I haven't been everywhere, but its on list. – Susan Sontag
My search for diversity in itinerary made me zero-in Gujarat for our next vacation. From beaches to palaces and step wells, from wildlife sanctuaries to the white desert, you will have experiences you never had before.
Following are some of the memories etched on my mind from my latest Gujarat trip:
The Little Rann of Kutch:
It’s spread over almost 5,000 square kilometres. The sanctuary was set up in 1973 to protect the endangered wild ass. We entered the sanctuary from the Dhrangadhra entry point. We took the evening safari to visit the salt factory and sunset, while the morning safari for the wild ass and bird sightings. Stare into the vast emptiness of the vast land, watch the colourful sky as the sun sets over the Rann, and photograph the numerous flamingos, Siberian cranes and the wild asses in the sanctuary. Sighting peacocks on the farms and perched on the towers is very common here. Enjoy delicious kathiyawadi meal here.
It was a reality check to watch the salt pans and salt harvesting. The Agariya community has been living here for centuries, knowing just one means of living, salt producing. The ground water here is ten times saltier than sea water, which is pumped out using bores and then filled into small fields of about 25 by 25 meters. The sun beats down on this water; it gradually turns into silvery salt. The Agariyas harvest 10—15 tonnes of salt from each of these pans every 15 days which is then sent to salt companies and chemical factories across the country through trucks and trains.
Stay at a royal haveli @ Devpur:
Staying at this experiential heritage homestay was a one of a kind experience. The Devpur Darbargadh (small manor) was built in 1905 by Thakore Shri Verisalji Bawasaheb of Roha and is located in central Kutch. Enjoy clean spacious rooms along with some great homemade food. This also makes for a central location to explore Kutch and the host Mr Krutharth Singh ji, gave us invaluable inputs on sightseeing and the local villages and NGO’s where we could visit to see artisans and craftsmen in action. All the rooms have a collection of carefully selected books on Kutch history and culture which made our stay all the more interesting.
At the edge:
Travel close to the border to view the spectacular Rann and the conditions in which our BSF work to protect our country.
Lakhpat: the last frontier of Kutch, is an amazing sea fort situated in the mouth of Kori Creek. An attraction is the Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib. The hospitality offered is very warm.
Koteshwar: The temple is located at a height from the ground level and you can get spectacular view of the surrounding sea in all directions.
Kalo Dungar: It is one of the few non-coastal locations where you feel like you are at the edge of the earth, on the brink of incomprehensible vastness that fades off towards infinity. The hill is also the site of a 400-year-old temple to Dattatreya, the three-headed incarnation of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in the same body.
The Greater Rann of Kutch:
“Kutch nahi dekha to kuch nahi dekha” advertisements on TV by Mr Amitabh Bachann are surely drawing masses to the white Rann. I planned on purpose to visit the white rann before the “Rann Utsav” started and away from Dhordo (the tent city where the Rann Utsav is held) by staying at Hodko, a small village close by.
While driving along the tar road in the middle of nowhere we came across a small water body with numerous pelicans and flamingos and ducks. It was a sweet surprise.
The white ran is at its best at sunrise and sunset. The mesmerizing colours across the white ran is a delightful sight. You need to take permit at the BSF post to enter the Rann. One permit entitles you for entry only once.
Art and Craft of Kutch:
We had a first-hand experience of witnessing the art taking form. The making of Bandhani sarees at Mr Aziz Khatris house in Bhadli, making of copper bells and rogan art at the Nirona village was a learning experience. The government is also doing its bit of promoting the local art, a small exhibition setup is built near Bhujodi, called the Hira Laxmi for the same.
Enlightened with some facts like the rogan art is created by using castor oil based natural paint and the price of the bandhani is decided by the number of “bandhs” (tied knots). The more the number of bandhs the higher the price.
There is such a vast heritage here, I could cover only a few of them. Here is the link to the heritage tour that I undertook during my Kutch visit.
Here is my Travel Itinerary along with our stay details: