Saturday, March 15, 2008

Maha Maza at Mahabaleshwar - Night 1 - Bus Ride

All India Meet
(organised by GMKCO)
7-9 December 2007

" Night 1 – Bus ride

Unjustified Apprehension

"As the 6th day of December 2007 crawled to a close, the excitement surged within each of us. Amongst old friend's reunion and getting acquainted with new colleagues, we boarded our buses. There were two buses namely viz. route 1 and route 2. Both buses were a/c, with push back seats and a stereo cum video facility. But leaving aside the stereo which hardly worked in either of the buses, route 2 bus was far more comfortable and jerk-free. I was in route 1 for the initial ride from Borivali to Sion. Then I switched to route 2. I was apprehensive about this switch-for I presumed I didn't know too many people there-but the apprehension was so not justified!

I was glad to see a few known faces amongst the 50-odd people already seated. I took my seat on the second row-the seat reserved by Meghana ma'am-but my attention was fixed on the back of the seat. No, no, not because there were hot guys there, but simply because that's where all the action would be- the dancing, singing, joking and chilling out. So I conveniently moved to the middle of the bus, asked Sangita to make a little place for me on the already full two-person seat. I adjusted myself merrily, and was certain no one had problem with it for here in Mumbai everyone is accustomed to adjustments, especially train commuters! :D

Settling down

Post minor adjustments in everyone's seating-after being inspired by me I like to presume-the happy hours began. There was the usual round of Antakshari, which paved way for singing atrocious songs in the league of 'amma dekh tera munda bigda jaye', 'billo rani kaho to kabhi jaan de du', 'kala kava kaat khaiga' etc. After the cheap thrills of the tapori songs, we moved on to being mesmerized by hindi classics. Then we tried to persuade the Delhi mundas to join us in the game. But they weren't interested in anything but sleep! So we let them have their way-just this one time- and had a good laugh looking at one of the delhi guys(either Vivek or Abhishek Singh) sleeping with his hand on his face, in true Manoj Kumar style. The laughs died down as it was time for the first halt.

Lookout for a 'halt'!

Halt, the word rings funny memories! I had left my hostel a good 2 hours before the scheduled bus departure from Borivali. I swore not to have a drop of water till the first halt came by and till I eased myself of the building pressure. As soon as I reached Borivali I enquired about the first halt. From then on Shefali teased me by calling me 'halt'!

So finally when we halted at 2:00 AM somewhere in Lonavala, I was the first one to make relieving use of the much awaited-halt. Call it our luck or the good planning; the washrooms were decent, very unlike Indian halts on highways. Route 2-my route- reached the halt first and everyone scatted around like rats let out from a cage. We stretched our limps, loosened our sore necks and gulped hot coffee/tea. Once the route 1 people arrived, we hugged one another like we were brothers/sisters lost during partition, just for fun! Someone happened to click a picture somewhere-the flash could be seen- and everyone followed suit. Thus began the great photo-mania!

Photo Mania

Photos were being clicked in every possible pose (hold on to the wild imagination) and the bus in-charges,
Hitesh Bhai and Mruni had to pull us into the buses after we bid our goodbyes and wished each other good morning, just for fun again! Apparently only half of the bus people in route two had been recharged by the cuppa hot drinks. Those who fizzled out slept soundly, while the other half (including me) played the dumb man's game, 'dumb-sharardz', in a hope of not disturbing the sleeping lot! (in reality there wasn't anything more interesting to play, but I said the previous line to win the hearts of the other half!!)

Dumber game & Lukkhagiri

The game warmed up with easy movies and went on to the tougher one's like- kehar, ijazat, koshish. In the beginning only Hitesh bhai and Nikul were acting, but in the end everyone had acted at least once, some made serious movies seem funny, some made absurd references and some were outright smart! (if you've played this game, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about) After guessing about 10-odd movie names, our bus got stuck in a traffic jam. Most of us who were awake took it in our stride and got off the bus to explore.

