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Old 31st July 2014, 23:16   #1
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Default A 3000 kms Road Trip to Kutch!

This is my first travelogue. Have wanted to write one since long but never got down to it till now.

Let me say first of all that I am not a driving enthusiast, don't really like driving that much. However since we got our SX4 ZXi in December 2010, I don't hate it. The car is very comfortable and a breeze to drive.

We had already done a road trip to Saurashtra in 2011, covering about 1900kms, the longest I had ever driven in 15 days time. That was my first road trip and we always looked forward to doing another one.

In July 2013, we were planning for a trip during kids Diwali holidays. My son had been wanting to go to Kutch as it is our ancestors place, but we don't have any links from my father's side now.I also had not visited in years. Wife also wanted to visit our "Kuldevi". As fate would have it, there was a function in Mundra where my mom's relatives are and her side of family was going. So we decided to plan a road trip covering Kutch.

I started researching on the net and opened a thread for getting an advice on the itinerary. I could not find any relevant thread covering the whole of Kutch so I opened a new threa. But just a few responses down the line I was handed an infraction and my thread deleted. Maybe good as well because I looked up other places. I got some good help from IndiaMike and Trip Advisor forums, especially TA. Took me a few months of planning and doing all the bookings. All of us were excited and raring to go. I must give special credit to Krutarthsinh Jadeja of Devpur Homestay who helped me a lot with the routing and planning. We spent a couple of days at his place as you would read further.

My car was fitted with CNG kit and as luck would have it, I had an engine problem just 2 months before we were to leave. The engine had to be overhauled and it seemed (according to Maruti A.S.S) that it happened due to CNG kit. Cannot verify this but good it happened before the trip. The CNG kit and tank were removed, freeing up boot space. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as there were not many CNG pumps on the way and lines were long. We were better on petrol without any tensions. I got the car serviced and tyres changed to Michellin. Did not want to take any risk as had already covered 52K kms on stock.

Finally the day arrived.

November 2013
Day 1 : We had decided to start early and we did, at about 7am. We live near Vapi, in Gujarat. The NH8 is quite excellent and in less than 3 hours we had covered 250kms. I was worried about Sardar bridge at Bharuch, which is notirious for 10km long traffic jams and did not want to stp before that. Luckily we did not encounter any problem and stopped only after we crossed that. It was 10am

Starting ODO
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After a good breakfast we were back on our way in 30 minutes, covering the distance must faster than we had anticipated. Soon we were on the superb Vadodara - Ahmedabad expressway, NE1. It was very well maintained and we covered the 85kms in 50 minutes, could have covered faster if the slow cars drove on left side. It's only 2 laned but really good. We were at the doorstep of Ahmedabad at noon.

The Expressway NE1
A 3000 kms Road Trip to Kutch!-20131106_113028_t.jpgSince we were covering distance faster than planned, we stopped at Mehasana at 2pm at a friends place for lunch. Filled the car and were on our way at 3pm. We had time to catch the places which we had originally planned for Day 2. We saw the nice Umiyamata temple at Unjha and Bindu Sarovar at Sidhpur. Reached our Hotel Sakar Garden at Patan at 6pm.

The Umiyamata temple, Unjha. It's quite old and very nice. Not a lot of rush and we enjoyed being here.
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Bindu Sarovar, Sidhpur. This place features in Amitabh's Gujarat tourism ad. But the approach road was not very good. The place is well made but seemed a bit chaotic, could have bee maintained better. Nevertheless we were happy to have come.
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On the way to Patan
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Kms covered : 556
Total time : 10H 50M
Driving time : 7H 50M
Avg Speed : 71km/Hr


Day 2 : Patan
We firstchanged Hotels as the one we were in, Garden, was under renovation and in bad shape. We went to Hotel Tulsi, which was basic but clean, neat, large rooms and good staff. Had a nice breakfast and started.

Through the gate of Patan, a crowded small town
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First went to the Ran Ki Vav (Queen's well) about which I had read a lot of good reviews. And true they were. Spent almost 2 hours there. The place is fabolous. Very well maintained surroundings. The Vav itself is borken and only a portion remains. But it is a beauty to see the architecture. Even our kids thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a wonderful start to the trip.

