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Old 15th April 2010, 16:34   #1
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Default Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch

Its been a while that ive posted a travelogue, so here goes. A very recent trip in the last week of March 2010. A very special one for me, for the sheer nature of the route and the very special Rann.

Note:
This trip is about the road, the experience. Its about a drive along the coastline of Gujarat, the sights and the sounds and simply the urge to get away. In my trips the road and the journey occupy more significance than the destination. In this age if there were no vehicles, I would perhaps be riding a horse aimlessly down the trail just for the sheer joy of discovering that trail... or maybe just walking down the road if there weren’t any horses either. For now, the steering wheel turns in the direction the mind wanders.

Anatomy of the trip plan and execution:
As I experienced in 2009 all meticulously planned trip plans were foiled and true to my style i was forced to just hit the road unplanned, as always, taking each day as it comes.
So around late mid March as I sat and scratched my head, looking at the India map, I got a call from my brother who was going to visit me for a few days ‘for a trip’ since he had confirmed leave dates. Within the next few minutes we decided that considering the time limit – 6 days – we would tour coastal Gujarat. Now, there is never a fixed plan. There is only an idea in the head, and that idea is the header of the trip ‘im going to see coastal Gujarat and the Rann of Kutch’. The entire trip till I reach back home is fluid and subject to change. In all the trips I have done I have never made hotel booking in advance, simply because I never have a fixed destination for the night. We stop frequently for photography, have tea, dhaba lunches or a lunch cooking session, field pit stops or sometimes just take off to see some place marked on the road as interesting, or an offroad trip to a beautiful spot that we can see in the distance... Our rough guide, the Eicher road atlas.
So I bookmark the pages on my Eicher road atlas and scribble the names of the places enroute to ask for easy directions.
I had just got back from a terrific OTR(off the road) session and my trusted ever ready horse was full of muck and the wheel alignment had gone for a six.

SO off I went to the TASS to fix the alignment. As expected of their terrific service, they took full 1.5 days to fix the wheel alignment. I dare not ask them to check anything else, else they might just keep my Safari for a week. While they fixed the Safari, i went shopping for some foodstuff and a gas stove and utensils which we would use for our picnics enroute.
Got the Safari at 5pm, ran a few more errands, then loaded the Safari boot and crashed into bed at 11pm to rejuvenate for the journey beginning tomorrow morning.

Sleep- that came easy.

Here it is - The Rann
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-rann.jpg

Last edited by jaysmokesleaves : 15th April 2010 at 16:41.
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Old 15th April 2010, 16:53   #2
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This one should be good!

Is that electricity lines in the above pic? On the Rann of Kutch?
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Old 15th April 2010, 17:11   #3
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Wow ...Glued in. Please do continue fast!

Rann of Kutch is really under estimated place. Go there in winters and you will see it full of migratory birds. Harsh but amazing sights and sounds are a joy to discover.
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Old 15th April 2010, 17:16   #4
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Photos please. Its one of the most interesting parts of the country and you doing that in summer makes it more interesting.
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Old 15th April 2010, 17:18   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
This one should be good!

Is that electricity lines in the above pic? On the Rann of Kutch?
There exist 3 routes through or across the Rann. I attempted all 3 routes. The pic above is of the last route that is a proper tar road that runs through the Rann. It has electricity, telephone and water lines running along.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Wow ...Glued in. Please do continue fast!

Rann of Kutch is really under estimated place. Go there in winters and you will see it full of migratory birds. Harsh but amazing sights and sounds are a joy to discover.
The Rann is totally underestimated. During this trip, while the summer had already begun we counted more than 25 species. The pics of many sightings will follow in the travelogue.

@ambivalent_98 > pics coming up. Im still sorting and converting the pics to postable formats since im very new to RAW format.

Last edited by jaysmokesleaves : 15th April 2010 at 17:20.
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Old 15th April 2010, 17:46   #6
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This would be exciting.

I did the coastal Gujarat route on my bike - trusted KB 100 RTZ - during college days; though in parts and as and when we had vacations.

Rann of Kuchh is an under-estimated place as Sudev has rightly mentioned. And its in the top 5 places I want to drive to.

@ jaysmokesleaves - that initial photo was good and hints of the things to expect in this log. My weekend is going to be exciting as I see it now.
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Old 15th April 2010, 18:46   #7
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Default The route>

Following is the route I used posted in totality for ease of reference. I will attach daywise maps as I go along.

