Prag Mahal & Aaina Mahal, Bhuj
The Prag Mahal Palace is an impressive building across the courtyard. Built in 1865 during the reign of Maharao Pragmaiji, this elaborate palace was designed by Colonel Wilkins. The highlight of the palace is the opulent Durbar Hall, which is decorated with Shakespearean figures, Minton tiles, carving, gilding and statues. The veranda, the zanana for women and corner towers are equally elaborately decorated. The Aina Mahal was built in the 18th Century during the reign of the flamboyant Jadeja Rajput ruler, Rao Lakha. The palace has an ivory inlaid doors, delft blue tiles, chandeliers, enameled silver utensils and objects, chiming clocks and marble walls covered with mirrors and gilt.
The Kala Dungar is covered with grassland, scrubland, rocks and ponds that support faunal populations. The hill is a treat for bird-lovers as many typical birds of the scrubby and barren habitats are found here. The Dattatreya Temple on Kala Dungar is the site for a unique daily event – when the priests of this temple, offer food and call Lo-aang, jackals and other animals come to feed! Another attraction on the way to Kala Dungar is the magnetic field, where one can stop their vehicle at a specified spot and witness the vehicle’s rolling down against the gravitational force.
This town’s rich maritime past can be experienced at the old harbor where ocean-worthy vessels like dhows are hand-built. Mandvi is a premier beach destination of Kutch. The Vijay Vilas Palace of Mandvi occupies a huge estate with an unspoiled beach at one end.
Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial provides a glimpse of Shyamji Krishna Varma’s life and his contribution during the freedom struggle of India, which will continue to inspire the present and future generations.
The main focal point of Eastern Kutch is Dholavira, the excavations that provide an insight into the Indus Valley or Harappan Civilisation. This site shows the town planning of the period, especially the sanitary drainage systems and the water-harvesting structures like reservoirs, wells and canals that were surprisingly sophisticated for the period.
Siyot Caves are ancient caves that date back to the 1st century AD. The paintings and folklore of cave carvings and sculptures depict historical events like Chinese migration to India. They are the key attractions of the caves and pull history enthusiasts from all over the world to this little known place in Kutch.
Until the Indus Valley shifted course changing the geography of this region, Lakhpat was a prosperous port near its mouth. These walls, overlooking the Great Rann to the north, were built in the 18th century. Inside are the remains of an earlier fort. Notable buildings inside are the Kubas of Gaus Mohammad and Pir Kanmal Shah, the Hatkeshwar temple and the Gurudwara.
Bhadreshwar Jain TempIe
Unreliable reports claim that Bhadreshwar city was founded in 516 BC, and oral accounts state that the first temple was built 2500 years ago, about 45 years after the death of Lord Mahavir. But there is no evidence to either support or debunk that claim. The main temple is strikingly beautiful, in all white marble with majestic pillars. Around the centre are 52 smaller shrines, one of which reputedly holds the original Parshavanath idol from 500 BC. Non-Jains cannot spend the night in the temple complex, but lodging facility is available outside the complex.
From Lakhpat, you can travel down to the holy lake of Narayan Sarovar and the shore temple at Koteshvar. Further south, the heritage village of Tera has exquisitely carved havelis, a historic fort, temples, mosques and an interesting water-harvesting system. Tera Fort has fascinating Ramayana folk murals. For those interested in wildlife, the Narayan Sarovar is the habitat of endangered mammals like wolf and gazelle, while the beaches are used by sea turtles for breeding.
Mata no Madh
Mata no Madh is the temple of goddess Ashapura revered by millions not only in Gujarat but in neighboring states of Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Some devotees practice penance in various forms like walking bare feet to Madh from far off cities or crawling up to Madh with a faith in their hearts that their wishes would be granted by goddess Ashapura. Photography is prohibited inside the temple.
Around 52 km from White Rann, the Chari Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve is close to Fulay village. The place is ideal for bird-lovers as it attracts around 370 species of birds. It is a popular eco-tourism destination in Kutch.
With a large number of migratory birds coming to Kutch, the flamingo city, where thousands of flamingos come in large number, has become an added attraction with the Rann Utsav. Many migratory birds come from Central Europe, Central Asia, Siberia, Mongolia, the Middle East, the Himalayas and the Trans-Himalayan region. Some, like the Amur Falcon are passage migrants, which on their way from Mongolia and Central Russia to Africa, halt in India.
Mountain, beach, desert, wildlife, music, dance and culture all in one place. Stumble upon this beautiful and colourful city of Gujarat that makes a perfect winter getaway.
Source: Tourism Corporation Of Gujarat Limited, (2017), Rann Utsav – Kutch Nahi Dekha To Kutchh Nahi