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Old 22nd January 2011, 09:28   #46
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

A couple of points:

1. Our permits at the BSF check post before the turn off to White Ran, straight road goes to Khavda, was up to India Bridge only, the officer specifically told me that. I was not aware they issue permits beyond that.

2. At Koteswar, I went up to the parking lot near the BSF Chowk, I was asked to scram fast aftet the temple visit.

3.We did not take any permit for the Lakhpat / Koteswar / Narayan Sarovar area, was told no need. We went to Koteswar first and by the time we reached the fork which goest left to Lakhpat, we took a vote, I was voted against by the rest of the gang and we skipped Lakhpat to get back to Bhuj ASAP. So Lakhpat is on the list for next time.

More of this coming up in my T log...

--Ramky
=======



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Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post
I wonder why they ban visitors to go uptill the end of the pier. It's just stupid ! It was great that you were able to befriend them. I ended up (like always on my trips) getting scold at :(.
Probably the one ramakris took at Khavda was for going uptill India bridge & Kala dungar. The permits we got went 80km beyond India Bridge towards the India-Pakistan fence. That's coming in the next day log.
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Old 22nd January 2011, 13:32   #47
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

Hi Harsh- A mouth watering T log with fascinating pics makes one want to go where the black beauty left its print on the sands of Gujarat. Gujarat is the only State I have never servd in in my 30 years of Army Service. though we were at the Rajasthan border awaiting Orders to move in during the riots. Would love to see Bhuj and the places you visited (less the hair raising drive through the LRK). Great Log please cannot wait for more.
Thanks a ton-Col Jude Mayne
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Old 23rd January 2011, 03:20   #48
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

@vardhan.harsh

Excellent Snaps and good write up!

I had been to Kutch last year.

I had been by train and was scheduled to return in 2 days. Hence didnt get a chance to explore Kutch.

Been to Bhuj, Nakhatrana, Koteshwar and Lakhpat. Unfortunately by the time I reached the Lakhpat fort it was evening and the Sun had set by then. It was dark with no lights around other then the Sumo head lights so couldnt really enjoy the location other then the stars in the night and had to return to Nakhatrana for a nights stay.

I am too planning a trip like you to Kutch via my car.

Is Rann of Kutch good enough for Swift? The reason I ask you as I saw the snaps of your SUV tyre condition after getting stuck in a pothole.

Between which Cam/Dslr do you have?

Last edited by tush : 23rd January 2011 at 03:24.
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Old 23rd January 2011, 09:30   #49
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

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Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
A couple of points:

1. Our permits at the BSF check post before the turn off to White Ran, straight road goes to Khavda, was up to India Bridge only, the officer specifically told me that. I was not aware they issue permits beyond that.

3.We did not take any permit for the Lakhpat / Koteswar / Narayan Sarovar area, was told no need. We went to Koteswar first and by the time we reached the fork which goest left to Lakhpat, we took a vote, I was voted against by the rest of the gang and we skipped Lakhpat to get back to Bhuj ASAP. So Lakhpat is on the list for next time.
Yes the BSF check-post at Khavda is authorized to shell out permits till India Bridge, only the sector headquarters can shell out permits uptill Vigakot. Too bad you were made to miss Lakhpat, it is a nice place and in my opinion a far better place than Koteshwar.

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Originally Posted by Judemayne View Post
Hi Harsh- A mouth watering T log with fascinating pics makes one want to go where the black beauty left its print on the sands of Gujarat. Gujarat is the only State I have never servd in in my 30 years of Army Service. though we were at the Rajasthan border awaiting Orders to move in during the riots. Would love to see Bhuj and the places you visited (less the hair raising drive through the LRK). Great Log please cannot wait for more.
Thanks a ton-Col Jude Mayne
Thanks a lot for your kind words colonel. Hopefully i should be able to post an update by evening. I would love to go through your Tlogs, the list of which must be huge, since Gujarat is the only state that you have not visited, yet.

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Originally Posted by tush View Post
@vardhan.harsh

Excellent Snaps and good write up!

I had been to Kutch last year.

I had been by train and was scheduled to return in 2 days. Hence didnt get a chance to explore Kutch.

Been to Bhuj, Nakhatrana, Koteshwar and Lakhpat. Unfortunately by the time I reached the Lakhpat fort it was evening and the Sun had set by then. It was dark with no lights around other then the Sumo head lights so couldnt really enjoy the location other then the stars in the night and had to return to Nakhatrana for a nights stay.

I am too planning a trip like you to Kutch via my car.

Is Rann of Kutch good enough for Swift? The reason I ask you as I saw the snaps of your SUV tyre condition after getting stuck in a pothole.

