Bhuj and Mandvi

The most exotic and surreal destination of Kutch, Bhuj remains the White Desert or the Rann of Kutch.

India, Gujarat, tribes of the Kutch, the Little Rann of Kutch salty desert, People working in a local saltern
People working in a local saltern

Set against the dramatic backdrop of Bhujio Hill (that’s how the name ‘Bhuj’ was derived) is a fascinating city and is an interesting place to explore. It’s a city of tombs, palaces, museums and ancient temples, each reflecting its rich glorious past. Bhuj is the land where the Naga chiefs, Jadeja Rajputs, Gujarat Sultans and the British ruled (even if only for a while). It’s a land that also holds the key to our ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley and so much more.

To view the blinding whiteness of this place, you need to take a 2-hour drive from Bhuj to ‘Ekal ka Rann’ beyond the village of Dhordo (the same place where we see Amitabh Bachchan walking on a never-ending expanse of White Desert – The Rann of Kutch.) Dhordo is also the venue for Tent City constructed for showcasing the Rann Utsav

Rann of Kutch
Rann of Kutch

Places of Interest In & Around Bhuj

  1. Swaminarayan Temple: Spread across 35000 sq ft. the Swaminarayan Temple, Bhuj was built in the year 1824 and is managed by Nar Narayan Dev Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a sect of Hinduism.
    SwaminarayanKutch@meghanahassan.blogspot
    The Temple is east facing and has beautifully carved pillars, decorated ceilings and all kinds of artwork, making it exquisite.
    SwaminarayanKutch2@meghanahassan.blogspot
    Located near the Kutch Museum, the Swaminarayan Temple is the most popular tourist destination in Bhuj after the Rann of Kutch. Free parking is available here.
  2. Aina Mahal: Aina Mahal is aptly known as the hall of Mirrors and that’s its principal attraction. Built during the 18th Century with an Indo-European style of Architecture, the Aina Mahal has intricately carved Jharokhas and looks much more charming than Parag Mahal.
    Marvelous Outer View of Aina Mahal
    Marvelous Outer View of Aina Mahal

    Ramsinh Malan, the person who built this beautiful structure has undergone 17 years of intensive training is European Architecture that he learned in various cities of Holland and Europe.

    Intricate Carvings on Doors
    Ivory Inlay work on one of the Aina Mahal Doors

    He designed Aina Mahal along with Gaidher Devshi (local craftsmen) and got most of the materials themselves. In fact the Glass Factory at Mandvi and China Tiles Factory at Bhuj were also established by Ramsinh Malan.

    There are a series of fountains positioned inside a large pool around Aina Mahal that were designed to pull up water from underground and spray back in a variety of patterns like the musical fountains of today.

    Although the place has been severely damaged after the 2001 earthquake, few rooms have been restored to bring back its grandeur like the Fuvanra Hall (Music Hall) and Hira Mahal (State bedroom of Maharao Lakhpatji, that has bed posts made of pure gold and a shoe that used to spray perfume while the king walked!)
    AinaMahalinside
    The whole Palace is full of valuable antiques, intricately created toys that had a functional purpose and of course numerous shapes and kinds of Mirrors. There are many more interesting things displayed here and a visit will definitely keep you enthralled for long.

    Entry Fee: 20 INR per person Camera Fee: 50 INR

  3. Parag Mahal: Is located just adjacent to Aina Mahal and was built by Rao Shri Khengarji in 1548 A.D and was developed into a palace complex over 300 years.
    Parag Mahal
    Parag Mahal

    Pragmahal which is part of Darbargadh complex was built by Maharao Shri Pragmalji ( II ) in 1865 and designed by Col. Henry Saint Clair Wilkins in Neo-Gothic style. It is the first building in India to adopt the Neo-Gothic style of architecture after which several other buildings also were contructed including the Mumbai Railway Station.

    praj-mahal-bhuj@lakshmisharath
    The most significant element of the Pragmahal is the 150 feet high bing bang clock tower visible from all parts of Bhuj town. And yes you can walk up to the clock tower to get a clear view of the entire city of Bhuj.

    Inside the Durbar Hall
    Inside the Durbar Hall

    Inside there’s a Darbar Hall with several wall hangings, chandeliers, and antique furniture. The whole palace has a royal look to it and its like stepping back into the royal era. There are plenty of other displays around the Palace including palanquins, weapons etc.

