India- it is an enigma that plays hide and seek with its changing terrains and myriad languages. This country offers panoramic views of colossal mountains covered in specks of white, quaint views of nearly untouched beauty and caves that are entwined with roots of wisdom filled trees. Furthermore striking a healthy balance with sandy beaches that play Chinese whispers with the sea all its life and the deserts where the moon’s light dances at night and the sun lashes out at its inhabitants during the day. In this pool of varied choices, I chose the beautiful region of Kutch to explore. It is a dry region that is woven into the history of India since time immemorial. Now that you’ve read my dream sequence of what this country is, let’s stop the serenading and start my journey!
Travelling to Kutch can be long but it does not have to be exhausting if done correctly. While the rich brats can probably buy a ticket directly to Bhuj which can sometimes cost you as much as INR 40k, you should opt for the route I chose. The majority of travellers choose to do a layover at the heritage city of Ahmedabad and rightly so because of its good connectivity and lovely sights. A one-day stopover allowed me to visit the Calico Textiles Museum run by the Sarabhais. Yeah, even I imagined Maya Sarabhai welcoming me into the museum for a tour and Monisha possibly asking for a payment but the good news is, entry to this magnificent museum is free. However, you need to make a prior booking by calling them ( on +91 7922868172). It houses beautiful textiles collected through centuries of fashion evolution in India and the architecture is noteworthy too. If you wish to try an authentic Gujarati thali then give House of MG a try! I was apprehensive about the cuisine but it is not sickeningly sweet as some people may believe. There are strong similarities between this and Rajasthani food. Finding a good hotel can always be tiresome but when I saw the listing of ‘French Haveli’, I was taken in by its old world charm. The hotel is situated opposite a beautiful Jain temple in the narrow lanes of Old Ahmedabad. The staircases inside the Haveli are like ladders leading to an attic. The rooms are beautiful, clean and airy.
The bus station at Ahmedabad has some great state-run Volvos connecting it to Kutch and the total journey can take up to seven hours, but it is worth it. There are plenty of windmills that you pass and long acres of fields followed by dry terrains every now and then. One visual that stays with you is the dresses and jewellery you see on men and women both. As you near your destination, the colour from the landscape shifts onto the apparel. It is no surprise because Kutch is known for its handicraft and artisan communities. When in Kutch you have plenty of sights to explore, you can make a day trip to the white desert which is an hour and a half away from Bhuj. You could also visit Mundra and its port. If you wish to relax by the beach and do some fun water sports, Mandvi is the place to visit. All these places are fairly close to Bhuj. If you are artistically inclined and wish to be able to observe the famed artisans of Kutch, you can always try to book yourself for a workshop with an NGO called Somaiya Kala Vidhya that have workshops designed for you to enjoy and create something fun!
A few important tips:
- The Calico museum gets requests for tours 4 weeks in advance and it is a three hours tour starting at 10:15 am, so you may want to arrive a night early or you can leave your bags at the gate like I did.
-You can book your Volvo tickets on gsrtc.in
- For a great selection of Kathiawari food, visit the restaurant Viram in Bhuj.
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