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Category: Blogpost

Shaping traditional art into modern artifacts

We absolutely love the sweet smell and taste of cool water in earthen pots (matkas) quenching a dry throat in the hot summers.

The family who breathe life in a dying art form

The legacy of Kutch art and handicrafts are an epitome of beauty, dignity, form and style.

‘Rustic Shopping’ Spree

From college goers to the homemakers, from thrifty spenders to the shopaholics, there is one thing common in all of us …we ladies, love to shop!

A surreal encounter with a true patriot

A visit to Shyamji Krishna Memorial evoked a sense of pride in me and reignited the patriotic fervour. It made feel like a true Indian.

It’s an incredible destination with historical significance, a place that resonates with sounds of glory and a source of inspiration for the Indian Youth, ‘Kranti Teerth’ is a tribute to the revolutionary freedom fighter – Pundit Shyamji Krishna Varma. The complex has a replica of India House- Shyamji Krishna Varma’s residence in London. Encompassing an Art Gallery, Smruthi Kaksh, Kranti Van (garden) and Kranti Sarovar (a small lake), this iconic memorial in Mandavi will leave you mesmerized with its amazing ambience and fill your heart with a great sense of pride for the nation.

We stopped for the 20 min documentary film show which gave us an insight into Pundit Shyamji’s life and his contributions for Indian freedom struggle.

An Unsung Hero
Fired with a deep patriotic urge and nationalist emotion, Shyamji Krishna Varma was a great patriot, philanthropist, revolutionary journalist, writer and an inspiring freedom fighter who mentored the cause of India&’s freedom from the British rule.

An Avid Learner
Born on 4th October, 1857 at Mandvi village of Kutch District in Gujarat, he pursued his primary education in the village school at Mandvi and secondary education at Bhuj. He was a brilliant student and acquired a deep knowledge of Sanskrit for which he was awarded the title of “Pandit”. Later he joined as an assistant professor of Sanskrit in Balliol College, Oxford University. After completing his studies, in 1885 he returned back to India and started his practice as a lawyer. Later, he decided to fight against the British’s rule in India from their own country.

A Devoted Journalist
He started the publication of a monthly “Indian Sociologist” which became a vehicle of revolutionary ideas. In February 1905, he established the Indian Home Rule Society to raise his voice against British domination in India. He advocated the principles of non-cooperation & movement in his newspaper, years before it was put into practice in India.

A Passionate Patriot
On account of his political and journalism activities, he was forced to leave England. Thereafter, he went to Paris, where he continued supporting India's liberation. However, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, he could not stay in Paris and had to go to Geneva, where he spent the rest of his life. He died on 30th March, 1930. He had made pre arrangements with the local Government of Geneva and St. George Cemetery to preserve his and his wife Bhanumati ashes at the cemetery itself for 100 years and later send to the independent India.

Let the excitement reach new heights

Have you ever experienced gliding and sliding in the air at 70km/h 60ft above one of the most amazing views you’ve ever seen?

If your adrenaline rises at very thought of this, zip lining is one activity you must try at Rann Utsav.

Being an adventure enthusiast, Skyzilla always on the top of my bucket list for the Rann trip. After relaxing for a day in our luxurious tents and enjoying the amazing cultural shows in the evening, we decided to go for some action the next morning.

After our breakfast we headed straight to the Skyzilla- the Adventure Tower where one can partake in a range of adventure activities like Zip-lining, rock climbing, sky fall, pendulum swing and wall rappelling. I was a little scared before jumping off the board, but whizzing through the air and getting a midair view of the enigmatic Rann of Kutch, was simply worth the try.

For those who prefer to add a dose of adrenaline to their holidays and enjoy Skyzilla, here are few safety tips to follow

1. Dress Comfortably
Your gym outfits or workout apparels are the best options for zip-lining during the winter. Opt for lighter clothes – cotton shorts and breezy tees if you’re planning your adventure for the hot summer months. Avoid wearing flowy skirts and dresses as they can be a safety hazard. Comfortable shoes or sneakers are highly recommended.

