Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip)

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Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) 1/1 by Vipin Gopinath

Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip)

Dholavira- The citadel of times gone by:

Dholavira is my version of dead man's city, of times gone by, of civilizations which have left their mark in the ever flowing sands of time. I have not been to Hampi or any other excavation site, so had no idea what to expect, but Dholavira with its vast expanse of dry terrain tells us tales that will elude you if you do not listen. Away from scurrying selfie aficionados, there are enough places where you could just sit and hear these tales blowing in the wind.

Photo of Dholavira, Gujarat, India by Vipin Gopinath
Photo of Dholavira, Gujarat, India by Vipin Gopinath

Dholavira is about 165 kms from Radhanpur in kutch and is one of the 5th largest Harappan sites and a prominent site belonging to Indus Valley civilization. The borders of the citadel have been marked with these black and brown stones and gives a broad framework of the city. The site comprises of a 'citadel', a 'middle town' and a 'lower town', two 'stadia', an 'annexe', a series of reservoirs all set within an enormous fortification running on all four sides. Inside the city, too, there was an intricate system of fortifications. The interconnecting pathways have been also well planned.

The water reservoirs depict a well planned distribution system which could beat any modern day city planning. This was in 2650 BCE. Time to borrow a page from history on how to plan a city.

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath
Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath
Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

Are you being watched?

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

The landscape of Dholavira is as captivating as it is eerie, as if you are being watched and you do feel the urge to look over your shoulders and see who it is. Call me paranoid or maybe even others feel the same.

The man who sees all, Knows all!

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

We chanced upon this solitary goatherd who was unmindful of the clambering tourists, going on with his usual day. The tourists forming part of his entertainment as he goes on with his mundane work. The cattle may have never seen better days, but the dry, rough terrain is part of their lives now. They live on.

Those visiting a dry, vast terrain for the first time may find it hard to comprehend and may even wonder how people survive here. This is the nomadic way of life, where there is more sand then the the air to breathe.

The salt, the sand, the sun and vast expanse of wilderness where time never moves, that's Dholavira for the uninitiated. Those who look beyond the sights would see a well planned, thriving civilization and people who never left.

Chir Batti- Our very own 'Northern Lights'

After our misadventures in the salt laden marshy desert of Ekal Ka Rann (where we luckily managed to find our way back to civilization) the desert still beckoned us and we wanted to go deep into unchartered territories.

Our trip was during the full moon towards Christmas and a full moon night desert safari is what we had in mind. So we took off to Banni grassland which is home to eerier experiences, not that we were looking for anything eerie. A series of ghost lights have been reported in this area, similar to Northern lights and we wanted to see this for ourselves. But what met us instead was straight out of a classic Hindi horror movie.

The road to Chir Batti from Dholavira is beautiful and myriad, deserted landscapes adorn both sides of the road.

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

A lake on the desert or a desert on a lake

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

An interesting phenomenon which we observed was the salt emitting water in the desert which forms a water body of luminescent green colour. This is one photographer's delight and liquid is definitely not meant for consumption.

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath
Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

Photos from MyPhone :p

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

What is even more amazing that all these photos were taken on MyPhone and not Iphone :p

We reached Chir Batti late in the night after a crossover from the city with our dinner packets safely tugged in to save time. Our first stop over was a desolate guest house in the middle of nowhere, straight out of a classic Hindi horror movie. This was being used by passing forest rangers as a stopover for the night. The guest house was manned by an old bearded gatekeeper, again reminiscent of the type one would see in an old Hindi horror movie. We never saw his face as his hood would keep most of his face covered. His eyes never left us scanning us at all times, our faces imprinted in his mind.

He never took a morsel from our delectable fare, while we quickly gorged our food to get away from this eeriness and into the desert. Maybe this was surreal or I was imagining all of it.

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

We were over 150 kms into the desert, thanks to our local guide who knew the way like the back of his hand and truly into unchartered territory. Something like this can only be done with someone who makes the desert his home, anyone else has to lose their way.

Once deep into the desert, we saw the most beautiful sight ever, the salted desert burning like fire under the moonlight being seeped by the cold December wind with temperatures rapidly falling. We were lucky to reach an outpost which had a bonfire and we could shelter from the cold winds.

Photo of Rann of Kutch Diaries – 2 (The 'non' touristy trip) by Vipin Gopinath

The moon in its full glory was raining light on us and we were blessed to be soaked in the moonlight. We didn't see any bizarre lights, but the solace one gets for just being there under the moonlight cannot be described. We had enough of ghostly experiences for a day and were relieved to not have anymore.

Chir batti was beautiful beyond words and no photo can do justice to its serenity, this had to be experienced with your eyes and captured in your mind.No camera or photos can capture or describe the beauty of the beyond.

Chir Batti left us an unmarked impression and the solitude has to be experienced, when words fail and your senses take over. All you can do is soak in and let the moonlight takeover...

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