Kutch In Mon­soon

Mon­soon is ideal for tour­ing Kutch, but to re­gale with mi­gra­tory birds, win­ter is suit­able

The Day After - - CONTENT - By AzErA PArvEEN rAhMAN Feed­back on:re­porter@dayaf­terindia.com

White, fluffy clouds hang­ing low over green hills, lit­tle pools of still wa­ter teem­ing with mi­gra­tory birds and an om­nipresent cool breeze — the semi­arid 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.

Nestling on the coun­try’s west­ern bor­der, close to the Ara­bian Sea, Kutch 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.

Kutch oc­cu­pies an im­por­tant ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion when it comes to birds, said or­nithol­o­gist Ju­gal Kishor Ti­wari, since it falls on their migration route. His or­ga­ni­za­tion, 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, or­ga­nizes tai­lor­made tours of such na­ture.

A visit to Kutch would how­ever be in­com­plete with­out wit­ness­ing its rich trea­sure trove of hand­i­crafts. Ajrakh (block print­ing), camel leather craft, Bandhni, dif­fer­ent forms of weav­ing, bell­metal craft, Kutch em­broi­dery — the 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 na­tion’s bor­ders.

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 Ital­ian-Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture.

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 dripir­ri­ga­tion, 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.

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