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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rann of Kutch

Kutch ---- the sweet and salty experience

Vast area of land covered with salt. That does not sound very interesting, does it? Well if the area is more than 7000 square kilometers making it one of the largest salt desert in the world attracting tourists from all over the world, makes it a place worthy of a visit.

Gujarat, among other things is now known for the Modi phenomenon. Lots have been said and discussed about the progress in Gujarat. Tourism too has got a large push in this region. Initially my plan was to see Gir, Diu, Dwarka , Somnath and Narare Marine park as well. Due to some reasons, our plans got cut down to only Kutch-Bhuj.

Planning for the trip was not too difficult. Bhuj has connectivity via trains and flights with Mumbai making this place easily accessible. The resorts in Dhordo and Hodka(villages near to the Rann of Kutch) have online websites which made the bookings quite simple. There are a number of tour operators in Bhuj from whom you can book a car to travel around.

We reached Bhuj early morning around 8 AM where we met our driver for the next 3 days, Imran. First thing we needed was to have a typical breakfast, something which would be easily available.

This was what we found.... fafda and jalebi......a bit too heavy for breakfast but awesome in taste.

We started heading towards the Kutch region. The roads are great so we did not feel the 80kms go by.
On our way we stopped at Nirona village. Kutch region is very well known for the Handicrafts as well. There are lots of small villages between Bhuj and Dhordo where you can visit the houses of the people doing these work for generations. Our first stop was Nirona village where a family has been doing a kind of work called Rogan painting from eight generations.

Each piece they work on takes a couple of months to make and this is the only family in India who does this art.

There were various other interesting work going around like lacquer work( wood work with lac colour) , copper bells and more.

Our next stop was Kalo Dungar ---- the highest point of Kutch. The rann or the white desert is nicely visible from here. There s another interesting thing here. We reached just before 12pm. Its the time for the daily aarti to end and their ritual of feeding the jackals there. A person goes with food and keeps it approximately a kilometer away from the temple point. Everyone gathers around to see if the wild animals are going to accept their food today. A man beats a bell to call the animals and sure enough, I see two jackals appear and savor the food.

We also see the last village here before the Pakistan border and the India bridge which is the last point for civilians. Sadly, no photos allowed.

Tired and hungry we reach the Gateway of Rann resort in Dhordo. Dhordo is the last village before the Rann starts. For all these places a BSF permit is required which is a very simple 10 minutes procedure. We had booked the resort online and true to its description it was beautiful. A very rural , yet comfortable setup. There were some 20 bungas(mud house) in the resort.

After a meal of gujarati food and some rest we headed towards the white desert. The whole experience was different. I have seen hills and seas but seeing vast barren lands was very new. The rann was just amazing. White, untouched land for miles. As far as you can see its white and empty. Perfect setting for a photo shoot indeed.

Day-2 ......We left the resort and went back to Bhuj. Our plan for the day was to see the places around bhuj. We visited Jain Temple , Vijay Vilas Palace, India House, Mandvi Beach and more. All these places can be easily covered in a day and they were all magnificent in their own way.

Day 3 - We decided to cancel our plans to see Narayan sarover and instead just see Bhuj and indulge in some shopping. Turned out to be a great decision actually. The pragmahal palace, aaina mahal and kutch museum were not to be missed. And the shopping!!! Great prices and so much to shop for. It was a great day for me. On our first day in Kutch we had actually gone to the houses of the people who make bandhini, rabari work and seen the variety of handicraft work which was made there. The problem is that these villages now see a large number of foreign tourists and therefore quote a higher price. We found the prices in the shops in Bhuj to be reasonable. Bought some beautiful bedsheets and kurtis for family and myself.

The last photo is of the part of Aaina Mahal destroyed in the 2001 Earthquake in Bhuj.

Hope my raw words and the photos do justice to the amazing place.

Till next time, Bye.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Auli --- Magnificently Beautiful

Auli ----- Uttarakhand trip will never be complete without a visit to this place. Thankfully its not that easily accessible so less tourism and more natural beauty to this place. We traveled by a state bus from Dehradun for 12 hours on treacherous roads to reach joshimath. Auli is another 15 km above joshimath. It was the month of December and was horribly cold. The road towards Auli and the first view of the place itself, ahhhhh!!!! "Worth it" !!!! The view of the Himalayas (so many peaks are seen at such close distance). Auli is best known as the ski destination of India but there is so much more to it. Do plan a trip to this place to experience India's best hill station!!! 

View of Nanda Devi

Nanda devi

Auli - GMVN hotel

Panaromic view of the place.

Auli - GMVN hotel

No zoom. 

The snow capped mountains at night

The Ski Track

Pink Evening. Color changes every 10 seconds

The sunset

The sunrise

View of the enormity

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Goan List

Everyone who visits Goa will have a list of things which makes them wish coming back to this amazing place. A foodie may want to come back for all the xacuti and lobsters, a baba bhakt may have other obvious reasons. There is just something magnetic about Goa. I made my 10th visit to goa this march to celebrate my 1st wedding anniversary. And I cant wait to go again this year. Let me just list down the 10 things that make me go to Goa again and again....

1. The first point has to be the beauty of this place. Agreed the beaches are the selling point of this place. But there is more. Coming from a city, the moment you get down here you start seeing colorful shirts and skirts around. Rent a bike and the drive from panjim to baga will make me forget the city.

2. Oh the food......prawns , mushrooms, king fish, pompfret....mmmmymmmmm!!!! The last time I stayed in Taj holiday in Goa. Most of our food was from the hotel. Ahhh waste!!! I was missing the goan touch there.

3. Has to be the husband will not touch any other drink including water in Goa!!!

4. The dinner at shacks on the beach. Perfect weather or not...a candlelight dinner with relaxing chairs and your feet in the sand with good music playing in the background ....makes me wanna just stay there forever.

5. The walk down the beach....lame as it sounds I am not the person who counts waves or sees her entire life in the ocean. I just like seeing the people around....couples, college groups, families and even locals. Its fun:-)

5. The place is soooooo cheap. The stay, food and drinks!!!! Now who would not like a pocket friendly vacation.

6. The water sports....ahhhh parasailing.....ya the hassling with the locals over the rates is a pain....but the parasailing experience with a scared husband tied to you is amazing!!!

7. Ferries....Well this one is an oldy....i have not really done it in a long time...i remember going on it with parents....cruising in the river watching the sunset....while a group performs in the background....hmmm...maybe something to do again!!!

8. Saturday nite bazaar.....This is a rather new choice.....its foolish to buy anything there unless you are carrying dollars and are fairly good  at bargaining....but its something worth seeing in Goa....The stuff there is beautiful....all glittery...the ambience is upbeat....there so much going on there!!!

9. The people....well even when I am writing this I am not very sure....I have met all sorts of people in Goa....they are loud....but there are some who will make u smile....just a part of Goa which struggles in all ways to make your stay there perfect.

10. The fact that it stays the same. I have been going there since 2002. Nothing much has changed since then. I know that if I go back I will have the same amazing experience as I had last time.

Well there is my top ten reasons. What's yours????