This possibly is one of my favorite places in India, having already travelled there twice so far, I am more than ready to go again…and again! Located at the far Western edge of Gujarat, Kutch is not part of the typical touristy trail. Whilst many wander through Rajasthan for a view of the desert, very few actually venture over to the other side of the Thar desert to explore this spectacular region. This was the perfect reason for me to go discover it! Why? See it for yourself through my photo essay.
1. MEETING THE NOMADIC TRIBES OF KUTCH
Rural Kutch houses a lot of Nomadic tribes whom I was enchanted to meet. The Rabari’s are unique and culturally rich tribes that have migrated from Jaisalmer and Sindh . It was interesting to know that a lot of these tribes lead a semi-nomadic life now, living in small hamlets around Kutch. The men would indulge in cattle rearing while the women focus on weaving, embroidery, house decoration, blanket making. It was very easy to spot them, the men wear a white dress and a turban while the women wear colourful, handmade outfits and ethnic jewellery like the one below.
2. EXPLORING THE BHUNGA FROM INSIDE
Exploring the “Bhunga” or the traditional circular earthen homes with hatched roofs, made by the local Nomads. The most beautiful aspect of these homes is the way they were decorated from inside, you feel like you are staying inside a massive artwork. Mirror work, paintings, textures, small niches in the wall to store stuff, shelves made of earth to store utensils, small tiny windows and colourful doors, you will find all this inside a Bhunga.
3. EXPLORING HODKA VILLAGE
Here is where we saw local schools, met other happy and welcoming villagers, interacted with an NGO that supports the locals, explored other colourful village homes and interacted with the cutest kids who posed happily for all the pictures we took. Hodka village is symbolic of the distinct beauty of the Banni region of Kutch. It is particularly appealing because of its ethnicity and exquisitely decorated with mirror work, textiles and a range of local crafts.
4. VISITING AJRAKHPUR VILLAGE
Akrakh prints or block prints made on fabric is an age old practice carried on by the Muslim Khatris since 400 years in the village of Dhamadka. But sadly after the earthquake of 2001 badly effected their village and the rest of Kutch, hence they created another village to rebuild their crafts and lives once again. Ajrakhpur is where they now practice block printing in huge warehouses or work spaces. We learnt from Ismail Mohammed Khatri that they use natural dyes and materials with around This is the perfect place to buy block printed materials, directly from the craftsmen( which is what we did too)
Read more on how block printing is done here
5. VISITING NIRONA VILLAGE
Here is where the 300 year old Persian Art, “Rogan Art” is practiced until now, by a National Award winning gentleman, Mr Gaffoor Khatri. He patiently showed us the art and science behind the making of Rogan Art, as we sat there enthralled by his artwork. Rogan Art is done with the help of castor oil and natural colors and have a typical range of motifs and methods. His is the only family in India that practices this age old art form, and yet he believes in the age old method of selling. He has no branches to sell his art work but one wants to contact him, he can be contacted on +91 98257 53955
6. ENJOYING DUSK AT THE WHITE RANN OF KUTCH
The Great Rann of Kutch is a magnificent landscape made of dazzling white salt desert plains located in the western end of Gujarat.This is one of the world’s largest seasonal wetlands when inundated with water in the monsoons turns into a salt-impregnated flat land in winter. The best time to visit the Rann is on a full moon night or dusk , when it glimmers into a heavenly experience which makes you want to just stand silently and admire in awe!
7. VISITED KALA DUNGAR
The perfect and highest viewing point in Kutch, from where one could admire the beauty of its rustic salt lands.
8. EXPERIENCING THE CHAKDA
I truly believe in the saying ” When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and what better way to walk my talk than riding the “Chakda” ! Chakda, a bike cart; is one of the main means of public transport in rural Gujarat and I particularly loved the artistic paintings and colourful outside of it.
9. INTERACTING WITH THE BEAUTIFUL RABARI KIDS
Each of my visit to Kutch has got me more attached to the beauty of its people. Interacting with the innocent Nomad kids of the various villages of Kutch gave me more reasons to love it! Their innocent faces, colourful attires, beautiful light brown eyes and playful demeanor totally won me over!
10. EXPLORING THE HISTORICAL PRAGMAHAL PALACE IN BHUJ
Although part of the palace was in ruin due to the effect of the massive earthquake in 2011, what was there was breathtaking , to say the least! The architectural elements of Pragmahal palace were standing testimony to a glorious past of Kutch, which I was more than ready to know!
11. EATING STREET SIDE FOOD
Gujarat is heaven for food lovers, with snacks and sweets being sold in every nook and corner of the markets, there was no reason I wouldn’t stop for a bite 😉
12. LEARNING HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL KUTCHI WEAVES
In Bhujodi village , home to 20 weavers; we visited a weaving work shed and learnt how the traditional weaving is done. Tucked inside the village and hiding behind nondescript walls, they squat facing their handlooms. Here, they weave to the mellow cacophony of clashing wood as though little has changed, using the age old methods of weaving and creating magic nevertheless!
13. PASSING THE TROPIC OF CANCER
The tropic of Cancer passes through Kutch near Khavda village and towards Kala Dungar, and I didn’t waste a single moment before capturing this moment in my memory for life by shooting a selfie with it!
14. STAYING IN A RUSTIC VILLAGE HOME WITH LOCALS
Living in a traditional village home in the barren landscapes of Kutch was one of my dream come true and I couldn’t be happier to have fulfilled it. Here is one place, far far away from the added luxury of a resort or a hotel, rustic to a T! Getting to stay in a village home, not known by tourists was the added attraction! I could wake up to the rural charms of the village, sit on my khatiya and have freshly made Allu paratha and tea, interact with my hosts till my heart’s content, tell them stories from my side of the world and learn about them. Isn’t this what travel is all about?
15. VISITED AN ECO RESORT THAT FOCUSES ON MAINTAINING RUSTIC CHARM COMBINED WITH LUXURIOUS STAYS
For all those who want to experience luxury combined with rustic charms, then you must head to Sham-E-Sarhad resort in Kutch. From luxury tents to air-conditioned rooms to finger licking food to traditional artifacts shopping to dance and music around a bonfire, this resort has it all!
16. COLORFUL DOOR AND WINDOWS
I usually love admiring the little details of local architecture, and here the colorfully detailed doors and windows took my attention as you can see below!
Read more about Kutch through our blog:
- An example of resilience in the middle of Kutch
- The Banni Villages of Kutch
- Dholavira- The lost civilisation
- Top 8 rural Indian travel destinations
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