One of Gujarat's most beautiful places, Kutch is nature's masterpiece. The vast barren land with spurts of colour is an enchanting sight and the White Desert, as it's fondly called, is what travellers' dreams are made of. The Rann of Kutch is filled with sea water during monsoons and with salt water, immediately after. Only on a few islands will you find signs of vegetation enough to sustain the life here. The Rann is made of almost 16 tribes and most tribes have distinct cultures, different languages and a way of life that is drastically different. During your trip here, do make sure to spend time with the tribes here. Not only will you learn a little more about the locals here but the experience tends to become quite memorable. Do visit Aina Mahal, Bhuj Museum, Prag Mahal and Mandvi beach. For adventure enthusiasts, do try the camel safari, stay at the camps under the stars and experience everything one usually doesn't. Of course, a visit here during Rann Utsav is unmatched. For shopaholics, there is a plethora of goodies to take back home, including silver jewellery, handicrafts, bandhani and applique work. Do choose your stay option carefully since that will add to your experience here in Kutch. Numerous options have been added to this town's growing list of hotels and you can easily choose the kind of holiday you want.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Kutch is from October to March
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
Great Rann of Kutch
At 5.30 am we fought all the battles to get up early in the morning as we just had 4 hours of sleep. I was thinking to skip the sun rise but said to myself "You never know when you gonna come back here" so just get up and go for the sunrise". As we got out from the room, we were freezed as the cold was unbearable and to the max. Still, we managed to go to the white desert. We were eagerly waiting for the sun rise and then we got a mesmerizing view of the dawn with the sunrise..."Goodness, couldn't believe my eyes. We got it captured.
Yet another hillock that overlooks the Great Raan of Kutch, this place is often referred to as Black Hill. Hence the name, Kalo Dungar. One will find the sacred Dattatreya temple atop the hill which is quite a distance to cover. Along ones way, uphill one is introduced to a number of ravines and canyons that remind one of the forces of nature that are at contact play. The area is covered in greenery and moss. One is sure to enjoy the clean air and sacred atmosphere at the temple atop Kalo Dungar.
This beach at Ahmedpur is considered to be the best in all of Gujarat and is a great place to vacation, soak in the sun while lying on its sandy beaches. The water is fine for wading or swimming and one will spot a number of sand castles being built by kids all along the beach. One can also make the most of the water sports like skiing, parasailing, surfing, water scooters and speed boats that are available at the beach. Indeed, Mandvi Beach is a great place for one to vacation and has become a favourite spot with the locals and as well as the tourists.
Prag Mahal Palace
We started walking towards Aina Mahal. Instead of taking an auto, I always believe its better to walk and take in the street life of any city. We decided to go to Prag Mahal first and the palace was one of its kind. The 2001 Gujarat earthquake severely damaged the palace. Later the palace was burgled with thieves stealing antiques worth millions. Today, the palace is in a ghostly state. The beautiful picturesque stairway leads to the corridor which opens into a large hall with huge broken chandeliers hanging low. There are two rooms along the hall open for visitors which were in decay state. The palace indeed was shaken to the core by the earthquake and here lay the evidence of the catastrophe.
Vijay Vilas Palace
Water Channels, lush garden and marble fountains adorn the exteriors of the Vijay Vilas Palace that was constructed in the year 1920 A.D by craftsmen from Jaipur. The influence of the Rajput style of architecture can be seen at this place that is resplendent with its towering Bengal domes, windows with coloured glass, humungous extended porches. The palace has a private beach that is well maintained. It is a popular tourist spot and is often used to film Bollywood movies as well. The palace can be found in Mandav and is a great example of exquisite craftsmanship down the ages.
Narayan Sarovar temple (5 km from Koteshwar)houses innumerable deities but the main shrine is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Mythology says that the holy water of River Saraswati, all the way, reached to fill the lake, thus sacred. The water didn’t look clean, people were taking a dip in the sarovar. You can spot the board reading 'Tropic of cancer while passing through Bhuj - Narayan Sarovar - Koteswar route and dont forget to taste Dabeli of Kutch.
Among other places to pay visit, Aina Mahal should not be missed out while touring BHUJ!The palace remains closed from 12 to 3pm for lunch. A visiting fee of 30rs is required.The palace from the outside does not represent any kind of grandeur,which efficiently conceals the exquisite beauty that lies inside. Built during Lakhpatji's reign, the master was specially commissioned to design this palace, which owed all its materials to have been developed in the Indian soil.On entry one will be treated with a visual sight of a huge chariot on display, a 14 feet long painting on a single canvas, a weighing machine of those times, among other crafts.Proceeding to the main area or darbar, its magnificence on display! Hanging candle chandeliers, an ivory throne on an elevated platform, a dented space surrounding it which is supposed to be filled with water to keep the place cool. On special occasions, the chandeliers are filled with colored water bringing the darbar alive.
