"Kutch (Kachchh) nahi dekha to kuchchh nai dekha!" a.k.a "If you haven't seen kutch then you haven't seen anthing!"
I have been born and spend my childhood and most of my teen age in Bhuj. What I am going to write might not be considered as "A Trip", but I am writing this to help others who want to travel to kutch someday, sometime. It might sound biased but it's true that even if you spend a week in kutch you might miss a lot of place to visit. I have been in kutch for more than 20 years, yet I have not seen all. In this post I will be covering some of the most interesting, famous and places I have visited.
How to Reach:
First of all to visit any of these place, you have to reached to Bhuj or Gandhidham. I would suggest you to opt for Bhuj. Bhuj is the capital town of kutch. Also choosing bhuj allows you to visit some local tourist place I'll come to that in a while. Bhuj is a quite developed city, so you will not face any problem in finding hotel or food.
You can reach to Bhuj by Train, Bus (State or private, it's up to you), Flight (very less flight, mainly from/to Mumbai or Ahmedabad). Choosing a transportation depends on from where you live. The aerial distance from Bhuj to Ahmedabad is 299 km while the road distance between Bhuj to Ahmedabad is 337 km.By Train it is 359 Km. After this much information let us see the purpose of this article.
Where to Start:
If you have opt for bhuj for staying purpose. You must start from bhuj itself. There are number of tourist places in bhuj.
You wouldn't want to miss visiting this amazing museum with the largest existing collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions (Western Satraps ).The fee of visit is modest only Rs. 5. Visit duration is depend on you, but in normal situation you can complete you visit in 1-2 hour. Before visiting you must know about timing of it.
All days of the week except Wednesday : 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM3:00 PM - 5:30 PM (Closed on 2nd & 4th Sat.). See the following, how it looks from outside.
You can reach to this place by just walking from the museum. Aina Mahal is an 18th century palace. It is recommended for people who are interested in history. The fee of visit is Rs. 10. The visit duration would not take more that 2 hours. Timings are as follow:
All days of the week
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
It is called as Heart of Bhuj. It is in the center of the bhuj city. If you are fortunate then you might visit while it is full of water. There are many gardens around it. But the Khengar Park is one garden that will attract you the more because the garden is in the middle to this pond. There is no timings nor any kind of fee. I would suggest you to visit this place in morning or evening.
Swaminarayna Mandir (Temple)
Swaminarayan Mandir is a temple complex in Bhuj, Kutch district, Gujarat which is managed by Nar Narayan Dev Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a sect of Hinduism. The inauguration ceremony of the temple held from 15 to 23 May 2010. It is made up of white marble. After the earthquake of 2001 in bhuj, the temple was rebuild. No timing for this.
It was known for funeral place for maharaos of kutch. It is near to the Hamisar lake. Evening view is one of the best in bhuj. There are again no timings or fee.
On the eastern side of the Bhuj is a hill known as Bhujiyo Dungar, on which there is Bhujia Fort, that separates Bhuj city and Madhapar town. Recently the reconstruction of Bhujiyo Dungar is started. The government is trying to modify this place as tourist attraction. The construction is already started. The elevation of this hill is around 160 meter. You can view whole bhuj town from the hill.
It is a park that is situated in Madhapar. It is around 10 Kms from Bhuj city. People who are interested in indian art must visit this place. I would recommend you to visit this place in evening. When I visited last time there was no fee, but last time is way back. You might have to pay for it. There are not some real timing to visit, but park is open till 8 pm.
Now it's time to go outside of Bhuj
It is in Nakhtran. It a combination of park and temple. It is full of different statues of Indian Mythological God and goddess. It is around 43 kms from bhuj. There are numerous ways to reach there. You can use state bus transport or can have a private vehicle. Visiting in evening will be fruitful. Food and room for rent facility is provided here.
For more information you can visit official website: http://www.khetabapavithon.com/
Dholavira- A Metropolis of Harappan Civilization
It is inside an island called Khadir amidst the desolated salt plains of the Rann of Kutch. But it is so remote that it takes a long time to reach it even from Bhuj. It is around 250 kms from Bhuj.
You get buses from Bhuj all the time to a place called Rapar, which is the nearest big town and takes around three hours. From Rapar you get regular government as well as private buses that take more than two hours to reach Dholavira, which are actually a small village and mostly the last stop for the buses. You get buses from early morning till late evening.
On the other hand, if you are doing a standalone trip to Dholavira, you don’t have to go all the way to Bhuj. You can directly reach Bhachau on a train, and move to Rapar and so on. Check the map for a better understanding.
Suggested to Carry Pack Food. Visiting to Dholavira might take you whole day. I guess most of time in traveling.
Also know as The great Rann of Kutch. Arguably it is one of the most visited place in winter (mainly from December end January end). It is around 72 Kms from Bhuj. The Great Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India and the Sindh province of Pakistan. You can reach there by bus or private vehicle. My suggestion would be to visit via Bus. Many direct buses are available from bhuj to white rann.
This is one of the hottest areas of India - with summer temperatures averaging and peaking at 49.5 °C. Winter temperatures reduce dramatically and can go below 0 °C. So prepare you self according to atmosphere. Tropic of Cancer a few kms from Rann of Kutch.
Government of Gujarat host a annual 3 month of festival known as Rann Utsav (festival of the Rann). The festival usually held from November to February. Food and accommodation is provided, but pricing is too high. So, I suggest you that you can stay in any hotels in bhuj for comparatively cheaper price and almost same kind of facilities.
Sunrise and Sunset at white rann is most beautiful views. If you are visiting in odd days you should pack some food with you. You can spend you day in next location which I am going to mention next.
