The white and bright of Kutch

The whims and fan­cies of na­ture com­bine well with the colours and struc­tures to make the re­gion a fes­ti­val of life

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - ENTERTAINMENT - Garima Verma

What a rob­ber na­ture has been! As far as the eye can travel, noth­ing meets it but the bar­ren lands and scanty shrubs. The heart sinks a bit and the mind won­ders at the prob­a­bil­ity of sur­vival in such harsh­ness.

That is only till the herders at the road­side greet you with such smiles that, strangely, have sat­is­fac­tion writ­ten all over them, de­spite be­ing dealt the worst of cards this sea­son, when rain turned a blind eye to­wards the Rann of Kutch. One look at the white Rann and you seem to un­der­stand the beauty of min­i­mal­ism that per­haps guides their ways.

The white car­pet of salt that spans till the hori­zon changes colours, with ev­ery pass­ing phase of the sun — go­ing beau­ti­fully from glow­ing yel­low at sun­rise to fiery crim­son at sun­set. Yet, it is the per­fec­tion of full moon, when it shines like a white pearl, that brings out its un­blem­ished mag­nif­i­cence.

And, the vivid hues that ac­com­pany it truly show that Kutchi people would rather cel­e­brate life than curse the in­ad­e­qua­cies. As the, oth­er­wise, in­hos­pitable land me­ta­mor­phoses into the gi­ant Tent City dur­ing Rann Ut­sav (till Fe­bru­ary 20), the artists and ar­ti­sans from all over Kutch come to­gether to add to its rus­tic charm.

LAWS OF PHYSICS

The melodies from there con­tinue till the high­est point of Kutch. The as­cent, how­ever, is pre­ceded by a brief shop­ping halt at a hand­i­craft vil­lage, Gandhi nu Gam, and cu­rios­ityam­pli­fy­ing mag­netic field spots a lit­tle be­fore Kalo Dun­gar or the black hill. Just like the pop­u­lar Mag­netic Hill in Ladakh, these spots also pull loaded ve­hi­cles, adding to the mys­te­ri­ous ways of this place.

Not too far, Kalo Dun­gar gives a splen­did bird’s eye view of the en­tire Great Rann. Leg­end has it that it was this black hill that helped many a trav­eller find their way in the mighty desert, thanks to its pe­cu­liar colour and height.

THE ABUN­DANCE

Mandvi’s coast­line and green vis­tas seem to take you to some other world al­to­gether. It doesn’t need dec­o­rated camels to add colour to its bland land­scape, like Rann. The tall trees and blue wa­ters of the Ara­bian Sea are enough for this 16th cen­tury trade port, whose mer­chants owned hun­dreds of ves­sels and their busi­ness reached as far as Africa. The ships, be­ing made from tim­ber, still catch ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion.

While most of the fort walls of yes­ter­year are crum­bling, Vi­jay Vi­las Palace stands as a sight of per­fecti ion among un­ruly woods and well l-laid gar­dens. If the firstf look jolts the mind withw fa­mil­iar­ity, all youy need to do is go back to Bol­ly­wood ref­er­ences. For it was here, that the se­lect au­di­ence sat and watched Bhu­van (Aamir Khan) trump the Bri­tish team in La­gaan’s (2001) roller coaster cricket match. Its domes, lat­ticed win­dows, ex­quis­ite porches and stone work strike an in­stant af­fair with the lens.

OF PAST AND PRESENT

It’s strange how na­ture rapidly os­cil­lates from gen­er­ous to un­for­giv­ing in

utchh. The hu­man ndeavvour has long ri­umph­hed over the cat­ac­clysmic blow of des­tiny iin Bhuj. Yet, there are places like Aina Ma­hal and Prag Ma­hal that bear the con­se­quences of that sin­is­ter 2001 quake, and keep the mem­ory alive.

The lat­ter, which made for many shots in La­gaan, again for its Ital­ian Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture, has a ghostly shadow over it with dis­lodged stones and scat­tered ma­te­rial for restora­tion. The 19th cen­tury palace’s clock tower seems to have bore the largest brunt, yet, its glass win­dows, along with the Corinthian pil­lars keep the majesty breath­ing.

The next door Aina Ma­hal is a much more tragic tale of vis­i­ble rub­ble and lost glory. The in­te­ri­ors, or what are left of them, are a peek into what would have been. The palaces of Kutch might not be gi­gan­tic when com­pared to their chal­lengers in Ra­jasthan or Mad­hya Pradesh, but they too leave noth­ing to be de­sired when it comes to lux­ury. The mu­sic room, court room or the bed­room, all with their mar­ble walls, in­tri­cate ivory and wooden doors, nu­mer­ous lanterns, tiled floors and mul­ti­tude of mir­rors still elicit a wow or two. It is heart­break­ing though, that the ex­te­ri­ors could not hold their ground much. Kutch surely makes you un­der­stand or see na­ture’s whims like no other place.

PHO­TOS: GARIMA VERMA

Vi­jay Vi­las Palace

Camel rides are com­mon in Rann

Left) L Lo­cal Kutchi food; ab bove) Kutchi folk artist

Kutchi hand­i­crafts

Shree Swami­narayan Tem­ple

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