Finally!! @ Mandvi & Rann....

25th Mar 2016

The Rann of Kutch!

Photo of Finally!! @ Mandvi & Rann.... by Dixit Mehta

Finally!!! After longest planning of 4 years, finally I landed up in “Rann” The journey began post Holi (RangPanchmi – 24th March afternoon) by the most comfortable mode of Transport (Railway).

Yes it was 24th March & I was warned by each & everyone who knew I was taking risk of travelling to Rann in March ending. The temperature is supposed to shift its gear & go above 40 degrees. And I was there with no precautions (whatsoever)... No Full sleeves T-shirts, No Denims, No Sunscreen lotions & blah blah blah... I was in my most comfortable clothes – Shorts Tees & Glares!!

As expected Train journey was at it best with my 3 other friends... We played cards (Dehla Pakad :-P or commonly known as Mendi Coat) after ages, had all possible cheat meal & yaaa Ice-cream @ Ahmadabad station @ 12:30 pm was icing on cake!! It’s a sin if you are travelling & Ahmadabad station falls in your journey & you don’t get down @ station & have Ice-cream (whatever time it is). I have a memory of almost 4 years back while travelling to Jodhpur, it was 3:00 am when train reached @ Ahmadabad station but still we were there to have Ice-cream!

It was 7:00 am & we were at BHUJ” Station before time by 20 mins. Travelling by “Toofan” (14 seater car by Force Motors) was fantastic experience to reach Nagalpur @ my Friend’s Home (native). Though it was One & half hour journey (60 kms) but it was super fun. The lonely roads, no traffic, no signal nothing... We had lot of discussion in train whether to directly hit Rann of Kutch or go to Nagalpur (a small village in Mandvi) & explore Mandvi. And Finally with lot of if’s & but’s we unanimously decided to explore Mandvi first.

The exploration began with having one of the best & cheapest (Rs. 5 for Full) Tea by a roadside vendor (commonly known as tapir). Obviously one glass was not enough to give a kick, so we had 2 rounds of Tea. As it’s a small village, there were no Restaurants. So we decided to taste simple Guajarati Thali @ Bhoojnalay. The decision proved right to taste simple food as it was its best!!

After Lunch we started our Journey to explore Mandvi by hiring a Tam-Tam (Auto) of ‘Bitto Cha-cha’ for Full day. I had the list of places to visit (obviously got from Internet). There were around 10 places to visit.

  • We hit the first place in the list – ‘Shyamji Krishna Varma Smarak (monument).’ It is build in memory of scholar and freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma. He established “India House” in Britain to support Indian student going UK for studying way back in 1850’s, eventually India House become a foreign hub of nationalist activity for freedom of India. Smarak has a museum in which you’ll find his story & pics! It was kind of okay; I actually found it was more of marketing gimmick of our current Prime Minister to gain Popularity for himself as there are lot of pics of him which will make you to think this way. And then there was a replication of India House Building next to museum which had good library & a mini Theatre which shows Documentary of freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma. This Monument is a tribute to him as he is a ‘SON of Soil.’ Overall the structure is nicely build & maintained well. When you enter you won’t believe you are in Gujarat & that too on 25th March (when it is supposed to be super Hot) but to our surprise we found the location was very cool & windy.
  • Kasi Vishvanath Beach was the biggest surprise for me as I thought Gujarat is the ‘Dry state’ & Beach was sounding unbelievable for me. But my thinking was proven wrong. It seems this is the unexplored beach by Tourist & for me it was ‘Blissful Ignorance’ as it was very clean & quiet beach.’

It’s hard to believe as the watch was showing time 2:30 & still the weather was so pleasant. That was the best Moment for me as I am a Beach bum. I thanked our Auto rider (Bitto Cha-cha) as this was not part of our - To-do-List.’

  • Swaminarayan Temple at Mandvi though the temple was closed still the scenic temple gave the peace & blessings.
  • Vijay Vilas Palace: I guess this is the biggest centre of attraction for Tourists, but it didn’t excite me... This palace has been used for shooting in many Bollywood Movies. We had good time though clicking some pictures & good view from top of the palace. I still fail to understand why the authorities are charging Money for Entry & the worst part is you need to pay if you want to carry your Camera & Mobile
  • “KUYDI”, Talav Gate (Public Bath System) by the name it sounded something to explore but it was a flop show for me. It was actually a Public Bath System.
  • Topansar Lake very laid back lake or may be our timing was wrong... May be in the evening, this place would be to look out for.
  • Light House structure newly constructed after earthquake & looks pretty cool from outside but you are not allowed to enter L
  • The Wind Farms Beachor Mandvi Beach: I was very much excited before reaching there as this was a Beach’ & to add it has Windmills also.