Between which Cam/Dslr do you have?
Thank you tush for your comments. A trip to Kutch in your own car is a good idea since the district is huge and places of interest too far away and spread out. Swift in the Rann is a good idea, only if you STICK to existing tyre tracks which are clearly marked. Do not go off-track like we did and try to make your own roads. Chances of getting stuck are quite high. We saw some i10s and santros plying in the Rann, but only on existing tracks. Plan in the dryer months and you should be ok. Rann gets very marshy post monsoon.

I own a Nikon D3000 with a 18-55 VR AF-S stock lens and a 55-300mm VR AF-S telephoto lens.
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Old 24th January 2011, 13:31   #50
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

The photos that you have taken are simply mind blowing and specially touch my heart as I am from Kutch myself
Some places are just beautiful
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Old 24th January 2011, 15:14   #51
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

If we want to go till Kala Dunghar and India bridge, do we need permits?
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Old 24th January 2011, 16:41   #52
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

Quote:
Originally Posted by l_tejash View Post
The photos that you have taken are simply mind blowing and specially touch my heart as I am from Kutch myself
Some places are just beautiful
Thanks Tejash. I loved your native place a lot.

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If we want to go till Kala Dunghar and India bridge, do we need permits?
Yes, permits are required for Kala dungar and India bridge but are easy to obtain since they hand it out on the way to these places. We got them at Bhiyandiyara (about 30km south of Khavda) where they had setup a make-shift office during the Rann Utsav. However i believe Ramkya1 got it from Khavada BSF post. you can check with him once.
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Old 24th January 2011, 17:06   #53
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Arrow Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

We did not go to Khavda, got the permit from the make shift BSF post. It's on the T Junction, LT goes to Dhordo village and the white desert, straight 30 kms goes to Khavda.

I am uploading the Trip log into my T log, so exact distances can be had.

----

Last edited by ramkya1 : 24th January 2011 at 17:12.
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Old 24th January 2011, 17:15   #54
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

Yup, the intersection is called Bhiyandiyara where one goes left towards Dhordo and straight towards Khvada. I thought the make-shift BSF post was only for Rann Utsav, but it seems they had extended it for tourists during the whole winter season. Anyways, Tanveer you could also ask your hotel reception to get the permits for you in advance.
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Old 24th January 2011, 21:24   #55
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Default Day 5: Bhuj - Vigakot (GRK) - Kanthwandh - Kala Dungar - Dhordo - Bhuj (550km) - 1

While early mornings in Delhi are a pain, the same do not seem bothersome at all when on a holiday. However, when I say this, I speak only for myself. For Aarti, it is the opposite. Hence, at home, she is responsible for waking me up on time, and during vacations, the onus for this falls on me.

So we began day 5 early again, and as the day before, left by 7:30 am with our breakfast of sandwiches packed. We’d liked the sandwiches so much the previous day that we decided to get them packed for lunch as well, since the spicy food generally available in Gujarat does not suit our stomachs. The road towards Khavda, 80 km from Bhuj, heads straight north. It is a two-landed highway, and although the tarmac was good, it was a bit bumpy, thus keeping our average speed below 80 kmph. Enroute we saw a board advertising the much heard about Rann Utsav. We’d heard of it before, but did not know exactly what it meant. It turned out to be a fair and we decided to check it out later in the evening if we had the time.


Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1640.jpg
The signpost advertising Rann Utsav

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1641.jpg
Sunrise on Rudramata Dam

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1643.jpg
The straight road from Bhuj to Khavda

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These wild camels look like dinosaurs, don’t they?

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1651.jpg
A herd of wild camels at sunrise

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1653.jpg
Another herd of wild camels in the morning haze

Soon we reached Bhiyandiara, where one turns left for Hodka and Dhordo (where the Rann Utsav was being held). At Bhiyandiara, the Gujarat police had set up its office to issue permits to tourists venturing close to the border region. However, it was closed at the time when we reached. As we reached Khavda, we realized that the sleepy village has little to boast of apart from an intersection lined with handicraft shops, and a mention in Keki Daruwalla’s famous love story ‘Love across the Salt Desert’. From Khavda, one can turn left towards Kala Dungar and India Bridge, while right leads to a village called Kandhwandh, the end of the road. We took the road towards India Bridge. 8 kms on this road is a cut for Kala Dungar, which we crossed and carried on towards India Bridge.


Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1656.jpg
Leather work, mud work and antique items available

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1658.jpg
Bhungas between Khavda and India Bridge

Upon reaching India Bridge, we were stopped, and after getting our permits checked and cameras deposited, we proceeded towards Vigakot border post. Slyly, we kept my mobile hidden and deposited everything else. This way at least we could record our GPS track in the Rann and maybe take a couple of non-sensitive shots. Now a little piece of advice for those of you who like us would venture out towards Vigakot for the sheer excitement of off-roading in the Great white Rann over a long distance – don’t do it. It will be a huge disappointment. There is no way that one can drive on the Rann, as it is marshy almost throughout the year, barring the peak summer months of May and June. The drive to Vigakot is a long haul of about 90 km from India Bridge, which goes north-west and is on a single-lane elevated tarmac, much like what is near Dholavira. Immediately after India Bridge, one crosses several ‘bets’ which are essentially islands in the white desert where a lot of the Army check-posts are located. On the last such post, the road bifurcates, one heads towards Vigakot border post, and the other longer route moves to another border post in the north-east direction.