The manicured lawns surrounding the structure
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Views of the splendid vav and its architecture
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Then we went to the nearby Shahastraling Talav (Pond with 1000 Shivlings). Seems in ancient times there were 1000 pillars leading to a Shiv temple and some canal which would bring water so that the temple would be surrounded by water. Something like that. It was a wonderful place, spent 1.5 Hrs there. Unfortunately most of it is broken but we could only imagine how glorious must have been it's past.

The podium on which the temple must have once stood
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The pillars leading to the temple
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As we came out we saw "Patola House". The Patola sari is famous in Patana and soon we were at the home of the Salvi family, who claim to be the original and only survicing members making the sari. It was great to meet and talk to them. Apparently the regular Patola sarees, costing upto maybe 30k are made with Indian silk and chemical colors. The design is done on the vertical thread only and then the threads are woven. The "original" Patola, costing in lakhs, and which takes months to make, is made with Chinese silk, vegetable colors (very long lasting) and both horizontal and vertical threads have the design imprinted before being woven. This is how we understood it. It is an art and unfortunately which may be extinct one day. But even the educated younger generation were learning which was good.

The sari being woven
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A finished sari, not the original type
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A carving made from paper, would you believe it!! Done by some family member of the Salvis
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Kms covered : Only 10

Last edited by jesrani : 4th August 2014 at 00:04.
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Old 1st August 2014, 00:03   #2
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Day 3 : Patan to Modhera to Dasada
We checked out after breakfast, before 10am. The stay at Tulsi had been very comfortable and would definitely recommend it. Food was good too.
Soon we were on the highway towards Dasada. On the way we were to stop at Modhera, 37kms away. Reached in 30 minutes. Roads are good and very less traffic. This is the place of the famous Sun Temple. We spent a good 2 hours here. The ancient architecture is superb. Unfortunately in modern times with all the technology we have, basic infrastructure like clean toilets is missing, which is true for all tourist places. It is a pity. We saw the place ourselves by first but then took a guide and it was good we did. He was knowledgeable and explained the history of the place, how the Sun God statue was damaged by Moghuls (I think) and hence it is not worshipped. He explained the carvings inside and outside and gave us a glimpse of the glorious past of the place. How wonderful it must have been in it's heyday.

The Sun Temple, Modhera
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The superb carvings, depicting stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
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The Sun God himself with his 7 horses
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From here, we went to Dasada, on the fringes of the Little Rann of Kutch. We passed through the Tropic of Cancer on the way. Covered the 50kms in an hour.
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On the way to Dasada

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We stayed at Rann Riders Resort, an excellent place. There were mostly foreign tourists here and the place was well made and well maintained. We got a "hut" outside the main resort area, but it was very nice. Very neat and clean and most importantly, very good bathroom.
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Kms covered : 85

Had a tasty lunch. Food taste was catering to the foreign tourists but we quite enjoyed it.

In the late afternoon we took a safari to The Wild Ass Sanctuary, apparently the only of it's kind in Asia or the world. The Wild donkeys are, well, donkeys after all. But we loved the desert ride in the open Gypsy, not to mention it got the sand all over us. There was a large group in a larger vehicles with us and we were taken deep into the "deserrt". Saw a number of birds and a very nice sunset.
The road leading to the Sanctuary
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Birds in the Sanctuary
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Entering the sanctuary
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Glimpse of the Wild Donkeys
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Sunset at the Salt Pan
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Fast drive in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK)
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The parched land
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Day 4 : Dasada to Dholavira
Dholavira is the largest Harappan Valley Civilisation City in India. We were pretty excited to be going there as we like visiting historical places. Unfortunately there were no options other than the Gujarat Government's Toral Resort, about which we had read pretty pathetic reviews. So we were mentally prepared for it to some extent. The drive was long and we had mixed reviews about the time it takes to cover the distance. Even the people at the resort were not sure, probably not many tourists going there. We started after checkout at 11am, got some sandwiches packed for kids. The roads were superb and quite isolated. It was a pleasure to drive without any concerns.
We took a turn from Radhanpur and went towards Adesar, where we filled up the petrol. It was probably the last pump on the way.