It was quite cold outside. There were mostly truckwallas around us. The guys who wanted to show off, climbed the trucks and guess what – clicked snaps again! The rest of us just chatted and pretended we were smoking invisible cigarettes (as we exhaled from our mouth, white smoky vapours would be seen). We also talked to our mates in the other bus via cell phones and they were also doing lukkhagiri. After about ½ hour the jam decongested and the bus revved up. Hitesh bhai ushered us in-like we were some school kids-and we resumed the dumb man's game. With a fee more warm-up-movies (read easy) we again proceeded to complicated movies. But the icing on the cake was, without doubt, the movie that I gave Nikul to enact. After hearing the movie name, the first question he asked me was 'Is this really a movie'? I whispered back into his ear saying, 'yes, it is!' He gave me a weird look and commenced the acting.

As he began revealing the movie by his actions, everyone started giving me the stare. The weird stare, the suspicious stare and the 'is-his-really-a-movie-stare'. And I sat there with a fixed expression which I called, 'believe-me-it-is-a-movie'. Surprisingly he acted out the whole movie without splitting into laughs and people actually guessed the movie name. That's the height of Sportsman spirit!!

Once the movie name had been guessed, people began wondering how a corpse can float in a dry drain, and that's when the bus thundered with laughter. On this funny note we ended an entertaining session. If you're wondering what the movie was, it was "Sukhey Naley mein Tairti Laash!!" hahaha

Bring on the food...and the sleep

By then it was 4:30 AM. Having played all through the graveyard shift, we were sleepy and hungry. That's when the food was brought out. We assumed that the food and the tea/coffee that we received were free-elation galore-until someone let the cat out of the bag. The food and drinks were sponsored by our own hard-earned money (stipend/salary). Our faces sulked just a bit, but the taste of food on a hungry stomach was bliss and made us forget the hole in our pocket! We ate potato wafers, kachori, mentos and cream biscuits. Trust me, food had never tasted this good!

With our tummies smiling, we began dozing off, but not without fights for seats. I ended up stealing Prashant's place, who in turn stole someone else's seat and in the end everyone slept, but in someone else's seat!! The bus was silent for a whole 2 hours!

When majority of us woke up-say around 6:30 AM-the sky was starting to glow in the morning light. The scenery was breath-taking, with valley on one side and fresh green plants and trees on both sides of the road. Paradise had emerged!

Morning chill and grand arrival

We stopped again-somewhere between Pune and Satara- to stretch our limps and to answer the nature's call. It was chilled. Those of us who like he-men/ she-women got off the bus without warm clothes were hit most by the cold. The he-men and she-women got the message straight and within minutes everyone was covered with at least two layers of clothing! The change in weather was a sign that Mahabaleshwar was nearing and of the pleasant days to come!

At about 8:15 AM everyone was awake and uneasy. The long bus journey was sort-of taking its toll on most of us. But the sight of the tax barrier-a few kilometers short of Mahabaleshwar, near the Venna lake-put everyone's weariness behind them. By 8:30 AM we had officially arrived in Mahabaleshwar, where the Maha Maza would be our Mantra!!

Route 2 (my bus) was the first to reach. The bus dropped us off at the City centre beyond which no bus was allowed. The Valley View (our resort) staff was waiting for us. They ushered our luggage into mini-vans and took it to the resort. All of us merrily walked to the resort, enjoying the fresh air gushing into our lungs, the cool breeze flirting with our faces, the valley, lake waiting to be explored and the shops beckoning us to spend that cash!

Maha Maza at Mahabaleshwar - Day 1 - Sight seeing and fun games...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

