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Old 27th April 2010, 23:20   #106
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Default Day 6 > The Rann & Dholavira

Day 6:
The plan for the day is to visit Dholavira, where we see the excavation site of the Harappan civilization. And the route had to be via the Rann.

The map: Click on the map to see a bigger pic and the routes.

Route 1 had to be abandoned due to circumstances mentioned below.

Route 2, we went 7 kms into the Rann, marked in green.

Route 3, the sane route across the Rann via Rapar.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-scan0006.jpg



According to the map we take route 1 from Bhuj, where we turn right from Khavda and after Kunria(Panchham island), we cross the Rann direct to Dholavira. Just before the right turnoff to Kunria is a small police outpost and we see one officer standing outside. I don’t know what I thought, but we decided to stop and ask him if we were on the right track to Dholavira. Note; I never stop to ask police for directions, but this was one such day where the mind drifted thinking of the Rann. So this police chap asks us where we’ve come from and why we want to go to the Rann. He and his havaldar both don’t know if this road heads to the Rann, but wont let us go ahead without making an entry. All this while I see all kinds of vehicles pass by some even without number plates without anyone even looking at them. Anyways, they convince us that it would be futile to head in that direction since the entry to the Rann via this route is full of quicksand and vehicles have stopped using this route years ago.
We decide not to waste further time and decide to take route 2.

The view as we head towards Chobari on route 2.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1937.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1939.jpg


A herd of Sambar, i think, jumped across the road and vanished into the distance. Could see a yellow tag hanging off one's neck.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1943.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1946.jpg


Route 2 takes us all the way to Chobari, via the most interior of GJ I have ever seen. Single roads barely the width of the Safari and broken in some stretches. The villages had probably never seen anything other than their pickup jeeps that deliver supplies and people. We found our way through this place using – ‘Jai Shri Krishna’and asking for directions and we got the right directions and after almost an hour of navigating through the interior villages, we stood in front of the final village, which is 5kms off Chobari. Beyond this village lies the Rann. The villagers we asked told us that no one uses this route, and it is occasionally used by the military, since all vehicles get stuck. “Aiyaan gaadi jaato nathi, fasi jaase”. Pardon my poor Gujarati – it means – vehicles don’t go from here, they get stuck. We looked around, there were just a handful of visible people in the village which also has a big temple. We could not see any tractors on the route either.
We ploughed ahead of the village and stopped a few meters ahead.

Behold the Rann. I took a deep breath and said to my brother. Sheyitz!! Buddy, we aint seen anything like this. Lets Go!!


We could see vehicle tracks and which were most certainly tracks from the military vehicles.
The sandy entry to the Rann saw me hit 4x4-H since I could feel the rear wheels sink. We ploughed ahead through the sand onto slightly firmer sand and then.. salt!!


Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1955.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1954.jpg


We drive straight in for 7 kms and then we stop.
Buy a packet of Parle Monaco biscuits, crips ones and then crush them in your hands slowly, or replicate the sound of crumpling a crisp plastic bag. Now magnify that sound x10. Thats what it sounded like as the tires cracked through the salt bed. I had to switch tracks here and there because the Safari was losing traction due to my almost bald tires. I drove about 7 kms pencil straight when I could feel the surface getting softer and the 4x4 working harder. So I did the STOP test.
This is my own test which ive devised for personal use after years of trial and error. I let the vehicle coast to a stop and just tap the brake on the last millisecond before it stops. It gives me a very rough idea of the surface depending on how much the tires bog down. Its a risky process and cn get you stuck. Well, before I could tap the brakes the Safari stopped, it did not bog down but the tires were 2inches below salt and below it was soft clayey mud. We got off and i could sense that the surface was softer. I could see another track running parallel approx 500meters away. I decided to go and check the track on foot. It was good but supersoft in some places.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0766.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0767.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0768.jpg

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Old 27th April 2010, 23:41   #107
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I take a walk to check the alternate track visible approx 500mts away running parallel to us..