Beautiful roads of Gujarat / Kutch
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We stopped at Rapar, which seemed to be the last town where we could eat. Dholavira was still 100kms away and it was just 2pm. We were on time. There was a dhaba on the road side but we went into town and found a nice restaurant. Had a hearty lunch. We were on our way in 45 minutes.

Feel the straightness and isolation of the roads
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Soon we were on the road leading to "Khadir Bet" (Bet means Island). It is an "Island" surrounded by the rann (desert). This stretch connecting the Khadir Bet to mainland was the most beautiful road I have ever seen and driven on in India. Absolutely wonderful. We stopped midway and got down to take pictures.

Our faithful companion taking a break on the beautiful road
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The photograph does no justice to the beauty
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We were in Dholavira after 4.30pm and searched for Toral Resort and soon found it.

In Dholavira
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Unfortunate state of affairs at Toran Resort
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When we entered, we found the conditions pathetic as expected. There seemed to be no one, there were locks on the reception and "restuarant" area, if we can call them that. We went around and found one back door opened and found the manager inside. He had no uniform and did not look like he was managing things well. We saw our room which had AC but itherwise looked run down. We decided to check another "resort" we had seen nearby, seems it was new. It was a new place just being given finishing touches and seems was made by locals. Some group had just checked into their only AC room. But it seemed to be in even worse shape than Toran so we went back. After the initial shock (which we had expected to some extent), we settled in. The manager and cook and the people there were not really bad. They were managing with what they had. They seemed to have no formal training and it was probably like a punishment posting, with hardly any cellphone signal also. But they gave us good snacks and tea. The room though run down was clean luckily and so was the broken bathroom. Linen was clean. There were another 2 rooms occupied by some youngsters. We were wary of insects coming inside but there were no problems. It was cool at night and had a good sleep.
Earlier we had also gone to the Museum and met the guide Ravji there. There are only 2 authorised guides. He told us we could go to a place called Fossil Park early morning, he was taking the group from the other resort. We had decided to check that out.

Kms covered : 286
Total time : 5H 50M
Driving time : 4H 50M
Avg Speed : 58km/Hr

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Old 4th August 2014, 00:39   #3
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Day 5 : Dholavira and off to Bhuj

We woke up very early. Our guide Ravji also came to the resort to make sure if we were coming. The nice folks made us tea and we were off at 6.20am. There was a road further ahead of the Museum which we had to take, according to instructions by Ravji. It was a "kachcha" mud road. There was no cell signal here. It was quite an experience. We waited for Ravji to come with another group and soon they did and then we followed them. There were BSF outposts in this area. We went in maybe 7kms and reached the edge of Khadir bet. Then walked some way. There are fossils here, wood turned into stone over the ages. Certified. There was a complete fossilised tree trunk. It was a beautiful and virgin location. We spent more than an hour here and very happy the guide had told us about it. The rann was besides but unfortuntely the late monsoon rains had mean there was water on the rann. But it was quite scenic. We saw many birds there. We left with the other group as we did not want to be alone here.

The road leading to the fossil park
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Along the road to fossil park
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Views from Fossil Park. The water is just on the surface, this is supposed to be a desert area.
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Petrified tree trunk
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Birds nearby
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On the way back from Fossil Park to Toran resort
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Came back to the resort, refreshed, had tea and snacks. Food was nicely made but spicy. Refreshed and checked out. Reached the main excavation site at 10.30am and met Ravji. He showed us around. It was fascinating. Almost 5000 years old, rebuild number of time. Unfortunately, most of it is not excavated. There is so much history here. Tourists will flock if basic and clean amenities are provided and good infrastructure is made available. But not the way it is currently. We thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hours we spent there, understanding the history of the place. Our ancestors were much more organised and "aware" than we are today. Water resorviors, 90 degree grid roads, underground drainage, 40 feet wide road!!! What have we deteriorated to today :(

One of the boards explaining about the resorvior. It was a clever system running the water through many reserviors taking advantage of the natural slope, to give clean water
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At the entrance. Notice the very well rounded stone on the left and imagine how this was done thousands of years back.
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Photos at the site
. Again, the pictures don't do justice to the feeling one has when you see the place.
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There were many pics we took and it is not possible to post many, else the travelogue will become too long, it already is!!