Day-1 > Bombay - Vadodara - Nadiad - Ratanpur - Dholka - Wataman - Dholera - Bavliali (Velavadar national park)- Vartej - Talaja - Jhanjhmer - Mahuva - Nagasari - Una - Diu

Day -2> Diu - Sarkharra – Kodinar – Somnath – Veraval – Somnath – Timri – Ghatwad – Sodaori – (via Sasan Gir) - Visavadar – Bilkha – Kharia – Junagadh – Vanthli – Keshod – Somnath

Day – 3 > Somnath – Chorvad – Mangrol – Madhavpur – Odadar – Porbandar – Miyani – Okhamadhi – Dwarka – Okha – Bet Dwarka(island) - Dwarka

Day- 4 > Dwarka – Bhopalka(via the inroads) – Vadtara – Khambaliya – Narada marine National park – Jamnagar – Dhrol – Latipur – Meghpur – Tankara – Morbi – Maliya – Samakhiyali – Bhachau – Anjar – Mandvi

Day – 5 > Mandvi – Abdasa – Wadsar – Ukir – Ber moti – Narayan Sarovar – Koteshwar – Panandhro – Dayapar – Rawapar – Magwana – Bhuj

Day -6 > The days plan was to reach Dholavira – via the Rann. The map shows 3 routes and we took all 3.
Route 1 > Bhuj – via Khavda – Kunria – through the Rann – Dholavira
Route 2 > Bhuj – Lodai – Jhuran – Chobari – via Rann – Dholavira
Route 3 > Bhuj – Bhachau – Rapar – Janan – Dholavira.

Day 6 > Bhuj – Dholavira – Rapar – Adesar – Radhanpur – Chansama – Mehsana – Kalol – Adalaj – Sarkhej – Vadodara – Bombay.


Day 1:
Following are the maps of the route covered on Day 1. Follow the redline.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-scan0001.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-scan0002.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-scan0004.jpg


We awoke at 3am and hit the road at 330am. After the Charoti toll we got stuck for 45 mins due to a major jam when a large tanker trailer broke down in the middle of the road and awkwardly jammed 3 other trailers behind it .
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-jamm.jpg


The 45 minute jam was a blessing since all the traffic was held up behind(we were right in front of the jam) and the vehicles before the jam had all moved ahead. As a result , the drive from there to Nadiad was swift from where we planned to hit the coastal roads. Ive driven along the coast of Daman many times so that was skipped for obvious reasons.
Stopped after the Bhagwada toll for tea and a stretch.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0001.jpg


As daylight broke we witnessed a new dawn. A glimpse of the new age. Sign of the times. Religion overshadowing the old industry in the background. Looking much more sophisticated than the smoke bellowing chimneys of old.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0096.jpg


At Nadiad we got off the expressway to head towards Dholka.
We passed by Velvadar national park near Bavliali. There is just a small sign board to show its presence and direction. But we weren’t too inclined looking at the flora and fauna which was extremely arid and dry. The sea comes into land and you can see salt all over the place. The roads along coastal Gujarat are quite good with very less traffic.
The bird sightings had begun though as we drove ahead, we decided to go straight to Diu and break for the night.

The drive to Diu via the inside roads we took is beautiful. If you like the old 2 lane highways, the rustic charm of the tea stalls and small villages along the road, local views, local transport, stray cattle and wild humans and vice versa, the village chowk and the sabzi mandi along the roadside, then this is the road you should take. Roll the windows down and soak in that breath of fresh air. As you come closer to the coast, you can smell that salt and then see it too.
The traffic is sparse and the pleasure of the drive is immense. You can stop where you feel and get off and take a walk into the surroundings.

Pictures of Day 1 coming soon.

Last edited by jaysmokesleaves : 15th April 2010 at 18:48.
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Old 15th April 2010, 19:14   #8
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So travel story has finally begun, and sure it will be a great guide to one and all for future travel out here, bring it on Jay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
The drive to Diu via the inside roads we took is beautiful. If you like the old 2 lane highways, the rustic charm of the tea stalls and small villages along the road, local views, local transport, stray cattle and wild humans and vice versa, the village chowk and the sabzi mandi along the roadside, then this is the road you should take. Roll the windows down and soak in that breath of fresh air. As you come closer to the coast, you can smell that salt and then see it too.
The traffic is sparse and the pleasure of the drive is immense. You can stop where you feel and get off and take a walk into the surroundings.
Ah, great description!! Old 2 lane highways have their own charm if they are empty and those stops at the lonely chai shops - that paragraph of yours tempt me to go out right now!! Anyway lets continue, amazing pics and stories coming up for sure.
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Old 15th April 2010, 19:16   #9
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Hai Jay,

Nice to see yet another T-log on your chariot. Waiting to hear more and see more pictures.... let it roll. How many Kms did you clock?

