Kutch Travel Guide: Revisiting detachment

I am now starting to believe that Kutch is the region which offered me an insight of the word “Detachment”…. Detachment, a word which is liberally exploited by meditation hubs of first world and by so many self deluded individuals in order to teach you the art of living… Most of us overlook the side of detachment which is devoid to Human’s feelings.... like a detached geographical location… In its own shell…content…flourishing and sustaining its primeval rusticity… swirling sea, inhospitable terrain, periodic floods to the sea, shift in River’s course, natural disasters had a philosophical impact on the resilient spirit of the people of Kutch… Finally detachment left them to rise own their own from the ground… every time.. again, again and again…. Isolation from outside influence helped these communities to preserve their distinct characteristics, customs, rituals, and social surroundings.. Preserved heritage of Kutch is now the prime attraction for discerned visitors… Villages of Kutch region are known for intricate embroidery, pottery, handicrafts and block printing.
Road in the middle of Kutch
                                                        Road in the middle of Kutch
Kutch was practically detached from the rest of the India due to its Geographical location which is indeed very sullen and challenging. For a very long time, Kutch enjoyed the splendid isolation until the faster means of commutations reached to its boundaries and later intruded… Attachment with rest of India brought miscellaneous developments within the shell of Kutch… Some of those are leveraging the rich heritage in the name of responsible traveling or thoughtful traveling… Numerous social projects are doing remarkable empathetic work for uplifting the social life of Nomadic communities… High-end rural tourism initiatives for bridging the intellectuals to rustics or perhaps ostentatious to generous….

Once a detached geography surrounded by Sea and Marsh land, Kutch is now a popular tourist trail…. The way Maya (Outer distractions) encroaches to our inner peace just for scintillating desires and eventually qualm, we also have reached to Kutch with a hope for people…. Or is it otherwise…. I can vividly recall the expression from the camel-cart rider in the middle of Rann when I was trying to take a photograph….

An Insolent smile….

Have I come to Kutch only to get deceived…. Yet again....
 

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Kutch Travel Guide

Disclaimer: Please don’t feel disappointed if you are planning anything less 5 days for Kutch

*-------------------------Prime Tourist Attractions---------------------*

White Desert near Dhordo
                                              White Desert near Dhordo

White Desert near Dhordo

80 km north of Bhuj, Hosting site of Rann Utsav

India Bridge

On the edge of Rann in the north of Bhuj. Civilians are not allowed beyond this point

Kalo Dungar

North of Bhuj. Vintage point for White desert

Wind Farm Beach Mandvi

Fine beach, 60 km South to Bhuj

Dhinodhar Hills

70 km West of Bhuj. Hill overlooking the vast land of Rann

Kutch Museum

Oldest Museum of Gujarat

Narayan Sarovar

Sacred Site situated Closer to Kori Creek

Lakhpat

An ancient trading port on the edge of Marsh land

Dholavira

Remote Harappan site in the middle of Great Rann. 230 km East of Bhuj.

*-----------------Places of Archeological interests-----------------------*

Excavation Site of Dholavira
                                        Excavation Site of Dholavira

Dholavira

Remote Harappan site in the middle of Great Rann. 230 km East of Bhuj.

Khirasara

Related to Indus valley civilization near Nakhatrana in the West of Bhuj

Kanmer

Belongs to Indus Valley Civilization and situated near Adesar

Shikarpur & Rayan Village

Near Mandvi in the South of Bhuj

*------------------------Wild life in Kutch----------------------------------*

Wild Ass Sanctuary near Dhrangadhra
                                   Wild Ass Sanctuary near Dhrangadhra

Chhari Dhandh Lake

Flamingos & Pelicans. Can be approached from Hodko village

Wild Ass Sanctuary

Asiatic Wild Asses. Located near Adesar on the edge of Little Rann

Naliya Region

Bustard Bird and Chinkara. In the West of Bhuj

*----------------------Famous Pilgrim Places in Kutch-----------------------*

Narayan Sarovar Kutch
                                                Narayan Sarovar

Narayan Sarovar

Sweet water lake. Situated on the mouth of Arabian Sea

Mata Na Madh

Venerable Temple in the West of Kutch

Koteshwar Mahadev

Temple on the edge of Kori Creek

Jesal-Toral Samadhi

Located in Anjar town in the East of Bhuj

Haji pir Dargah

North-West of Bhuj. Very close to International Border

Ravechi Mataji

Close to Rapar in the East of Kutch

Momai Mataji

Situated near Anjar in the east of Bhuj

Jain Panch Tirth of Kutch: Suthari, Sanchan, Tera, Naliya, Jakhou & Kothara.