We finally started from the site at 12.30pm and after some local purchases left Dholavira before 1pm. Again stopped at Rapar for food and at 3pm were on our way to Bhuj. We used Google maps and Sygic for checking the routes and these were very helpful indeed.
The next 150kms to Bhuj almost took 3 hours, due to the road construction all the way. Finally we reached our Hotel KBN on station road. Had read good reviews about it and it was very good indeed. Quite reasonably priced and comfortble big rooms. The staff were helpful and service was good.

The ships of the desert can be seen in Kutch also
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Construction all along the highway
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Comfort of Hotel KBN
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The KBN Hotel is famous for it's aeroplane themed restaurant and correctly so. The restaurant is quite tastefully made like an inside of a aeroplane. The food quality is excellent, though on the expensive side. Children were very happy to get their pizza and pasta and next day we had an excellent thali too. The staff was very friendly and made sure you ate well.

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Kms covered : 268 (Whole day)

Day 6 : Bhuj
It was going to be a relaxed day. We had decided to keep the taxi at the hotel and take a auro-rickshaw around town. First went to the Prag Mahal. The Prag Mahal, "Rani Ka Vas" and Aina Mahal are all next to each other. They were damaged in the earthquake and recently the current Maharav of Kutch had given his personal money to get the main Darbar Hall of Prag Mahal renovated. Other rooms were in shambles. One can imaging how expensive and difficult it must be to maintain a palace. These are our national heritages and must be preserved I believe. We went up the clock tower which gave a complete view of the small city of Bhuj. The Rani Ka Vas is destroyed to such an extent that it is not allowed to go in. The Aina Mahal was closed for the afternoon. Later in the day we checked out the Hamirsar Lake and Kutch Museum and spent time on shopping. There were number of shops selling handlooms and "Vania Vad" is famous for shopping.

Prag Mahal renovated Darbar Hall
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The Clock Tower of Prag Mahal
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The Prag Mahal
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The dilapidated Rani Ka Vas

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The Saraf Bazaar nearby
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The Kutch Museum
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Day 7 : Off to Devpur
We checked out in the morning and went to "Bhujodi", which is outside Kutch. There is a market as well as a village selling handmade goods. We purchased number of items like shawls, sarees, etc. There are number of shops in Bhujodi whose artisians have won National Awards. The arts of Kutch are quite colorful. We came back to KBN for lunch and started for Devpur after 3pm. As I had mentioned initially, Krutarthsinh Jadeja of Devpur Homestay had helped me immensely in planning the trip and we had read excellent reviews about the homestay so decided to spend a couple of nights here.
Devpur was 40 kms from Bhuj and we covered the distance soon. But we hd difficulty first in locating Devpur and then the homestay within Devpur. When we finally did reach the residence of the Jadeja family, it was very isolated and I was getting worried if this was indeed a right decision. However very soon all apprehensions disappeared. We were greeted by Krutarthsinh and had a nice cup of tea in the garden. The room itself was beautifully decorated and well maintained, neat and clean. The Jadejas are descended from the Royal Family as I could understand and were zamindars. The "Haveli" is their home and they run a school "The Ehite Eagles" school in there (which was closed for holidays). Krutarthsinh is very knowledgeable about various things and it was a pleasure to meet and talk to him. We were relaxed. Also met his wife and other family members. Our childen were just as old as theirs and immediately got along with them. They made a nice home cooked dinner for us. We were very happy to be here and had a good night's sleep.

