Gujarat Tour – Day 2 (25th Nov 2019)
Briefly the day was spent fully in Kutch to visit Kalo Dungar, India Bridge and Rann of Kutch.
Kutch is the largest, emptiest and poorest district of Gujarat state and Bhuj is the capital of it. People visiting Rann of Kutch normally stay at Gandhidham since it’s a better town than Bhuj but we preferred Bhuj since it’s closer to Rann of Kutch and will save some travel time.
The Kutch district is a desert covered with white salt (from sea back waters?) with human habitation only here and there. Further it was devastated by the massive earthquake of 2001. Only for the speedy recovery and rehabilitation of the earthquake victims, the Gujarat chief minister was changed then and the baton given to Modiji. On the way we saw many houses built by Modiji Govt for them.
Other than Narayan Sarovrar, a holy theerth and Rann of Kutch Utsav during Sep – Feb, started by Modiji in 2014, there is nothing there (but Rann of Kutch Utsav has become so world famous that people from all over come here all the way just for this!).
There are five Sarovars (sacred lakes) for Hindus; collectively called the Panch Sarovar which are mentioned in Shrimad Bhagavata Purana itself:
Manasarovar in Tibet, Bindu sarovar in Siddhpur, Gujarat, Narayan Sarovar in Kutch district, Gujarat, Pampa Sarovar in Hampi, Karnataka and Pushkar Sarovar in Ajmer, Rajasthan
Unfortunately Narayan Sarovar could not be visited within our single day visit to Kutch (we should have started early).
After a very good complimentary buffet breakfast at Click Hotel at a reasonable rate (for additional person) which had plenty of South Indian varieties, we started off by 9 AM for a day at Kutch. After an hour of travel, we were stopped at the Bhirandiara Checkpost for security check. Possibly because Pakistan is the neighbouring state, the security check is very stringent. Every individual including minors should carry their ID cards.
This is a junction where one road goes to Kalo Dungar, Magnetic points & India Bridge and the other one goes to Rann of Kutch and Narayan Sarovar. Depending upon at what time you are here, you have to select the route you wish to take. If you wish to cover all of them in a single day you have to start not later than 6 AM and first you may go to Narayan Sarovar, else you can comfortably visit all but Narayan Sarvoar in a single day.
It took us about 15 minutes (10 to 10:15 AM) to complete all the security formalities at the checkpost and resumed the journey towards Kalo Dungar. On the way, we saw high magnetic points which defy the gravity of earth. If the car is stationed in neutral, it automatically moves in about 10 kms speed! The car even climbs up in some small slopes! I understand there are such points in Leh and Ladak as well, (may be due to the height of the place?). Being close to Pakistan border, the smell of Pakistan was already there and people were dressed like Pakistanis in same colour pyjama and kurta.
Kalo Dunger (11:30 to 12 noon):
Kalo Dunger is the highest point of Kutch and there are only mountains all around. There is a beautiful Sunset view point. Pakistan border is around 20 kms from here and being the highest point, you can see it also. There is a small Sri Dattatreya temple. Though local petty shops, the ice creams here are so yummy and don’t miss it (of course all the milk products are so good throughout Gujarat).
India Bridge (12:45 to 12:55 PM):
Though Pakistan border is around 20 kms from here, it is the last point to which people are allowed without prior permission. We saw our jawans, lady jawans too, in many tents all through keeping a high vigil. It was sad and slightly guilty as well to see them under hot sun in desert like situation, without any facility, alone, without any human habitation for several kms around just to keep us safe. Had a chat with them (one of them was familiar with Chennai as well!) and returned back.
The Rann of Kutch (2 to 2:50 PM):
Our next point was Dhordo, the white salt desert. On the way, we passed through some high magnetic points again. We stopped and played around to get amazed with the nature.
The place of ‘Rann of Kutch’ utsav is the place where the road ends. From here you can see only white salt desert on all the sides. Modiji started the ‘Rann of Kutch’ Utsav in 2005 as Chief Minister to give some livelihood to these people. Initially it was held for 3 days and later extended to 2 months due to overwhelming response. Now it happens from Sep to Feb and has become world famous.
But what a setback when we reached! We were the only ones there! Due to the storm that hit Gujarat coast a month back, the White desert was wet intermittently and not fully white as it used to be. So the festival was postponed (unofficially?) to 1st Dec and we were early by just a few days! We did some camel ride just to give some business to the people over there. We saw the preparation was going on with shops and tents being erected. After the lunch there, we returned back to Bhuj by 4:40 PM after about 2 hours of drive.
Back to Bhuj:
We went to Aaina Mahal Palace, the only sightseeing place of Bhuj. It’s a small and not so well maintained museum cum palace. If you have seen Mysore palace and others, this may not interest you unless you are involved in heritage studies.
Having missed out the shopping at Rann, we tried to do here but it also didn’t work out due to narrow roads and parking issues.
Had the dinner at Hotel Sankalp, the chain of veg restaurants of Gujarat where you can get good South Indian varieties. We went to the same place the previous day but it was heavily crowded being a Sunday. But today, being a Monday, it was empty. The food was delicious but was costly. While we could finish the unlimited Gujarat Thali dinner for just 100 Rs at Umiya G, the previous day, here a single dosa was more than 200 Rs! Anyway we were happy that we got some south indian dishes.
See you in Day 3….