Information on Kutch :
Kutch district is a district of Gujarat state in western India. It is the largest district in the state of Gujarat and the second largest district of India. Kutch literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kutch which is shallow wetland which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons.
Tourist Attractions in Kutch :
The various tourist attractions in Kutch are Great Rann of Kutch, Banni Grasslands Reserve, Koteshwar Temple, Lakhpat, The Black Hill (Kalo Dungar), Bhadreshwar, Bhujodi, Dholavira, Khavda, Mandvi Beach, Kutch Desert Festival, Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary etc.
Great Rann of Kutch :
The Great Rann of Kutch also called Greater Rann of Kutch or just Rann of Kutch, is a seasonally marshy saline clay desert located in the Thar Desert biogeographic province in the Kutch District, state of Gujarat situated 8 km away from village Kharaghoda located in the Surendranagar District. The Rann of Kutch comprises some 30,000 square kilometres (10,000 sq. mi) between the Gulf of Kutch.
Banni Grasslands Reserve :
Banni Grasslands Reserve or Banni grasslands form a belt of arid grassland ecosystem on the outer southern edge of the desert of the marshy salt flats of Rann of Kutch in Kutch District, Gujarat State, India. They are known for rich wildlife and biodiversity and are spread across an area of 3,847 square kilometres. They are currently legally protected under the status as a Protected or Reserve Forest in India.
The word Banni comes from Hindi and Sanskrit word banai, meaning made. The grasslands are home to mammals such as the Nilgai, Chinkara, Blackbuck, and Wild boar, Golden Jackal, Indian Hare, Indian Wolf, Caracal, Asiatic Wildcat and Desert Fox etc. among others. This grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the Cheetah in India.
Koteshwar Temple :
After traveling over the expanse of desert in western Kutch, you find the Koteshwar Temple, at a place where the immensity of dry land meets the incomprehensible vastness of the sea. The only point that breaks the skyline from the flat brown horizon to the east and the wide blue horizon to the west is the point of the Koteshwar Temple, the last outpost of human construction at the westernmost limit of India. Not overrun by tourists like the temple at Dwarka, Koteshwar is conducive to contemplating emptiness, pondering the place of humanity on earth.
Lakhpat has religious significance for three of Indias most populous religions: Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, reportedly camped here on his journey to Mecca. The site later became a gurudwara, which holds some of Nanaks possessions; Pir Ghaus Muhammed, a Sufi mystic who from the age of twelve devoted himself to spiritual practice and reportedly practiced half as a Hindu and half as a Muslim, is buried here in Lakhpat. His tomb is a stone construction with very complex carvings and a water tank that is said to have healing properties for skin problems; Sayyed Pir Shahs nine-domed mausoleum has intricate carvings, doors, windows and jaalis.
The Black Hills (Kalo Dungar) :
25 kms north of Khavda, the top of the Black Hills is the highest point in Kutch, at 462 m. From here, the entire northern horizon vanishes into the Great Rann, the desert and sky often becoming indistinguishable. Looking out from the Black Hills, you can understand the tremendous effort that those who undertake the crossing of the Great Rann have to make. Since this is one of the places where a civilian can get closest to the Pakistan border, there is an Army post at the top; beyond here, only military personnel are allowed. 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.
It is a famous Jain pilgrimage centre. The architecture of the ancient Shiva temple is such that the presiding deity is visible from the ground floor as well as the first floor, with some beautiful sculpture chiselled on the outer walls. The tour will also cover stepwell, Sol Thambhi Mosque, Jagdu Shah Palace, Lal Shabhar Mosque, Chokunda Mahadev Temple - a visit that will expose you to many religious traditions of India, congregated in one region.
A small town just 8 km southeast of Bhuj, Bhujodi is a major textile centre of Kutch, with the vast majority of the 1200 inhabitants involved in textile handicraft production. Here you can meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of whom belong to the Vankar community. Many will let you watch them work; just ask around.
About a kilometer from Bhujodi is the Ashapura Crafts Park, set up by a corporate non-profit wing to help artisans display and sell their work and organizes dance and music events on weekends. Shrujan is a local non-profit set up 40 years ago to allow women to market their work better and earn a better living from it. The Shrujan campus is an interesting place to visit, with embroidery exhibits, a production centre and excellent examples of local architecture with environmental awareness in mind.