The lovely Devpur Homestay
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Our beautifully kept room
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Day 8 : Mata Na Madh, Narayan Sarovar / Koteshwar, Lakhpat and Chhari Dhandh

It was going to be a long day ahead and we had booked a taxi to go to various places rather than take the car. Krutarthsinh had arranged the car as well as the driver. Had a cup of black tea early morning in the verandah. We left by 9am after a nice simple breakfast.

The first stop was Mata Na Madh to see the famous temple of Ashapura mata. It was 54 kms away. It was a nice temple and fortunately there was no rush. We did the darshan and moved on.

The Ashapura Mata temple
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More straight roads
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Next stop was Narayan Sarovar, another 59 kms away. It is considered to be one of the most holy places in India. The temple has been renovated recently. There was not much water in the "sarovar" though. We climbed up the fort wall and got view of all around the place. It was a nice place, worth spending more time at ease, just for the peace. The temple closed at noon and we moved on to the old Koteshwar Mahadev Temple. This is supposed to be the westernmost civilised point in India and there was a BSF checkpost here. It is said that Pakistan is just 30km or so away and at night the lights of Karichi city can be seen from here. The temple itself was really nice at the edge of the water but unfortunately, as is the case with most of our temples, the surroundings were dirty and unbecoming of such a holy place. Our general public is as much responsible for this mess. We however enjoyed the short stay here.

Entering Narayan Sarovar / Koteshwar
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The temple at Narayan Sarovar
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View from the temple at Koteshwar
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The peaceful Mahadev temple, Koteshwar
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Next destination was Lakhpat, 42 kms away. This was once a prosperous port and suffered after the sea moved away. There are only few families staying here now. The fort walls were quite intact, with the BSF manning the strategic points. The border is not very far away. We talked to some jawans on duty, people of different states coming together to safeguard the nation. It's a tough duty, repeatedly walking through the desert multiple times a day.

Entering Lakhpat
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Views from watch tower on one of the ramparts
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We visited the dargah of one Hazrat Peer Shah. It was about 100-150 years old, made by locals from local soft stone. Had beatiful carvings. There is also another dargah in Lakhpat.

Hazrat Peer Dargah
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Our last stop in Lakhpat was an old Gurudwara where Guru Nanak has stopped over. It was a very peaceful place with good vibrations. The people there served us nice tea and said they would serve food even if someone comes at midnight.

The Gurudwara at Lakhpat
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Then, as per recommendation of Krutarthsinh, we went to Chhari Dhandh wetland reservior. We had to take a deteor on the way back to Lakhpat to Devpur to reach this place. It was good we had taken the taxi as there was no way we could reach here by ourselves. There was no road, the driver knew the way but said it was easy to get lost and we could see that. He took us around the wetland to the watch tower. Normally in the day time one would see many birds at the wetland but it was almost sunset. We were the only people there, apart from some local herdsmen who were probably amused as to why we were there. I would recommend anyone thinking of coming here to come at Sunrise, I am sure it would be a worthy visit seeing the birds at the wetland.

Again crossing the Tropic of Cancer
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Local cricket field in the desert
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View of Chhari Dhandh wetland from the watch tower
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We saw a most beautiful Sunset, where we saw the sun almost all the way down the horizon. There was no pollution in the air. It was an amazing sight.
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Finally, tired, we came back to Devpur and had a nice dinner with the Jadejas and then off to bed.

Kms covered : 314

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Day 10 : Devpur to Hodka via Than and Nirona
The trip was coming to an end and we were in the last leg of our actual travels. We were disappointed that we could not stay and just relax one more day at Devpur as we had to move ahead. We bade our wonderful hosts goodbye and were off at 10am.

Last shots at Devpur.

The sun rising on the Haveli

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The plaque of the White Eagles School
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The "home" and "homestay"
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One of the upper floor rooms, tastefully renovated according to the original, after the earthquake
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We were going to take an inside road to Hodka to see a few things on the way. The road was isolated with few vehicles.

First stop was Kutch Fossil Park, which was closed as the caretaker had gone to pick up some relatives!! Probably he was not expecting anyone to drop in.