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0778.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0770.jpg


After a 20 minute Dandi march in the salt, i came back and we discussed and came to a decision. We were already 7kms into the Rann and everything around us was white and it looked like a 360* mirage. It was approx 1130 am and the sun was scorching. The terrain looked manageable for now and the alternate trach was doable in most places and we could sidetrack the sticky portions. But, if we went ahead and got stuck, then it would be a long painful walk back to the village to hope to find a tractor, and hope to convince him to come and tow us out. It could also mean abandoning ship till we could find a tow rescue. With no backup vehicle and in this extremely hostile environment with no support visible for quite a distance, we decided to turn around and take route 3, which all the people all along were telling us, was the only possible way across the Rann.


The salt.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0779.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0787.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0788.jpg



The track.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0782.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0784.jpg


I return from my salt trek with a sunburn and 10 shades darker on the exposed skin.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1957.jpg


And as I write this almost a month later, im still 7 shades off my original skin tone. WOW!!

Behold >>>>THE RANN!!!!.. IN ALL HER GLORY
(CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR A LARGER VIEW)

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-rann.jpg


About the Rann: You stand there and experience nothingness in the middle of nothingness. Its you the air and the earth. And If you stand there for a while you will feel your existence vanish .You will feel as worthless as that speck of salt you stand on. Humility to its utter core. And one thing you learn for sure in the Rann. Thats – Respect. It sustains you as you stand on it with the enormous potential of ensuring that you don’t make it out of there alive.

If you stand there too long and as the warm breeze blows and the sun burns your skin and the sweat drenches your clothes you will also feel happy to get out of there alive. This place is utterly beautiful and you have t go there and see it for yourself, walk on that salt in the middle of nothing. But this is one such place where you allow your head to decide instead of your heart. The Rann is enchanting. You wouldn’t want to turn back, i didn’t.

As we found out later, we probably made the right decision, but im still not too sure, thats how beautiful the Rann is.

Last edited by jaysmokesleaves : 27th April 2010 at 23:48.
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Old 27th April 2010, 23:59   #108
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We exit the Rann and head for Rapar. Route 3 would take us to Rapar, from where we turn left to head for Dholavira, again via the RANN.


Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0790.jpg

The drive to Rapar was simply stunning. We saw lots of huge deer, i think- Sambhar. They ran across the single road, in small herds and disappeared before we could focus the camera. There seems to be almost no police presence anywhere. But the village people we very warm, understood Hindi to some extent and ‘Jai Shri Krishna’makes a big difference.

The experience of this section of the drive was the most enjoyable part of the entire trip. Long winding roads and long straight roads all single lane almost till Rapar with no vehicles but yours. A different world seems to live here and technology and development doesn’t seem to have touched them too much. But its green, lots of farming happening everywhere.


We spot a herd of Sambar under a tree approx 300 meters to the left off the road.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1963.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1965.jpg


We get offroad a little ahead to get a closer look from the side of the bushes, but the alert herd had their eyes set on the visitor.


Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1972.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1977.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1974.jpg
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Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1986.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1987.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1990.jpg


We felt bad to have disturbed them on a hot afternoon, but what to do!!
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Old 28th April 2010, 00:13   #109
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Some single roads under repair.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1992.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_1994.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2001.jpg



The sign post at Rapar.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0793.jpg


We head towards Dholavira.
Rapar to Dholavira is another beautiful stretch. The road is a well marked 2 lane and sees very sparse traffic. Straight road with very few twists.


Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0797.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0798.jpg


Straight road all the way as shown in the map.


Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0801.jpg

Close to the RANN again.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0803.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0806.jpg
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Old 28th April 2010, 00:28   #110
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Then you come to the Rann. We figured why this is the road everyone spoke about. They have built a road across the Rann. Double lane work is n progress in this stretch. Along the road run essential services like water pipes, telephone and electric lines. Though not adventurous, this place is stunning too. The same view greets you with a big white smile, wider than your widest angle lens. And everything in the distance is a mirage. There is no horizon.

