Landing up in the White Rann on a No Moon's Day when the rest of the world waits for a Full moon to experience its grandeur.... Waking up before dawn and driving up a hill to watch a Sunrise....and as it actually dawns , dawning onto you ....you have arrived at a Sunset view point.....Our trip to Kutch made me realize ....it's not only fun doing things the "Topsy Turvy" way.....it gives you an opportunity to become an explorer in the true sense as you search for beauty where others don't seek.
When our friends from Himachal showed keen interest to visit Gujarat.... Kutch topped the list of places to visit followed by Gir....So off we were - The 5 musketeers on a super memorable "Topsy Turvy" trip across Gujarat.
Day 01 - Great Rann of Kutch
Close to 490 kms from Vadodara the road journey is butterly smooth, and if you have time on hand you could break it by taking an overnight halt at the Little Rann of Kutch on the way. We didnt have extra time and thus drove straight down to the Great Rann to the little hamlet Bhirandiyara. Kutch is dotted with little villages that boast of handicrafts unique to their village because of the skill passed on from generation to generation. Bhujodi for textiles, Nirona for Rogan Art, Ajrakhpur for ajrakh work, Dhordo for embroidery....similarly the village we stayed in Bhirandiyara, was know for its fresh " Maavo", milk reduced to a thick fudge like consistency and sweetened with sugar, best eaten hot.
As we reached around 3.30 the villager managing the bhunga homestays escorted us into our little bhungas. Bhungas are traditional houses unique to the Kutch region in Gujarat. The houses are circular walled with thatched roof. It is constructed using locally available materials like clay, bamboo, timber, etc. The exterior walls are adorned with colourful paintings while the interiors are decorated with exquisite mud and mirror work. They are known for their structural stability in earthquakes and for being climate responsive... and they surely were climate responsive - cooling down in the afternoons and warming up during the night.
Somehow there was a lull in the air when we reached our homestay and soon got to know that the sister of the villager running this village homestay was critically ill. In the evening they apologetically conveyed to us that the kitchen would not function that night but allowed our friend to cook a pack of maggi for their 11 years old son. Our meal was arranged with a large group travelling in 2-3 buses with their own caterers. I must say it was one of the most unforgettable meals during our kutch trip - super chaotic as hundreds queued up to fill their plates, being served all that we would least expect and want to have during our stay in kutch.....half baked/ unbaked pizza instead of "Rotlo", tomato soup instead of buttermilk, and regular dal and rice instead of kutchi kadhi khichadi....
Having been the trip planner was initially disappointed to have our Himachali friends' Gujarat experience start on this note.....but soon got convinced about their sporting attitude as more topsy turvy events followed which we all thoroughly enjoyed rather than fretting over.
Although we visted the Great Rann at Dhordo the first evening we reached, with the Mela and all, we all were keen to visit a more untouched and unexplored part of the Rann......or rather I would say, not contaminated by human touch, thanks to the loads of plastic we leave behind as souvenirs on these mesmerizing vast white expanses of the salt desert.