Kutch

The White Desert of India
Kutch

Miles-long stretches of white sand, wilderness, heritage sites and beaches await you in Kutch, the white desert of India, which dates back to prehistoric days.

Sometimes called the Wild West of India, Kutch Gujarat is a must-visit destination for every avid traveller. The old-world charm and the surreal stretches of the nothingness of Kutch are enough to leave anyone spellbound. Spread over more than 40,000 square kilometres, Kutch is one of the largest districts In India. Kutch, sometimes spelt as Kachchh, translates to something that intermittently becomes wet and dry. A large part of Kutch, known as Rann of Kutch, a shallow wetland, submerges under water during the monsoon season and becomes dry during other seasons. The Kutch district’s geographical features resemble a tortoise, which is the literal translation of the word Kachchh in Sanskrit.

Great Rann Of Kutch

The The Great Rann of Kutch is a large area of salt marsh, one of the largest salt deserts in the world. Apart from the seemingly unending white desert, another intriguing aspect of the Great Rann Of Kutch is the Rann of Kutch Utsav. A three-month-long event that starts on the 1st of November and lasts on the 20th of February is a way of celebrating life, colours, and the rich and beautiful culture of Gujarat and Kutch. With dance, music and lip-smacking Gujarati cuisine, the festival takes place in the captivating Rann of Kutch. Any traveller visiting the Rann Utsav must stay there overnight. The view of the white desert under the full moon is enthralling, and you can not expect to find the same visuals anywhere else in the world. The days at Rann Utsav are filled with colours, and tourists get to experience the generosity and hospitality of the Kutchi people.

The best time to visit the Great Rann Of Kutch is from October to March, especially during the Rann Utsav. The pleasant weather and the Rann Utsav celebration make the place lively. However, this time is also the peak season to visit Kutch, and the prices of stays, food and other things may be inflated.

Great Rann Of Kutch

Little Rann Of Kutch

Home to Indian Wild Ass or khur- an endangered species, Little Rann Of Kutch is another place that you can’t miss out on your trip to Kutch. Located in the Little Rann Of Kutch is the Wild Ass Sanctuary to conserve the endangered species. Since the region lies on the migration route of many birds and the connection to the dynamic Gulf of Kutch, it is home to several species of migrating birds. Apart from the migrating birds, one can also sight the sarus crane, Dalmatian Pelican, ducks, flamingoes, and land birds like the francolin and the sandgrouse. One of the most threatened species of birds, the Indian bustard is also found in some of the regions of the Little Rann Of Kutch. Little Rann Of Kutch is also home to many wild animals, including blackbucks, desert foxes, gazelle, blue bull, jackal, hare, jungle cat, wolf, and wild boar. The blackbucks and blue bull are endangered species that are close to extinction.

Little Rann Of Kutch

Dholavira

If you are intrigued by the ancient Indian civilizations, then Dholavira in Kutch is a place you can’t afford to miss. Dholavira is among the five largest Harappan sites located on the tropic of cancer. It is one of the most prominent archaeological sites and was the grandest of cities in its time.

About 4500 years ago, Dholavira was a remarkable excavation site and one of the most developed cities during the Indus Valley Civilization. The city was divided into three main architectural layouts and even contained a vast open stadium.

At present, Dholavira is an archaeological site known as Kotada Timba. The site does not just contain evident pieces of architecture but also depicts the Harappan lifestyle. During the excavation, several remains of the Harappan culture, including earthen pots, jewellery, beads, mirror and other materials, were found. With two water channels, Mansar and Manhar, passing by the city, Dholavira had an exceptional water conservation system back in the day.

Dholavira

Kutch Museum

Situated opposite Hamirsar Lake is the Kutch Museum, the oldest museum in Gujarat. Known earlier as the Fergusson Museum, the museum displays weapons, spanning textiles, silverware, wildlife, sculpture, geography and dioramas of Kutch tribal costumes and artefacts. The museum is home to the most extensive existing collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions dating back to the 1st century, including the oldest Kshatrapa six inscription stones found in Khavda. It also features examples of the extinct Kutchi script, the only Gujarati Abhira inscription of the 3rd century, and the Koris - the local currency of Kutch till 1948. The museum has several sections, which can be broadly classified as a picture gallery, an archaeological section, an anthropological section, textiles, a shipping section, weapons, stuffed animals, and musical instruments. An entire section of the museum is devoted to the vibrant tribal culture of Kutch.

Kutch Museum

Mandvi Beach

Although Kutch is famous for its salt desert, Mandvi beach is another favourite of tourists. A tranquil and pristine seashore located in the Kutch region of Gujarat, Mandvi Beach is quite popular for water sports facilities and camping activities. Some of the popular tourist spots, including Vijay Vilas palace, are near Mandvi beach.

The beach is still undiscovered and not much crowded, and that contributes to its cleanliness. The clear water and clean beach all contribute to the serenity of watching the sun setting over the horizon. You can also enjoy camel rides at the beach, indulge in the local delicacies, and partake in adventure and water sports.

Mandvi Beach

Aaina Mahal

In the middle of the 18th century, during the rule of Lakhpatji, The ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ or the Aaina Mahal palace, was built. Behind the engineering, architecture, and embellishments were Ram Singh Malam, a genius artist. He had undergone training in Europe for 17 years, but to gain a name and fame for himself, he came back to India. The king asked him to create a palace of dreams, and Aaina Mahal came into existence.

The earthquake that hit Bhuj in 2002 was tragic and many historical marvels, including the Aaina Mahal, suffered the consequences. The glasses, exotic tile works and antique clocks in Aaina Mahal were dishevelled. However, it was safely recovered and renovated, and the place is open to visitors again. Located at the Northeast corner of Hamirsar Lake, Aaina Mahal is one such place that you can’t miss on your trip to Kutch.

Aaina Mahal

Vijay Vilas Palace

Another masterpiece of Rajputana Architecture, located in Mandvi, Gujarat, is The Vijay Vilas Palace, built of red sandstones. Sitting amidst the lush green gardens and a beach, Vijay Vilas Palace served as the summer getaway for the Maharaja of Bhuj. Today, this palace is open to tourists as a heritage home for a luxury stay, with rooms starting at INR 6,500. You will enjoy taking a stroll through the lush gardens surrounding the palace. The stunning interiors with intricate jail work, stone engravings, jharokhas and beautiful glasswork are all enough to keep you captivated.

Vijay Vilas Palace

Apart from these, Kutch has several other places that are worth visiting, including Prag mahal, Hamirsar Lake, and Kutch Bustard Sanctuary. The city markets are filled with local handicrafts. People looking for authentic mirror work and bandhani work must visit the local markets of the cities in Kutch. The white desert stretches for miles, and the colourful ambience makes such a combination that is hard to miss.

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