The civilized road to Dholavira.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2014.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0813.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0815.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0818.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0819.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2018.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2027.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2039.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2044.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2052.jpg
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Old 28th April 2010, 00:37   #111
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CONTD..,

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2054.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2059.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2061.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2063.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2066.jpg


The RANN in full splendour.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-rann-2.jpg


A leaking freshwater pipe brings some life and color to the salty white landscape.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2068.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2069.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2071.jpg
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Old 28th April 2010, 00:52   #112
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After having soaked enough of the RANN, we head for Dholavira.
Along the route we spot a temple with a Pakistan like flag!!

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2077.jpg


Lovely straight roads right up till Janan. There after, roads are under repair but still driveable in a car, though slowly. Nothing stopping us though. Straight up to Dholavira. We have not had lunch, there isn’t any place/ dhaba along the way. We make do with biscuits, juice, etc.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2079.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2088.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2090.jpg


Coming up the road we spot a camel cartel.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2095.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2100.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2101.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0851.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0852.jpg



2 kids growing up together.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0858.jpg

2 teen camels.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0859.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0860.jpg
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Old 28th April 2010, 00:58   #113
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Mini camels
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2104.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_2106.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0856.jpg
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Old 28th April 2010, 01:14   #114
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Default Dholavira

We reach Dholavira and its getting hot. We reach the museum to be greeted by one man - RAVJIBHAI. This chap is the one who is security guard and guide for the entire site. The govt has kept him on temporary wages for almost 22 years.

We couldn’t see any humans around. The excavation site is huge but work has stopped here since the last archaeologist retired and no one wants to adopt his baby. Nevertheless it is huge, around 200 hectares, if i remember correctly.

We drove inside to some distance and then were taken on a guided tour buy the man himself who volunteered to join us and show us around. He shared a lot of info about Harappan civilization and their history and was quiet knowledgeable about the details about the entire excavation site. Then we drove around the other half of the site.



Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-sdc18049.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-sdc18050.jpg


The Harappans were a very intelligent civilization. From the way they had designed their water utilization facilities, you will wonder which schools our urban planners go to nowadays. Its a rich experience, go and see for yourself and find out that wiser humans existed before us who lived in nature without disturbing it and given their age and time were far more technically advanced than us today... they nurtured nature ... and we plundered nature and are on our merry way to extinction.

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0824.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0825.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0828.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0829.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0830.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0831.jpg


CONTD

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0832.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0835.jpg
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Old 28th April 2010, 01:34   #115
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CONTD....
DHOLAVIRA is a huge place and there is much to see and is extremely beautiful. My pictures dont do justice to this beautiful piece of history. Please make an effort and go see it for yourself. You wont regret it.



Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0838.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0834.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0840.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0843.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0844.jpg

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Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0846.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0848.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0849.jpg

Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0850.jpg



Anyone going to Dholavira will do well to contact this man in advance. Full fledged stay and food facilities exist for those who wish to stay over for the night. Its the only way to experience this place to full satisfaction. Feel free tp contact RAVJIBHAI for all arrangements. After giving us a detailed tour of the entire site for over an hour in the hot sun he did not demand any money... I offered him Rs.300, which I thought was a fair price.

RAVJIBHAI > MOBILE = +91 94287 48219. THIS NUMBER HAS BEEN POSTED WITH HIS EXPRESS PERMISSION.


Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-sdc18053.jpg


Again, its a pity that our utterly stupid governments don’t do enough to promote such beautiful places of interest. This site itself has potential of becoming a golden goose of tourist content in Gujarat and can earn lots of revenue for the state if they give it a serious look and bring a source of revenue for the local population.

Life in this part of the country is very very hard. You look around at the villages and a bus comes many hours apart. Nonexistent medical facilities, etc. This place looks totally ignored. The last part of the roads towards Dholavira are in a state of repair, but drivable.