The condition of Fossil Park

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We continued further and stopped at Than Jagir, 34kms from Devpur. Had read reviews of this place on the net. It was a bit eerie and very isolated. This used to be an old monastary of some Nath Sampradaya and a saint by name Dhoramnath achieved penace here. The temple is a couple of hundred years old or so. One of the few persons there told us that at one time there were many people staying there and the place was alive in those days. The structure was old and crumbling. We saw some beautiful handmade paintings on the walls, which will not last for too long as there is no one to care. Spent a good quarter of an hour and the person there was nice enough to offer us tea.

The road leading to Than, Dhinodhar mountain in the background
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Pictures at Than Jagir
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From Than, we proceeded further and stopped at Nirona, a small village 20 kms away. There is a family here who is specialised in Rogan Art. They have won awards for this. It is a painting made with Castor Oil based paste and natural colors. It has a very distinct Persian influence. We purchased few items. Soon we met the main road at Loriya and reached the checkpost at Birandariya. We have to take permits for White Rann here against Identity Proof. This is the last stop where permits can be obtained.


On the stretch between Nirona and Bhirandariya
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Took a turn towards Dhordo and at 1.30pm reached Hodka village, about 12 kms before Dhordo. We were booked at the Sham-E-Sarhad resort, which was a most wonderful experience. I had read excellent reviews of this place on Trip Advisor and it was the first hotel we booked. Got booking only for 1 night and the entire trip was then planned around this date.

The place is run very efficiently by local panchayat. This was probably the best stay in our trip. They offer Bhungas (round mud houses) and tents. Bhoongas are the native homes here so we had booked that. In reality I think it was a wooden structure covered by mud. But it was truly fantastic. We had 2 Bhoongas within a compound, one was the room and other was the bathroom. When we reached, it was warm outside but we immediately felt the temperature to be cooler inside. At night, when it was very cold outside, the bhoonga was extremely cozy and we had to actually turn on the fan. There was no TV or AC, not required too at such a place.
The first thing we did after checking in was have a most wonderful "Kutchhi" lunch. There was good variety and taste was excellent. We loved refilling our glasses with buttermilk from the large tapped steel drum.

Beautifully laid out tasty lunch at Sham-E-Sarhad
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View of our Bhoonga
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Inside the Bhoonga
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Map of Kutch on the wall
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Kms Covered from Devpur to Hodka : 110

After a nice lunch and short rest, we were again on the road at 3.30pm. Reached Bhirandariya and went towards Kalo Dungar (Black Mountain) the highest point in Kutch. On the way stopped at Khavda to look at some handicrafts. There is hardly any population on this side. We reached the top of the mountain after 5pm. There is a temple here as well as BSF posts. We saw a nice sunset. Normally one should get a magnificient view of the White Rann but unfortunately it was covered by water when we went. After the sunset there is a strange ritual where the prasad from the temple is fed to Jackals. The prasad is left on a concrete podium some distance away and sure enough, 2 jackals came to eat this. The tourists can view from a safe distance.

Views from Kalo Dungar
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We were back at the resort after 7pm, tired and hungry. Had a super dinner in the cold desert air. Then enjoyed folk songs & dancing presented by the local menfolk before we retired for the day.

Kms travelled to and from Kalo Dungar :108
Total kms for the day : 218

Last edited by jesrani : 7th August 2014 at 15:51.
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Old 7th August 2014, 16:31   #6
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Day 11 : White Rann and off to Mundra