KUTCH - Day 3

Day 3
12 November, 2007
Route: Bhuj-Sumeraser-Nirona -Bhirendiara-Hodka-Khavda-Kuran-Kalo Dungar-Bhuj
Day 3 was going to be a long day. We split our day in two parts, viz part 1 for getting a glimpse of village handicrafts and part 2 for India gate and kala dungar (black hills). We left the mess at 9:00 AM and drove on SH 45.
Folk Art at Kalaraksha
Destination 1: Kalaraksha in the Sumeraser village 25 kms from Bhuj.Kalaraksha is run by the Kalaraksha trust which is involved preservation of traditional arts. It was founded by a firang lady who helped in its setting up. She visits Kalaraksha once in a while and over sees all the work from across the ocean.
Kalaraksha not only has a folk art museum displaying everything from pre-marriage exchange tradition, to silver and gold ornaments, fans, wedding attire and the obvious, the embroidery (Suf, Khaarek, Rabari etc), but also has a shop dedicated to selling purses, bags, cotton/silk kurtis, leather stuff, patch work quilt and much more. In addition, the small area also has a research centre cum library which houses various books on handicrafts and a computer with internet where students from various universities come to study the traditional arts.
The museum curator was patient and explained each handicraft and the embroidery style to us. The campus also has a traditional jhula, a show camel complete with embroidered baithak and a finishing centre. It is in this finishing centre that women get their embroidered pieces which are refined into bags, kurtis etc. We met one woman who had embroidered a wall hanging depicting Suf embroiders who crossed the LOC and migrated to Kutch from erstwhile Sindh area. The concept was noble and the embroidery so depictive. Her work was going to be framed by the finishing department. Its women like her who work from home, get paid on daily basis and preserve arts and I am happy that a venture like Kalaraksha empowers these women and showcases as well as keeps their culture alive. I think it's the involvement of artisans in every aspect of Kalaraksha that makes it a winner! From Kalaraksha, we headed to the village of Nirona where another marvel was waiting to enthral us.
Dying 'Rogan' Art at Nirona
Nirona village is 12 kms from SH 45. The road is good in parts. As we parked our vehicle in Nirona we got curious stares from the villagers (mostly old men enjoying hooka) and we returned their stares with the same if not more curiosity (a curious stare for a curious stare). We saw Rogan art painted in bold letter on a closed shop and an arrow directing us to a narrow lane. We followed the arrow and arrived at a small house. Parked outside which was a white maruti car whose number plate was engraved with 'National Award winner' and I already couldn't wait to see what was waiting behind the ordinary looking closed main door!
We knocked on the door and a smiling face greeted us with a namaste. The man was Abdul Gafoor Daud Khatri, winner of a national award and four state/rajya awards. Even his brother, Sumar Daud Khatri is a proud winner of a National award at a tender age of 21. The family specialises and is the only family who knows Rogan art (that's what they claim!)
Rogan art uses castor base (arandi) and earthern colours. The painting is made with one needle only, that too a blunt one and the use of one finger. The pattern is made on one half of the cloth and the cloth is folded to get the imprint of the pattern on the other half. Thereafter intricate patterns are painted individually. The painting take anywhere between 15 days to 1 year to complete. The cost of these paintings ranges from 800 to 1 lakh or
The family showed us how the paintings are made and even showed us the works on sale. But we were tight on budget and also, the painting we liked the best cost a whooping Rs. 1, 00,000! Thus we ended up not buying anything. The family didn't mind and even if they did they didn't it! We wished them luck and praised their art and headed for our next destination Khavda.
A detour to Hodka Village
