Kutch in the monsoon: A must-visit destination
White, fluffy clouds hanging low over green hills, little
pools of still water teeming with migratory birds and an omnipresent cool breeze
-- the semi-arid region of Kutch in Gujarat transforms into a completely
different avatar during the monsoon.
And although winter -- the time detailed as "ideal" to visit this region --
shows you a side of hers that's truly unique, Kutch makes for a pretty picture
during the rains, perfect for a rejuvenating holiday.
Kutch in the winter
Nestling on the country's western border, close to the Arabian Sea, Kutch - the largest salt desert in the world, had
recently been in the news for the cyclonic storm-induced thundershowers that
lasted five days. Before that, and like the rest of the state, floods had also
hit the region in July.
"Heavy showers are normal during the monsoon," local taxi driver and long-time
Bhuj resident Anwar Khatri said, indicating that the heavy rainfall was not
out-of-the-ordinary. "But in the last three-four years, we have had very scanty
rainfall. The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown
transforms into green."
Kutch occupies an important geographical location when it comes to birds, said
ornithologist Jugal Kishor Tiwari, since it falls on their migration route. His
organisation, Centre for Desert and Ocean (CEDO), works on wildlife conservation
and promotes nature tourism.
And although the winter is a brilliant time to spot a host of migratory birds,
one can indulge in some bird-watching during the monsoon as well. CEDO, which is
based out of Moti Virani village, some 400 km from Gujarat capital Gandhinagar,
organises tailor-made tours of such nature.
A visit to Kutch would however be incomplete without witnessing its rich
treasure trove of handicrafts.
(block printing), camel leather craft,
, different forms of weaving, bellmetal craft,
list is endless -- and nothing beats the wonder of watching an artisan work on
his or her craft.
After the devastating earthquake in 2001, several NGOs took up the initiative of
supporting artisans and their art, even reviving some, and helping them find
suitable markets to showcase and sell their products beyond the state's and the
There are many such NGOs within a radius of 10-15 kilometres from Bhuj -- the
point you will either fly down to or reach by train -- and one can visit their
campuses to see some of these exquisite crafts take shape and understand the
story behind them from the artisans themselves. Some names to look out for would
be Shrujan, Khamir, and LLDC (Living and Learning Design Centre).
About eight kilometres from Bhuj is a village called Bhujodi, which has the
Ashapura Crafts Park set up for artisans to display and sell their work. Again,
one can meet weavers, tie-dye artists, block printers and others here. Needless
to say, it will leave you wanting for more shopping bags to fill!
From the well-known to the lesser known -- a monsoon visit to Kutch would also
remain wanting without a trip to one of its pristine beaches. Mandvi is the
closest to Bhuj and there are many resorts close by with their own private beach
enclosures. The high point of the beaches here -- Pingleshwar, about 98 km from
Bhuj, a hidden gem -- is witnessing the marine life. Jelly fish and hermit crabs
are a common sight and the multi-coloured sea weeds look extraordinary.
If the children are more in the mood for some fun and frolic, Mandvi has ample
opportunity for water sports as well -- which may be restricted when the weather
is grey. But a ride on a camel would more than compensate for that!
With the temperature hovering on the pleasant side of the scale and a constant
breeze, one can also opt for some historical sight-seeing. The Aina Mahal, with
its blue tiles, Venetian-style chandeliers and walls studded with mirrors, is a
must-visit. Next door is the 19th century Prag Mahal, a brilliant example of
As you travel around the place and move on the fringes of the main town of Bhuj,
it is difficult to miss the vast expanses of agricultural land with acres after
acres of pomegranate plantations, palm groves and cotton fields -- all this
thanks to drip-irrigation, which has brought about a sea-change in the region's
crop pattern. With the green hills in the backdrop, it's a sight to behold. Soak
it in, for, with the changing season, Kutch will soon reveal a different face.
, Kutch in the monsoon
, Kutch Gujarat