This blog post is about a brief round-up on my Kutch travel experience and a plethora of options one can have while traveling around different places in Kutch.
I always used to hear about this phrase quite often, whenever there was a mention about Gujarat that “Kutch nehi dekha toh kuch nehi Dekha”. And it used to make me wonder about the uniqueness and vastness about Kutch.
To be very honest, Gujarat was not really on my immediate list of places that I wanted to explore given the distance from my state to it. But, fortunately when I got invited by Gujarat Tourism & Ministry of Tourism, Mumbai to explore regions of Gujarat which included majorly Kutch areas. I was glad not only to experience the Rann Utsav as that gave me an exposure to the grandeur of the great Rann of Kutch but also gave me an opportunity to have a sneak peek into the life in Kutch. Kutch also shares the large coastline with the neighboring country, Pakistan, and shares the vast great flat salt lands between two countries.
In Kutch, there are both explored and untouched areas which form the largest district in not only Gujarat but also in India.
The major objective of a traveler is to become a local of the location you are visiting. There are a lot of tourists but not a lot of travelers on the globe who goes all out exploring Kutch. So, whether you’re a traveler or a tourist, Kutch will not fail to amaze anyone for all that it has to offer.
SAVE IT FOR LATER READ
So here are the top ten things in Kutch that you should not miss
Enjoy camel rides and water sports in Mandvi Beach
Gujarat is endowed with an abundance of coastline, and Kutch, the state’s biggest district, has a sizeable portion of it. There are numerous beaches in Kutch, but Mandvi is the most popular among tourists. There seems to be a reason for this since Mandvi offers a variety of water activities such as Jet Ski and Speed Boat, as well as other enjoyable pursuits such as camel rides, horseback riding and so on. Thus, Mandvi is a wonderful combination for all of those who prefer adventures as well as those who simply enjoy walking along the shore and admiring the beautiful landscape.
So while in Mandvi , visit to the Vijay village is a must because this place is also the famous filming location in Kutch. Vijay Vilas Palace is located in Mandvi, which is around 65kms from Bhuj city. This grand town was once the centre point for the transport building industry, but at this point, it gloats of its rich legacy and wonderful ocean side. The Vijay Vilas Palace is the feature of the town and this likewise deserves the advantage of being the film shoot area for some Bollywood motion pictures. The castle is a two-story building alongside Chhatri of Vijayaraji. The view from the porch of the royal residence has an all-encompassing perspective which is essentially wonderful.
Explore the marvelous White Salt Desert, Great Rann of Kutch
Did I mention that I have experienced my most serendipitous moment of witnessing the gorgeous sunset at the Rann of Kutch? So, when in Kutch experience the sunrise and the sunset at the Rann, could be the best thing in Kutch. This is the place that made Kutch famous on the global tourist map and gave rise to the iconic tagline “Kutch Nahi Dekha to Kuch Nahi Dekha.”
Every year, Kutch gets into the limelight displaying a grand celebration of culture, tradition, and artistic heritage. And this is known as Rann Utsav festival which takes place in Dhordo every year between November to February. Rann of Kutch has much spoken about since it’s not an ordinary desert of sand dunes, but rather a white expanse of salt, you can really see salt so far as the eye could see. During Rann Utsav, a section of the desert is turned into a tent city. Tourists can plan a stay at the White Desert for a couple of nights and participate in a variety of activities such as paragliding, paramotoring, game zones, and so on. Artisans and craftsmen come from all over and display their handicrafts & weaves.
For more information, please check out more details about booking: Rann Utsav
Visit Kalo Dungar, the highest point in Kutch
The highest peak in Kutch is Kalo Dungar, also known as Black Hill, which stands at 462 meters. You don’t have to climb the hill since there are options to ride up there in automobiles. But still to the last point, one will have to walk a few steps. The gorgeous panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch from the hilltop does give you more than every reason not to miss this place while you are in Kutch. It’s at a few odd km from Dhordo Rann Utsav hence can be covered in a few hours.
There is a 400-year-old Guru Dattatreya shrine and according to tradition, as Dattatreya traveled from Black Hill, he saw hungry jackals and, because he had nothing whatsoever to provide them, he gave his body to them, and his flesh kept replenishing. Those jackals still come to the shrine every evening, but the difference now is that they are served rice. After worship, you may go observe the breathtaking view of India’s border, white desert, and Pakistan from such a vantage point.
Also, there is a magnetic field in and around the Black Hill and that is supposed to be stronger than that of one in Ladakh. In fact while on the way, our bus was made to check that how it could move in the reverse direction, that to uphill without applying the accelerator.
Explore the national monument Vande Mataram Memorial
Vande Mataram Memorial is the museum that honors the valor and heroism of Indian freedom warriors. The museum is physically similar to the Indian Parliament. Inside, guests are shown numerous 3D films chronicling India’s liberation fight. It’s best to come here in the evening to experience the façade display, which lasts 12 minutes and will captivate you with its brilliance.