    Entry fee Rs 20/- per adult  Child fee is Rs 10/- School group children Rs 5/- College group Rs 10/- Mobile Camera Rs 20/- Camera fee Rs 50/- Video Graphy Rs 200/-

  4. Sharad Bagh Palace: Until the year 1991, it was the King’s residence (Madan Singh, the last ruler of Kutch) and has now been transformed into a museum.bhuj_sharad_baug_palace_006
    It is a modest yet attractive palace that has a central drawing room and few rooms on its second floor and is Surrounded by lavish gardens making is look like a hidden castle.The Sharad Bagh Palace was built in 1867 and adorns an Italian Architecture set among shady trees and an impressive garden around it. It lost most of its 3rd floor during the earthquake of 2001 but still remains an attractive place to be for its collection of royal exhibits, expensive paintings, artifacts, weapons of Jadeja Rajputs, stuffed tigers etc.

    Royal Exhibits at the Sharad Bagh Palace
    Royal Exhibits at the Sharad Bagh Palace

    How to Reach: The Palace is just a 6 min drive and approx 2 km’s from the main town towards the Swaminarayan Temple.

  5. Hamirsar Lake: This huge lake was built by Rao Khengarji I (1548–1585) in the memory of his father Rao Hamir (1472-1524) who was the founder of Bhuj. The embarkment area was later constructed by Pragmalji II. The Lake essentially provided the much needed clean drinking water to the people of Bhuj and surrounding area.Walking along the edge of the lake, one can see Aina Mahal, Prag Mahal, Kutch Museum, Alfred High School and many temples. During the tourist season, the lake also becomes the backdrop for the performance of many traditional folk artists.
  6. Kutch Museum (1.5 Kms from Bhuj Station): Although small in size and not very well kept, it is one of the oldest museums of Gujarat founded by Maharao Khengarji II and has the largest collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions dating back to the 1st century AD and numerous extinct Kutchi scripts, Kori Coins and traditional textiles, artifacts, fossils and other archaeological objects.
    Kutch Museum at Bhuj
    Kutch Museum at Bhuj

    There are 2 floors in the Museum, the Ground Floor displays the Kutch Community, tribes and their living styles along with attractive statues displaying different types of tribes. The First floor is full of handicraft and textile items along with silverware, hand weaving items etc. You can also see a wide range of weapons and armory used by the kings here.

    Entry Fee: 5-10 INR  Camera Fee: 100 INR

  7. Ram Kund: Located just behind the Ram Dhun Temple and near the Kutch Museum, Ram Kund is an ancient step well and is sacred to the city.
    Ram Kund (Step Well), Bhuj City
    Ram Kund (Step Well), Bhuj City

    It’s important as the walls of the tank depicts 10 thousand incarnations of Lord Vishnu, along with other Hindu Deities.

  8. Chhatrardi of Kutchi Rulers (Cenotaphs): The Royal Chattris (umbrellas) of the Kutch Royals protect them from severe heat and rain even after death and are located in clusters around the Bhuj town (with 6-7 km’s gap in between each Chattri). Most of them are made using red stone and have typical carvings in the Rajput style of architecture with jali and stone work. Use of turquoise blue stones over the structures marks the influence of Islamic architecture too.

    Cenotaphs of Kutch Royals
    Cenotaphs of Kutch Royals

    Prominent Cenotaphs or Chattrisare of Lakhpatji, Desarji and Raydbanji ll. Interesting to know that as the 15 wives of Lakhpatji committed Sati on his funeral Pyre, the main hall inside Maharao Lakhpat’s Chhatrardis has his statue along with 15 other small statues of his queens inside the cenotaph.

    How to Reach: Near Hamirsar Lake (25 minutes walk)

  9. Kala Dungar (locally called Kalo Dungar): The only place from where the entire Rann of Kutch can be viewed.
    View from Kalo Dunger
    View from Kalo Dungar

    The hill has a 400-year-old temple dedicated to Dattatreya and prasad is offered to the Jackals who emerge from the nearby rocky terrains every afternoon and evening. Read More about Kalo Dungar under the article Rann Utsav.

