The old, walled city of Bhuj is the most
important town in Kachchh and also the
district headquarters. Bhuj was founded in 1548 AD by Rao Khengarji of the
Jadeja dynasty, which ruled over Kachchh for more than 400 years.
Bhuj is distinguished by its brightly decorated Hindu temples, beautiful palaces and intricately carved wooden pavilions. It is a paradise for handicraft lovers. The houses here are decorated both from inside as well as outside with linear reliefs made from mud and mirrors. Bhuj is famous for embroidery. The oldest museum of Gujarat is situated in Bhuj.
Be it the bandhni (tie and dye) and batik textiles, or the intricate silk embroidery done on leather, each artifact is a labour of love for the craftspersons. The colorful thread embroidery on cloth is done by different castes and communities in their own distinct way. The region was also known for the enamel work done on gold and silver jewelry, lacquered wood, seashell toys and metal bells.
Aina Mahal: (Old Palace) This is a beautiful museum, built in the 18th century as the palace of Maharao Lakhpatji. It has a Hall of Mirrors with white marble walls covered with mirrors and gilded ornaments; the floor is lined with tiles with a platform above it surrounded by a series of fountains. The room also has a chandelier of Venetian glass. It lies in the old part of the city, in a small, fortified courtyard and houses some very rare idols.
Kachchh Museum: The oldest museum in Gujarat, it was established in 1877 originally known as the Fergusson Museum, after its founder, Sir James Fergusson, a governor of Mumbai under the British Raj. The exhibits on display are gold and silver ornaments, Kshatrapa inscriptions, textiles, weapons, archaeological finds, stuffed animals and musical instruments. Besides these, it is equipped with a picture gallery and sections for anthropology and shipping.
Prag Mahal (New Palace): Constructed in 1979, the Prag Mahal is a magnificent building made of ornate Italian marble and sandstone. Its Corinthian pillars and Jali work depicting European flora and fauna are worth observing.
Swaminarayan temple: It is a very colourful and richly decorated temple, situated next to the Aina Mahal.
Cenotaph Complex: A popular site is the cenotaphs complex at Chattaradi. These are built of red stones. Of all the tombs here the largest and the finest is the one of Rao Lakha built in 1770 AD. It's polygonal in shape with balconies and an intricately carved roof. Other impressive cenotaphs are the ones of Rao Rayadhan, Rao Desai and Rao Pragmal.
Puraneshwar: Puraneshwar is about 35 kms from Bhuj. It is a 9th/10th century temple raised on a high plinth and has some fine sculpture on display. Near the temple is a place called Vadimedi, a palace dating back to the Solanki era.
Kera: Kera is famous mainly due to the 10th century Shiva Temple. The present day ruins are indicative of how beautiful this temple must have been centuries ago. It was damaged in the earthquake of 1819 AD. In the same area is also a Muslim shrine of Ghulam Ali Shah. The annual Urs held here attracts devotees from all faiths. Pilgrims walking on burning coals is the principal feature of the Urs.
Chinkara Sanctuary: A few kilometres away from the Narayan Sarovar is the Chinkara Sanctuary. It is about 210 kms. from Bhuj. This sanctuary is the home of the Chinkara or the Indian Gazelle.
Other animals found in this sanctuary are blue bull, spotted deer, wild boar and a rich variety of smaller wildlife.
Mandvi: (About 75 kms from Bhuj). Mandvi, founded in 1581 A.D. is an ancient seaport. It is well known for its production of handicraft items particularly its relief, filigree and enamel work and its virtually unspoilt sea beaches. The Rukmavati bridge is the longest stone bridge, built in 1883 A.D. and the Vijay Vilas palace are the major tourist spots in this destination.
Anjar: Anjar is mainly known for the samadhi (tomb) of Jesal Toral, and the bungalow of James Mcmurdo, which is a veritable museum of Kachchhi Art. Places worth visiting are the Ajaypal Temple, the Holy Shrine of Pinjora Pir.
Anjar is also famous for its block printing work, nutcrackers, scissors and penknives.
Koteshwar: Koteshwar is at a short distance from Narayan Sarovar & 215 Kms. from Bhuj. It is an ancient place of pilgrimage. The existing temple is situated on a high plinth over looking the sea. It is an excellent breathtaking sunset point.
Wild Ass Sanctuary: Gujarat is as famous for its large wild ass herds as it is for its lions. To protect these rare animals, a sanctuary covering an area of over 4,953 sq. kms was created to offer protection to more than 2,100 wild asses inhabiting this area.
How To Get There
Air: Flights are available from Mumbai and Ahmedabad .
Rail: New Bhuj Railway Station is 1 km north of Bhuj. Direct trains ply on the metre gauge line from Ahmedabad and on the broad gauge line for Mumbai.
Road: State transport, luxury coaches, auto-rickshaws and taxis are available to all centres in Gujarat.
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WHERE TO STAY
Bhuj's hotels and lodges still cater mainly to budget travelers, although a couple of more up market hotels have opened recently.