I contacted Dr Bharat Chhimpi of Bilimora having close relatives in Bhuj. He guided us in detail giving the tour plan, staying facility and transport arrangement. In turn, he contacted his advocate brother-in-law Bharat-bhai at Bhuj who organized everything including a vehicle for local commuting – an Innova owned by Bharat-bhai Vankar. Little too many Bharat's in this small world.
Talking about this article, I would like to tell you about our journey and experiences. Instead of history and geography of the place, I want to tell about my emotions and interactions with the localites.
Rayjibhai Ravjibhai Rabari – at Hiralakshmi Park, Bhujodi.
A tea and food serving aged person, Rayjibhai, talked and behaved so nicely with us, we will always remember him. Two sons of Hiralakshmi-ben constructed an artistic exhibition centre and a garden. They invite and host Kutchhi artists in different trades like Bandhani workers, Shoe maker, Metal work artist and similar others, and allow them to prepare and sell goods for one full month. Bhujodi has many localites doing household work to prepare Shawl. Bandhani and bed sheets.
Dudhabhai Meena – at 72 Jeenalaya, Mandavi.
Dudhabhai Meena of Dhangadhra drawing multiple imaginative designs on the pillars and walls of a very huge temple – 72 Jeenalaya – for last 18 years. His assistants do carving under his guidance.
Rickshaw Drivers Mohammad and Mustaaq – at Bhuj.
We did Bhuj city tour in Mohammad and his brother Mustaaq’s new 6-seater rickshaw. After our day long visit to local destinations like Museum, Palace, Aaina Mahal, Lake, Hill Garden, Aquarium, Tridev Temple, Swami Narayan Temple and Bhujiyo Dungar with them, and after hearing our dialogue with one another, Mohammad told us ‘Ronak aavi gayee!’ (Your company delighted our day!) I like to take it as a great compliment to our group.
Parsot Bapa – at Kheta Bapa Temple.
A very huge statue of Lord Hanuman with the statues of all the other Gods and Goddesses and sons, with multiple pictures all around the temple is worth seeing while going to Koteshwar. We got to meet Parsot Bapa, 9th generation person from Kheta Bapa dynasty, with some great conversations and his guidance us on the way of life.
Dholo Rann (White Desert) and Kaala Dungar.
1515 Feet high heel of Kaala Dungar gives an eye pleasing view of White Desert and the sea nearby. This picturesque view is just another wonder of the Mother Nature. We are often misled by the name ‘White’ Desert as a desert having white sand; please do check, it is not the case. It is a desert formed due to white crystalized salt found on the land due to drying of the sea water. In reality, it is a ‘salt’ desert, also known as ‘Khaarapat’ in South Gujarat. Only difference being the size – the White Desert is 100 x 200 Sq. Miles in area. It does not stop at your field of vision – miles long.
Dr Vijay Desai and Meena, did want to visit and pray at Haji Peer. On hearing the story of Haji Peer, practically we all got emotional.
Khavda Sweets – Gulaab Paak, Adadiya and Pakwan.
Khavda - village near Bhuj – has many cattle owners preparing Maava and its sweets. Interestingly, each and every shop in Bhuj, claims to be an authentic Khavda Sweet Shop. Localites say Gulaab Paak (made from rose petals), Adadiya (a sweet containing Udad Daal, dried ginger and 32 other ingredients) and Pakwan (a dried wheat flour item) are the specialities of this region. Sadly, I did not enjoy any of them.
Gujarat Earthquake 2001.
We met many people at Kutch telling us their memories of disastrous earthquake of 2001. I must mention a few.
Dr Hansa Dave, my wife’s classmate in school and coincidentally my classmate in pre-science college. Interestingly she too led to become an Eye Surgeon, just like me. He husband Dr Jadish Dave told us about how they spent six months in tents and the story of relatives of 25,000 dead people. No doubt, progress that followed was pleasant.
Dr Jasmin P Savani – Superintendent of aquarium of Hill Garden, Bhuj – showed us the rift (a fissure or a cleft) of 50 feet in depth in rocks at village Ratiya. Only seeing is believing - an earthquake destroyed nearly total Kutch district in general and Bhuj, Bhachau and Raapar in particular. Kutch is the biggest district in India, comprising one third land of Gujarat state.
A shopkeeper of Anjaar narrated whole event of earthquake, how he bore the loss of seven family members out of 32.
Driver Bharat Vankar showed us an earthquake affected temple.
37th Marriage Anniversary Celebration.
Amitabh Bachchan and the Chief Minister Narendra Modi have made us desirous to visit Gujarat. Has reading this article added to your craving for Kutch?