and smooth NH-41. As advised by our lead biker, we ensured to top up our fuel tanks at the last petrol pump at Rapar so as to ride 90kms to Dholavira and back to Rapar without any trouble. Dholavira, an ARCHEOLOGICAL site and one of the five largest Harappan sites, was discovered in 1967-1968 and has been under excavation since 1990.
Despite this fact, not many tourists know about this place and of all the people visiting Kutch, only a few end up in Dholavira. We saw heaven as we rode crossing an 8 km long bridge on Khadir Bet road with the infinite White Desert on both our sides. An hour later we checked into the only home stay in that area, with around 10 twin sharing rooms with an artistic and elegant construction style. After a quick lunch at 3 pm, a few of us rushed to the excavation.
In the evening we rode to the most mesmerising and enthralling place we would get to see on the trip--the White Desert in Dholavira. Only us bikers were there at the spot, since the place is totally unexplored and the route is hidden and unknown to tourists. All of us rode our bikes onto the white crystals of the desert, being careful about the tyres sinking in and avoiding any risk of going deep into the desert and getting lost.
We clicked photographs with the shining desert and the sunset in the background. It was Valentine's Day and love was in the air, but for us the love was for riding. The solace and tranquillity of the place was immense. Night had fallen, the moon was up, the stars were shining bright in the clear sky and we, in our silence, were enjoying it all. Around 8 pm, we rode back to our resort and slept after a heavy dinner only to wake up early in the morning to begin our return journey.
This post was originally published on India Today.