Friday, May 30, 2008

KUTCH - Day 4 (continued...) & Day 5 (the return)


Day 4
13 November, 2007

Route: Bhuj (sight-seeing) – Siv paras-Koday-Mandvi-Bhuj

A unqiue Thali Meal

The book written by Aina Mahal curator recommended Hotel Annapurna for savoring Kutchi food. This Hotel Annapurna is on the main road near the bus station. The hotel has been running for years. The look and ambience is very run down. The crowd isn't too good either. But the USP is the pay-for-what-you-want-in-your-thali concept!

Let me elaborate!

Every time I'd go to eat a thali meal (be it punjabi thali, gujarati thali or just uncategorised thali)I always crib about the amount of food and the variety of items on the menu and the inability to finish it all and doing justice to the heavy price paid. I always yearned for a thali meal that'd let me choose, eat and pay for just the items that I want. Lo, Behold! Here was a hotel that let me do just that!

The hotel had a general area and an A/C area (Family room). I'd suggest you sit in the family room for you'll be put off by the crowd in the general room apart from the heat and the noise. The menu card comes with a list of items in the thali meal and their individual prices. Each day there is a special vegetable and sweet dish. You can choose the items that you want and pay just for it.

We chose the typical kutchi dishes - sev tamato, baingan, bajra roti, kachori and sweet dish. We ended up paying about 400 bucks. The meal was good-not as good as we had expected-but it was extremely spicy. If you have a weak stomach or tender taste buds, kindly eat at some other place.

Art with Mud

Lunch was followed by the search for mud art and pottery sellers. The search landed us across the street from Hotel Annapurna. We were told that there is a pottery seller who sells his ware. We ended up at a shoddy little house. The old man smiled at us, while the children and the lady gave us curious glance.

We enquired about buying copper tinted-pottery. The guy was spinning the Potter's wheel and creating a beauty out of a lump of mud/clay. He was an award winning potter having won the National Award twice over. He humbly told us that all his wares were sold off (the decorative one's) and he was creating pottery for the next season. All he could offer us now was basic pots. We hung around admiring his skills and humbly bid adieu.

Next on our agenda was buying mud paintings and seeing how they're made. We drove to the old Bhuj area, predominantly Muslim area. We had a hard time finding the Mud art shack and the little kids running to the masjid for namaj or simply hanging around(despite the scorching sun) directed us to the right man!

We had seen mud art at Bhujaudi and here we were standing in front of the shack where the wonders were made! We had to duck down to enter the dimly lit work area. The array of paintings just lying everywhere, the paint on the floor and the creativity hit us right away. We started talking to the artists.

Mud art mainly involves creating pattern on plywood with mud, colouring the mud mounds that create patterns and using mirrors and painting to enhance the work of art. On further conversation we were told that mud art and mud paintings are two different things. Mud art is just use of mud/paints and mirror in traditional patterns and modern patterns if the client so expresses. A mud painting is painting people, places or abstract and using mud and mirror just to enhance the look of the painting.

(Mud art : Picture by Pranay)

We flipped through several books of paintings and placed order for 4 mud art paintings. One, a vertical panel with traditional designs of animals and the other three were poses of Ganesha in traditional black, orange and red colour along with mirror embellishments. These guys take anywhere between 15 days to 2 months to finish and deliver your paintings. Courier charges are of course extra.

They are the only famous mud art makers. Apparently the ar is dying, or maybe these guys just don't want to teach too many others the art, almost like don't let the competition suffer. Despite it, the paintings are moderately priced, a little bit negotiable. The charge firstly depends upon the size of the plywood on which the artist will work, the intricacy of the design and lastly your negotiation ability. They do have some ready paintings which you could buy, but it’s nice to choose a pattern and get it delivered to your house. This one art sure isn't to be missed!

The only mistake we made was not to pay any advance. We did ask the artist about the amount of advance to be paid, but he refused on the grounds of trust; you see these guys deliver amply to the naval and Air Force bases in Jamnagar. We also tried following up, but sadly the paintings haven't been delivered. If you do place an order please pay an advance and keep following up. It's worth the extra trouble, trust me!

Breezy Drive to Mandvi

By then we were tired and head back to the mess for an hour nap. The spicy food was getting to us (at least me) and I began feeling uneasy. I popped in a Pudin hara, smiled at the thought of feeling the sea breeze playing with my hair, and sat in the car. Mandvi was our next stop! Water at last, after so much heat, desert like vegetation and everything seeming historic, a beach would be the perfect hang-out!

The drive to Mandvi was an experience in itself. The road was two lane, lined at first with desert vegetation, but as we got closer to Mandvi we could see the endless palm trees, and coconut trees swaying to the breeze. Yes, the breeze was refreshing! The road surface was smooth and the traffic was bearable.