We didn't drive to Khavda and instead took a detour to Hodka village after we saw a borad saying tourist tents at Hodka village. Hodka village is situated at the edge of the Banni grassland. Hodka situated at the heart of Banni represents the crafts, architecture and lifestyle of Banni. Shaam-e-sarhad(sunset at border and a very apt name) is a resort in Hodka where hospitality is top class. It is run by the hodka community in collaboration with professionals.
At the resort you can choose to stay in traditional bunga known as round houses or tents, both having attached bathrooms. The staff gave us a tour of the rooms and we were spell-bound. Though the bunga was grand, we preferred the cosy tents. The bathroom was indeed our favourite! Traditional food is served in the large open tent whose ceiling is innovatively decorated with malmal scarves, a must have accessory of the men in this region of kutch.
The resort even provides tours and safaris. The sunset here is a spectacle and is enhanced by the presence of folk musicians. We did not stay in the tents, but we had a nice thali meal for Rs. 125/thali. Had it not been for this detour, we'd have gone hungry just like yesterday! After experiencing Sham-e-sarhad in an hour and vowing to come back to stay in the colourful and cosy tents, we drove to Khavda.
Khavda & India Bridge
Khavda is a small village specialising in leather work. We did not visit the village interiors and did away with purchasing a leather fan and an embroidered folder from a shop on the main road. From Khavda we headed for Kuran. Kuran was merely 20 minutes from Khavda. Kuran is famous for India Bridge; a bridge which connects Rest of India to Rann of Kutch which before the bridge was built was hard to access.
The bridge is controlled by BSF. Special permit from Bhuj police is needed to go over the bridge and beyond it to the last BSF post from where the nearest Pakistani BSF post is just 20kms away. We did not take prior permission, but my dad's defence identity card was more than valid permission.
We drove over the India Bridge and to Dharmshala (BSF headquarters in this region). Through the drive we took in the grand views of the rann, the numerous mirages and the spotting 3 chinkaras. The last BSF post from where the Pakistani OP is visible is 70 kms further inside from India Bridge. It was nearing 4 PM and we decided against going to the last OP on the advice of the jawans of BSF. Next stop was Kala Dungar or the black hills. Now this was something I was eagerly waiting to see. Our beauty Indigo did well on its test of the mountain terrain as we took the steep path to the temple. On the way we saw many women and children dressed in kutchi attire, most of whom wre carrying water in steel matkas.
Where foxes are welcome...Kala Dungar
Kala Dungar is home to the Duttatreya temple. It overlooks spectacular Rann of Kutch where one can spot white foxes. These foxes respond to the call of beats of a steel plate and shouts of 'langa' and to come and eat the food/Prasad of rice laid down for them. We saw atleast 30 foxes converge at a cemented area to eat the food and delight the tourists. The temple Bojanalay prepares food even for the pilgrims, should you decide to stay back for a meal. We decided against it as it was past 7 PM in the evening. Thus after witnessing the aarti at sunset (6:45 PM) and spotting the foxes we headed back to Bhuj.For those who wish to visit this temple, I'd suggest them to see the aarti at 12noon and get a better view of the foxes as during sunset, the foxes are not clearly visible and also because the drive down the kala dungar is narrow.
Drive back through Tropic of Cancer
The drive back to Bhuj was fun as the traffic was almost negligent. On the way to Khavda we had spotted a board saying 'you are crossing the Tropic of Cancer'. That time we didn't stop to capture a picture of this historic moment. But on our way back we made it a point to spot at this spot and freeze the moment in style through a picture!
Back in Bhuj, we had a meal at the mess and enquired about the beach resort at Mandvi. The resort was full and very expensive at Rs. 13,500 for 2 nights for 2 persons (rates during diwali time), extra charges per extra person. We dropped the plan to stay the next night at Mandvi and instead decided to visit Mandvi and come back to Bhuj(base camp Zindabad!)