    View Point at Kala Dunger
    View Point at Kala Dunger

    Enroute you can visit Khavda village (25 km’s before Kalo Dungar and 70 km’s from Bhuj), famous for excellent works of pottery, leather crafts, Ajrakh block printing and embroidered handicrafts. For details on the Handicrafts of Bhuj-Kutch, I suggest you visit www.gaatha.com

    Handicrafts at Khavda Village enroute Kala Dunger
    Handicrafts at Khavda Village en route Kala Dungar

    There is a village called Bhirandiyara (en route Village Kavda) which makes amazing fudge out of fresh milk. Buy from Saheb Tea House!

    Kavda is also the departure point to visit the largest flamingo colony at Chhari Dhand (48.2 Kms from here). In Banni region too, nearby villages like Hodko, Dhordo, Ludiya, Dhamadka, Sumrasar etc. can also be visited for their exclusive handwork and handicrafts.

  10. Mata Nu Madh, Nakhatrana Fossil Park, Narayan Sarovar, Koteshwar Temple and Lakhpat: All these places are located towards the extreme west of Bhuj and can be traveled in a day if you start early morning.
    Mata Nu Madh, Family Diety of Yaduvanshi & Kutch Rulers
    Mata Nu Madh, Family Diety of Yaduvanshi & Kutch Rulers

    First stop is ‘Mata No Madh’ the beautiful shrine of Ashapura Mata (Kuldevi of Yaduvansh- Krishna’s family deity) and who was also prayed to by former Kutch rulers. A local man Devchand Shah was ordered by a Goddess in his dream to built a temple and the door closed for 6 months. However in the fifth month, on hearing some music being played inside, he opened the door to find an incomplete deity of a Goddess (without legs), but the Goddess still blessed him for his devotion and since then the faith of Kutch increased.  The original temple which was demolished during 1819 earthquake was more than 1200 years old. Today the place is sacred to the people of Bhuj.

    Koteshwar Temple (152 Kms from Bhuj) is located right at the end of the sea and after seeing so much of the arid dry land, the sight is truly refreshing. Koteshwar Temple is about 2 km’s from Narayan Sarovar (a sacred lake) and falls en route with a slight detour for people traveling to Lakhpat (28 km’s).

    otherbloglogoInteresting blog on Koteshwar

    Narayan Sarovar Temple Complex
    Narayan Sarovar Temple Complex

    Legend states that Lord Shiva after seeing Ravana’s display of piety had gifted him a Shiva Linga with immense spiritual power, but Ravana in his arrogant haste accidentally dropped it here (Koteshwar). Lord Shiva was angry and to punish Ravana for his carelessness turned the Linga into a thousand identical copies (maybe more) and unable to distinguish the original, Ravana grabbed one and departed, leaving the original one here at where the Koteshwar Temple now stands. (Read More HERE)

    Koteshwar Temple

    The location of the Koteshwar temple is stunning and on a clear night, one can even see the glowing lights of Karachi City in Pakistan!

    Nakhatrana Fossil Park: (50 km’s from Bhuj) is popular for its Fossil Museum and is an interesting place for those who Palaeontologists.

    Nakhatrana Fossils
    Nakhatrana Fossils

    The Nakhatrana Fossil Museum may look small but holds a huge collection of archaeological finds, stones, fossils of Dinosaurs and plenty of other interesting stuff. It’s a must visit.

    Lakhpat: (28 km’s from Koteshwar and 135 Kms from Bhuj) Once an important port, the city of Lakhpat has been abandoned for the past 200 years after the 1819 earthquake which also diverted the Indus River.

    The Ghost Town of Lakhpat but Ancient Architecture Galore
    The Ghost Town of Lakhpat but Ancient Architecture Galore

    Today the Ghost town tells a story of its grandeur by the ruins in the shape of the fort walls and other important religious buildings as well for three of India’s most followed religions-Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam. Hatkeshwar temple, Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib, Nani Mai Dargah and Syed Pir Shah Dargah are all located inside the Lakhpat fort walls and each of them, have a remarkable history and an even more beautiful architecture. Click HERE for History of Lakhpat

  11. Chhari Dhandh in Banni grassland (60 kms from Bhuj): the sight of a huge flock of Flamingos awaits you at the Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.
    Flock of Flamingo's
    Flock of Flamingo’s

    ‘Chari’ means salt affected and ‘Dhand’ means shallow wetland. Located on the edge of the arid Banni Grasslands, Chari- Dhand is a marshy salt lake, formed by the sediments deposited by several rivers that flowed through the region over several thousand years. ‘Banni’ also means Bani Hui – ‘Readymade’. It’s also believed that the Indus River flowed through Banni before the earthquake of 1816, which was then a fertile land.