2. Follow the Instructions
Don’t worry if you don’t have any prior adventure sports experience. The trainers at Rann Utsav will guide and explain how everything works. Be sure to listen carefully as your guide goes over instructions.

3. Double-check the Harness
Although the trained staff at Rann Utsav will fit you safely into a full-body harness, but it is always better to do some self-check and be assured when it comes to your safety.

4. Capture the Moment
Do not carry a camera, especially during zip-lining. You’ll need both hands to do the zip lining activity. However, you can check with the staff to capture these moments for you.

The Splendour of the Sun- Enchanting sunsets and sunrise at Rann

The profound and breathtaking sight of the sun emerging from the horizon in the quiet stillness of the early morning at Rann is simply hard to put into words. I am not a morning person but witnessing this miraculous sight was worth getting up early for.

Watching sunrise at Rann was truly a Zen-like experience: the golden light from the morning sun shimmering on the surface of the salt lands, birds chirping their sweet melodies in the background and the soft morning breeze gushing through your hair. You’ll slip into your very own morning meditation mood.

It’s so quiet here before dawn, that you’ll feel the need to hold your breath as to not disturb the silence. Then slowly the darkness fades away as the first trace of light begins to streak across the sky. The best thing about sunrises and sunsets at Rann is that there is nothing between you and the sun- no tall structures and no massive rocks or mountains. The clear view allowed us to capture some beautiful poses with the sun.

If there’s anything that could beat the beauty of this wonderful sight, it has to be the Mesmerising Sunsets at Rann! We were lucky enough to watch the sunsets both from the salt lands and from atop the Kala Dungar- two different backdrop for these sun-filled golden occasions.

There is something magical about watching the sun dip into the horizon, especially at a place where the sky and earth become indistinguishable. It’s my favourite time of day, and for me it doesn’t get much better than to sit and just enjoy how the skies change in mesmerising colours.

As the heat of the day cools down, a dewy magical glow is casted over the White salt land, the colours change from golden to orange and then to deep red. Sunsets at The White Rann are definitely one of the best sunsets anywhere in the world.

It’s hard to pick whether the captivating views of the morning sun were better or the spectacular shades of the setting sun…I thought to myself, as I watched the sun fade away into the incomprehensible vastness.

A divine destination of devotion

After having an amazing vacation with my family at Rann Utsav, here’s where I found inner peace. An architectural marvel and a sanctum of pure bliss – The Swami Narayan Temple in Bhuj is a must visit whether you are a believer or not!

A tour of Kutch is considered incomplete without visiting the Swaminarayan Temple in Bhuj. The old Sri Swaminarayan temple was said to have been built by Lord Swaminarayan in 1824. However, this temple was reconstructed due to the destruction caused by the earthquake in 2001. The new temple constructed and opened in May 2010 is primarily made of marble and gold.Expanding a 35,000 sq. feet area, this beautiful temple has 7 arching pinnacles with one central dome, 25 minor domes and 258 pillars. Intricate carvings of Hindu deities adorned every column and pillar of the temple.

It has the idols of Narnarayan and Harikrishna Maharaj in the sanctum besides those of Ganpati and Hanuman. The temple also houses the personal items of Swaminarayan used during his life. A huge number of devotees and believers flock to the temple every year for fulfilment of their wishes. There is another temple in Baladia where Swaminarayan is said to have spent some time during his pilgrimage and it is an important place for devotees of the Swaminarayan sect.

The temple is well-managed by highly qualified and experienced swamis and professionals who have chosen to serve people through Lord Swaminarayan. The temple also features beautifully landscaped gardens. The temple also has facilities for accommodation and offers satvik food and prasad to the devotees.

The Game of Chess and my new ‘Mates’

The most priceless gift you can give to your family is your ‘time’. Our Rann trip offered us many opportunities to spend more time with each other and many instances to build everlasting memories.