Info on HODKA
email -,
ph- +91 2832654124
ph- 02808-277237.

KUTCH - Day 2

Day 2
11 November, 2007
Route: Bhuj-Deshalpar-Nakhatrana-Matanamadh-Gaduli-Lakhpat-Narayan Sarovar-Koteshwar-Baranda-Bhuj
Road side food
We departed at 9:00 AM for Lakhpat which was a good 140 kms from Bhuj. I wasn't feeling well so I skipped breakfast. The drive was pleasant and the road side tapirs kept us well fed with snacks like alu-vada, dabeli and ofcourse the Indian addiction-chai and the now very much Indian coke. That's one good thing about Gujarat, you always get food! Oh, and just one piece of advice, always order an ochi-khand(less sugar) tea if you do not want to end up drinking tea with ample sugar, if you forget to say that, you'll probably get tea that's too sweet to even gulp down! I chose to skip food again and had a coke. My decision turned out to be sour. The soft drink kept swirling in my stomach as the roads got curvier or so it seemed to me.
Bare-feet Mata no Math Pilgrims
We were surprised to find so much traffic on the road to Lakhpat. Also, we came across many pilgrims walking bare feet, and guessed that there must be a temple around. We were right! About 90 kms from Bhuj, located on the road to Lakhpat is Mata No Math, the temple of Ashapura mata which is a 'kil devi'(family God) for many Kutchis. The temple s visited by numerous pilgrims on a daily basis-many of who come barefeet-like the one's we saw. The temple complex isn't grand, more so the usual Indian temple, but like the say the Shraddha makes it grand, so be it! There is also a dharamshala in the temple and toilets for pilgrims, but if possible avoid using these toilets as hygenien level is zero and instead do some good to the flora of Kutch.
By the time we left the temple, my condition was fast deteriorating. I couldn't stand talking to anyone. I kept mum and tried to fall asleep, which luckily I did.
Lost Kingdom of Lakhpat
I awoke to the sight of the walls of Lakhpat fort stretching across dry surroundings at 12:45 PM. The view was grand, even though the fort is dilapidated. As we entered the arched entrance of the fort, a haunting feeling overtook me. I felt like a Princess who has returned to weep upon her then prosperous kingdom, which today is nothing but a barren battlefield!
For me, even the grand sights failed to relieve the uneasiness. What didn't fail me was a session of vomiting out the coke filled with pesticides and thereby removing every trace of food or drink from within me. I felt renewed, though sapped in energy, but certainly more enthu to explore the historic fort.
Lakhpat is an 18th century fort which was a famour port until it became dead owing to the earthquake in 1819. Guru Nanak Ji visited this place along with Bhai Bala Ji and Bhai Mardana ji on his way to Mecca Medina. He stayed in one of the houses in the settlement inside the fort which was later turned into a Gurudwara which is visited by many sikh devotees even today. The gurudwara still has the khadau which Guru Nanak Ji wore and left behind as his memory for the people of Lakhpat.There is even a langar and you can do your bit by doing seva. Here construction is still on and most probably they're extending the lodging facility for the devotees where one can stay for free up to 3 days.
After finishing darshan, we drove to Gauz Mohommad's Majar, again within the boundaries of the fort. It is very striking structure and the most well preserved one in this 18th century fort. A 10 minute walk from the Majar takes you to a look-out point overlooking the Kori Creek and the neighbouring marshlands. We only expected a spectacular view as we climbed the 20 something stone stairs to the look-out point but fnding a Border Security Force (BSF) Post truly was a surprise.
BSF and beyond
The post is manned by two jawans of the BSF at any time of the day on a rotational basis. The look-out point gives you a 360 degree view of the kori creek, the marshland, rann of kutch, the settlements inside Lakhpat village and the BSF headquarters. Thanks to my dad being in the defence, we got special treatment and special access to use high zoom binoculars owned by BSF. The views were alluring and our curiosity lead questions thrown at the bsf jawans knew no end. Apparently quite a bit of the JP Dutta movie Refugee were shot inside Lakpat fort. One scene where Ab Jr. runs to meet Kareena whose sitting on the rocks was shot just where the stairs for the look-out point ended. I made my mom sit on the rocks and took her picture, complete with the dupatta on her head and called it 'my Kareena!' Bidding Lakhpat goodbye, we started for Narayan sarovar.
Sacred Narayan Sarovar