As we neared Mandvi, we could spot tourists in shorts and flowery shirts. But we spotted something more magnificent and rare. We spotted a white structure with flags flapping in the gentle breeze. The structure was a temple. We knew what we had to do on our way back to Bhuj.

Mandvi is a quaint little place. It has the charm of Goa (dad mentioned this for he's been to Goa). The roads are narrow and traffic is sparse. The occasional traffic is of course the tourists shuttling between the Beach and the Palace. The Mandvi Palace is about 15 minutes drive from the main stretch of beach where the tourists hang out.

Mandvi Palace

The Palace is a relatively new one (in terms of age of historic monuments). It was the Palace of Raja of Kutch. It is also a very small palace (compared to the gigantic palaces I've seen) and houses a museum. More than the beauty of the palace what appealed to me more was the palace rules that they had advocated. The palace is a pollution-free zone, and noise free zone. Honking is banned, so is disturbing the sparse animal and bird life that it houses.

You all must've seen Aishwarya Rai against the backdrop of her haveli in the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, or perhaps sitting on the swing on some terrace. This is the palace where it was shot. From the top of the Mahal one can see the endless beach, the swaying tress of and the sun. Adjoining the palace complex is the Mandvi Beach Resort offering luxury stay in cottages on a private beach, five star style. But be ready to shell out those extra bucks.

We decided against denting my dad's wallet and taking one last look at the foot-road that divides the Palace from the Beach Resort, we drove back towards the more bustling part of Mandvi, the Beach! The moment we parked at the beach parking area, my eyes were set, not on the beach but on the windmills. There were about 10-odd windmills spinning their blades to the tune of the wind.

(Windmills on mandvi Beach : Picture by me)

They must generate a lot of electricity here!

Water's edge - the Beach

The beach wasn't magnificent. It was just, a beach! The crowd was mainly families making the best of the diwali break. We sat on the sand and watch the sunset. I and Pranay played in the water and pretended to eat sea weeds as if it was a delicacy!

(Me, trying to hold the sun in the palm of my hand : Picture by Pranay)

We even had photo sessions trying to capture me holding or seating the sun which were highly successful thanks to a knowledgeable photographer, Pranay and a co-operating mode, me of course! The castles were made and broken. The night had set in.

(Sun-set : Picture by Pranay)

Night driving gets difficult, so we headed back for Bhuj at around 7 PM. On the way back we went to 72 Jinalaya's (around 10 km from Mandvi). It was a Jain temple, spic and span, very peaceful and lit up only with candles. Photography and videograhy is strictly prohibited. We happened to meet a family who spoke fluent marathi. They were from a town near Bhuj, but have been living in Mumbai for years. It was a nice conversation. The temple won me over and sub consciously i began comparing a Jain temple with a Hindu one. I preferred the former.

We arrived late at the mess. The food was almost over. But by then most of our stomachs were upset and we had a light dinner, popped a pill, prayed for better stomach and let the pleasant surroundings lull us to sleep.


Day 5
14 November, 2007

Route: Bhuj– Morbi - Jamnagar (HOME!)


Next day was our uneventful journey back home to Jamnagar. This time we drove via Morbi. My mother had stayed here for two years. She had fond memories of the city, the ships and the merchant navy officers’ looking smart in their uniforms. Now we know one reason for mom being smitten by dad, the uniform! (Dad's in Indian Navy)

A flirt with Morbi

At Morbi we got had glimpse of Palace and 'Jhulta Pul'- Wire Stay bridge somewhat like the Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh. We skipped lunch due to upset stomach and feasted on fruits! We had heard of the numerous watch companies and factories along this road. We tested our luck at the Titan factory hoping to get a glimpse of how our time-keepers are made. No look here, diwali vacations to be blamed!

The Place I call HOME

We were home by afternoon. Donna was elated to have us back. The mithais were happy too - they'd now end up where they were meant to be, and it'd certainly be much more comfortable that waiting for five days in the refrigerator :P

Apart from the upset stomach, the Bhuj circuit was a great 5-day tour. Perfect to unwind, perfect surprise for me and a perfect destination for our annual family trip.


Kutchi mud art -
Specialist in ourdoor and indoor clay work and makers of kutchi bunga.
Contact -
c/o abdul s mara
nr. camp masjid
camp area
ph- 02832258101



One of dad's junior toured Bhuj in January/February 2008. They had to look only as far as my blog for itinerary and travel information. I smiled brightly in response to the compliment. It's good to know that my travel documentation is of some utility to a keen traveler!

If you, the reader has any queries or needs some Bhuj advice, feel free to read my travelogue and drop in your query by way of a comment :)

1 comment:

DESTINY4U said...

dear madam
I am another Naval officer posted at Jamnagar , planning for a 2 day circuit at Bhuj in Dec this year..But browsing through your blog has raised adequacy of no of days for an eventful trip..Could u , from your experience suggest a curtailed circuit of 2 days ?? i am at
Cdr DK Singh


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