Nevertheless, the drive till Vigakot is beautiful. It of course would have been lovelier had we been able to drive on the Rann, but we enjoyed it all the same. Also, one mostly drives through ‘bets’ on the way to Vigakot, and the drive on the elevated road through the Rann is kept to a minimum, probably because of the difficulty of making roads on it. While on the Rann stretch, all one can see is the horizon on either side, but there’s always an oasis coming up, shattering the myth of being in the middle of nowhere.


Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-29122010202.jpg
Drive through the Rann for 80 km

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The vast Rann to the left

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Electricity poles all the way till Vigakot

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-29122010205.jpg
We did not shoot near the ‘bets’ fearing that someone might spot us with a mobile camera

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-29122010206.jpg
A bend in the road


An hour and a half later, we finally reached the Vigakot power sub-station but there was no sign of any post, so we moved further. About a km ahead, we reached an empty check-post with a bifurcation on the road where I went to the BSF post to the right. This we thought might be the Vigakot post but since there we no one there we moved ahead. Another km down the line we saw a fence and a T-junction where tarmac went both left and right. Beyond the fence there were some white pillars, and it was then that it actually struck us that this fence separates our country from Pakistan! It was a strange feeling standing there, looking at a different country across the fence, knowing that the land and the people there are much like us, and yet completely different.

We were told by a Stallion standing near the fence to go back to the BSF post, which we immediately did. There, after a little scolding (for not stopping first at the post), we were given a ‘tour’ of the post, interspersed with interesting anecdotes. After chit-chatting a bit with the officers there, we started the long haul back to Khavda, which was pretty uninteresting and unexpectedly tiring, probably because it was too hot now with the sun up.


Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-29122010207.jpg
A beauty shot, which is not so beautiful

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-29122010209.jpg
The long drive back on the same route

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It was getting quite hot, and we had to switch on the AC.

We managed to get back to Khavda by 1:30 pm, and were now a little tired. We stopped at the intersection to buy something to eat, and to ask for directions to Dholavira. Majority of the guys suggested going back to Bhuj and taking the longer route, but it was the shorter drive through the Rann that we were hoping to do. After unsuccessfully enquiring for a while about the road to Dholavira from Khavda through the Rann, and also being warned by one person on not attempting the route, we headed towards Kandhwandh, hoping that there would be a track east from there towards Dholavira through the Rann. 45 min later we reached the village Kandhwandh and spoke to a villager there about the possibility of a route ahead towards Dholavira. He was quite helpful and informed us that it is impossible to cross the Rann in any vehicle right now, but a direct route does exist to Dholavira. Even when the route is doable, it is tricky and can only be done in 4WDs. It is generally possible to cross it in the summers when the snarling heat dries up the Rann, but even then he said that he gets messages from the BSF guys one in a while to tow out stuck vehicles using his tractor. It was then that we finally realized that it would not be possible to do go to Dholavira that day, but still asked him to take us till the point where the Rann starts, and he obliged. As we reached the end of the dirt track, the sight before us was unbelievable! The Rann was spread out in its entirety, but completely covered in water. It was like a freaking lake! The little hope we’d had of still being able to do the route despite a very rational explanation by our villager friend now died. The only way of crossing this would be in a boat!



Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1669_stitch.jpg
The blocked road to Dholavira

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-ge-map.jpg
A google earth snapshot of the day, the yellow line on top marks the border fence
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Old 24th January 2011, 22:55   #56
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Harsh,

That's almost into the next country!!!! Just reading it is exciting, I can imagine the feeling of staring at Pakistan over the land. I'd give anything to do that some day.

--Ramky
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Old 25th January 2011, 11:51   #57
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Default Re: Day 5: Bhuj - Vigakot (GRK) - Kanthwandh - Kala Dungar - Dhordo - Bhuj (550km) -

Quote:
Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post
These wild camels look like dinosaurs, don’t they?

After chit-chatting a bit with the officers there, we started the long haul back to Khavda, which was pretty uninteresting and unexpectedly tiring, probably because it was too hot now with the sun up.

Yeah, the camels look kinda like those Raptors in Jurassic Park especially cause of the terrain & the fog!

So how high did the temperature reach in there? I always feel that high temperatures are a big time killjoy.