Narayan Sarovar is about 31 kms from Lakpat. On the whole drive we just spotted barely 6-7 vehicles. Thus, the road was our slave and we were the kings. The road was pot-holed in most patches. Also, the road peaked and fell and the roller-coaster effect was fun, now that I was feeling better. Narayan sarovar was crowded again, like every other place in India. Narayan Sarovar is a very sacred place for hindus.
Narayan Sarovar stands for lake of Narayana aka Vishnu. There are five sacred lakes here and the temple is built on one of them. The sarovars are rain-fed bodies of fresh water situated just 2 kms from the salty water of the Gulf of Kutch. The lake ghats are used to take holy dips and perform pujas. The temple is very colourful and was a welcome change in the momo-coloured Kutch surroundings. Sadly we could not enter the temple and had to do with praying from outside, with no view of the idol as the temple remains closed from 1 PM – 4 PM. The high point of the temple was the three cute stray pups who were a delight to watch and who reminded us of Donna (our pet German Shepherd) Though a little disappointed, but looking forward to Koteshwar situated only 3 kms from Narayan sarovar, we resumed our drive.
OCean on two sides - Koteshwar Temple
Koteshwar temple has the ocean on two of its side. One side being an open sea and the other having a jetty where before the drying up of river Sind trading used to be in full swing. Koeshwar temple has a beautiful complex which is spic and span. The sights on each side of the temple are nothing short of breathtaking. The temple has a tree where women tie a bangle with a holy thread and stick a bindi when asking for a mannat. There is an ancient story attached with this temple. As I read on this topic on the internet and I quote "King Ravana wanted to be immortal and did tapasya of God Shiva. Lord Shiva gifted him with Ling which he could worship and become immortal. But in arrogance he dropped the ling, which on touching the ground turned into a thousand Lings. King Ravana could not recognize the original ling, and so the boon was lost. There were a thousand lings at that place so the Gods of heaven decided to build this temple and name it Koteshwar."
After the customary darshan and the must-do photo session (the high point being a 360 degree panaromic photo from the highest point at the temple and of course the one where I am doing meditation), we realized how hungry we were.
Hunger Pangs
It was nearly 3 PM and our stomachs were begging to be fed, in fact, ever the rats were tired of running inside them! There weren't any hotels around. The best food on offer was chips and biscuit. That's when we remembered a Tourist Guest House situated between Narayan sarovar and Koteshwar and decided to try our luck.
No luck for us here. The food was over and the staff was sorry! (And I was on the verge of murdering them as an aftermath of my drained out stomach) We bought bottled water called Blister (Bisleri copy-cat!) and headed back to Narayan sarovar to try our luck yet again at the temple bhojnalay.
The bhojnalay was closed, just like the temple and the theleywalla food didn't look too appetising so we had to make do with…you guessed it, chips and biscuit (parle G zindabad for its each!) My recommendation to the travellers eher would be to carry packed lunch at all times for barring the Gurudwara at Lakhpat and the Tourist guest house, there isn't any gastronomic retreat here, forget a gastronomic treat!
High on fast food, we took the drive back to Bhuj, this time via Baranda instead of taking the longer route of Lakpat and Gaduli. The roads were so much better and the traffic was far between. We reached back the mess at 7:00 PM, freshened up and rushed to eat a decent meal.
Traditional Thali meal at Hotel Prince
Our saviour, Hotel Prince on Station Road (Old building). They have another property now on Hospital Road, but if you want to have a traditional meal then only old one has it on offer) After much confusion as to Punjabi/Chinese(at Jesal)/gujrati thali(at Toral), we zeroed in on gujarati thali. The thali was sumptuous, filling and very affordable at Rs. 100 on weekdays and Rs. 110 on Sundays (Rs. 10 extra for special thali, though we have no idea what is so special about it as we didn't bother asking).
Hotel Prince has a book stall and a Embroidery Boutique shop in its lobby. We purchased a guide on Kutch compiled by P.J. Jethi, the curator of museum at Aina Mahal from the small but well stocked book shop. The boutique impressed me. They had a beautiful collection of silk bags, clutches, cushion covers and my favourite, leather wallets, mobile covers and sunglasses case with hand embroidery on it. I bought a leather wallet for dad in tan colour with hand-embroidery for a cool 420 bucks, pretty decent for the workmanship.
We ended the part exciting and part draining day (for me) by getting a good night sleep and of course by going over our plan for tomorrow!
For further details about hotel prince, log on to

