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
I think I can last for one more sky watch on the back of my Mandvi Beach pictures! I usually do not get so many usable pictures from one location. Mandvi sunset was really special. So, here I go again.
The idea of being out at sunset immensely appeals to me, as these days I spend it in a car, driving back from work. But there were days (college days) when I was not even bothered about sunset! I have to say it is the Sky Watch theme that really made me appreciate skies in the end and made me nostalgic about it.
Ideally this is how one should spend the sunset at a beach, playing around in water! Unfortunately cameras and water don’t get along and I get to face the flak. As I was traveling solo there was no place to leave the camera. And after my last fiasco I would dare not take it into the water. So I had to be content clicking pictures, I did not even get my ankle wet!
This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. You have to check them out.
The Vijay Vilas Palace belongs to the Jadeja Kings of Kutch. Mr. Siddique the taxi owner and driver asked me when we entered Mandvi if I would like to go to the hotel first or visit the palace. I opted for visiting the palace. Wikipedia tells me that Vijay Vilas Palace has been built by King Khengarji III for his son and heir Vijayaraji. The construction started in 1920 and it was completed in 1929.
The entry fee is 20 rupees and the camera fee is 50 rupees. The space around the palace is huge but people mostly see the palace and walk away. I thought I would like to walk around the complex too but I took so much time inside the palace that I had to give up on walking around.
I am not very imaginative but when I looked at this room I was wondering what it would be like to sit down and have a cup of tea in this room. Better still, how would it feel to sit alone or with friends with legs folded on the sofa, the way we do at home! I guess it would feel like being a king or a queen?
A little while later I came upon an even better place for tea! The palace was not too crowded. The walls have a lot of photographs explaining various events around the palace and the family.
The view from the top floor of the palace is to die for. From the top you have uninterrupted 360 degree view of the surroundings. It is quite soothing. Without the petrol fumes it feels quite close to heaven actually! I liked it so much that I sat down for a while doing nothing. Others had the same idea. People walking around the place kept mentioning that movie Lagaan was shot here. Later I found out that not only Lagaan but Hum Dil De Chuke Hain Sanam has also been shot here.
I came down and sat for a while on the lower level as well. I witnessed an interesting conversation between Maan Singhji and two Delhi type SLR toting yuppies. Maan Singhji told them to move on as they had been sitting in the palace doing nothing for the last two hours! They initially protested but then moved on. I started chatting with him saying the place was so beautiful that one wanted to sit down.
He told me that he has been with the palace for last 32 years and his parents were caretakers as well. He mentioned that the King and his family still uses the palace in summers, otherwise they live in Mumbai. I asked if the place had air-conditioning but he said it was not required it remained cool in summers too. He pointed out that there was a 80 year old life in this palace though it was not functional anymore.
After a quick walk around the main palace compound I decided to head back. I am told that they offer luxury tent accommodation on their private beach but I wonder if I will ever give it a try!