Today Chhach and Dhand are the largest seasonal wetlands that fill up during monsoons and attract many migratory birds inclusing Flamingoes between the months of November-February.

Plenty of bird species such as Marsh Harrier, Ducks, Cranes, Painted stork, Spoonbills, Bar-tailed Godwits can also be spotted. The wetland also attracts Chinkara, Wolves, Caracal, Desert cats and foxes. Do witness the beautiful sunset here, with the backdrop of Keero hill.

Dinodhar Hills
Dinodhar Hills

Keero Hill: Keero Hill lies near the Dinodhar Hill, a dormant volcanic site and has several layers of Fossil treasure hidden underneath. Remember, Kutch was undersea for over two million years and research has proved that the area has a rich resource for Marine fossils dating back to upper and middle Jurassic era (135 to 150 million-year-old). Do visit the Than Monastery located nearby. Details of which are mentioned below under Bhuj Offtrack.

KeeroFossil1@tariquesani-FlickrDuring evenings & nights, an interesting phenomenon occurs, that is locally called as ‘Chir Batti’. In the Banni Grasslands, four distinct pear-shaped lights are seen regularly, one yellow, three blue moving like a ball and then appearing & disappearing.  Villages believe it to be a friendly ghost, but it could be from volcanic gasses trapped inside that gets ignited once in a while. Anyway, no harm has ever been done and it offers a fascinating site to the travelers.

How to Reach: (53 kms from Bhuj)
Option 1: Bhuj to Nakhtrana and then to Fuley village (local guides are available here).
Option 2: From Bhuj to Kutch route after 15 kms there is a small road connecting to Nakhtrana. After 12 kms a small village comes named VUG, there is a small exit from this village to Banni Grassland. One can drive around 20 kms through the grassland to reach Chari Dhund. Option 2 is smaller. Click HERE for Historical Legend of the Formation of Banni

Bhuj – Places for Shopping

Do visit an antique store owned by Bharat Bhai at Darbar market, who has an enormous stock of tribal handicrafts and so much more. For the best bargains, you should visit Ekta Arts, located at Darbargadh Road (near Prag Mahal Palace, Bhuj). From quilts to camel jewelery, embroidered patches to old bidi metal tins, you get all you need for your shopping spree at really cheap rates starting as 50 INR.

  • Bhujodi Village (8 Kms from Bhuj): Bhujodi is a 500-year-old artisan village that today
    has over 1200 inhabitants involved in the art of weaving and other handicrafts.


  • Here you get to see live demonstrations and buy hand woven items like carpets, dresses, wall hangings, shawls, bed linen and many other Kutchi handicrafts directly from the craftmen. For exquisite shawls look for Shamji Bhai and for carpets, Narayanbhai Seju is recommended. In the Village premises, the Ashapura Crafts Park is a non-profit division that lets artists display and sell their work.
    Apart from Bhujodi there are many more villages like  Vannora, Kota, Jamthara, Sarli, Bhuj, Kadarthi where weaving happens. For details on the Handicrafts of Bhuj-Kutch, I suggest you visit www.gaatha.com
  • Hiralaxmi Memorial Craft Park: is just 2 kms from Bhujodi and is recommended for being a stop point for all kinds of handicrafts under one roof.
  • KHAMIR was founded in 2005 as a joint initiative of Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan and the Nehru Foundation for Development and is working towards sustainable development of Kutch Handicrafts and aims at promoting local crafts and preserve traditional art, craft, culture and community of Kutch.
  • Kala Raksha Preservation Art Centre (at Sumrasar, 20 Kms from Bhuj) is a great place to understand, shop and appreciate the traditional Handloom Industry of Bhuj.  Sumrasar is famous for its Ahir embroidery and Soof embroidery among other handicrafts.
  • For Organic Products and Naturopathy visit Ananddham or you may also buy from Siddhi Heathcentre (Golden Palace, GEB Office) and Sanskriti (Lal Tekri).
  • You may also be interested in visiting a century old vegetable market (built during 1883)
  • Gujarat State Handicraft Handloom: Parag, Vijay Nagar
  • Murlidhar Handicrafts: Chatthi Bari Ring Road
  • Jee Huzur  Handicraft: Seth Dosabhai Lalchand Marg
  • Shroff Bazaar
  • Liya Handicrafts (Station Road)
  • Bandhani – Old Dhatia Falia20140102_164908Other Villages for Handicrafts

