Wednesday, March 12, 2008

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…….

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