This was almost the end of the trip. Had a very early morning tea and left the resort at 3.30am for Dhordo to see the White Rann, 20 kms away. Almost at the end I realised that I had forgotten the permits at the resort but we decided to move ahead, hoping no one would stop us. And no one did
One has to reach the edge of the desert through Dhordo and I had read that we could take the car into normal desert upto some point. We could see car tracks and went in as far as we dared. There was no one around to ask. Finally parked the car and got out, could not see any "White rann" anywhere and were not sure if we were at the correct location. Then saw a group climbing over a continuous short "wall" made of desert sand (more like a boundary) and went behind. The sand was wet and soggy and one could easily fall. We had to take help to go to the other side. Beyond this was the "White Rann". It was an amazing sight, something we had not imagined, white till the eye could see. It was beautiful. The Whiteness is, of course, due to salt. Seems the sea was flowing here in some age. The salt was hard and hurt our feet. Unfortunately, due to the ankle deep water we could not wear any footwear. But we thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of this place. It was worth the visit. Spent 90 minutes, saw the sunrise (from opposite direction) and took many pictures. On the way back we saw the tents being prepared at Dhordo village for the Rann Festival of December - January. It would have been great had there been no water on the desert and we could have walked further inside. But we did not take that risk and stayed at the edge. The good thing was that we enjoyed it in peace. We had breakfast at the resort, did some shopping of quilts in the village, came back for lunch and then left for Bhuj airport to greet my mother who was arriving from Mumbai. On the way we stopped at a village called Sumrasar (Sheikh) and visited a shop called Kala Raksha which promotes local arts. Did some purchases here also. In the evening reached Mundra. I was visiting my uncle's house after 20 years and all the memories came back. It was wonderful.

The boundary wall separating the white rann and normal desert
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Sunrise on the desert
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Picture taken at almost water level
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Our car alone in the vast desert surroundings
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Behold, the White Rann
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Tents being readied for Rann Utsav at Dhordo
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Stop at Bhuj airport
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Kms travelled : 178

Day 11 : Mandvi
Mandvi is a small town, about 50 kms West of Mundra. It is the home of my ancestors and our "Kul Devi's" temple is also here where we wanted to visit. We left in the morning and reached quickly. Had to park the car outside the main town area. The lanes are so small that even a large auto-rickshaw has problems going through them. We soon found the temple and took blessings.

Our kuldevi in Mandvi
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After this we searched for my ancestors house based on some possible clues given by my dad (He himself did not remember as his grandfather had shifted to Mumbai). But could not locate it exactly. But we saw the neighbourhood and that was good enough.

We then proceeded to Vijay Vilas Palace Hotel owned by the Maharao of Kutch, 9kms away, inside a private forest. The rooms are not exactly in the palace which is nearby, but in the outhouse, which was a bit disappointing. But nonetheless, we were there to enjoy the atmosphere. The caretaker was good. Had lunch which was included but did not enjoy it too much. There were no other guests apart from us.

The Vijay Vilas guest house
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Our room on 1st Floor
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After some rest, we wanted to see the sunset point. There is a private area open only to the Hotel's guests but it is confusing to reach there. The caretaker took us through the forest but got in wrong direction a couple of times. Finally we reached and went in with the key to the gate while he went back. We went up a hill by car upto some distance and then walked. There was no one in this private area. We got a nice view of the palace from there.

In the private jungle of the Maharao
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View of the Vijay Vilas Palace
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We decided to head back rather than get lost at night. There was no mobile signal also in that area. We came throught the gate and tried to find out way back throught the number of small lanes in the jungle but could not find the route. Came back from where we started and found a jeep in the common area going out towards the gate. Followed it and came to the guest house, were a bit relieved. But realised there was nothing to fear as finally, "All roads lead to Rome". We decided to have dinner in town in a small restaurant called Oasis. It was good, nothing great. At night, being the only guests, it was a bit eerie, and very chilly too. The experience was not as overwhelming as we had hoped, but not a disappointment either. Neither the TV nor the WiFI was working. So we slept early.

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Old 8th August 2014, 00:10   #7
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Day 12 : Back to Mundra

The trip had more or less come to an end as there was no further hotel or resort stay. We were with family and friends and relaxed. But we did try to catch whatever extra that we could. I will make it more of a Photologue from here without detailed explainations.