It is a festival that goes on for about 2 months showcasing the beauty, culture & traditions of Kutch & Gujarat. The true essence of the festival begins at night with endless dancing and music at the beautiful Rann of Kutch. It also offers a variety of activities like camel riding, bicycling etc.
Next Stop was Lakhpat fort; Lakhpat apparently a ghost town, was a major port town in the 1800s. After many wars and natural calamities, Lakhpat nearly ceased to exist and dangerously remains so. Although it has only a few hundred inhabitants; it plays an important role when it comes to border security. The Border Security Force(BSF) continuously patrols these areas and makes sure our borders are safe. Don't forget to visit the Tomb of Pir Ghaus Muhammad, a Sufi saint who was believed to posses supernatural powers. Also nearby is the Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib, it is believed that Guru Nanak stayed over here on his way to Mecca.But what i loved the most about this place was the view it offered from the fort walls. The pictures don't do justice to the beauty which was in front of us. It needs to be seen to be believed. :)
Chhari Dhand Bird Sanctuary
You’ll be amazed to know that this seasonal desert wetland attracts nearly 200 species of migratory birds every year in the monsoon and winter seasons, thanks to its shallow waters. Some of the birds you will spot here are flamingos, cranes, storks, and spoonbills.The Details: Chari Dhand is in Banni Grasslands, located 60 kilometres from Bhuj. Book your stay at Regenta Resort (royalorchidhotels.com) in Bhuj.Coastal Area
Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Bhuj
Swaminarayan templeThis new temple built according to Swaminarayan Sampradaya stands bathed in pure white marble and gold and is a delight to behold. The intricate carvings inspired by episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata and the architecture never cease to amaze you .The environment of the temple, is neat and clean ,kept us engrossed devouring the beauty of this place.
Wild Ass Sanctuary
Spreads over 5,000 sq kms, Little Rann of Kutch is also known as 'Survey Number Zero' because no land survey has been conducted here since the end of British rule in India. With its unique geography of a vast desolate landscape, this entire vast barren land is suitable for nothing but salt mashing.This is the land of #Agariya community, who has lived here for centuries, knowing only one means of livelihood-- salt production.And given the fact that 76% of the total produce in the entire India comes from here, it is very likely that the salt you're eating in your home everyday has been produced by one of these people, belonging the lovely Agariya community.Wonder how much they earn for this? 6 thousand Rupees a month or 72 thousand an year, yet when you visit their home, they never let you return without a cup of tea (which ofcourse comes without milk) and a sweet guided tour to their salt farm!
The ruins of Dholavira, one of the two largest Harappan sites in India, are an archeological site located in Kutch, Gujarat. This historical site is located in the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and is surrounded by the great expanse of Rann of Kutch. It houses some of the most amazing artefacts of that time. Various excavations here by the Archaeological Survey of India have unearthed antiquities such as beads, seals, gold, silver, animal bones, terracotta ornaments and pottery. The ruins of the Harappan civilisation narrate the story of its rise and fall in seven stages, from the very beginning to the absolute end. Here one can also see the world famous planned water conservation systems as well. Dholavira can be reached by taking a cab from Bhuj, which lies about 250 km from here. A historical marvel in every right, Dholavira will definitely take you on an amazing ride through our rich and marvellous past.
Mandvi and Bin Harif dabeliwala
Heading down the narrow lanes of Bhuj, making your way past the Bus stand onto the street which houses a host of food vendors; you will come across ‘Mandvi’ and ‘Bin Harif’ dabeli walas. The shops have benches to sit inside, while the dabeli makers work on their trade, spurning out one delicious dabeli after another. Dabeli is essentially a traditional Kutchi snack, a sweetish-soft bun like bread filled with a flavoured mashed potato filling, which is spiced up with a thin sauce (chatni) and peanuts. While it is available in a fried form; where the bread (paav) is shallow friend onto a flat pan in butter; the bread is served as is in its most original form. Both the Dabeli vendors recently won an award for the best dabeli vendors in Bhuj, on a national food show named ‘Highway on my Plate’. While the dabeli served by ‘Bin Harif’ is a bit pungent on the spices, with the typical muslim flavours hitting you with each bite; the ‘Mandvi’ one is more easy on your palate in terms of spices, and a bit sweeter as well. The Mandvi once would suit a wider palate, but the sharp flavour on the Bin Harif one made it for me; though I would say it is not for one who would be affected by spices.
On way back we decided to stop by in Khavda to take some portraits of villagers. Here, the men usually wrap a colorful scarf in their necks and seen wearing kurta's. People of Kutch look at you with an undisturbed gaze, the confidence in their eyes is applaudable, maybe because they are so used to getting clicked by tourists all the time. Later, we went to Gandhinugam village where there is a huge set up of textile and craft items handmade by the villagers. We had the fortune of meeting Khumbha Bhai's super sweet family. His warm hearted kids and wife allowed us to have a look at their mud work inside their Bhunga, chatted with us for one long hour and offered us to stay with them over the night. I took photographs of the dressed up Kutchi Family and they didnt back out from any of it.