    # Dhorodo, 80 km north, is the centre for Mutua embroidery (small mirrors, leather embroidery and silver jewellery).
    # Loria(Ludia), 60 km away, has huts with painted and mirror inlaid walls, and is visited for its wood crafts.
    # Zura, 30 km, produces embroidered footwear and other leather crafts alongwith Copper bells.
    # Nirona, 40 km northwest, has embroidery, lacquered wood crafts, wood carving and where one can find rogan painting (fabrics painted using iron rods).
    # Hodka, 63 km north, is the site of an indigenous tourism project, with a resort comprising tents and traditional bhungas, owned and run by the village in cooperation with hospitality professionals. Local guides show visitors around the village where one can buy embroidery direct from the artisans.
    blockprints# Nakhtarana, northwest in the heart of the craft village belt, produces some tie-dye work.
    # Padhdhar, 22 km southeast of Bhujodi, produces Ahir embroidery using round mirrors with floral and geometrical patterns.
    # Dhamkada, (40 km east of Bhuj), is famous for its block printed fabrics, table and bed linen and garments using vegetable or chemical dyes. Meet up with Abdul Razzaq Mohammad bhai Khatri whose family has been practising the craft of traditional Ajrakh block printing using natural dyes for over 10 generations!
    # Anjar, 22 kms Southeast is known for its metalcrafts, especially betel nut crackers and ornaments, bandhni and block printing.MB2-845x435
    There are about 16 different types of embroideries done in the Kutch region, Rabari embroidery is the most famous. This is the one that uses chain stitches and an inlay of countless mirrors. It gets its name for the Rabari Community who are a nomadic tribe of cattle raisers and hail from Rajasthan (they migrated 400 years ago to Kutch). Rabari also means ‘Rahabari’, the one who lives outside or ‘goes out of the path’. MMausana Village can be visited to see the myriad weaving and embroidery of Rabari people. Another interesting thing to note is the elderly Rabari women are clad with long black head scapes and a distinctive neck piece and long brass earrings. For details on the Handicrafts of Bhuj-Kutch, I suggest you visit Gaatha.

restaurant-logo-150x150Bhuj: Places to Eat

For Best Dabeli: Dabeli is a spicy potato mixture made with onion, sweet sauce, masala peanut and fresh pomegranate along with spices is served on a pav (bread Bun) with a dollop of butter. Mandvi Dabeli  and The Bin Harif Dabeli serves the best dabeli in Bhujm however Rocky & Mayur (Highway on My Plate) opts Bin Harif Dabeli (more spicy)over the other shop, but the choice is yours!

Kutchi Cuisine: Viram Restaurant is recommended for Kuthchi Cuisine.

Annaporna (the one on the Bus Stand) is popular for sweets and local snacks like Khaman Dhokla, Thepla etc. Sample Sweets & deserts like Mesuk, Adadia, Anjir Pak, Laddo and Milkcake and during summers Raj Ice Cream serves mouth-watering Mango Ice cream!

kutchiSankalp Restaurant is good & popular, Green Rock Restaurant is recommended for Special Unlimited Gujarati Thali and Shankar Samosa Wala (tiny little shop) attracts lots of people around the clock for crispy delicious samosas. A small street Joint Kandoi Vejli Kara serves good street food including a variety of Pakoras.

For Non-Vegetarians, there are less but few good restaurants like Noorani Mahal that serves North Indian and continental cuisine. For Dhaba style eating, look out for Jantaghar near the city Bus Stand and Kessar and Sher-e-Punjab on Ahmedabad-Bhuj Highway. And most serve Farsan (snacks), yogurt based Kadhi, Bajra/Wheat Roti, Dals, Sev-tamatar chutney along with Khichdi and lasaniya bataka (kutchi cuisine)

Kavio is a Jain Restaurant (Pure Veg Cuisines made without Garlic, Ginger, Onions or any other form of root vegetable that grows underground).

Travel Tip for Bhuj: While in the City, travel by the local auto-rickshaws known as ‘Chhakadas’!

Bhuj Off track

Than Monastery:  It is located 60 km’s from Bhuj on the foothills of the Dinodhar Hills (a dormant volcanic site) and is near the Kutch Fossil Park. Atop Dinodhar, you will see spectacular views of the Great Rann and Chhari Dhandh wetland.