Famous Jain Derasar in Kutch: Bhadreshwer Deraser, Bauter Jinnalay, Don (Glass made Derasar) and Lakkadiya (Wood Carved derasar)

Well Known Handicrafts of Kutch: Embroidery- Suff, Jatt, Mutva, Harijan, Rabari, Ahir, Neran, Sodha-Rajput, Mashroo and dolls.

Famous Hand Work: Copper bell work, Lakh work, Leather work, Mud Work, Ajarakh Block Printing Work, Batik work, weaving, Bandhani Tie-Die.

Bhuj is the district headquarter of Kutch and the most preferred base for the travelers to Kutch. Since Tourist attractions of Kutch are located in each side of Bhuj, there are four popular tourist circuits around Bhuj those can be covered in a day trip or two.  Here goes the consolidated version of those circuits with key information.

*-------------------------Bhuj City Sightseeing---------------------------*

Clock Tower in Prag Mahal
                                                Clock Tower in Prag Mahal
Kutch Museum (10 AM to 1 PM, 2 PM to 5 PM): Oldest Museum of Gujarat State, encompassing beautiful pieces of sculptures, samples of handicrafts, products of old traditional small-scale industries of Kutch.
Aaina Mahal (9 AM to 12 PM, 3 PM to 6 PM): This Gorgeous palace is the amalgamation construction of Gothic culture of Italian architecture and traditional Indian architecture.
Sharad Bagh Palace: Sharad Bagh Palace is a botanical garden.
Nutan Shree Swaminarayan Mandir: Beautiful temple made of white stone.
Tri-Mandir: Tri-Mandir is a Dada-Baghwan Mandir near Hill Garden.
Hill Garden: Newly constructed garden on hill top.
Bhartiya Sanskriti Darshan: The Traditional Folk Museum situated near D.C office.
Khamir: Khamir works to reposition of craft and folk music in Kutch.
Bhujodi: Famous for its weaving work, Bhujodi is situated 12 km south to Bhuj.

Public Transport/Commutation: If you are not up to walking, Autos are available for city sightseeing.  Frequent Buses to Bhujodi.

     

*--Northern Side of Kutch: Dhordo-Kaladungar-India Bridge Circuit--*

The Great Rann of Kutch
                                           The Great Rann of Kutch
Nirona: Nirona Village is famous for its Rogan work and copper bell work.
Bhirindiyara: Famous for sweet milk cake. Permits for Dhordo are obtained from this place.
Kalo dungar: Guru Dattatrey Mandir and very clear view of vast white desert can be seen.
Khavda: Khavda is famous for its pottery work and Block printing work.
Ludiya: Ludiya village is famous from its Handicraft varieties and cone shaped houses.
Hodka: Sham E Sarhad Resort and Leather Work is famous in Hodka Village.
Dhordo: Dhordo is the last village which leads to vast white Rann of Kutch. Hosting site of Rann Utsav.
India Bridge:  On the edge of Great Rann, it’s the last point accessible to Civilians.
Zero Point: 80 km from India Bridge towards International Border.  Special Permissions are required. Permit can be obtained from BSF office, Hill Garden Bhuj. Zero point is a delight for adventure seekers. Road is in good condition and runs in the middle of Great Rann. It is certainly the best Rann experience one can have in Kutch and best chance to sight wild life.

** Chari Dhandhh is a bird watching site which can be visited by 4*4 vehicles. It is near from Hodak village.

** Fuel stations are not available on this side of Kutch so it’s recommended to have your fuel tank full before starting from Bhuj. Biker should be more careful on this front.

Public Transport:
- One Gujarat Tourism Department Bus travel to Dhordo (Via Loriya, Hodko) and returns back. It starts at 10:00 AM and charges 70 INR for the whole tour.
- Frequent busses are available till Khavda (Via Loriya, Bhirandiyara, Ludiya). Beyond Khavda, you are on your own.
- From Bhuj, there is a bus to Kalo Dungar every Sunday.

