Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breathe in a bit of...Fragrant and Vibrant Gujarat!

This blog post is about a recent family trip to Kutch, an arid district in western Gujarat.

December 28, 2012- Left Ahmedabad at 07:20 am in a white Tata Indigo. 
We went west of the SG Highway (NH8C) to reach Sanand and crossed the Tata Nano factory at Charodi. We bypassed Virangam and crossed the Narmada on the main road to Dhrangadhra. On reaching the Jalaram intersection, we took the road to Halvad.  After the Falku bridge near Halvad, we halted at an outlet of ‘Honest’ (an Ahmedabad-based chain of restaurants, famous for its bhajipao and pulav) for breakfast. We helped ourselves to fafda and gota (Gujarati farsan) and left at around 10am towards Kutch.
Cranes were seen near Aniyari (17kilometers from Maliya and 28 kilometers from Morbi). CNG autorickshaws, typical of Ahmedabad, were replaced by ordinary yellow and black ones. It was surprising to see non-vegetarian cafes, in a predominantly vegetarian state like Gujarat. Villagers were moving around in three-wheeled contraptions called 'Chakdas'. A 'chakda' is a cross between a Royal Enfield motorbike and a tractor.Villagers were clad in colorful attire, contrasting with the dull brown surroundings.Salt pans and windmills were seen near Samakhiali (Surajbari Checkpost to be precise). It was a sparsely populated region, but lots of industries were seen. Some of them were the Oreva-Orpat electronics plant of Ajanta and the Yo electric bike factory of Electrotherm.
We reached Bhachau(a town badly affected by the 2001 Gujarat earthquake) after crossing an RTO check-post at 11:40 am. Roads deteriorated in quality after crossing a railway gate in Bhachau(from four-lane to two-lane). We crossed  the factory of Sanghi Cement and the farm of Suzlon Energy near Dhamadka . Hillocks appeared after Dhamadka.
We reached Bhuj at 1pm, after crossing Madhapur. We checked into a hotel downtown at 1:30pm and had a Gujarati thali at Green Rock restaurant. After resting for an hour, we left at 04:25 pm towards the White Rann (desert) at Dhordho village. We crossed Rudramata dam at 04:43pm and theTropic of Cancer at 04:58pm. The landscape changed dramatically. There were less shrubs and bushes, thanks to the scanty rainfall that rendered the land arid. We got permits to visit the Rann at Bhirandyara. Reached Dhordho, a little to the west, at 05:57pm. The White Rann was reached at 06pm. Sunset was followed by moonrise. We were lucky to visit on a full moon night. Though the captured image of the moon was not as spectacular as the images on Google, it was nice to see the parched sandy land illuminated by moonlight. We left the parched land at 07:15pm and reached Bhuj at 08:40pm. We had dinner at Sankalp (another Ahmedabad-based chain of restaurants, specializing in dosas) and spent the night at the hotel.

December 29, 2012: Woke up and had dabeli for breakfast. It is a famous Kutchi snack, also called double roti(it’s just like a burger or vadapao with pomegranate and peanut fillings instead of a potato cutlet/patty). We checked out of the hotel and went shopping for handicrafts/souvenirs in the market and decided to visit the Kutch Museum, the oldest in Gujarat.
The museum, earlier known as the Fergusson Museum, was established by Maharao Khengarji III on July 1,1877. It was full of exhibits showcasing the handicrafts of Kutch. It had galleries on Kutchi art,archaeology and anthropology too.Examples of tribals in Kutch are Koli, Vagadia Rabari, Kach Rabari, Ahir, Charan, Matwa and  Meghwal. Those belonging to the region are skilled in embroidery work, patch work, brocade work and silver engraving. As a matter of fact, a silver sword was presented to Kuldeep Sharma, an IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, for his admirable work during his tenure as the DSP of Kutch.

After visiting the museum, we headed to Mandvi, 60km south of Bhuj. We reached the coastal town at around 1pm and went inside the Vijay Vilas Palace. It was named after Yuvraj Shri Vijayaraji , the heir of Maharao Khengarji III . It was meant to be a summer resort. It now belongs to the royal family of Kutch, whose members reside inside. One must note that Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (a 1999 Hindi film starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Ajay Devgan) was shot inside the mansion of sandstone.  It was full of ornate arched gateways with a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. We had lunch at a restaurant downtown and decided to visit the beach. Though not as crowded as the Juhu in Bombay or the Marina in Madras, it was buzzing with activity. Camels were seen and there were windmills too. 
We departed for Ahmedabad at around 4pm, crossing places like the Adani Power Plant, Mundra and Anjar. We halted at Dhrangadhra for tea and reached Ahmedabad at 10 pm. There was enough time to have dinner before hitting the sack.  It was the end of an unforgettable family trip, with fond memories still lingering in our hearts.

Allow me to end here by sharing some Gujarat tourism ads starring Amitabh Bachchan:
1.The Gujarat Tourism ad about Kutch in English:

2.The same in Hindi:

3.Khushboo Gujarat Ki-Festival-Kutch-Hindi:

5.Rann Utsav:

Here are the pictures:

A few words I’d like to quote,”Breathe in a bit of Gujarat”,
 “कच्छ नही देखा तो कुछ नहीं देखा! (If you haven't seen Kutch, you've seen nothing)”,
 “कुछ दिन तो गुजारये गुजरात में!(why don't you spend some days in Gujarat!)", 
Why don’t you come and behold the wonders of this vibrant state for yourself?J                                                              


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  2. Makes me want to visit the place.
    Resourceful description, Ajay!!

  3. Nice description ajay ! I'd like to visit the place someday...

  4. Akay! Where art thou?
    Write something new soon.
    Your readers are waiting, and that includes me!

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