Upon Reaching Bhuj, we talked to some local people and enquired about places to explore. Feedback that we received for Home cottages at Rann(Dhordo Village) was not so good. So we decided to have stay at Bhuj only. Then we went(by running autos-INR 10/head) to taxi Union at Juna Bus Stand where we enquired for Taxi as syncing with bus is very difficult there. It was 2200 for "Bhuj-->Rann of Kutch , Kalo Dungar , India Bridge-->Bhuj". He told INR 2500 but upon negotiation we settle for 2200 INR. You guys can use your negotiation skills for better deal. After having some snacks as Breakfast (Gujarati-Jalebi-Fafda, Dhokla) we left for Kutch at 10:00 am.
Kalo Dungar: First we went to Kalo Dungar(kalo is Black and Dungar is Mountain). It is known to be the highest of Kutch with acclivity of 462 m which offers a great panoramic view of White Desert with a temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya.
A Panoramic View from Kalo Dungar.
History:As per the legend and local beliefs, when Lord Datatreya walked on earth he rested on these black hills where he encountered a bunch of hungry jackals to whom he offered his body as food. As these jackals started feeding on the lord, his body kept regenerating. To mark this phenomenon a temple was built honoring the sacrifice of Lord Dattatreya.
On the way, there are some portion of road which has magnetic attraction and one can witness the vehicle moving against the gravitational force. The intensity is less than that of Leh Magnetic Hill.
Kutch: Needless to say, Kutch is famous for its White Desert. Rann in Gujarati language means Desert. The place gives you splendid spectacular view of White salt all around. We spend some quality time here by listening to folk music sung by some group of people, Camel Ride and eating some ice cream. There is a tower in between White Desert and one can go at the top of tower and can watch most beautiful sunset. The sunset was mesmerizing, beyond words. One can see the transformation of the sun which shines bright and high during the daytime, slowly starts to mellow down and descend at the onset of the evening. Soon the color of the sand started changing from white to orange to dark as the sun settled down.
Sunset at White Desert with some Flying Kites.
After sunset, we did some local shopping at Dhordo and finally left for our Hotel in Bhuj. We had dinner at Neelam Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Bhuj. Highly recommended.
This day was going to be hectic. as we have to cover around 350-400 kms in one day. So we left our hotel by 8 am. We took the same driver and we settled for INR 3200 for Bhuj--> Mata no Madh-->Lakhpat Fort-->Narayan Sarovar-->Koteshwar Mahadev-->Mandvi-->Bhuj.
Then we left for Lakhpat Fort. There is a small Gurudwara where you can have "Prasada" obviously for free. The fort is almost abandoned with dilapidated buildings, but it give good views and is a picturesque place.
After that we head to Narayan Sarovar but as it was January, so there was no water inside Sarovar. 2 kms from Narayan Sarovar, is Koteshwar Mahadev Temple. The only point that breaks the skyline from the flat brown horizon to the east and the wide blue(ocean) horizon to the west is the point of the Koteshwar Temple, the last outpost of human construction at the westernmost limit of India.
Story: The story of Koteshwar begins with Ravana, who won a boon from Lord Shiva for an outstanding display of piety. This boon was the gift of a Shiva linga of great spiritual power, but which Ravana, in his arrogant haste, accidentally dropped and it fell to earth at Koteshwar. To punish Ravana for his carelessness, the linga turned into a thousand identical copies. Unable to distinguish the original, Ravana grabbed one and departed, leaving the original one here, around which Koteshwar Temple was built.
After Koteshwar, we left for Mandvi via "Nalia" route. This circuit provides the best scenic views. You will come across wind mills at many places ,since these machines occupy vantage points, it is always a beautiful sight. The backdrop of mountains made the setting even more charming.
It was around 4 pm and we reached Vijay Vilas palace. This is an amazing depiction of fusion architecture which has inspired the legendary Bollywood Movie – Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. We spend around half an hour here and then finally left to Mandvi Beach.
Wind-mills, which line the horizon of Mandvi, offer a spectacular view from the Mandvi sea-beach. The Wind mills projects running in this beach was Asia's 1st Wind-Mills Projects in 1983. This place also offers a splendid view of the sunset.
Sunset @ Mandvi
We had )dinner at Osho Restaurant, Good place to have dinner after an exhausting day. Then we left for Bhuj which is around 60 kms from Mandvi and we reached Bhuj by 9:30 pm.
This day we planned to explore Bhuj. We visited some places (in order)-