One of the five largest Harappan sites in Indian sub-continent, Dholavira is located in the Khadir Bet Island in Kutch district of Gujarat. Also known as Kotada timba, the site was discovered in 1967 by J P Joshi. Since 1990, Archaeological Survey of India is excavating the site. The site contains remains of the Indus valley civilization.
The site is considered to be the second largest Harappan site in India and fifth largest in the Indian sub-continent. The other Harappan sites are Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, Rupanagar and Lothal. Along with Lothal, Dholavira is the only site which marks its presence in all the stages of Harappan culture from 2900 BC to 1500 BC. Through the excavation carried out by the ASI, it has been learnt that Dholavira was once an important commercial centre and trade occurred with south Gujarat, Sindh, Punjab and Middle East. Archaeologists have also discovered urban architecture and unearthed antiquities like seals, beads, gold, silver, terracotta ornaments, pottery and bronze vessels. Dholavira also consists one of the worlds earliest water conservation systems. It had reservoirs, which were used for storing rain water. Heavily dependent on rainfall, Dholavira invested on rainwater harvesting to overcome the drought situation. The remains in the site also shows citadel with a middle and lower town. These structures were built with sun-dried brick and stone masonry. The inhabitants also built an underground drainage system for sanitation. Tourists can spot a large stadium with seating arrangement built as per the complex structure.
Archaeologists have also found ten large-scale inscriptions carved in Indus Valley script, which are yet to be deciphered. Another attraction of the site is the archaeological museum, where one gets to see relics of the Indus valley civilization. Dholavira went into decline in the 5th and 7th stages of the Harappan culture.
The town has excellent potters and leather craftsmen (indicating a heavy Muslim presence, as Hindus do not use leather), and ajrakh block printing at khatrivas. The KMVS (Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan) office in Khavda sells embroidered handmade dolls and other textile products and is run by local women. Khavda is also the departure point to visit the worlds largest flamingo colony, at a lake in the desert out past Jamkundaliya, where a half million flamingos stop over on their migrations every year. The flamingo colony can only be reached by camel and is best visited in the winter.
Mandvi Beach :
The first thing most people think of when they visit Mandvi is visiting the seashore. Mandvi Beach is the closest to the town center, across the bridge to the east side of the river, then down the road past a place called Salaya, accessed from just near the Kashi-Vishvanath Temple (sometimes the beach is called Kashi-Vishvanath Beach.) Wind Farm Beach is 7 km west of town, named for the windmills that line it to generate electricity for the area. You can get fresh coconuts and other snacks, swim in very pleasant water, and enjoy a nice view of the coastline.
The Maharaos private beach, behind Vijay Vilas Palace, is 8 km from town, and requires a small fee (the other beaches are free and open to the public). More secluded than the others, the Vijay Vilas Beach has nice white sand, lovely places to swim and accommodation available in air-conditioned tents along the shore.
Vijay Vilas Palace - Mandvi :
Built in 1929 by Rao Vijayrajji, this palace is very well-maintained, and often the scene of filming for Bollywood productions. It was built of red sandstone in the Rajput style, with a main central dome, Bengal domes at the sides, bastions at the corner, and coloured glass windows. The balcony at the top affords a superb view of the surrounding area, and the kings tomb can also be seen.
Kutch Desert Festival :
A visit to Kutch Desert Festival, offers access to the interior and beautiful recesses of the region of Kutch, situated in Gujarat, India. A visit to Kutch Desert Festival, offers an insight into the region which comprises of expansive wastelands and eerie landscapes to the excitement of a large number of tourists who come to visit Gujarat, situated in India. Kutch is a large inundated section of land bearing similarities with the American Wild West. Kutch, situated in Gujarat, India, can also be equated with a Desert in some terrains.
The Kutch Festival, is celebrated in Kutch, near the days when Shivratri is celebrated in Gujarat, India. During the celebration of Kutch Desert Festival, colourfully attired dancers, music concerts, Sindhi Bhajan performances, Langa Desert Music and shops selling embroideries and jewellery are too, the hallmarks of the Kutch Desert Festival, being celebrated in Gujarat, India.
Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary :
Rainy season to the end of winters is the best time to enjoy this wondrous sanctuary. The most ideal way to enjoy this retreat is, taking a walk around the natures cradle while befriending various species of the Bustard family. Look around for the Black and Gary Francolin, the Spotted and Indian Sangrias, Quails, Larks, Shrikes, Coursers and Plovers. And if you are lucky, you might catch fluttering glimpses of rare species of Stolicskas Bush chat and White-napped Tit. If you keep walking northwards towards the coastal area of Jakhau during winters, you might get greeted by large flocks of flamingos, Herons, Egrets, Sandpipers and other birds dwelling in the salt-reservoirs and the creek.
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary :
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Great Rann of Kutch, Kutch district, Gujarat, India, it was declared a sanctuary in February 1986. It is one of the largest seasonal saline wetlands having an average water depth between 0.5 to 1.5 metres. By October-November each year, rain water dries up and the entire area turns into saline desert. The sanctuary supports wide variety of water birds and mammalian wildlife. The northern boundary of this sanctuary forms the international border between India and Pakistan and is heavily patrolled by the Border Security Force in India with much of this sanctuary being closed to civilians after the India Bridge at Kala dungar (Black hill), Khavda. Tourists and researchers can only enter here with special permission from the BSF.
Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary :
Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary also popularly known as Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary or Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary. Narayan Sarovar is home to a wide array of wildlife, including many species (15 of which are considered threatened) of mammals, reptiles, and birds. The principle species here is the chinkara, an Indian gazelle. In this harsh landscape, only animals well-adapted to the desert climate can thrive, with extreme heat, high winds, and frequent storms. For this reason, many species can be seen here that are not easy to find elsewhere. Most of Narayan Sarovar is desert thorn forest and scrub forest, with some seasonal wetlands and dry savannah-type vegetation as well. Gorad and babul are the prevailing plant species; gorad in the east and babul in the west. Also found among the 252 species of flowering plants in the sanctuary are hermo, ber, pilu, thor, gugal, salai, ingorio, kerdo, carissa, and the invasive ? “Gando Baawal” (prosopsis juliflora), though less so than in other nearby areas.
Narayan Sarovar :
Narayan Sarovar Lake is one of the 5 holy lakes of Hinduism, along with Mansarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa and Pushkar in Rajasthan. The lake is associated with a time of drought in the Puranic area, when Narayan (a form of Lord Vishnu) appeared in response to the fervent prayers of sages and touched the land with his toe, creating the lake, now revered as holy to bathe in (though this is not recommended). There are temples to Shri Trikamraiji, Laxminarayan, Govardhannathji, Dwarkanath, Adinarayan, Ranchodraiji and Laxmiji, built by the wife of Maharao Desalji. These are of more interest to those on religious pilgrimage here; other visitors are likely to find Koteshwar a more interesting option.
Wild Ass Sanctuary :
It is situated in the Little Rann Of Kutch. It is well known for its Wild Ass sanctuary. This Wild Ass is known as Khar Gaddha. It is a sturdy creature, which can gallop at the speed of 50 Kms. per hour. The Little Rann of Kutch is located close by and is famous for the Indian Wild Ass sanctuary, where the worlds last population of Indian Wild Ass still exists along with the Indian Wolf, Desert Fox, Golden Jackal, Chinkara, Nilgai, and Blackbuck.
Another port town on the south coast of Kutch, Mundra was well-known for salt and spice trading in the past and now more for tie-dye and block-print textiles. The harbour is virtually unusable today, and only small local fishing craft navigate its silted waterways up the river. The Mahadev temple has memorials to famous Mundra sailors, including some who advised the Sultan of Zanzibar and guided Vasco da Gama to India. Darya Pir, the patron saint of Kutchi fisher people, arrived here from Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan) in 1660. He was well-loved by the locals, introduced them to Islam, and they built the shrine that bears his name here when he died; this site still receives visitors of many religious backgrounds seeking blessings. The Mughal Emperor built a gate in his honor, which still stands and is known today as the Mughal Gate. Interestingly, the walls of the old city fortifications have a religious origin, as they were dragged from the ruins of the Jain city of Bhadreshwar.