I discovered the fascinating village of Nirona on my third trip to Kutch in Gujarat. I admit I am not big on crafts. But Nirona changed that completely.
Our group visited 3 houses in the village, each specializing in a different craft. There was Mr. Husen’s home where they made copper bells, then we were drawn in the world of Rogan Art at the Khatri household. Our final stop was by the lacquer work done in the village.
Lunch at Pooja Tiffin Service at Nirona
But lunch came first. By the time we reached Nirona it was lunch time and we had a hearty local meal at the Pooja Tiffin Service. They serve food in the local home. I interacted with the women who cooked it.
It was the simple Indian fare of daal, sabzi, roti and rice but so delicious. I still remember the butter milk in particular. If you want to have food in Nirona do go to Pooja’s home for lunch or dinner.
The Copper Bells of Nirona
With our stomachs full we headed to the copper bells home of Mr. Husen. You can read a detailed account of the visit here. The most fascinating aspect of the bell making was the hammering of the bell to change its sound!
The Famous Rogan Art of Nirona
Our second stop was at the Khatri Household which is the custodian of the Rogan Art. They have trained others, but they are credited with bringing the art back from the brink of extinction. Mr Sumar Khatri (on the right in the picture below) guided us through the process of the Rogan Art.
Rogan means of oil, the word originates from Persian. The paint is made using castor oil and mixing it with natural colors. Then the panting on the fabric is done which is a time consuming process.
The work is sold only from the Khatri Home. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted the tree of life Rogan Art painting to the then President Barack Obama.
And yet the Khatri family goes so easy with their art. You can touch the work, model in it if you find the price too high. I bought a red stole which I could afford. I truly liked it too. But I modeled in a stole which was worth 10,000 Indian Rupees!
I asked if they accept cards to which they said there was an ATM near the house. The village got it after the visit of a high ranking bank official to Nirona!
Our last stop was at the household that does lacquer work. The gentleman who does it ended up in India after the 1971 war. They use the lacquer to decorate wooden pieces.
As we walked to our cabs through the dusty streets of Nirona I was left wondering at the wealth of the craft that resides in one small village of Kutch. It also left me thinking- how serious we are to preserve it?
However there is much more to Rann Utsav and Kutch. You can read more about it here. The video above gives a glimpse of my complete trip to Kutch.
PS. I was invited to Rann Utsav by the Gujarat Tourism Board.
I went back to Kutch in Gujarat for the third time in 2018. You may ask why do I keep going back to the same places? The answer is that I get to see only so much on one blogging trip and there is always more to explore on subsequent trips! My 2018 (and 2016) trip to the Rann Utsav was sponsored by the Gujarat Tourism Board!
This time I was staying in the Tent City at Dhordo and it was my first stay with them! The tent city is huge with a lot to do within the campus itself. When you book your stay in the tent city you can choose a 1, 2 or 3 night package. I was on the 3 night package but I did only some bits of the itinerary and customized the rest of it.
The Experience of Staying in the Tent City
The Tent City is a great place for families or large groups as everyone can be accommodated at one place and they can have a good time together. The area is divided into different clusters with the amenities located nearby. Each cluster is allocated a particular dining hall, where you can have all your meals. You will be given meal coupons at check-in, keep them safe.
There are shops and fun activities within the premises. The excursion to the Rann at sunrise and sunset are arranged. This year here were adventure activities within the premises. There are cultural programs at night.
I quote liked the shopping within the tent city premises. Kutch is another region which stirs the dominant shopper within me. I bought two shawls, dresses and stoles and narrowly missed buying a patchwork quilt!
I will add a word of caution about the charging points in the tent city, do take a good look as the charging points are temporary before you plug in your gadget. Avoid using the same socket as the room heater.
The Sunrise at White Rann
Both sunrise and sunset at White Rann are magical! At sunrise the place is less crowded though. At the sunrise I went up the watch tower to click my pictures! The camel carts also make for an interesting foreground for the pictures! It is cold in January in the mornings. So do wrap yourself well, or you would not enjoy the sunrise!
A Day Trip to Mandvi
As the part of the 3 night itinerary there is a day trip to Mandvi included in the package.
It includes a visit to Shyam ji Krishna Verma Memorial, Vijay Vilas Palace, the private beach and the lunch at the beach.
For me the highlight was the private beach at Mandavi. I had about 2 hours there with just 30 odd people at the beach. I loved to relax and catch the sunset.
To know more about this part of my journey do watch the video. The video was made for me by a team of professionals working for Gujarat Tourism Board.
Will I Go Back Again?
I wold go back running to Kutch again if I get an opportunity because I am sure there is much more to explore than what I have been able to cram in my three trips!
PS. My trip to Kutch was sponsored by Gujarat Tourism Board
It was on my third visit to Kutch that I discovered Nirona. As we walk through its dusty lanes, it felt like a typical Indian village with small beautiful houses, its people curious about the newcomers! My first stop was the Copper Bell House at Nirona headed by Mr Husen Luhar. I was invited by the Gujarat Tourism Board to take part in Rann Utsav.
However, the villages special and I realized it with my first stop at the copper bells of Mr. Husen. He is a grandfatherly figure who told me he started making bells at the age of 12! He is in his 70s now! Their family have been making copper bells for at least 7 generations.
I have seen bells so many times without ever being in awe of it! But I was in complete awe when Mr. Husen started weaving his magic. There are no joints in the outer structure or the crown of the bell. It is fitted in together by joining various pieces!
After the crown of the bell is done, it is wrapped in a paste and then placed in a brick kiln. This part is done by the women of the household. Once the bell comes out the most interesting part begins. The clapper is attached but the initial sound is quite bland.
Then Mr Husen starts hammering the bell and the sound changes! I could and hear and see it right in front of my eyes. As he would hammer, the sound would change. He has different sounds for cows and buffaloes. Some of his bells sound like birds chirping and all because he hammers them in a certain way!
The whole family has a way with sound. Faruk Luhar loves to play morchang. I also tried my hands at it and I was such an utter flop at it.
The icing on the cake was the smallest kid in the family hammering a musical instrument and enjoying the sound! It feels like sound making is in the air and even babies pick it as they grow!
Our second stop was the Rogan art center and the third at the lacquer but those are tales from Nirona for another day!
PS. I was invited by the Gujarat Tourism Board for Rann Utsav
PPS. This is the slowest start to year, as this is my first post in 2018. I vow to do better for the rest of the year.