In and around Bhuj
Bhuj connects you to a range of civilizations and important events in South Asian history through prehistoric archaeological finds, remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappans), places associated with the Mahabharata and Alexander the Great’s march into India and tombs, palaces and other buildings from the rule of the Naga chiefs, the Jadeja Rajputs, the Gujarat Sultans and the British Raj. Over the 4000 year inhabitation of Kutch it developed trading and migratory relationships with ancient civilizations as far as Zanzibar, the Middle East and Greece, fostering a unique ethnic mix of people and traditions in the region.
Another exciting place is the Kutch Museum. Founded in 1877 by Sir James Ferguson – the Governor of Bombay under the British Rule. It is divided into two floors comprising of a picture gallery, an anthropological section, an archaeological section, textiles, weapons, musical instruments, a shipping section and even stuffed animals. One of the eye catching possessions of this museum is a canon, that was presented by Tipu Sultan to Kutch rulers in exchange for some Horses. Horses of Kutch are known for their swiftness and vitality.
A walk through the maze of winding streets leads to the exquisite Aina Mahal Palace (Palace of Mirrors). It showcases a fascinating Indo-Dutch style of architecture. The walls of the main Hall are completely covered with mirrors all around except for a narrow strip which is used for walking. It also contains specimens of intricately embroidered panels, Lithographs, 18th century paintings, clocks ets.
Next door to the Aina Mahal, in the same walled compound, is the giant Prag Mahal, which may as first seem slightly out of place at the far western edge of India,looking more appropriate in France. But then again, globalization is not a new phenomenon.
This is a palace commissioned by King Pragmalji in the 1860s, designed by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins in the Italian Gothic style. Inside the palace, you can visit the main palace halls as well as climb stairs of the 45m bell tower for an exhilarating view of the city.
Mandvi is known for its pristine beach with crystal clear waters of the Arabian Sea. Private luxurious tented accommodation is the best option to relax on the beach. This beach was the Maharao’s private beach and the Vijay Vilas Palace overlooking the beach, was a summer retreat for the Maharao.
Dholavira is one of the most remarkable excavations of the indus Valley civilization or the Harappan culture dating back to approx. 2500 BC. This site is an exemplary feat of hydraulic engineering since those days, displaying a unique insight into the water conversation systems. The excavation also tells a story of the 7 stages of the civilization, from development to maturity to decay, the last of which hints at a strange piece of history, with more questions than answers.
Dholavira leaves one contemplating what progress and civilisation mean and what, if anything, is truly permanent.