Great Rann of Kutch
I was in class 5 when I heard about The Rann of Kutch in my geography class for the first time. It was a great experience to see it for real. The little desert called the salt desert is a salt marsh located near the Great Rann of Kutch in Kutch district, Gujrat. The salt desert is something that you must see at least once in your lifetime. It is a harmony of salt and stones collected together and surrounded by the sea on one side and the desert on the other. It has a bizarre charm to it. It holds unexpected surprises, which will definitely humble your unquenchable traveller’s spirit.
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.
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.
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.
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
The endangered Indian Wild Ass calls this sanctuary its home—the only place on earth it’s found. Other than that, the area has blackbucks, hyenas, wolves, insects, frogs, and crocodiles. For bird watchers, it will be a delightful experience since 75,000 birds nest here. From the European Blue-tailed bee-eater to the Egyptian ceraneous vulture, the variety of migratory birds is astounding. Then there are ibis, spoonbills, shanks, shrikes, and bulbuls.The Details: The nearest airports are Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and Bhuj, while the nearest railway station is Dhrangadhra. You can also drive down from Ahmedabad to Dhrandgadhra (two hours) and stay at wildlife photographer Devjibhai Dhamecha’s homestay. Entry fee for Indians on weekdays is Rs 250 and on weekends is Rs 310; additional Rs 100 for camera.
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.
One of my friends recommended this restaurant. And trust me, this small eatery offers a long list of dishes which is well worth it. Just a walking distance (around 2km) from Mandvi beach, this restaurant is located opposite Shree Swami Narayan Temple, an extremely beautiful and must-visit place.How to Get There –By Road: State transport buses and various types of private vehicles including jeeps depart from Bhuj to near Mandvi beach that takes more than 1 hour. Jeeps can be hired in town for local excursions.