The breath taking moon lit shot of Rann in one of the advertisement campaigns by Gujarat tourism added Kutch to our bucket list. Even if this advertisement featured other attractions of Kutch, Rann just steals the show. So we ended up planning an itinerary of 2 days, visiting only Rann of Kutch and it’s nearby attractions.
But after everything was decided,planned and booked, I happened to see a series about Kutch on Discovery channel sometime in January & then my whole view about Kutch changed drastically! I understood how little I knew about Kutch and how much more Kutch had to offer! I almost immediately extended my Kutch visit to good 10 days. With all the information I could gather online, I made a new plan which included- the already planned Rann trip for 2 days, 2 treks – one in Bhuj other near Than, to see Vijay Vilas palace, a Smarak & the beach at Mandvi, to stay at a Devpur palace and enjoy its hospitality & to visit our ancestral civilization at Dholavira. I thought I made a pretty good plan, but once my journey started, my so called “plan” took a back seat and people of Kutch became my travel planners. They helped me turn my trip into one of my most memorable journeys!
Kutch is situated in the western part Gujarat state of India but has a their own separate native language called Kutchi – which is spoken widely but doesn’t have its own script and is therefore adopts Gujarati script.
Very simply put, Kutch is a village of artisans & I am in no way exaggerating when I say that there is an artisan in every house of Kutch. The things Kutchies can do with just a needle, thread & cloth are just limitless! A desert completely devoid of colours, made so vibrant & lively with their art, is simply beautiful!
The promotion by Gujarat Tourism is not in any sense exaggerated. It is as beautiful as Mr Bachchan introduces us to it in its campaigns. The desert is as white as it can be in the broad day light as fas as our eyes can see but mysteriously changes to a shade of light blue colour under the moon light. The beauty of it on a full moon night is way too mysterious to be expressed in words. The more you stare at the wide expanse of the desert till the horizon, the more you keep wondering if all that you see is for real. Its not comparable to any landscape I have been to before, its beauty is something my eyes had not seen before, an experience I have never felt before. One word that closely relates to the whole experience is – Magical!
Every year from December to February end, Gujarat Tourism builds up a Tent City around 2 kms from white desert welcoming all tourists to the white desert. The package of 1 night- 2 days or 2 night-3 days, takes care of pretty much everything Rann has to offer. More information can be gathered from http://rannutsav.net/. Tent City is no doubt a very good option but it might seem a bit costly for budget travellers. There are other comparatively cheaper accommodations at nearby Dhordo & Hodka Village Resorts. Plan your visit to Rann around full moon nights, and pre book pretty early for these dates as all resorts run full during full moon times.
The trek part of my itinerary got discarded almost immediately after my first day in Mandvi as I soon understood that Kutch has much more to offer than the treks I planned.
Mandvi has been a 400 year old ship building port city. It is enclosed within fortified walls but only few portions of the walls remains now. The revenue generated from trade and ship building ran the economy of Mandvi in the ancient times.
Though Mandvi beach is considered one of the main attractions here, I found the fishing village near Mandvi more attractive with my co-companions as flamingoes. Even more enjoyable was interacting with different people from different occupations living close by to Mandvi. Be it my auto escort Mr. Mehboob Bhai, or a more liberal thinker Mr.Ali at a potter’s village, or Mr.Shivji who has been working in ships since the age of 12 until his retirement and currently running a ship museum in the heart of Mandvi town. Each of them was from different walk of life, having a different set of talent, and a different story to tell. Interacting with each of them was a learning experience in itself.
Lakhpat wasn’t even part of my itinerary, but this was the place I enjoyed the most! Every other Kutchi I met during my travel, would strongly recommend me to go and visit Lakhpat. One of them even said its okay if you don’t go to Rann of Kutch but Lakhpat is not to be missed!
Lakhpat was once a thriving billionaire port town, with so much of trading business that it earned a revenue of Rs 1 lakh in the olden times. But an earthquake changed the fate of this town completely, Indus river changed its course, trade slowly declined, people slowly moved out, all that is left now is ruins from the past and few houses where people still live. But ruins that remain has a rich story to tell and a walk across this town helps to revive its glorious past.
Dholavira, reminds us of how amazingly intelligent our ancestors were to design a town at a location where natural source of water was scarce. All other harappan civilization are mostly build near rivers but Dholavira has a different story. Huge water reservoirs with built-in filters, the craftsmanship and engineering used to build a well planned town containing a citadel at the center, a huge auditorium believed to be either a market place or may be used for entertainment purposes, a middle town & a lower town, extensive sewage system, well planned roads…all this will blow your mind off thinking if we have really progressed ahead when it comes to town planning, than what our ancestors did some 5000 years back!
Over and above the places I visited, something that amazed me the most about Kutchis were their hospitality. During my entire trip, wherever I visited, I was served food with so much of love and care by complete strangers that I cannot thank them enough. Such an selfless act towards a guest was completely unexpected. I believe for them, guests are gods and they treat them that way with love and respect. It truly was a “Atithi Devobhav” experience for me. 🙂
In a Nutshell
Kutch is as diverse as India can be. It has something to offer for anyone willing to explore it. From white deserts of Rann to green grasslands of Banni, from ship building ports in Mandvi in the south to the rich trading history of Lakhpat in the north, from current townships and civilization in the central Bhuj to ancient Harappan township of Dholavira in the east, there is no limit to what one can find here.
How to Reach – Bhuj is the capital city of Kutch. There is good rail connectivity between all major cities of India with Bhuj. Bhuj also has a domestic airport with daily flights from and to Mumbai. The state transport bus located in the heart of Bhuj provides great connectivity to other parts of Kutch & Gujarat too.
Overall Cost of my trip – Rs 13,500 for 10 days with travel, food, stay, visiting places plus collecting souvenirs 🙂
Transport – As I was on a budget trip, my plan was to cover all the places by public mode of transport as much as possible, mostly by ST buses. Kutch is rather a very safe place to be & people are very helpful. With the roads connecting to almost all the villages in Kutch and ST buses functional at these places, your travel becomes very convenient.
The Plan –
Click on the highlighted red boxes for more information about the place –
Here’s the advertisement link of Kutch by Gujarat Tourism if you haven’t watched it.