The Retro Rann TripOur Road trip to Bhuj Rann of Kutch VadodharaTotal No of days - 7Dated - April 2014
Behind the wheel & ContributorAnoop Kumar...know more about me
We plan a week trip to the Rann sands of the west. The train journey from Konkan was fun with friends though it got late, we were lucky to just be on time for our connecting train to Bhuj. After the thrilling rail journey, finally Bhuj!! Our next morning Breakfast.......Dhokla, Fafda, Jalebi, Patties(Bonda), Bhujia and green papaya chutney......Yum Yum!!!
We then visit Ramkund - The wishing well. It is just across the Kutch museum and it also has a temple named the Ram Dhun temple in front of the step well. This square step well has sculptures of Lord Ram, Sita, Hanuman etc and also the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Our journey further leads us to Vijay Vilas palace in Mandavi around 60 kms from Bhuj. We took a bus journey which took us nearly 2 hrs. Vijaya Vilas Palace is the famous one time summer palace of Jadeja Rajas of Kutch and stands on the sea beach. Many scenes of the Bollywood film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was done here. The royal family of Princely State of Kutch now reside permanently as Ranjit Vilas in Bhuj was damaged in the 2001 earthquake. There is a museum also here.
Mandavi beach - Mandvi is located on the banks of the Rukmavati river, barely one km away from the Arabian Sea at the Gulf of Kutch. Mandvi is known for its 400 year old ship building centre. The local carpenters still make ocean going Dhows in much the same way that their ancestors had done a century ago.
Day 3 - Time to Bye bye Bhuj. The place where we stayed in was Hotel Shiv, near the bus stand. Good place and hospitality, Ph. 02832-221999.
To Rann - the retro Rann trip started with a rickety bus ride to a small village called Kharoye. A tea break.
Our stay in Shanti Niketan - a Jain society at Kharoye village. Outsiders aren't allowed to stay here however a recommendation from a local will help.
Day 3 - The greater Rann of Kutch - the white desert. Pictures or words aren't enough to describe the beauty of this place. The salt desert welcomed us with different hues - white to orange/ pink white to silver white. The salt has formed a thick layer surface, feels and looks like a floor, which hasn't been polished. Below this surface is the marshy land and some places are really dangerous, with thin layer of salt and muck beneath were told of instances where vehicles (from bikes to SUVs) were struck and the locals had to pull them out using trucks and camels
Day 3 - Ekal Ka Rann - Fair at Ekal Mata ka Mandir (goddess Durga called Ekal) for the fact the she is the one residing alone at Rann of Kutch. Visitors to Kutch usually prefer frequenting places that are tourist spots. When in Kutch the spots are Dhordo and Kalo Dungar and these places are commercialized. One will have to pay an entry fee of Rs 100 - 200 per person. We wanted to explore lesser know places of Greater Rann. Our quest to find a place in the desert lead us to Ekal ka Rann. The village Chobaari was hosting a fair at the temple and villagers from all 215 villages of Khadir belt was invited over. Two days of Rann, full moon, prayer, cultural program and definitely amazing local food
Day 3&4 - Night out in Great Rann followed by Sun rise. The night was pleasant however towards dawn the place was freezing with the salt surface turning moist and soft due to the mist. Everytime I woke up from sleep in the night, felt like I was sleeping in a bright hall.
We met few villagers who had trekked Rann to attend the Ekal Fair. They had trekked 60 kms and told us that they had started at 10 am in the morning because there were kids in the group. They were carrying couple of huge cans of water which was meant only for children.
After exchanging pleasantries they inquired whether we are carrying drinking water which we can share. We gave them a bottle of mineral water and the excitement of getting that much water was a sight to see. They call bottled water "meetha paani"(sweet water) and they made it a point that everyone in the group gets a gulp. We realized how lucky we were to live in a world where you get water to drink freely. Also, we decided that we cannot take water for granted and have to be careful with wastage, there are people in India who don't get clean drinking water.
Our night out was with bare essentials which didn't include bed sheets, blanket or pillows. Morning we woke up all pickled. The clothes we were wearing had turned stiff as if they were starched. I cannot explain the feeling of sleeping on a floor made of salt, watching shooting stars in the brightly lit full moon night.
Khadir island :: Day 4 - en-route to Dholavira. The Khadir island is a group of villages surrounded by the Great Rann, which is filled with water after monsoons.
Khadir Island :: Day 4 - The trip to Harappa civilization excavation site at Dholavira. Have read about Harappa and Mohenjodaro but ruins made me wonder of the advanced technology and planning. They had everything in place what we are still trying to implement- waste management, rain water harvesting, water storage and supply, drainage system. I wonder how did the intelligent race perish and where we would be if they continued..........
Khadir Island :: Day 4 - Fossil Park & the last guarded post. Fossil park is a place said to have been a thick forest. With the earthquake that changed the geography of Kutch, these trees were buried and then emerged again on the surface and looks like rocks.
Border Outpost Karni :: Day 4 - watching sunset sitting at the temple listening to bhajan (prayer songs) sung by the BSF soldiers was another unique experience. After the prayer we were given prasad and were invited to the camp. We spent half an hour chatting with officers and soldiers sipping on lemonade at the last guarded post by BSF.
Kutch :: A Ramjibhai Meriya explaining the formation of Great Rann. He made our trip memorable. One will find lots of guides who will promise to take you around and charges are exorbitant.
He is a reporter with "Kutch Mitr", a local representative for Doordarshan and a social worker. He is also constructing his resort at Chobaari village. You can contact Ramjibhai Meriya on 9825968216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everytime we met him we were surprised by his simplicity and when we visit Kutch next time we will traveling home to a friend.
Vadodara - M.S University, Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery, Sayaji Express (toy train)