Though it was a beach, it didn’t give me satisfaction. It was super crowded considering Friday evening. There was some meeting / forum (‘Strisamelan’ as we used to call in our college days :-P) was going on in between the Beach of 100+ women’s & to make it more worse I got a call from one of prospective customer who was suppose to give Order of worth Rs. 25 lacs. I was in no mood to discuss Business on Beach (not even in my wildest dreams) but can’t help it; I had to oblige by answering the call as Finally it was customer & ‘Customer is always King’ for Salesmen. {Actually no Salesmen would dare to go on vacation during March end, but I have the balls to do it & I think I took the right decision to take the benefit of long (Holiday) weekend :-P }

Let me come to the Beach, yeah  the Beach was overcrowded & the Windmills were not working which added more fire to piss me off.

  • Traditional ship building Engineering at its Best’... but mind you this Engineering had no lavish office, no computer, no software’s , no division of work & so on so forth, but still this Engineering will mesmerise you & I am sure you will have no words to appreciate the craftsmanship of the GENIUS Carpenters who would be hardly qualified or literate.

It takes 2 years of sweat, hardships & pain to build one ‘SHIP’ which costs in 2-3 cr & still are in demand even in this generation. Most of these Ships are exported to Dubai.

  • Bazaar Finally we decided to check out the local Bazaar to pick something. I didn’t find anything to shop or actually we hardly spent anytime in Bazaar. We bought the special Khari from one of the shop which is famous in Mandvi for Khari. After good lunch it was a time to check out some street food & we ate the Best of ‘DABELI’ & than Tea with Khari.

That’s how our long day was ended & waiting for the most adventurous day to come, the place where I was only thinking to go from last 4 years.....

Day – 2

After the long discussions finally we decided to visit “Rann of Kutch” on 2 wheeler. It was 140 kms one way from Nagalpur to Rann & another 70 kms (return) was a place called KALA Dongar (Black mountain).

Our day started with mouth watering Breakfast - Fafda & Jalebi, Sevkhamani , Samosa Chaat & Tea.

It was one of the best experience & right decision to skip cab & ride all the way. It took more time than expected as the route was unknown & you will hardly find someone on the road whom you can ask the route... Actually the route was pretty simple but still we wanted to double check we are on the right track.

As ridding to Rann was not in the plan, we didn’t have any gears to ride almost 300 kms a day, but still we managed with whatever we could use to cover our Face.

Shockingly not even once we felt like we are riding in Gujrat in March end, the weather was so pleasant... It seems we were luck...

The first landmark in our ride – ‘TROPIC OF CANCER’

It seems Gujarat Government is in the process of making money from Tourism. You have to pay Entry fee to visit Rann of Kutch. Thought the Rann Festival was over long back but the authorities still wanted to make money.... Strange...

After doing formalities of Toll we decided to have a break & grab some tea & have some bite. We visited one kind of Dhaba but Food was not served there (only tea & snack). We found local guys playing carom there & what we witnessed was “Unreal Engineering”. To make their carom board smooth they have put customised acrylic sheet to fit the carom. No need of powder or lamp to make your carom smooth.

Also got the chance to ride “Diesel Engine BULLET”

  • Kala Dongaar the name describes itself... This Ride, is the Ride which will be with you forever. It will test all your riding skills to reach at the top. Narrow roads, Steep slopes & you will notice kind of Harappan Civilization excavation on both sides of Roads.

In the end you will enjoy what is there to witness. You get the cohesive view of complete Black Mountains, India Bridge (Indo-Pak border) & dry river of Rann of Kutch (which gets filled during monsoons).

  • Rann of Kutch Finally I was at the Destination – THE RANN OF KUCTH – THE WHITE SAND DESSERT, where the magic happens. But we were unlucky this time & could not witness the magic as the moon decided to come late. To add fire there were uncalled refuges (insects) which made really difficult to spend time.

Witnessing “half magic” - Sunset

From this location you will be in doubt & ask whether it is sand or water – “Beach or Dessert” (Sab mirage hai... Hoti ret hai, lagta paani. )

“This is how our two day trip ended with lot of learning & FUN”