A trek up the Dhinodhar hills – an inactive volcano with quite a history!

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The Dhinodhar hills of Kutch, Gujarat happen to be one among the 20 most favorite trekking spots of India – so where are these hills? And what is it about these quaint, quietly abiding hills that draws so many people here every year? The trek is beautiful, for starters, and then there’s quite a lot of history to these hills too, connected to the Dhoramnath temple atop these hills and the Than monastery below them.

All about the trek

The scenic flora that surrounds these hills makes it one really beautiful trek. It’s quite an easy trek too, with a well-laid out path that is filled with white painted stones that lead up to the peak of the hill. The balsamic lava which has dried up here years ago has taken some interesting shapes and geometric patterns – into hexagonal pillars and rocks along the way up this hill.

If you are lucky, you can even get to spot some wild animals on your way up. It is said that there are plenty of leopards hiding in these hills and therefore, it is necessary to be careful if you are going all by yourself on the trek up the hill. You can even spot some sheep, dogs and many birds along the way up through your trek.

On the peak, along with a great view of the Rann, lies a temple that was built just a few years ago. It is the very place that a saint – Baba Dhoramnath is supposed to have meditated and the temple is to this day inhabited by many saints and sadhus. More saints and sadhus along with some beautiful temples are all seen at the much older Than monastery that is beneath the hill. In fact, you are going to be having to pass through this monastery even before you begin this trek.

The legend behind these hills

The legend of Baba Dhoramnath, the saint who meditated up on the hill for 12 years and then got enlightened went on to build the Than monastery beneath the hill. In fact, some stories say that the volcano that occurred on the hill was caused by the saint himself as a penance for all his sins. The monastery was built in the 12th century and has got a fort shaped structure with some temples within it. This really old monastery still thrives today with monks who live here and occasionally perform religious rituals within the complex.

Where are the Dhinodhar hills?

The Dhinodhar hills are located in the Kutch district of Gujarat in this tiny village – the Nani Aral village. It is about 75 kms from Bhuj along the Nakhtrana-Virani route. Once you get to these hills, there are about 300-500 steps that lead you to the top and the trek could take somewhere from half an hour to an hour depending on how fast you can get there.

Things to do around

The popular Kutch fossil park lies near to the hill. This fossil park is filled with stones, fossils and many other collectibles that date back to hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago. It is definitely worth paying a visit. The Bhuki river that flows by near the Dhinodhar hills is a treat to the eyes.

Cuisine on offer

Some yummy Gujarati cuisine can be sampled at one of the many restaurants that lie on the road from Bhuj to the Dhinodhar hills including the theplas, the many saags and snacks such as the kachori as well. You can in fact get to sample the Gujarati thali in all its splendor at some of these places. The snack Dabeli is especially popular in this area of Kutch.

When to go

The summers can be quite harsh in Gujarat and the monsoons quite wet, which makes November through March the best time to visit Dhinodhar hills especially since it happens to be a trek and you will have to spend most of your time outdoors to enjoy the hills and the desert around it.

Getting there

He closest villages to Dhinodhar hills is the Nani Aral village to which you can reach by local buses or taxis from Bhuj or Nakhatrana. Once you reach this village, the hills lie at the outskirts for which you can use your vehicle or the local buses. You can even hire a taxi.

To reach Nakhatrana, you can take a bus or a train. You can also reach here through a taxi or a vehicle of your own from many of the major cities and towns in Gujarat, Bhuj being the closest.

Getting around

Once you reach the Dhinodhar hills, there will be plenty of walking around to do so even if you get here through a bus or through a vehicle, it is only by walking that you can get around here.

Where to stay

There are some good places to stay in Nakhatrana. The Infinity Resort is a great place to stay and experience some traditional Gujarati-ness while there are other low-key places like fun and food to stay as well. For more places to stay in Nakhtrana, look up here.

Have you trekked up the Dhinodhar hills? Have you been to the Than monastery? You can share your experiences here.

Also, why should English readers have all the fun? Tripoto is now available in Hindi.

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