- Entry formalities at check-post at Bhirandiyara village
There is a Y Junction at a distance of 55 KM from Bhuj town. The straight road from Bhuj goes towards Kalo Dungar and left side road goes towards Hodka village and white desert ( white Rann ) 30 KM . This is a check post of Gujarat Police. This place is known as Bhirandiyara This is a Tourist facilitation center . You have to show your identity proof and pay the entry fee. Keep one copy of any identity proof of one of the member of your team. You have to fill your address details against each member including your driver.
Per head entry fee is Rs 100 /- & Child is Rs 50/- Four wheeler entry fee is Rs 50/-
- Entry Check post at White desert
Here you have to submit your entry permit and enter details in a register. On return from White desert you can collect these permits from here. From here a 4 KM road will take you inside the white rann.
Kalo Dungar (Black Mountains):
It is highest point (462 m) in kutch district. A narrow road climbs up the hill and there is temple of Duttatarya at the top. Beyond the temple there are two viewpoints give the unprecedented view of white Rann . These two viewpoints are main attraction of Kalo dungar. No accommodation is available at black hill but free food is supplied at temple. Other than temple you would not get any food nearby. There is no fee to visit Kalo Dungar.
It is around 95 kms from Bhuj. The nearest town is Khavda. The buses generally go no further than Khavda. You can still hitchhike using local vehicles but may be difficult if you are not used to the scorching sun of the western India. The best is of course if you have your own vehicle or otherwise you can hire cabs from Bhuj.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
This temple in around 24 kms from bhuj. It is in Nakhatrana. There is a large park in this complex of temple. You can visit anytime here. This temple has a canteen so food is not a problem. You can spend a quality time here.
As kutch is surrounded by arabian sea so there are many beaches. This is one of the most famous beaches in Kutch. It is around 60 kms from bhuj. You can reach to Mandvi via bus from bhuj. Accommodation is provided here by different hotels. Restaurants, Horse ride, Camel ride etc. are the types of entertainment. You can spend your evening at seashore.
Vijay Vilas Palace
It is one of the most famous palaces in kutch. Vijay Vilas Palace or Mandvi Palace, 8 km from Mandvi, was a residence of the erstwhile rulers of Kutch. It’s an elegant structure, not in use, built in the early 20th century by the rulers of Bhuj. The shooting of many scenes and song of hit Bollywood film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was done at this palace. It is almost the same distance from bhuj as mandvi beach.
They charges Rs 20 per person and Rs 50 extra if you wish to carry a camera inside (Totally worth it memories are more important than money). Very much recommended for history buff people. The land around the palace is a small reserve forest with a nilgai population.
All days of week open
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial
It is build by government of gujarat in memories of freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma who was born in Mandvi. It was build on the concept of India House London. The Memorial’s objective is to pay tribute to the contribution of Shyamji Krishna Varma and also to educate the young generation about those great Indians who sacrificed everything for the country’s freedom. Visiting here is like you are visiting some old county in England. It is nearly 15 k.m. away from Mandvi Kutch.
Visiting timing: 10 AM to 6 PM
Mata no madh (Maa Ashapura Devi Temple)
Mata no Madh is a village in Lakhpat Taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat, India. It is mainly known for Ashapura Temple. People use to travel from different parts of india by cycling or even walking. It is 95 km from bhuj and still people walk from bhuj to mata no madh every year. The image of Ashapura Mata in the shrine is a red-painted stone, about six feet high and six feet broad at the base, narrowing to a point in a shape, with some rough likeness to a human form.
By using state or private transport you can reach there. There are basically two temples one is famous and other is not. I have been to both. There is no problem of food. There are many small scale hotels which provides food on reasonable amount.
Also known as Narayansar. It is a village and place of pilgrimage for Hindus on the Kori Creek. It is located in Lakhpat taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat, India. It is around 152 Kms from bhuj. In same village you can visit to Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary which is famous for red antelopes or chinkaras.
According to Hindu theology, there are five sacred lakes; collectively called Panch-Sarovar(Lake):
These famous Sarovars are Bindu Sarovar (Sidhpur, Gujarat ) Mansarovar ( Tibat -China ) , Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar ( Hampi , Karnataka ) and Pushkar Sarovar ( Rajasthan ). While entering to the Narayana Sarovar town there are welcome arches and you can see salt desert on both side of the road.
Opposite to the temple there is a hall where free food is served. A big hall is used to serve food. Roti, Rice , Dal & Subjee is served and at the end you can drink chas ( Curd water drink ) . The temple visiting time is:
6.00 AM to 1.00 PM 4.00 PM and closes at 8.45 PM
Koteshwar- Last Destination of western India
Last but certainly not the least in my list is Koteshwar. It is a small village and the location of an ancient Shiva temple. It is the place where India's land border ends. If someone would ask me one place to visit, that place would be Koteshwar for me.
It is around 154 kms from bhuj. You can reach by state or private transport or even you can have own vehicle. While talking about accommodation facility, there is a dharmshala between koteshwar temple and narayan sarovar.
You should pack some food before leaving because food is only provided at narayan sarovar. After evening Arati at the temple the area is closed for visitors. Before that try to enjoy sunset from the temple top.
These are only some of the places to visit in kutch. There are whole lot more. I didn't included because of lack of knowladge of them and also I might haven't visited. Some other places to visit are:
- Mundra City
- Banni Grasslands Reserve
- Little Rann Wild Ass Sanctuary
- Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary
- Marine National Park
And list goes on.
Hope this would helped you.