Kutch has taken in name from the word Katchua which is a Hindi word meaning tortoise. The reason why this place has been named so is that what looks like an endless desert is in fact a seasonal island surrounded by sea water. The largest district of India lying in the state of Gujarat is renowned for its Banni Grasslands with seasonal marsh wetlands which are also the outer lining of the Rann of Kutch.
Kutch is enclosed by Arabian Sea and Gulf of Kutch from the west and south while the Great and the Little Rann of Kutch surround it from the north and east. Rann of Kutch is a large part of Kutch which becomes wet and dry intermittently. It submerges in water during the rains but remains dry in other seasons. After drying up of the shallow water, the salt flats of Rann appear snow white, which is why it is also known as the White Desert.
Be it luxurious palaces, ancient shrines, furrowed forts, wild asses, flamingos, cool breeze, severe sunlight or wild asses, Kutch has it all. A complete vacation destination in itself, this place has everything to offer to its guests.
Major Attractions in Kutch
- Kala Dungar – This is the highest point of Kutch. The prime attraction of this place is watching the sunset from the sunset point here. The views of Rann from this spot are simply breathtaking. This is a must visit place for all those touring to Kutch. There is also a temple known as Dattatreya Temple at the top which offers a free lunch to all its visitors.
- Mandvi Beach – Located at a distance of 1km from the Arabian Sea at the Gulf of Kutch, this tranquil place lies close to the Kashi-Vishwanath temple and is also known as the Kashi-Vishwanath Beach. Simply take a relaxing walk at the sun-kissed sand along the beach or enjoy a camel ride. Other delights at this spot include watching windmills and a huge variety of birds.
- Vijay-Vilas Palace – This is another not to miss site at Kutch. A perfect embodiment of splendid architecture which is a combination of Kutch, Bengal and Rajasthan style of buildings, the Palace was built by Rao Vijayrajji in 1929. Spread across an area of 450 acres of lavish green lands and also comprising of a 2km long private beach, the palace has glorious interiors.
- Dholavira – Situated at Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka district of Kutch, Dholavira, also locally known as Kotada Timba is an ancient archaeological site containing remains of Indus Valley Civilization. Of the eight most important Harappan Sites, this one is the fifth largest. The place comprises castles, water reservoirs, wells, large open areas, sculptures and antiquities etc.
- Nakhatrana – Set around Banni Grasslands, Nakhatrana is a sparsely populated expanse having open desert, lakes and bushes. The place is one of the prime centers of pilgrimage, craft and bird watching which Bhuj is famous for. About 150 varied species of rare birds can be spotted during safaris on this area. Other few things that this huge village is famous for include the spicy Dabeli snack, onion samosas and bangles.
Other places that could be interest for travelers in and around Kutch are –
- Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary
- Gandhidham etc
Best time to visit
Since Kutch is a desert land, the best time to travel to this place and explore all the amaze hidden in its tourist spots is the season of winters. Winters in this area begin in November and continue till March. At this time you can enjoy sightseeing and other outdoor activities without getting dehydrated and experiencing the twinge of heat.
Festivals and Fairs
Kutch celebrates all the Indian festivals with a lot of zeal and flair, but the one festival that is unique to this land is Rann Utsav. This is one of the most incredible festivals and fairs of India and is organized in Kutch every year. Thousands of tourists visit Kutch to experience this desert extravaganza which showcases the most edifying marvels of Kutch. In a way, this festival is a celebration of life in Gujarat where people also get to experience the much popular hospitality of this place. Vibrant fairs are organized near the beaches and lakes revealing about the rich old traditions and ethnicity. Activities such as Camel safari, bird watching, Paramotoring, Giant Chess, Archery, Horse Rides and much more keep waiting for its tourists.
How to Reach
The best way to tour Kutch is to first reach Bhuj which is the most important town in Kutch and also its district headquarter. Bhuj is easily accessible by air, rail and road. Here are the ways you can conveniently reach Bhuj:
By Air – There are regular flights to Bhuj Airport from Mumbai. Since Mumbai is a major airport of the country, travelling first to Mumbai and then taking another flight to Bhuj is a good option for those who prefer to travel by air.
By Rail – Railway station of Bhuj is well connected to all the state capitals and other major cities of the country by way of regular trains. Moreover, trains are a more economical and comfortable way of travelling.
By Road – Bhuj is connected to Ahmedabad, the state capital of Gujarat by National Highway No. 8A. All the neighboring towns and cities also have state and private transport bus services going to Bhuj.
After reaching Bhuj, reaching and travelling in Kutch is quite simple.