A Rendezvous with Kachchh
Like so many other regions of Gujarat, Kachchh (also spelt as Kutch) has its own distinctive character. It is, in fact, a peninsula, lying between the Sir River, the Sir creek and great Rann of Kachchh on the northwest, and the Gulf of Kachchh on the east.
The country is a somewhat bare wand wild, with some cultivated field near the villages. It has a remarkably heterogeneous population, who belong to 18 different tribes, each with its own language and culture. Yet Kachchh, with its colourful people, historic towns, and remarkable handicrafts, has much of interest to offer visitors.
JOURNEY INTO HISTORY
The Kachchh Utsav is a guided tour of the life and times of Kachchh- its beauty, its nostalgia, its ethos, its traditions, its history, its culture, its very inner self.
The Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, Ltd. (TCGL), organised this unusual tour of Kachchh, in response to the request of many who wished to visit an area quite different from urban India. This tour was called a Mahotsava, or great festival, because of the great variety of sights and scenes that are offered to visitors. The Mahotsava consists of a six-day tour of Kachchh, in which all requirements of the visitors are taken care of.
SIX DAYS OF COMPLETE EXPERIENCE
The Kachchh Utsav comprises six heady days of travel, entertainment and cultural exposure: virgin sea beaches, inscrutable desertlands, breathtaking landscape, thriving wildlife, bird sanctuaries featuring exalted species such as the flamingo, soul-stirring littoral tracts, historic monuments, forts and palaces, pilgrim centers.
Bhuj lies at the heart of Kachchh and is linked by many roads to the rest of the peninsula. Also in Bhuj are the Aina Mahal or Glass Palace, which was built in the 18th century, the Kachchh Museum - which is Gujarat's oldest, and the Bharatiya Sanskruti Darshan complex, which holds some remarkable frescoes depicting the RAM-LILA. The rural bazaars of Bhuj sell its exquisite handicrafts.
Mata No Madh
Mata no Madh is an old temple believed to be 1,200 years old. It is dedicated to the Mother Goddess. The temple has many unusual features and its treatment of dimensions and of space is unique.
Lakhpat, once a flourishing post, and now deserted, reminds one that in ancient times, ships sailed to West Asia from Gujarat's West Coast, Time stands still at Lakhpat, recalling to mind a era long past, through the many sites in the city, including the Sikh Gurdwara, and the 200-year tomb or Dargah of Ghaus Mohammed Kaba.
Narayan Sarovar means the Lake of Narayan, a name of Vishnu. There are actually five sacred lakes here. A temple complex is located on one of these. Narayan Sarovar is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for orthodox Hindus. The architecture is ancient and awe-inspiring. Koteshwar, another place on the Mahotsava route, is also a site which pilgrims invariably visit.
Bhadreshwar is not only considered an important religious site by the Jain community, but it also has shrines, mosques and temples, as well as unique an ancient step-well.
Anjar, near Gandhidam, is famous for the Samadhi of Jesal Toral, the Ajaypal Temple, and the shrine of Pinjora Pir. The bungalow of James Macmurdo contains remarkable examples of the art of Kachchh.
Mandvi in southern Kachchh, is a renowned holiday centre with a beach overlooking the Arabian Sea. The Vijay Vilas Palace evokes the royal splendour of the past. Mandvi's Hawa Mahal is also imposing, and reminiscent of similar palaces in Rajasthan. Banni and Khavda are villages set like jewels in an expanse of desert. In these villages live some of the most talented craftsmen of Kachchh who practise their traditional skills, to produce artistic masterpieces.
Dhola Veera was once an important part of the Harappan Civilisation, proving that the Harappan culture extened to Gujarat. Excavations are still in progress.
Dhrang is another location famous for its rural fair ad for the handicrafts, traditional objects, hand-printed and embroidered fabrics made and sold there. It is also famous for the jewelley available there.
The Kachchh Mahotsava is usually organised during February and March each year. Other places of interest nearby are Rajkot, in Saurashtra (16-km from Bhuj), Jamnagar (189-km from Bhuj) Junagadh (260-km from Bhuj).
Bhuj has an airport with flights to different destinations. Buses can carry visitors to Ahmedabad or anywhere else, en route.