The Rann is magical for me, in December, spent a serious day out, amazing place. Planning to go deep sometime around June with Arpit, a friend who's doing his Phd on ornithology based off Anand, he's the GURU or Rann, a link to his website:

Waders Wildlife and Birding Tours of Gujarat and Kutch - Arpit Deomurari*-*Waders Wildlife and Birding Tours of Gujarat and Kutch - Arpit Deomurari

--Ramky

========
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Old 15th April 2010, 19:48   #10
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A great start.

I am dying to do this route. And am hooked to your travelogue now.

Thanks for sharing and looking forward to photographs and details.
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Old 16th April 2010, 10:58   #11
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Jay Ho!

Seriously, a travelogue was much overdue from you.
I hope you have unleased your lens as before and captured life in these parts. Lets move on then...
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Old 16th April 2010, 11:18   #12
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Me and a couple of friends are doing the Vadodara-Diu tomorrow morning. Plan to take the 'old' 2-lane' highway via Dholera. Would post my travelogue on Monday when I am back!
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Old 16th April 2010, 15:28   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Hai Jay,

Nice to see yet another T-log on your chariot. Waiting to hear more and see more pictures.... let it roll. How many Kms did you clock?

The Rann is magical for me, in December, spent a serious day out, amazing place. Planning to go deep sometime around June with Arpit, a friend who's doing his Phd on ornithology based off Anand, he's the GURU or Rann, a link to his website:

Waders Wildlife and Birding Tours of Gujarat and Kutch - Arpit Deomurari*-*Waders Wildlife and Birding Tours of Gujarat and Kutch - Arpit Deomurari

--Ramky

========
Hello Ramky,

The Rann is indeed magical and I shall be doing another trip to the Rann for sure. Hopefully I will get in touch with Arpit too before my next visit. Thanks for the link. We clocked approx 3800kms in the full circuit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by akbaree View Post
A great start.

I am dying to do this route.
All I can say is dont die before you do this route. The roads in Gujarat are supremely relaxing and enjoyable to drive on.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sen2009 View Post
Jay Ho!

Seriously, a travelogue was much overdue from you.
I hope you have unleased your lens as before and captured life in these parts. Lets move on then...
Yes, ur right. A travelogue has been much overdue. I havent documented the earlier trips to interior Orissa and the Olive Ridley nesting due to sheer lack of time and laziness. Hopefully this travelogue should help me get over it.
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Old 16th April 2010, 15:37   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
So travel story has finally begun, and sure it will be a great guide to one and all for future travel out here, bring it on Jay.
It started only thanks to your motivation and pushing. I had gotten quite lazy lately.
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Old 16th April 2010, 16:18   #15
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Default Views Enroute To Diu

The early morning view, somewhere enroute.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0101.jpg

The local transport in interior Gujarat.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0122.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0128.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0870.jpg


Gujarati is not very difficult to read if you can read & understand Hindi. This sign says, HUMPS AHEAD.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0147.jpg


Every now and then there are small bridges wherever the sea has made inroads inland. We passed by Velvadar national park near Bavliali. There is just a small sign board to show its presence and direction. But we weren’t too inclined looking at the flora and fauna which was extremely arid and dry. The sea comes into land and you can see salt all over the place.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0129.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0130.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0007.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0008.jpg

Here we spotted a fishing couple. Little did we know we were to spot many many more birds during the trip.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0137.jpg


Sights along the way
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0153.jpg


The Obvious followed by the oblivious.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0159.jpg


Here is a sequence of animal traffic. At the end of it you can decide who is more intelligent.

We spot buffalo entering the road and stop
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0183.jpg

Buffalo begins to cross and then looks and stops.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0184.jpg

Car doesnt stop and zooms past.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0185.jpg

Buffalo allows vehicle to clear ahead
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0186.jpg

looks and then walks again.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0188.jpg

Another car(SUMO), without horn zooms past nearly missing the buffalo.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0189.jpg
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-dsc_0190.jpg

Then buffalo continues crossing
Click image for larger version

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Local truck. adding some color.
Coastal Gujarat and the Great Rann of Kutch-moded0012.jpg

Last edited by jaysmokesleaves : 16th April 2010 at 16:23.
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