Experience the remains of one of the world’s oldest civilizations at Dholavira
This was one place, I wanted to visit but due to a shortage of time, I couldn’t. Dholavira is an archeological site in the Bhachau taluka of Kutch. It is well-known because it comprises the ruins of Harappa city. Dholavira is one of the five biggest Indus Valley civilization sites, and it is situated on the tropic of cancer. You’d be surprised to learn that the residents of Harappa city invented the sewage system and fountains during their period. There’s a museum there which gives a fair idea about Harappa life. Definitely, a must-visit place while exploring Kutch.
Explore Gandhi Nu gam for embroidery and woodwork shopping
So after Kalo Dungar, I made my way to Gandhi Nu gam. This place is an artisans hub. It is here you will encounter Kheta Ben and oldest woman who hails from Kutch and was recognized as the face of one of the rural women by the Indian Postal Department way back in 1947. Although, in my brief stopover at this place, I got busy picking up a few good embroidered handicrafts as I couldn’t resist further. You can explore an amazing variety of Kutchi work accessories made delicately by local women. Some of the things that you can buy are woodwork, beaded jewelry, Dupattas, Stoles, home linens, and other handlooms from the Kutch area. And yes, you can bargain !!
Explore Bhuj, while you gorge on local flavors
This city is the district’s heart. it is the focal point in every way. Must-visit places Swaminarayan Temple, Aina Mahal, and Prag Mahal to be ensured for it offers an exquisite work to be witnessed. You may go shopping, taste diverse local cuisines, and visit the nearby parks and lakes. Bhuj is well-known for its Bandhej shopping. Bandhej is a native discovered art that is made on garments, and you can purchase bandhej sarees, dresses, and Kurtis here. Kutch is a foodie’s paradise since there are so many wonderful native foods like Dabeli, Bhaji cone, Kadak, and so on that leave foodies wanting for more.
Exploring Little Rann of Kutch, Wild Ass sanctuary
Yes, Kutch also is gifted with amazing wildlife. And one of the prominent places is the Wild Ass Sanctuary near Dasada Village. For those exploring Rann Utsav can also visit and witness these endangered species, Asiatic Wild Ass which has found Little Rann as the last abode on planet earth. Along with that, calling is also there for all birding enthusiasts as this season also offers a great photography opportunity to capture of the rare species.
I had checked in to a beautiful resort called Rann Riders in Dasada which is about 15 km from the wildlife sanctuary. Located near Dasada village, it serves as an ideal base to explore the famed culture, weaves and handicrafts of the Surendranagar district. And the morning jeep safari is the best way to explore the sanctuary.
Chari Dhand is another wetland conservation reserve in India that is preserved under the laws of protected forests. Various types of migratory birds, including larger Indian flamingos, may be seen here. You can bring a local with you to ensure that you will not get astray. Patience is also required while you’re out bird gazing. This is situated in the Kutch taluka of Nakhatrana and has an extent of 80km2.
Trace down the history at Lakhpat
This is one of Kutch’s sparsely inhabited districts, and it is famed for its 18th century Fort walls. The fort is 7 kilometres long and encircles the settlement. There’s also a Sufi Saint named Pir Ghaus Mohammed’s tomb, who was said to have magical abilities. There is also a Gurudwara here, where Guru Nanak is said to have stopped on his trip to Mecca.
Witness the famous artwork in Nirona village
Nirona is renowned for its copper chime making, lacquer finish workmanship, and indigenous Rogan art form. Rogan craft of Nirona is well known around the world. this is the piece of craftsmanship which was skilled to the leader of the USA by our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. This is a unique sort of workmanship that is finished by utilizing regular tones and castor oil. One can purchase divider pieces and dresses made by Rogan. Likewise, the copper bells made here produce the best ring. Remember to add them to your shopping list.
Few quick tips for Kutch Travel
Best time to travel Kutch, Gujarat
Ideally winters is the best time to visit regions of Gujarat for it has festivals and also makes the long hours of travel comfortable.
How to Reach Kutch
Bhuj is the biggest city in Kutch and it has an airport and a well connected Railway station. Although Bhuj airport gets very less frequency of flights. Hence, the next best option is to land in Ahmedabad airport and travel via road. Bus services are plenty in Gujarat. It takes about 6-7 hours to reach Bhuj from Ahmedabad
What to Eat in Kutch
Kutch comes with an amazing array of Gujarati cuisine to choose from. I personally loved the Gujarati Kadi very much for its rich flavor. But some of the must-try are Khaman, Theplas, Dabeli, Sev tamatar, and many such.
Permits for Visiting Rann of Kutch
It is special because Rann of Kutch is also situated on the border hence a permit is required to explore this area. It can be obtained online as well or the tour operators can also do the same. Hence, to carry your identity card and double vaccine certificate.
The Kutch area has the impression of being a distinctive land. It is a locale that varies in commending, thriving on an extraordinary parameter. If you haven’t pondered visiting this delightful place in India yet, it is time that you ought to!
Disclaimer: This trip was a part of my invitation from Gujarat Tourism, Ministry of Tourism in association with Incredible India. But like always, all opinions and suggestions are purely based on my own experience.