If you are having trouble planning your winter holiday, I have got you covered or if you are planning a trip to South then kindly turn to West for the underrated Kutch. To the geographically challenged, Kutch is the second largest district in India. Apart from its unique landscape, it is a doorway to connect you to the oldest civilizations including the Harappa Civilization. It is the home to some of the most intriguing architectures of the world, rich in culture and beautiful sanctuaries are also found here along with the one of a kind Rann of Kutch, a scenic saline marsh of land found in the Thar Desert. The best time to visit the district is between November to February if you want to avoid the scorching heat and hot waves in summer.
You must add these 10 places to your itinerary
Great Rann of Kutch
This is should be at the top of your check list. It is Earth’s very own heavenly abode. The sand is mixed with salt giving a glitter to the surface. You can pitch tents at night and watch the moon cast its light on the surface giving a visual treat and making it look white and go for camel safaris. Imagine a quiet stroll under the moonlight. Apart from its natural beauty, you can also attend Rann festival to experience the true spirit of the region in terms of its art and culture. There is something very poetic about the Arabian Sea on one hand and the Thar Desert on the other. It is 45 km away from Bhuj.
2. Mandvi Beach
It is in the city of Mandvi. It offers serenity and tranquillity if you are looking for a weekend retreat from the stressful city life. There are a lot of beaches and a no. of huge ships as it is a port. Vijay Vilas Palace, an architectural marvel, is not far away, besides movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan were shot here. While there, you cannot afford to miss the famous Mandvi Dabeli of Osho restaurant, dhokla at its best and the sparkling Topansar Lake.
3. Kalo Dungar or the black hills
It offers an alluring panoramic view of the entire Kutch since it is the highest point of the region. It’s a visual treat to experience the sunset from the highest peak. The Indo-Pak border is visible from the hills apart from that you can also visit the 400 years old Dattatreya temple that houses the three headed incarnation Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. To reach their jeeps and buses are available but to absorb its true beauty you can hike provided you have a professional guide with you or some of your own experience.
While in Kutch you cannot miss the part of the world’s oldest civilization the Indus Valley at the Harappan civilization. Dholavira is an excavation of the Harrapan civilization. Through it, you will be deported back to its roots. It will find the remains of the culture there, the famous citadel, the middle city, and the lower city. You must visit this part to get an insight of the Harappan civilization’s infrastructure sense, culture, and art. If you spend more hours you might find some jewelry, utensils, and copper of that era. Don’t forget to visit its museum.
5. Aina Mahal, or ‘Hall of Mirrors
It is filled and decorated with different kinds of mirrors works in its hallways. It not just a palace with enchanting beauty but rich in history it has a handicraft museum representing the beautiful art of different parts of Kutch. There is also a beautiful lake called Hamirsar in the north east corner of the palace. The doors, windows, and balconies have beautiful carvings designed on them reflecting the unique art of the region. Make sure to stroll around the entire place.
6. Prag Mahal
Not too far away from the Aina Mahal is absolutely unique in its architecture. You may get confused looking at the architectural contrast of the two palaces. This is because of the Italian Gothic architecture designed by a British designer. It gives a European touch to it. Also, you will be left amazed looking at the intricate jaali work on the Jharokas. But the real treat is getting the whole view of the Bhuj city from a 45-foot tall bell tower.
7. The Kutch Museum
It the oldest museum of Gujrat and a heaven for the history and art buffs. You must visit the gallery of Coins that still retains Kori- Kutch’s historical currency. You get a glimpse of the Gujrat’s history through the Kshatrapa inscriptions, artifacts of the tribal culture, Kutchi script, sculptures, paintings, arms and beautiful metal work.
8. Siyot Caves
These ancient caves have been in existence since the first century, you do the maths. The walls of the caves literally have stories to tell. The painting, sculptures, and carvings depict different incidents of the history like the Chinese migration to India and different kinds of folklores.
9. Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary
It is in the little Rann of Kutch. It is the home to the Indian Ass also called ghu-Khar or her, other animals like Chinkara, hedgehog, fox, desert cats, jackal, jungle cats, wolf, and blue bulls are also found here. Apart from that a no. of different species of birds, reptiles, and crocodiles are found. The timings are from 5 am to 7 pm.
10. Bhuj Market
The Bhuj-market caters to the artist in you. Not only the markets in Bhuj but the small villages around offer unique styles of handicrafts and precious artwork. You must look out for the famous Kutch embroidery. You can buy embroidered clothes, tapestry, and carpets from here for yourself and loved ones. Some of these artists have showcased their artistic work at UNESCO.