Sleeping/Eating: High-end resorts from various rural tourism companies are intermittently located otherwise one can get tented accommodation at Dhordo during Rann Utsav. Road side Dabbas serving delicious Gujarati Thali are in all the villages. I enjoyed one of the best meals of Gujarat in Khavda in just 50 INR at a queer Daba.

*------Western Side of Kutch: Narayan Sarovar- Lakhpat Circuit------*

Rampart of Lakhpat overlooking the Great Rann
                                   Rampart of Lakhpat overlooking the Great Rann
Vandhya: Famous for its Ram Mandir/ Maa Umiya Mandir and Ishwar Ashram.
Punvareshvar Temple: Punvareshvar is 2000 years’ old Lord Shiva temple.
Kheta Bapa: Kheta Bapa Mandir is famous for its gigantic statues of Hindu God.
Mata na Madh: Ma Ashapura Temple.
Narayan Sarovar: Situated on the mouth of Arabian Sea, It’s a Sweet water lake. It is one of the five sacred lakes of India, mentioned in Puranas that It is one of the Bethak of Maha Prabhuji.
Koteshwar Temple: Ancient Lord Shiva Temple established by Raavan as per Puranas. Situated on the mouth of Kori Creek.
Lakhpat: An ancient trading port, an old fort and Guru Nanakdev of Sikh Sect, stayed at this place for some time.
Than:  Situated 60 km North-West of Bhuj, Than is quite off the tourist trail. Known for a monastery and venerable temple of Dhoramnath, Than is splendidly set in laid-back surroundings with hills and relics. Surprisingly none of the tour operator from Bhuj includes Than in their offered itineraries.
Naliya: Bustard and Chinkara Sanctuary.
 
Public Transport:
* From Bhuj, There are frequent State Transport busses to Narayan Sarovar (Via Mata na Madh, Dayapar and Pandhro). Some of these busses also go till Koteshwar. The First bus from Bhuj is at 5:45 AM.
* 2-3 Busses in a day connect Lakhpat to Bhuj. First bus to Lakhpat departs at 6:00 AM in the morning.  Alternatively one can take a bus till Dayapar and then hitch-hike or use Khatra for the journey till Lakhpat Fort.
* One Bus to Than from Bhuj every day.
* Naliya is also well connected with Bhuj

** Fuel stations are at regular distance in this side of Kutch

Sleeping/Eating: Basic accommodations are available at all the towns on this side. Even at Lakhpat. Similarly, Snack stalls and basic restaurants are also not a problem on this stretch. Nakhatrana is the best option to break your journey and have good food.

*-------Southern Side of Kutch: India house-Mandvi Circuit--------*

Wind Farm Beach Mandvi
                                        Wind Farm Beach Mandvi
Bauter Jinalay: Bauter Jinalay is a Jain temple, famous for white stone carving.
India House: India house is replica of India house in London. Memorial for freedom fighters
Ambedham, Godhra: Beautiful Maa Amba Mandir, Museum and replica of Maa Vaisnav devi Cave is very famous monument here.
Vijay Vilas Palace: Its seasonal palace of Maharao Shri Vijayraj ji. It is an amalgamation of Mughal and Hindu architecture.
Wild Farm Beach: Best beach of Kutch for Tourists.
Ship making yard: Ship making business has flourished in Mandvi where wooden ships are constructed.

Public Transport: State transport busses (hourly, 58 INR, 60km, 90 minutes) ply between frequently between Bhuj and Mandvi. One can also get shared Jeeps (Toofan) between these two cities.

Accommodation/Restaurants: Mandvi is a busy beach town and offers handful of accommodation options. Some of those are closer to Wind Farm beach. Restaurants and snack stalls are sufficient in this entire stretch.  Wind Farm beach becomes lively in the evening.

Mandvi to Jamnagar Ferry: Does not operates any longer. Only way is overland.