At the elegant and well maintained Vijay Vilas Palace. The Maharav stays here on occasions.
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Neelguy
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Superb lunch at this inconspicuous small restuarant in Mandvi. The thali was fantastic and the warmth with which the food was served made it better.
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One of the gates of Mandvi fort
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Remnants of a glorious past
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At the nice lake in town
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Windmills on the beach
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The old bridge leading into Mandvi
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72 Jinalayas, Jain temple near Mandvi. Very peaceful with beautiful carvings. Under construction since last 19 years by Rajasthani craftsmen.
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Day 13 and 14 : Around Mundra

The wooden door of my maternal grandfather's home

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Jagdu Shah's vav at Bhadreshwar. Maybe a few hundred years old and neglected.
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Jain temple at Bhadreshwar which has been rebuilt number of times, last after the terrible earthquake
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An ASI protected 1000 year old temple in Bhadreshwar. Just happened to see it, no one even knows about it or probably cares about it. Even the Protected Monument board was in shambles.
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Chokhanda Mahadev temple
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Rokadiya Hanuman Temple at Mundra
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Old 8th August 2014, 00:26   #8
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Day 15 : To Ahmedabad

On the way to Ahmedabad
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Fort wall at Dhrangadhra
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Dhrangadhra fort converted into court
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Sun setting as we reached Ahmedabad
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Kms covered : 345
Driving time : 6Hrs 15Min
(Last 30 kms taking more than an hour)

Day 16 : Ahmedabad

Hot air balloon at Kankariya

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Views of Kankariya lake and Ahmedabad city from balloon
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Kankariya Lake
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At the Adalaj Vav in Ahmedabad, much more complete than Patan's Ran Ki Vav but plain architecture, nothing as striking as the carvings at Patan
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Day 17 : Back Home

The more than 100 year old Golden Bridge at Bharuch, a marvellous piece of engineering on the Tapi river. Always working whereas the "modern" bridge on NH8 is always damaged and needing repairs.
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The final Trip Meter reading. Add the 314 kms travelled by taxi to this
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Kms covered : 390 in the day
Driving time : 6Hrs 11Min

Kms covered in whole trip : 2624+314 = 2938

That is the end of my travelogue. Hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Last edited by jesrani : 8th August 2014 at 06:12.
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Old 9th August 2014, 12:04   #9
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th August 2014, 16:34   #10
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Very nice travelogue complemented by some lovely photos.

This is one comprehensive tour of Kutch - might become the guide for all Kutch travelers.

Its indeed sad that Dholavira is in the state it is. I had heard that they had stopped funding for the excavation, although most of the site remains to be explored. Its a bit difficult to reach and the lack of stay options dissuades many (including me on my own Kutch trip) from going there. But the dedication of the ASI staff is very praiseworthy.

Must have been an interesting sight to see the White Desert under water. When dry, it is indeed a marvelous sight, like no other . Walking as far as you want into it is an unique experience.

Thanks for a wonderful write up. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
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Old 9th August 2014, 17:58   #11
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Hi Jesrani,

Nice travelogue. I liked the lone car in the Rann of Kutch. Just wanted to check, with you me and my wife wanted to travel to Gujarat to see, Rann of Kutch, Gir Forest, Diu & Daman in the first two weeks of september. Could you advise, whether during that time, it would be heavy rainfall due to which we cannot cover those places?

Priority list would be Rann of Kutch, Gir Forest safari ( on our own vehicle,if permitted) and to get a feeling of Tropic of cancer.

Please provide me your inputs as to will it be downpouring during the month of September. Since yours was the recent post, do let me know your take on the same.
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Old 9th August 2014, 18:01   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jesrani View Post
Day 17 : Back Home

The more than 100 year old Golden Bridge at Bharuch, a marvellous piece of engineering on the Tapi river. Always working whereas the "modern" bridge on NH8 is always damaged and needing repairs.
Attachment 1271893

Its on the Narmada. Tapi flows through Surat
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Old 9th August 2014, 20:58   #13
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Excellent Travelogue, excellent places and indeed lovely pictures.
Can you please post up a Google route map of your trip. This will help me in planning a trip sometime in near future.
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Old 10th August 2014, 06:06   #14
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Thanks everyone. Am currently on a holiday in J&K. Will try to respond once I am back
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Old 10th August 2014, 08:47   #15
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@Jesrani, nicely written travelogue of a lovely trip. Would you have a map of the locations you visited ?
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