A Trip To Unexplored Bhuj, Mandvi And The White Rann Of Kutch
Whenever we choose to travel, we usually find a specific form of nature/location to admire, but how would you feel to visit a place where you find everything! So let’s count this way- A memorable trip to cover- Beach, Desert, Hills, Giant Lake as well as fort, palace, port, war memorial and typical army zone (no civilians allowed). This is the Kutch region of Gujarat I’m talking about, where I visited during my Christmas vacation of 2016. In this write-up, I’ll tell you how I covered all these things in just 5 days while riding a Royal Enfield for 750 kms with my bestie.
Day 1 (Delhi to Bhuj)
We started our journey on 25th Dec by Ala Hazrat Express from Delhi (the only train available in this route). Well, this train runs via two different routes and takes 22 hrs and 26 hrs (via Ahmedabad) respectively. We had chosen 22 hrs one of course. Spent this long journey from North to West while watching series of TVF.
Day 2 (Bhuj to Mandvi)
Reached Bhuj at early morning of 26th. We wanted to rent a bike during this trip, googled a lot before reaching there but no luck. The only option we could find was MK Auto, once reached, they were giving us Honda Shine at cost of 1000 rs per day, which was obviously way costly for such bike.
We declined that offer and started searching for more option (let me tell you, Bhuj is a small town with very limited options), luckily we found Modern Auto and the owner Khalid Khatri offered us Royal Enfield at same rate and without any second thought, we just grabbed that deal, and from here our journey started! But this was a private number vehicle, not the commercial one.
It was afternoon already and we started our 60 km ride from Bhuj to Mandvi. In this small peaceful town of Kutch, you can see traditional ship building from timber, we checked in hotel and without any delay we rushed to the beach to see Gulf of Kutch in Arabian Sea.
Stayed there till sunset, experienced a couple of water sports. You can enjoy camel and horse rides as well. And then had an amazing Gujarati thali in dinner at Osho restaurant. Believe me, you’ll be in love with their hospitality, they will make you eat until you feel your belly burst, and the manager Nilesh bhai and other staffs are extremely friendly. Came back hotel for a goodnight sleep.
Day 3 (Mandvi – Mundra – Mandvi)
Early morning we had Fafda and Jalebi at a roadside vendor and then we visited Vijay Vilas Palace, not so wow interior, but outside architecture is good and from top you can see the entire nearby jungle area and of course the sea. Beware, there is an entrance fee and a separate fee for bringing camera.
We hardly stayed there for 45 minutes and now we were riding to Mundra, 55 kms far from Mandvi, in the excitement to see port and ships. After reaching there we realized it was a wrong decision, since Mundra port is a privately owned port of Adani group of industries, hence no entry without permission. We somehow managed to enter after taking permission as a visitor and found a gentleman, who helped us with his car (bikes are not allowed in the port area). It was certainly a different experience in seeing the loading and unloading of the goods ships. We reached back Mandvi around 4 PM and again we visited the beach to experience a few more water sports and to admire the beauty of nature. Ended our day with that lavish dinner at Osho restaurant once again.
We had a stay next day at Bhuj via Booking.com. We just had a random thought to ask the guest house in prior for tomorrow’s booking and here comes a shock! No Booking! Are you kidding me? We tried to connect with Booking.com team through emails and Twitter, but got no response, literally a pathetic experience with Booking.com! However after realizing what mess we were in, that Guest house manager offered us a room in his another Guest house, which we accepted without any second thought.
Day 4 (Mandvi – Bhuj – White Desert – Bhuj)
Early morning we left for Bhuj, checked in at Jay guest house, had our lunch and left for White Rann of Kutch, 83 kms from Bhuj with an enchanting countryside view. After an hour ride, we reached at the checking point, here you need to get the entry pass at cost of 100rs/person and 25rs/two wheeler for White Rann of Kutch. After 30 more mins of ride, we reached Tent City, a complete city built using only tents, and it has guest houses, shopping complex, food courts and a lot of entertainment activities to do. The booking can only be done online and costs varies from 5000 to 40000 per night. (We didn’t stay here of course)
One km from Tent city, there is a BSF Check-post and here you need to show your entry pass to the Army men on duty and then Gujarat Tourism buses will take you towards White Rann of Kutch, a few kms from the check-post.
And then you see the beauty! As far as you can see, it’s all white! This is a moment to remember for rest of your life! We stayed there till sunset and then again buses will drop you at the check-post.
It was already night and now we were riding back to Bhuj, and Yes! This was one of the most memorable bike rides in my lifetime. Sumit was playing songs in Bluetooth speaker and I was riding bike at a constant speed while enjoying the sky with full of stars and peaceful desert with only the sound of RE Bullet. Imagine such a moment with a song “Apne ruthe paraye ruthe yaar ruthe na…” with your bestie on bike! Certainly a mesmerizing moment for me forever. Don’t worry, Gujarat is very safe! (At least that’s what we felt)
We had dinner at Bhuj and then time to sleep.
Day 5 (Bhuj – War Memorial – Kalo Dungar – Bhuj)
Next day again, we were on the same route till that entry pass point, from here the straight goes to Kalo Dungar and left for White Desert (where we visited yesterday).
On several blogs and even from people who never visited there, we were told that you need to take permission first from Army headquarters at Bhuj to visit Army area, blah blah blah! Let me put a full stop to all those confusions. It’s way convenient to visit there. 12 kms before the War memorial there is an Army check-post, Indian Army officials are there to collect your baggage, phone, camera, etc. You’ll be asked to show an identity proof and enter your details on their visitor register. That’s it! As usual, Indian army is always helpful. But yes, NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED, and mind this word very carefully.
This is a moment you can only capture in your memory, not in camera. You’ll be driving in the typical army area (No Civilians land, not to mention what you can see around). There comes the war memorial, a peaceful place to spend some time seeing the desert and remembering the martyrdom of our bravehearts.
After spending 30 minutes, we reached back to the baggage point, collected our bags and left for Kalo Dungar – the black hills and the highest point in the Kutch region. This is a famous family picnic point for nearby Locals. There is a sunset point too, and beyond the hill, you can see the huge Rann of Kutch Lake. Absolutely mesmerizing view and you can see the entire desert area from the top.
There is a temple of Bhagwan Dattatreya as well. Though we didn’t wait for sunset there, this place is too hot even in December. Reached back Bhuj by same time like yesterday.
Day 6 (Local Bhuj – Delhi)
This morning, we visited Bhujang Nag Temple in Bhujia fort. In the outskirts of the town, this fort is built atop Bhujia hill, just 20 mins easy uphill walk. The Bhujia fort is partially in ruins and the entire Bhuj city can be seen from here. We reached back to the town, returned the rented RE Bullet to Modern Auto, had our lunch, did some shopping in local market and since we’ve had plenty free time, instead of visiting museum or other places we watched Dangal movie there at SurMandir Cineplex. Boarded our train in evening to reach back Delhi next day.
Absolutely a trip with countless memories and to remember forever!