Day 6: Bhuj - Ajrakhpur - Rapar - Dholavira - Rapar - Bhuj Having had a rather tiring day 5, we were not too keen to start early the next day, and hence only left the hotel around 9. The plan for the day was to visit Dholavira and come back, which itself would take the whole day since Dholavira is a good 250 kms from Bhuj. However, Aarti had been dying to see some artisans at work and also get some shopping done, so we decided to halt first at a village called ‘Ajrakhpur’. ‘Ajrakh’ or hand-block printing is a native craft of Kachchh, and artisans practicing this craft were mostly found in village Dhamadka, some 50 kms from Bhuj. However, after the devastating earthquake in 2001, the village was almost entirely destroyed, and the government rehabilitated the Ajrakh artisans to a new village, named ‘Ajrakhpur’ after their craft. This is about 10 kms outside Bhuj on the Bhuj - Bhachau highway. As we entered the village, we stopped to ask someone about where to go to buy stuff, and he immediately pointed us to the house of Mohd. Musa. Once we reached his house, Aarti’s eyes widened to unimaginable proportions, and stayed that way for the next 1.5 hours till we left the village. He had one room full of dress material, suit pieces, sarees, and what not! Everything was pretty and colourful, and Aarti had a hard time deciding what to NOT buy! Once she did decide, Musa offered to show us his workstation, and we gladly accepted. It was indeed interesting to see the accuracy and speed with which Ajrakh artisans print material with hand blocks, and also all the different ‘natural dyes’ used, which Musa explained were made from all kinds of natural things like plants, spices, oils, etc. After a good look at the printing process and a nice photography session with the artisans, we decided that it was about time we left, or we’d have to chuck our plan of going to Dholavira. Aarti of course could have settled there, and pulling her away was indeed equivalent to torture for her. Thankfully, once we left the village, her eyes returned to normal size and her excitement on crossing the Greater Rann while going to Dholavira returned in full force! The left cut for Dholavira comes right after the Euro Multivision factory on the Bhuj - Bhachau highway, and one then comes on to a narrow but smooth single-laned road. From here, we started following the route outlined in Outlook Traveller’s Driving Holidays, and ended up taking a rather long route to R which went through several villages. We couldn’t find a place to stop for lunch, so settled instead for chips and namkeen bought from a roadside shop. Finally, around 2:30 pm, we hit the stretch of road right before Dholavira that crosses the Greater Rann. Needless to say, it was breathtaking, and the urge to drive on the vast white Rann was almost overpowering. Aarti had decided already that she wanted to explore the Rann on foot, and as soon as I parked on the side, she jumped off the car, and headed straight for the Rann. She’d hardly gone 20 feet when she realized that the Rann was indeed very, very marshy, and came dancing back, as is evident from the photograph below. Since we could not explore the Rann on foot, we decided to move on, and take some shots on our way back. We reached Dholavira around 3:30 pm after spending several minutes searching for the Harappan excavation site, which we thought was quite strange, given that it is the largest excavation of the Harappan valley civilization in India. We eventually came to the conclusion that the distance from Bhuj probably discourages people from visiting the place, and that when the road from Khavda to Dholavira is finally constructed, the place should be much better maintained. After looking at the museum where artifacts found from the excavation as well as the history was explained, the caretaker took us out to the excavation site. The elaborate water management system, and the pots, seals and jewellery of the Harappans left us amazed at the level of advancement of humans 5000 years ago! We left Dholavira around 4:30 pm, and then stopped for some shots on the Greater Rann stretch. Carefully navigating the marshy land, we set up our tripod, and took some couple shots. I also ventured out a bit to take some shots of the electricity poles which seemed curiously majestic in the otherwise barren terrain. After spending a good half an hour enjoying the beauty of the Rann and taking photographs, we set off for Bhuj. The return journey was tiring, but we were hell bent on having a non-veg meal on our last evening in Bhuj, and so went to Hotel Prince, right opposite our hotel, for dinner. Our Gujarat guide book had mentioned that it served non-veg fare as well. After an okay meal of fish and chicken, we literally dropped dead in our hotel.