Than Monastery is a centuries old Hindu monastery dedicated to Dhoamnath, who as per the legend stood on his head for 12 years as a self-imposed penance. It was only after gods intervened that he broke pff his pledge, but on a condition that as the first land he sees would become barren. That’s how the Rann of Kutch seems to have been born!

Than Monastry
Than Monastery

The Monastery incorporates the Rajasthani style of architecture along with some jali and tile inlay work inside. Look out for the 18th Century Kamangiri paintings that adorn the walls inside.

18th Century Kamangiri Painting - a dying art now
18th Century Kamangiri Painting – a dying art now

The traditional founder of the Indian sect of Kanphata yogis is Gorakhnath. In Western India, Dhoramnath, his fellow disciple introduced its doctrines into Kutch at the end of the 14th Century. Kanphata yogis worship the Hindu god Shiva and are distinguished by the large earrings they wear cutting through the hollow of their ears, hence the name “slit ears”.

Present Sadhu's Room
Present Sadhu’s Room

Their ideology incorporates elements of mysticism, magic, and alchemy absorbed from both Shaivite (devotees of Shiva) and Buddhist esoteric systems, as well as from Hatha Yoga.

Vermilion Smeared Stones- Depicts Samadhi's
Vermilion Smeared Stones- Depicts Samadhi’s

Inside the temple, there are many vermilion smeared stones that depict the areas where the Sadhu’s and Tantric’s took samadhi’s. The entire place has a spooky feel to it but is worth visiting. Just make sure you don’t overstay your visit and return back before dusk.

Do visit the nearby Kutch Fossil Park (run by Mohansinh Sodha) and walk around the fossil hills to admire its beauty.

Hill made of solidified basaltic lava
Hill made of solidified basaltic lava

Chavda Rakhal: Another hidden gem of Bhuj that holds an ancient Shiva Temple, mystical cave, a private estate and Pragsar lake that has over 300 crocodiles in it!

Pragsar-Lake-0

Located just 15 km’s from Bhuj, Chavda Rakhal (Estate of ‘Chavda’s) is definitely an off-beat destination for the adventurous.

chavda-rakhal_002

An ancient temple dedicated to Shiva can also be visited here with an easy trek along the lake. Also check out for a subterranean cave where the idols of the deity can be reached after squeezing through the cave rocks. It’s a forested area and many have also reported sighting leopards!

How to Reach: From Bhuj, after driving for 8 kms on Mata-Nu-Madh highway, take a left turn at Simatra Village. After 5 kms take another left and look out for a stone marking ‘Pragsar’ or ask the locals. You enter the estate and the lake is another 1/2 km inside from there.

Mandvi: Places to See

Mandvi is located at a distance of 50 Kms from Bhuj and makes an ideal day trip for sightseeing the following places:

1. Vijay Vilas Palace: Originally a Summer Retreat built by Rao Vijayrajji (one of the Kutch Royals) in 1929, it is now the resident of existing Royals of Kutch, after the 2001 floods damaged their official residence at Prag Mahal, Bhuj.

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi
Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi

This imposing red sandstone property is spread around 450 acres with a private beach facing the Arabian Sea and the architecture style is a mix of Rajasthan, Bengal, and Kutch. This is the same Palace which was shown as Aishwarya Rai’s home in the Movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam!

2. Mandvi Beach: Spend some fun time at the Mandvi beach.

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Go for camel rides along the with clear blue waters and enjoy some relaxing time sitting on the soft sand or simply watch the windmills!

Images depicts the massive Ships being built at Mandvi Port
Images depicts the massive Ships being built at Mandvi Port

Mandvi Port had attracted ships from as far as East Africa and Southeast Asia and traded in precious stones and fine textiles.

4. 72 Jinalay or Jain Temples (11 Kms from Mandvi): This is a Sacred Jain Pilgrimage site and is home to 72 Deris of Lord Mahavir.
72-jin-210581003
72-jin-210581004
The complete architecture uses intricate carvings on marble and the work is still going on. It’s an impressive temple that also offers simple jain food.

5. Mazar-e-Noorani: This is the resting place of the 37th Dai-al-Mutlaq Syedna Noor Mohammed Nooruddin, who belonged to the Dawoodi Bohra Community, a subsect of Shia Muslims. Today the place is visited by devotees of Dawoodi Bohra community to offer Ziyarat.