KUTCH - Day 1

Whoever said stitches weave into embroidery only must have been unaware of Kutch- the last frontier and a living museum.

When we decided to head to Kutch in our brand new Tata Indigo LS, we googled up for what to see, what to eat and to gather other touristy information. But the google results were either too brief, or didn't say much about the place. Luckily for us, one of our friends had a skeletal itinerary from the trip that they had taken. Taking their itinerary as a guide, we headed out to explore the land less talked about and the roads less travelled.

Day 1
10 November, 2007
Route: Jamnagar-Dhrol-Bhadra-Balambha-Amran-Malia-Bhachau-Anjar (by-pass)-Bhujodi-Bhuj (You can even go via Morbi which we did on our way back)

Road Trip
Our adventure began on the day after diwali at 10:45 AM. The road was pretty decent till Dhrol, after which the road was quite bad in patches till we reached Malia. As we neared Bhachau, the road conditions improved drastically. The sights were breathtaking with thorned shrubs, various bridges, random water bodies, windmill farms, banjaras, etc.

We halted at 2:20 PM for lunch at Hotel Sarvottam (Pure Veg) located at Samkhyari, on Morbi road on N.H. 8A (30 kms short of Malia). The food was piping hop and lip smacking! We had ordered sev tomato, baingan subzi, masala papad(a must have), buttermilk and rotis. The meal left us wanting for more and Bhujodi was just the solution.

First dose of art & craft

Bhujodi is a traditional craft village hosting a handicraft mela all year long. The mela is open daily from 10 AM to 8 PM. The village has a beautifully done up area for showcasing their crafts and in turn mesmerising the on-looker. Each handicraft is sold from small huts or round houses known as bhungas. All the handicrafts are typical to kutch area and include embroidery, mud work, metal work, wood work, terra-cota, potteries, block printing, bandhani shawls etc. Terra-cota pots with human faces and the bandhani shawls are a must-buy as it's hard to find these two in other parts of kutch. The shops here are rented out to artisans for one month and all the rates are fixed by the craft village authorities. You may find the stuff expensive but when you see the people actually making it, you'll know the worth, and we realized the same a little later. Apart from the handicrafts, the whole craft village is a masterpiece, with a little lake and a bridge over it, a bird-house; traditional stone carved idols, mud work walls and much for to please the eyes and show you a glimpse of Kutch in a precise fashion.

When at Bhujodi, we felt like purchasing everything because each handicraft was lovely and each seller so humble. We ended up purchasing an embroidered mobile cover and an embroidery patch for sewing on t a kurti or a suit. We did want to purchase terra-cota pots but sadly the seller was celebrating diwali. One thing to remember is that in Kutch most shops celebrate extended diwali and hence are closed for upto anywhere between 3-4 days after diwali. Call it our luck that Bhujodi was open, but if you're taking the same trip make sure it's a week after diwali or you may end up witnessing closed shops which frankly is the most frustrating thing possible while travelling.

We also clicked pictures and talked to a huge group of women-from some near-by village who were dressed up in kutchi attire. They were as curious about us as we were about them. They asked me if I was from the radio, which was quite amusing and I asked then why the guys wore earrings and if their ears pained due to the huge earrings and they found my queries equally amusing.

Arrival in Bhuj

It was beginning to get dark and after spending an hour at Bhujodi and after taking a quick snack, we headed to Bhuj-our base camp. One piece of advice for travellers is to reach Bhuj well in time cause in November and onwards it gets dark very early and half the people give terrible directions. On account of poor directions, we roamed for a good half an hour and explored half of Bhuj, in the dark no less to finally reach Bhuj and checked into the army mess.

We had booked two rooms. I and my brother of course chose the room with a/c(not that we needed it as their was chilli nth air at night even though the days were scorching) and the CD player(which we ended up not using, but never mind that!) The rooms were done up in a charming way. Our's was called the Beige room cause the walls were beige and so was the furnishing. The mud-work paintings on the wall added an ethnic look to the room and the two bathrooms ensured that I and my brother needn't fight, but that didn't happen, as expected we fought for fights need no reason. Parents stayed in a non- a/c room called blue room, guess why? – cause the walls and furnishing was blue!

Although the drive our Indigo delivered as promised! The mp3 CD with all the new hindi songs was an added attraction and so was the a/c (cause our previous car was non-a/c) cause it kept us looking fresh even after hours of travel! With excitement about tomorrow's destination, we went to sleep. Zzzzzzzzz…….

Tales from Travel

When am I the happiest?
What do i secretly wish to do all my life?
What's an alternate career in my mind?
What's a business idea I so want to make a reality?
Each of the above question can be answered in one word 'TRAVEL'!

So here I am, living my dream through my writings :) and re-living my travel experiences :D
Hop on.....and see the sights through my words :)


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