There is also a military outpost here. We stopped by to say hello and thank the jawans for being there. We told them about our adventure through the Rann. We were informed by the jawan that even military vehicles do not use the route except in a convoy and most often get stuck. But what he said next completely baffled us. He said, even if you were to make it through the Rann, you would be turned back at the military post before Dholavira. I wondered, how can you turn back a countryman after he makes it through hostile terrain while he is still well within his own country. Damn!!


We left from there, planning to stop at Ahmedabad for the night. The drive to Ahmedabad was again fabulous thanks to NaMo’s good road project.
We reached Ahmedabad around 7pm and stopped for heavy snacks. Sankalp southindian food on the highway somewhere in A’bad. The 1 hour pitstop did us good and we decided to drive ahead for a while to reduce the travel distance for the next day, but as luck would have it, wonderful roads, coupled with lots to talk about, we drove straight to Bombay. After getting stuck at the Charoti toll for over 1 hour, thanks to utterly stupid drivers driving on the wrong side to reach the tool booth before the others and jamming both directions, we reached home at 3am and called it a night.

This was a long drive rather than a specific destination trip. A quick long drive along the GJ coast that was very satisfying. The entire journey was supremely comfortable thanks to the comfortable chariot we were riding in. Driving times were also brisk and distances were dispatched in quick time due to the superb road infrastructure of GJ that is well maintained.


Lastly, I thank everyone for your time and patience to go through this journey all again with me. It was a pleasure to share it with you all which would have not been possible with constant motivation from all fellow BHPians.

Cheers,

Jay

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Old 28th April 2010, 01:56   #116
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Jay, fantastic travel story and great visual treat for us. And with your narration [it was like travelling with you guys], you have so beautifully described the Rann.

Quote:
About the Rann: You stand there and experience nothingness in the middle of nothingness. Its you the air and the earth. And If you stand there for a while you will feel your existence vanish .You will feel as worthless as that speck of salt you stand on. Humility to its utter core. And one thing you learn for sure in the Rann. Thats – Respect. It sustains you as you stand on it with the enormous potential of ensuring that you don’t make it out of there alive.
Surely some new travel story coming up in the months soon!
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Old 28th April 2010, 08:15   #117
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Lovely description of the Rann. And I agree with your thoughts of this area having a lot of tourist potential. Try spending a night out in Rann.

You did good in turning back from Khadva and Chobari. Try and see the GoogleEarth images of the region and you will notice that the area between Khadva and Dholvira is low lying and water logged most of the time. When we were planning for Desert Storm Rally we had also toured this quite a bit and avoided this for precisely the reasons local warned you.

One of our crew had misfortune of travelling alone and having a car breakdown in middle of Rann. Fortunately they were within mobile range and were able to get a local Jeep guy to come to their help. But even then knowing that some one is coming to extricate them they had their fair share of anxiety and panic attacks for five hours they were there.
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Old 28th April 2010, 08:44   #118
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Fantastic trip there jay. I can imagine the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.

Quote:
You stand there and experience nothingness in the middle of nothingness.
Apt for the place and well said. A 5 star from my-side too .
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Old 28th April 2010, 09:53   #119
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OT but a must watch this link on you tube


Q: What's the connection with this thread?
A: This is also in middle of Rann of Kutch!!
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Old 28th April 2010, 10:07   #120
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Sir, I am out of words to describe my state of mind and emotions currently.

You made us wait for sooooo looooong for the Rann and indeed it was the BEST. Infact telling it best is also belittling it. I don't know a better word.

I thank you for sharing this great experience with us. Really really appreciate it.

The pictures 2018 & 2059 were very moving. The pictures tell many a stories they contain.

Harappan Civilization does look good, and now that you have shared this experience, I want to plan to visit them myself. Lets hope I am able to do that soon.

I am sure this place can be a golden goose for tourism in GJ, especially for foreign tourists who are very much interested in art and history.

Marvellous sir!!!


21 Gun salute to you, Jay!!

Mods - I know I am over the 2 smiley quota, but please accept my apologies. I do not know any other better way to appreciate Jay and the experience he has shared.
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