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stayoptionStay Options at Mandvi

Budget Stay:

Radhe Hotel: an average budget place to stay near the main road and rooms are cosy & spacious. Tariff: 1800-2000 INR

radhe_1

Luxury Stay:

The Beach at Mandvi is a luxury Camp located right on the beach that offers 10 tents having an essence of the colonial period of royalty. Tariff: 14000/- for 2 nights package. Contact: + 91 79 26308031, 26302019

Royal Tents of 'The Beach' Mandvi
Royal Tents of ‘The Beach’ Mandvi
Private beach, mandvi
Private beach belonging to ‘The Beach’ tents

restaurant-logo-150x150Eating Options in Mandvi

Osho in Mandvi serves delicious local Gujarati thali. (120 INR). Do spend some time at the Mandvi bazaar, that’s bustling with activity and try out freshly baked buns and breads baked in traditional ovens.

stayoptionStay Options in and Around Bhuj

Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort, Hodka Village: Open between October to March, this is an authentic and charming eco-retreat that offers a unique stay hosted by the local community with the richness of culture and local cuisine. Designed in local style, and exquisitely decorated with mirror work, textiles and other local crafts, the Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort is the perfect gateway to a genuine travel experience in India. It is government recognized and has won Travel Awards too for “Best Tourism Income Generating Project” in 2008. Tariff: 3800-5000 INR

Excursions from Bhuj

Bhuj to Bhadreshwar (2-3 hours drive)

Bhadreswar was known as ‘Bhadrawati’ during Mahabharata times and is located near the sea shore.

Bhadreshwar Temple
Bhadreshwar Temple

Today it is famous for The Bhadreshwar Jain Temple (Kutch Style Architecture), Chanakya Mahadev Temple (located nearest to the seashore) is located near a square shaped well which was established by the Pandavas some 5000 years ago and still attracts tourists.

Duda Masjid in Bhadreshwar is supposedly the oldest examples of Islamic architecture in India and the archaeologists say it is also the first mosques ever to be built in India.

Do try out deliciously simple Jain meal at ‘Jain Restaurant’ located in the main city market.

Dholavira (218 Kms/4-5 Hours) 

Known locally as Kotada Timba, Dholavira is one of the fifth largest of 700 Harappan (commonly known as Indus Valley) civilization sites built over an expanse of 1.25 million square kilometers stretching across India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and was discovered in 1967 by the ASI.

Dholavira Ruins

Considered better than the Mohenjo-Daro ruins, the ancient ruins of Dholavira are archaeological marvels and the site is located in the Khadir Bet Island, in the salt desert of Rann.

meso-dholavira3
Computer Genereted Image to Show Dholavira Layout

Dholavira_Layout

The area is divided into 3 zones: Lower Town, Middle Town and Citadel, that shows amazing water conservation systems and some really well-preserved utensils, silverware and terracotta items all dating back to the Harrappan civilization.

The unique aspect of Dholavira city is the reservoirs. The city is surrounded by massive reservoirs that stored rainwater from a seasonal stream.

Water Reservoir, Dholavira
Water Reservoir, Dholavira

otherbloglogoInteresting Blog on Dholavira: Travellingslacker – Dholavira Bricks of Oblivion

You can visit the Dholavira Museum that has interesting artifacts found in excavations. The ASI also discovered a large number of seals, animal bones, silver gold ornaments etc.

 Stay Options at Dholavira: A govt. run rest house Toran Tourist Complex offers basic facilities and the cottages are built in traditional hut shapes with AC/Non-AC rooms. Tariff: 500 INR onwards. There are no ATM’s so please carry cash/photo-IDs etc.

How to Reach Dholavira: From Bhuj the connecting road is beautiful and the journey is sure to be an experience of a lifetime. Running along the white Rann, the black tar road is stunning.Take the Bhuj – Bhachau Hwy and GJ SH 51.

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Road to Dholavira from Bhuj

If you are traveling Solo then take a bus till Rapar and from there a local taxi to DholaviraRapar is well connected to state Railway and can be reached via Bhachau or Samkhiali Junction without touching Bhuj.

Morbi (171 Kms from Bhuj)

Morbi is nestled alongside the banks of River Macchu and is popular for its intricate mix of European and traditional Indian architecture. As soon as you enter Morbi via the famous Suspension Bridge over River Macchu, you are transported to a world of cobbled alleys and magnificent European and Victorian architecture.  Read More HERE

Mani Mandir, Morbi
Mani Mandir, Morbi

Wankaner (197 Kms/3.5 Hours)

Located near the bend of River Macchu, Wankaner is locally known as ‘Jhalawar’ (ruled by Jhala Rajputs).

