Bhuj town is the district headquaters of Kutch. It contains some historic buildings including the Jamadar Fateh Muhammad tomb, Panna masjid, Pragmalji's palace and the noted Aina mahal and Rao Lakh's Chhatri. The Desalsar and Hamirsar tanks beautify the town. The earthquake in 2001 caused great damage to the city. Kutch is a seasonal island with salt in the soil makes the low lying marsh area almost completely barren. Still its home to India’s finest handicrafts, exquisite embroidery and mirrorwork and colourful tribal groups.
The Swaminarayan temple, has typical brightly colored woodcarvings around the building, mostly depicting Lord Krishna and Radha.
Ramkund well is a square stepwell, 56 feet on a side, with sculptures portraying characters from the Ramayana.
Kachchh (Kutch) is one of India’s richest areas for handicrafts, particularly famed for its beautiful, colourful embroidery work (of which there are at least 14 distinct styles), but it also has many artisans specialising in weaving, tie-dye, block printing, wood-carving, pottery and other crafts.
Shrujan founded by Chandaben Shroff developed a unique, sustainable means of income generation for village women. The first exhibition of saris was held in October 1969 in Mumbai with considerable success. Currently Shrujan works with 16 different styles of embroidery, done by 3,500 women across 100 villages.
Or Simply stroll the Shroff Bazaar for some random shopping.
Kala Dungar (90 kms from Bhuj)
The highest point in Kutch is Kala Dungar from where the Great Rann, the desert and sky often becoming indistinguishable. Since this is one of the places where a civilian can get closest to the Pakistan border, there is an Army post at the top. The hill is also the site of a 400-year-old temple to Dattatreya, the three-headed incarnation of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in the same body. Legend says that when Dattatreya walked on the earth, he stopped at the Black Hills and found a band of starving jackals. Being a god, he offered them his body to eat and as they ate, his body continually regenerated itself. Because of this, for the last four centuries, the priest at the temple has prepared a batch of prasad that is fed to the jackals after the evening aarti.
Visiting in the early morning or late afternoon is recommended, carry your own food and water and if you want to stay the night, there is a dharamshala next to the temple. The way is narrow mostly at turns only one vehicle can pass.
Aina Mahal (9am-noon & 3-6pm Sun-Fri)
The palace was built in 18th-century for Maharao Lakhpatji by Ramsingh Malam. The elaborately mirrored interior is a demonstration of the maharao’s fascination with all things European. In the bedroom is a bed with solid gold legs, venetian-glass shades, paintings, arms, palanquin etc. The palace was destroyed during 2001 and a part not much damaged has been restored.
View Pictures of Aina mahal from the traveogue
What to See Around Kutch
Little Rann of Kutch in Dasada (260 kms from Bhuj)
The endless stretch of white sands, indian wild ass, migratory waterbirds like cranes, ducks, pelicans, flamingoes and land birds like sand grouse,frankolins and the Indian bustards. A paradise for bird lovers in winter. Take jeep safaris, camel safaris, mingle with the locals and relax in the cottages.
An archaeological site in Bhachau, contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan city. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. Water reservoirs, seals,spoked wheel, pottery pieces etc are seen here.
The story of Koteshwar begins with Ravana, who got a boon from Lord Shiva. This boon was the gift of a Shiva linga of great spiritual power, but which Ravana, in his arrogant haste, accidentally dropped and it fell to earth at Koteshwar. To punish Ravana for his carelessness, the linga turned into a thousand identical copies. Unable to distinguish the original, Ravana grabbed one and departed, leaving the original one here, around which Koteshwar Temple was built. The desert meets the sea here. Visit the temple, walk the beach.
Stay - Can be visited staying in Bhuj. A one day trip required.
Narayan Sarovar Lake is one of the 5 holy lakes of Hinduism, along with Mansarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa and Pushkar in Rajasthan. There are temples of Laxminarayan, Govardhannathji, Dwarkanath, etc here. Can be combined with Koteshwar Temple which is a mere 2 km from Narayan Sarovar. Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary is around 14 kms further.
Bhadreshwar is one of the major centers of Jain pilgrimage in Gujarat. The main temple is strikingly beautiful, in all white marble with majestic pillars. Around the central one are 52 smaller shrines, one of which reputedly holds the original Parshavanath idol from 500 BC.
Kutch Museum, helps to learn about the history of tribal and folk tradition of the district, embroidery, paintings, arms, musical instruments, sculpture and precious metalwork.
Next door to the Aina Mahal, is Prag Mahal here you can visit the main palace halls as well as climb stairs of the 45m bell tower for an exhilarating view of the city.
Royal Chhatardis near Hamirsagar lake which is the memorials of those kings cremated here.
Hamirsagar lake is a small lake in the midst of the above monuments where one can spot migratory birds in winters.
Rann Utsav (Dec mid to Jan end)
A grand place for Gujarat is the Rann of Kutch, the white endless pristine landscape of white sand, is accelerated even more on a moon lit night. No plants, no trees, no habitation, just the beautiful moon and the milky white beams on the endless white stretch. Experience this uniqueness, coupled with Gujarati food, dances, art forms, cultural shows here in the desert. Get your bookings dont at www.gujarattourism.com.
In & Around the city. Hire an auto and see the destinations mentioned below. Cost Rs 300-350.