Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kutchhhh Kutchhhh

Kutch is the name of the region located in the northern part of Gujarat, a region unexplored and unknown to many especially to tourists. Bhuj, the major city of this region was completely destroyed by the earthquake in 2001, and rebuilt from scratch, rebuilt as a well planned city (a trend relatively unknown in India, where say other than Chandigarh and Gandhinagar, very few cities are planned at all). Many say the earthquake was a boon in disguise for Bhuj, it helped the city re-emerge in a better form .

Bhuj and the surrounding region is famous for its handicrafts. A village called Bhujedi is especially famous for this, a sort of model village where outsiders can visit and see the artisans at work. A crafts village is located there where artisans can come and display their arts, creating an avenue for them to sell it directly to customers. The handicrafts include embroidery, metal work, paintings, leatherwork etc, intricate and available at throwaway prices. This is located about 5-10 kms from Bhuj itself.

Bhuj is located very close to the 'Rann', a wate salty marshland which covers most of the Kutchi region. You can get a bird's eye view of the Rann, from a point called Kala Doongar about 80kms from Bhuj. The drive is scenic, both sides of the road are bare, with limited inhabitation. You may spot some people in between though, women carrying water, wearing bright colours which form a contrast with the yellow of the dry vegetation everywhere. Quite a scene!!!

Kala doongar, the point where you can get a view of the Rann is on top of a hill, with a viewpoint constructed there and a temple. At the top, you get a view of the Rann spread all around, complete white, and a view of the India Bridge, the last point till which civilians are allowed in the Rann. Apparently in the 1971 war, Pakistan had entered India till the India Bridge.

The Rann is amazing, completely white till wherever the eye can see. Its dangerous too, its swampy and we did land up at a couple of places when we had to come back because the land was giving way. The sunset on the Rann looks amazing too! Here are some photographs of the rann and the sunset, I fail to be able to describe it in words.

On the Rann itself is located a village resort, Shaam-e-Sarhad. There is not enough publicity for the place, and you will need to take a detour of about 12 kms away from the main road to go there. Its in the middle of nowhere, with a couple of tents and cottages to stay, and enjoy the rural lifestyle, being away from everything negative that a city stands for, sounds, hurry, crowds, tensions etc etc. Its an excellent getaway for the weekend, a place to just relax, eat good kutcchi food, listen to the local artists, and yes, to check out all the constellations in the sky! The night sky looks so fascinating, which you just learn to forget in the cities!! By the way, the Kutchchi accent is literally sweet, spoken in a sing song way (maybe something the people get from the sweet Gujarati food!)

There are lot of places to visit in Kutch, most of them located near Bhuj, and accessible from Bhuj itself. All these places require some travel, across completely sparsely populated areas, but still connected by brilliant roads! The whole of Kutch is sparsed by industries all along the road, well, a sign of the development thats been on in Gujarat over the years.

Another place to visit nearby is Mandvi, with a palace located just next to the sea. Its a small palace, pretty and well preserved, with its high point being that a famous hindi movie, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was shot there. The palace is open to the public now, other than one floor where the ranas still reside. The roof has two levels, and the top most gives a good view of the jungles nearby and the hawa mahal located on top of a hill nearby. Its always windy there, and a good place to spend sometime.

Just next to the palace, is the beach resort: it has a private beach with tents to stay nearby, and a restaurant and place for bonfire. Not as cheap as the Rann resort, but guess so much premium would have to be paid for the proximity to the beach.
Is a good stop and the water is clean, and not deep either at all. You can easily walk-in to at least 200 mtrs and water is still waist high (I din try going farther than that!!)

The last stop was the gurudwara at Lathpat, its more than 500 years old, and apparently Guru Nanak while going to Mecca, left his sandals there. The sandals are still there, and the drive to the Gurudwara is long, but worth it. Some people stay within the Gurudwara complex, and run a langar all time of the day. They are very hospitable, and its a good stop for a hearty meal. There is a masjid also nearby, though din get to see it. The road to Lakhpat is lined by industries on both sides, and nothing much otherwise. On the way, you may also spot some wildlife, wild boar, neelgai, black bucks (if you are lucky) and the smaller ones like rabbits etc.

P.S. Its my first post, so please pardon my writing style, or i should say, lack of 'style':)))


  1. hi frreak
    i loved reading this one...keep writing more...u have such a keen eye...hugs!

  2. amazing..
    very well written and inspiring to travel places you never expected.

  3. mata - thanks for the encouragement always:)
    reetu - thanks.. do let me know if you plan to go to any of these places.. can give u lot of tips!

  4. Love reading this article. I Live In USA. Soon Visiting India. After Long Time I Will Witness Desi Lifestyles .