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Wankaner Palace

Ranjit Vilas Palace, built by H.H Amar Singh Ji is an architectural marvel with Gothic columns & arches, traditional Mughal Dome and balconies made of marble with French-Italian style window panes. The Palace also holds India’s largest historical automobile collections. The Summer palace (Royal Oasis) has now been converted into a heritage resort. Read More HERE

Junagarh (334 Kms/5.5 Hours)

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Junagadh: To visit Junagadh, please keep at least 2 days time at hand to take it the beautiful monuments and temples.  Junagarh is also recommended in case you want to travel to Gir national Park, Somnath and DwarkaClick Here for Travel Details on Junagarh

how-to-reach-hooly-dhamDistance Guide

Bhuj Airport (flights only from Mumbai): 65 Kms
It has a domestic airport from which daily flights connect to Mumbai, with flights operated by Jet Airways and Air India. And Kandla Airport is 53 km from Bhuj.

Bhuj Railways:

  • From Mumbai: Kutch Express and Sayaji Express reaches Bhuj via Surat, Ahmedabad, and Gandhidham
  • From New Delhi: Ala Hazrat Express reaches Bhuj via Jaipur, Ajmer, and Palanpur.

Bhuj Road Distance from Major Cities:

  • Ahmedabad to Bhuj: 350 kms (comfortable Volvo buses avl.)
  • Bhuj to Rajkot: 236 kms
  • Bhuj to Junagarh: 334 Kms

Visit the White Desert of Rann during the Rann Utsav or Rann Festival when the region comes alive under the moonlight and the days are unending with folklore, fun activities, shopping, and sightseeing. Indulge in the warmth of the Kutch people, as they open their doors for you.

 

Please Note

  • Taxi Hire ranges between 7-8 INR per Km for a minimum 300 km per day
  • You can take GSRTC buses that ply in between major cities and then hire a taxi for city tours, saving you money!
  • Autorickshaw ply to nearby Bhuj villages too.
  • Ideal time needed to explore the region is 6-7 days
  • Remember Gujarat is a dry state so no alcohol.

History of Bhuj dates back to more than 4000 years and one can still see numerous places in and around the Kutch area of Bhuj that proves it.  At Khadir, artifacts used during Harappan Civilization have been found and a writer who existed between 66 BC and 24 AD mentions Bhuj as Tej/Tejarasthra. Some inscriptions also mention the area from the Mahabharata times. Bhuj has been a trade port for ancient civilizations and had associations with Greece, Middle-East and Zanzibar. And the effects can be seen in many archaeological remnants in the form of palace, tombs, and buildings.

Between 8-16th Century Kutch Samma Rajputs ruled the area and with time lost their power. Bhuj City was officially founded by Maharao Hamir, a local ruler in the year 1510 and was made the capital of Kutch in 1549. The name of the Bhuj City originates from Bhujiyo Dungar (residence of Bhujang, the great serpent) and today there is a temple dedicated to the serpent and the hill (160 m) overlooks the entire city. After the 16th Century, Mughals took over and Rajput’s got the power to control administration. King Bharmal, pleased the Mughals by offering them precious gifts and allowed Mecca Pilgrim s to pass through Bhuj without any charges. This good deed made him not pay taxes and was allowed to mint their own currency called ‘Kori’.

During the 18th Century with the decline of the Mughal power, Kutch Rao Godiji fortified Bhuj and created walls around the city. In 1741 Lakhpatji who was a great patron of music, poets, singers & dancers became the new ruler (he built Aina Mahal) who converted his religion to Islam, also forcing others to convert as well; however after his death all religions were treated equally.

The British (1815) only supervised and became the administrative head at Bhuj and maintained peace between people and surrounding regions. Bhuj had its first massive earthquake in 1819 that devasted the area. Pragmalji II came into power in 19th Century and constructed Prag mahal and other projects.

After independence, Kutch remained with India, while Sindh became part of Pakistan. Due to its close proximity to Pakistan, Bhuj has an important Indian Air Force Base.

In 2001, Bhuj was completely destroyed in another Earthquake, leaving many homeless and the city under rumbles. But it has regained its glory and has now become an important hub of the Gujarat State for Tourism, Industries, and Railways. 

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