I don't believe it, you again got scolded! "Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave!"
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Old 25th January 2011, 13:21   #58
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Default Re: Day 5: Bhuj - Vigakot (GRK) - Kanthwandh - Kala Dungar - Dhordo - Bhuj (550km) -

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Harsh,

That's almost into the next country!!!! Just reading it is exciting, I can imagine the feeling of staring at Pakistan over the land. I'd give anything to do that some day.

--Ramky
=======
Somehow reading about it is always more exciting that going there. After reaching, it was like what's the big deal. The land looks exactly the same on the other side, the trees, everything is pretty much the same. you have a great chance of making it to the border since it's hardly too far away from AHD. And given your average daily odometer clocking, it should be a weekend trip from AHD. ;-)

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Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Yeah, the camels look kinda like those Raptors in Jurassic Park especially cause of the terrain & the fog!

So how high did the temperature reach in there? I always feel that high temperatures are a big time killjoy.

I don't believe it, you again got scolded! "Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave!"
Well the temperature might not have been more than 27-28! but the sun was scorching hot. It was quite similar to ladakh where the shade temperatures are enough to make one wear a pullover but a combination of scorching sun & reflection from sun/sand makes it "feel" hotter than it actually is. And yes, we have a knack of getting scolded by these border specific forces, whether it be ITBP or BSF

Last edited by vardhan.harsh : 25th January 2011 at 13:23.
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Old 26th January 2011, 01:15   #59
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Default Day 5: Bhuj - Vigakot (GRK) - Kanthwandh - Kala Dungar - Dhordo - Bhuj (550km) - 2

Dejected, we headed back to Khavda. It was already 3 pm, and to optimize we decided to head towards Bhiyandiyara to get the permit for Dhordo to attend the Rann Utsav later that evening, and then catch the sunset at Kala Dungar, meet the sweetend-rice-eating-jackals there, and then finally head towards Dhordo for a cultural evening at the Rann Utsav. The permit at Bhiyandiyara took no time at all, and we were able to make it to Kala Dungar by 4 pm. Enroute we were introduced to another magnetic hill, a sibling of the one up North. Here again the optical illusion almost convinced us of the magnetic effect of a hill nearby, but a simple experiment of flowing water brought us back to the logical explanation of an optical illusion. On reaching Kala Dungar and treading up to the view point from where the Rann can apparently be seen in all its glory, we were in for a big disappointment again. A thick haze had settled around the hills, and the Rann was not visible at all. To add to the bad news, rumours were that the jackals had cancelled their sweetened-rice-eating-appointment for the evening after a heavy brunch earlier in the day. The saving grace was the purchase of a beautiful (and very reasonable priced) typical Gujarati wall hanging from the souvenir shop there which welcomes guests in our drawing room these days.



Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1676.jpg
Approaching Kala Dungar

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1683_stitch.jpg
A hazed panorama from Kala Dungar

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1699.jpg
The sign explains it all

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1700.jpg
Some wheateaters enjoying the late afternoon sun

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1716.jpg
Women of the region do not like being photographed; this woman was like quick to veil herself against Aarti’s prying telephoto lens

Having chucked our plan of waiting for the jackals, we headed to Dhordo next to check out the much hyped Rann Utsav. We launched into a rally-driving-mode to catch sunset over the white desert near Dhordo, only to miss it by 5 odd minutes eventually. However, we were soon absorbed in the carnival-like atmosphere of the Rann Utsav. A whole city had been erected for the Utsav, and it boasted of tented accommodation for about a 1000 people, huge pavilions for displaying the history and culture of Kachchh and Gujarat, and a fair to exhibit the local art and crafts. Leave it to the Gujjus to sell, and they do a fantastic job of it, whether it be oil, pickles or tourism. After a short stroll in the exhibition tents, we bought some souvenirs at the fair, and then settled for a dinner of spicy, expensive vegetarian Gujarati buffet.



Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1729.jpg
Missed the sunset over the Rann

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1732.jpg
Tourists jeep-gliding in the Rann

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Rann Utsav 2010

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1738.jpg
Pretty lamps printed with local designs lit the Utsav

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1740.jpg
Standees displaying the essence of Kachchh

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1741.jpg
Entrance to the pavilion which showed the history and culture of Kachchh

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1744.jpg
A presentation on the arts and crafts from the region

Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)-dsc_1749.jpg
Parting shot

Finally, with our stomach full and body exhausted, we headed back towards Bhuj and hit the sack at 11 pm after an exceptionally long day.
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Old 31st January 2011, 10:37   #60
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Default Re: Raiders of the Rann: A Kachchhi Kaleidoscope (Gujarat)

How difficult is to get the Vigakot permit from BSF HQ at Bhuj? Do you have to pull out any army connections?

Did you also require a permit for Kanthwadh?

I did a short 1-dayer to White Desert, Kala Dungar & India Bridge on Saturday. Permits for that are still dished out at the Bhiyandiara check post.
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