In a world where families are leading busy lifestyles and retreating into individual tech bubbles, a holiday becomes a perfect excuse to bring the families together.

We chose to visit the Rann during the winter break for the school semesters, so that the kids can enjoy freely. Far from the constraints and grinding expectations of school life, from homework and projects to complete – they learned the tricks of a ‘new subject’ in Rann.

After trying their hands on table tennis and carom, the kids were keen on playing the game of chess. ‘Dadaji I have played this several times on computer, please let me play with you’, pleaded Rahul. No video game or computer version can match the glee of playing with the real chess pieces. Chess is one of the most popular strategygame. It has been proven to develop your critical thinking and analytical skills. It also teaches you to make complex decisions under pressure and improves your problem solving abilities.

rann utsav

 

I taught my grandchildren few basic strategies and shared few handy tips-

  • Protect your king at all times.
  • Think before you make a move
  • Don’t delay castling
  • Get the knights and bishops out before you move your rooks or queen
  • And control the centre of the board with your pieces and pawn

After a few rounds of capturing and guarding the chess pieces…controlling important squares…. castling and checkmates…we discovered a new bond of friendship blossoming between me and my grandchildren. We decided that we will do this often and include chess in our family nightly fun activities on weekends. It is so much better than everyone sitting with their cell phones doing their own things.

And just think how great it could be if family nightly fun activities would include a few games of chess or puzzle solving. It is so much better than everyone in their corners/rooms on their cell phones doing their own things.

Shades of Rann

The White Rann of Kutch is a master in disguises, changing its appearance all through the days and seasons. I used to wonder how a single place can transform into so many destinations during different times of the day and seasons.

Bask in the bloom of morning sun

In the mornings, the Rann dons a white coat and greets the fresh sunrays. By noon, the Rann reflects on your eyes, as if asking you to leave it alone for a noon siesta.

Behold the canvas called evening sky

The skies of White Rann steal shades from the evening sun’s platter, spilling the hues of purple and often blending them with orange all their way across the horizons.

Stare into infinities of the dark night

On moonless nights, the Rann wears the black quilt of darkness, which makes it the darkest place of India, attracting many a visitor to stargaze and experience the night in its darkest glory.

Watch the full moon in its silver glory

On full moon nights, the Rann opens up its silver treasure trove that can only be reveled with the open mind of an explorer and wide eyes of a curious kid. Experience the moon, right here on the earth.

Vijay Vilas Palace

My visit to Vijay Vilas will always remain special, right from exploring locations that became an integral backdrop for iconic Bollywood films, to playing live music in the presence of its visitors. Built in 1929 by Maharao Vijay Singhii, the palace is an eclectic blend of architectural styles, offering a panoramic view of the sea and is a favourite destination of Hindi filmmakers.

The palace was built during reign of Maharao Shri Khengarji III, the Maharao of Kutch, as a summer resort. The palace has been named after Yuvraj Shri Vijayaraji, the son of Maharao Shri Khengarji III. The construction of this palace began in 1920 and was completed in year 1929.

The palace is set in the middle of well-laid gardens with water channels and marble fountains replete with carved stone works of Jalis, Jharokas, Chhatris, Chhajas, murals and many other artistic stone carvings, colored glass work on windows and door panels. The campus also houses a Chhatri i.e. royal umbrella of Vijayaraji, the prince who loved this palace and passed away in 1948.

I still wonder how architects and craftsmen from places like Jaipur, Rajasthan, Bengal and Saurashtra, and local Kutchi artisan community, the Mistris of Kutch and Suthars came together to create such a marvelous palace!

For the Bollywood buffs, the song ‘Chand chupa baadal mein’ from ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ by Sanjay Leela Bhansali was shot in Vijay Vilas Palace and even the popular dinner scene from the film was shot here. The song, ‘Saree ke fall sa’ from ‘R….Rajkumar’ was also at Vijay Vilas Palace. Now I am sure you’re going to check them out on YouTube. How about planning a trip here? Enjoy!