*----------Eastern Side of Kutch: Dholavira-Adesar Circuit--------------*

Road to Dholavira
                                               Road to Dholavira
Jesal-Toral, Anjar: Jesal-Toral is a shrine located in Anjar. Anjar is also famous for Bandhani Sarees.
Dholavira: The Harappan site at Dholavira has been discovered in 1967-68.Located in an island called Khadir, this major harappan city, is spread over an area of about 100 hectares.
Wild Asiatic Ass:  Best Chance to see wild Asiatic Ass is nearby Adesar village on the edge of Little Rann

Note: With public transport, it’s not possible to do this stretch as a one day trip from Bhuj. It’s recommended to visit this side of Kutch at the end of your Kutch trip and keep Rapar as the base.

How to reach Dholavira (Public Transport):  Dholavira is quite a remote village and very difficult to visit by public transport. The best option is to reach Rapar which is some 90 km before Dholavira… Stay overnight at Rapar.. Next morning, Get the first Mini bus to Dholavira (90 km, 40 Rs, 2 hours 30 minutes)… Visit Dholavira and return back to Rapar from Mini Bus…. The last Mini Bus from Dholavira to Rapar departs at 12:30 PM so you won’t be having much time for meaningless meandering.

* Direct bus from Bhuj to Dholavira departs at 2:30 PM which reaches Dholavira at 10:00 PM.
* 2-3 Direct busses (5:45 AM, 6:45 AM) to Rapar from Bhuj. The best option is to board the bus to Ravechi which departs from Bhuj at 6:00 AM and reaches Rapar around 10:30 AM.
* Mini busses ply between Rapar and Dholavira. These busses are painfully slow and their timings are very irregular. In fact you won’t be getting any return bus from Dholavira after 12:30 PM. surprisingly the last bus from Rapar to Dholavira is at 5:30 PM.

Accommodation/Food:
* Rapar has got 2-3 basic hotels near Bus stand. These are more like home-stay and charges are nominal (200-300 INR per night)
* Dholavira has got only one accommodation option and seems like they provide dormitory as well. Dholavira Tourism Resort (9727784044,9427719044). If you are planning to stay overnight at Dholavira then I will recommend you to call them in advance and confirm. The place was deserted when I visited there.
* From my personal experience, I believe Dholavira does not have any eatery.
* Rapar has got handful of restaurants. Punjabi Daba near Adesar turn is the best pick of the town.

*** Hitch-hiking can be a favorable option if you get stuck in Dholavira. Chances are bright to get a lift till Rapar. I was lucky..
An Evening at Rann Utsav, Dhordo
                                      An Evening at Rann Utsav, Dhordo
Rann Utsav Dates: from 15th December to 31st January.

Cell phone signals: Available almost everywhere from all the major operators.

Hiring Taxi in Bhuj: All the tour operators in Bhuj provides vehicle for your self-planned trip. Charges for an economical car (Indica) are 7 INR per km.

Hiring Bike in Bhuj: Hiring a bike in Bhuj is not as easy as mentioned in most of the Guide books.  There is barely one Garage in the town which is still renting bikes. Unlike other popular tourist towns of the country, you will have to pay a hefty amount as deposit for getting a bike. Bikes can be hired from MK Auto (09898983999/09913060136) opposite to Chhathibari. They charged 5000 INR as deposit (Refundable) and 500 INR per day as rent.
Khatra of Gujarat
                                         Khatra, your savior in hard times
Khatra: Any Guide about Gujarat will be incomplete without crediting Khatra. Here is the carrier which you will find everywhere in Gujarat even at some of the remotest villages. Khatra primarily runs as public transport between villages. Khatra can be very handy in predicaments. An honest Khatra’s owner should charge 10 INR per km for dropping you to a road to connected world.

Maps: Download from the links below

http://thinkingparticle.com/files/maps/Map-Kutch.JPG

http://thinkingparticle.com/files/maps/Tourist-Map-Kutch.JPG
 

Thanks a lot for

Thanks a lot for this...

Almost everything I needed to know...

I am going mid Jan...

Cool.... Have a nice trip and

Cool.... Have a nice trip and glad to hear that article was useful...

Amazing article with complete

Amazing article with complete information in one place for budget travelers or cheap Charlie's like me.

Thanks..... its intended for

Thanks..... its intended for budget travelers only..

Good work dear, You have

Good work dear, You have really put everything one can ask for about planning a wonderful trip.

Thanks.. Keep dropping by...

Thanks.. Keep dropping by...

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