Month: January 2017

Want To See Local Art Forms In Kutch? Try Nirona Village

Kutch has always been known for its wealth of culture and handicrafts. And when you’re here on a holiday, one thing that you really do not want to miss is exploring a few local art forms. Kutch produces some of the world’s most unusual textile products, as well as intricately crafted metal works. In the book, Kachchh: The Last Frontier, author Tejinder Singh sums it up pretty well: “The intricate embroidery stems from the Kutchi lifestyle… One can see the influences of the Cretan stitch of Greece, surface interlacing stitches from Armenia and the French tambouring techniques. It is a reflection of their lifestyle… of camels, peacocks, parrots, flowers, trees and women churning milk. Each pattern tells a story.” The best way to experience local art forms in Kutch, however, is by village hopping. As you pass through various artisan villages of the indigenous tribes that inhibit the district of Kutch, you find a striking contradiction. But one needs days to explore them all, or perhaps even a week. But those who have only one day …

Lakhpat: The Ghost Town Of Gujarat

We all have heard of Ghost Towns – towns that have been deserted owing to natural calamities, some buried under the empty grounds and others, left behind with their undying tales of wonder. Lakhpat for me was one such story – a bustling town emptied owing to an incident, a town that still exists but does not, a town that speaks of a gloomy past as you walk through its emptied, abandoned streets. I was suggested a visit to Lakhpat, a godforsaken place, by someone whom I met in Bhuj. Liakatali, a local guide and a journalist with BhujMitr, a vernacular Kutchi newspaper, was born and brought up inside the boundaries of Lakhpat, before finally moving to Bhuj to pursue his higher studies. “It used to be the biggest and richest settlements in all of Gujarat” he provided, still sounding hopeful. “There were more than 15,000 people residing inside the walls of the fort, now only 566 have left. You must visit it now that you’re here. I’m sure you’ll like it” Hopelessly driven by …

How To Stay In Little Rann of Kutch For Free

When I had initially started planning my trip to Gujarat, particularly around the Rann of Kutch, I felt hopeless. Every place inside the region, charged at least a couple of thousand Rupees for a night. And this did not include food. Some generous tourist homes, however, offered a complimentary breakfast, yet their price tag was way over my budget. “I’d never be able to travel to this part of my country, if I couldn’t find sponsors,” I remember wondering. Now the only option was to stay in the nearby towns of Bhuj and Gandhidham (yet both the places had no place of interest for a tourist like me) and do the day trips to Great Rann of Kutch (GRK) and Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) from them, respectively. But it didn’t sound feasible, at least not for someone who was backpacking. In order to explore the White Desert in GRK and the barren crack-land in LRK, I wanted to stay as closer to them as possible. It was particularly important for me to stay inside, …

Rann Utsav: NOT Worth The Effort, Distance And Money!

Organised annually by Gujarat Tourism, between November and February, the Rann Utsav of Kutch has been scaling popularity charts among Indian and foreign travellers alike, in the last few years. Though it’s surely an interesting effort allowing people to revisit the desert region of Kutch – which was left devastated by the 2001 earthquake – by creating a travel story linking to Kutch’s geographical and cultural distinctions, the value for money, that it offers… is unfortunately pretty discouraging. To own a sleeping place (a Premium Tent, or a Rajwadi Bhunga, as named) that comes with complimentary meals and a one night/two days package, costs nearly 6 thousand Rupees per person (excluding 18% taxes). For every extra person, in the tent, you pay 4 thousand (and more taxes). This means a family of three can end up paying over 15 thousand Rupees for one night in Rann Utsav. You can moreover buy longer-duration packages, which takes you around a few places in the nearby town of Bhuj, in addition to the customary sunsets/sunrises in the White …

A Backpacker’s Guide To Travel In Kutch

Kutch was never on my agenda, and little did I even hear about it. All I knew was that some regular tourists often fly here in winter to spot the rare migratory birds, but for a backpacker, Kutch had very little to offer. My fears moreover started haunting as soon as I moved towards Kutch, from Ahmedabad. Local transport here suddenly become inefficient, and the distances from one village to another, felt totally unbelievable. There was no way I could get a place to stay anywhere, had I not done an advance bookings. I was spending more time on the roads, with my thumb erect, trying to hitchhike, than seeing places. Yet, it was a wonderful trip altogether. And the deeper I explored, the better it turned out. Sharing some of my first impressions of backpacking in Kutch. Great Roads But Disappointing Transport If there is one thing that impressed me about the road transport in Kutch it is the roads. Even the narrowest roads leading to the most interiors and unsung villages were in …

How To Start A Travel Blog In 7 Easy Steps

Travel blogging has given me the freedom and the financial help I needed to make travelling a full time career! Before I start, let me warn you that travel blogging isn’t as easy as it looks. Bloggers like me rarely share the huge amount of behind-the-scenes fuckups that go into making this lifestyle possible. My journey, too, has been a rollercoaster ride – but to tell you the truth, all the efforts were totally worth it. Travelling is already an interesting profession, and blogging makes it a little more exiting, and motivating. Moreover when you want to make travelling a full time career, you need to look for ways to make money out of it. To me, there seemed no better option other than blogging. It has taken me more than one year to become a professional blogger – professional in the sense that I’ve now started making money out of it. So today I want to share a useful guide about how to get started with blogging, including a few important tips I didn’t know when …

How To Find A Cheap Flight Ticket

This world would be a much better place if we could just travel anywhere we wanted, by road! If there’s one thing that makes travelling abroad difficult – especially for the budget travellers like me – it is the expensive flight tickets. I mean look at it this way: you fly from New Delhi to Bangkok, for a week, and end up spending more money on your flights than on everything else put together. It’s therefore more important to find the hidden cheap airfares than finding the right destination to travel, or the right place to stay. Because if a flight is too expensive for you to afford, you aren’t going anywhere. But thankfully the odds are not all against you. Every day, airlines around the world release thousands of killer deals – from mistakenly published cheap fares to intentionally provided slashed prices. Yes, cheap fares are out there, if only you know how to find them. And today I am going to help you master how to find a cheap flight. These are the …

A Quick Guide To Ahmedabad’s Top Travel Secrets

I headed to Ahmedabad, not because it was a logical destination for backpackers. The French haveli I was going to stay was in fact the fascination. I mean the idea of staying in a 150-year-old (though now artistically restored) tradition Gujarati haveli, would interest anyone, and I was no different.  Then later I found that French Haveli was located in a 400-year-old walled community of Dhal ni Pol, which only added to the charm of staying in the old city of Ahmedabad. It brought me back to the age when Ahmedabad was known as the Manchester of India. As I got off the auto-rikshaw at Raipur Darwaza and slowly walked inside the gated community of Dhal ni Pol, the Kites, a few dozens of them, suddenly reappeared like memories. It turned out that I happen to be in Ahmedabad a few days before the kite festival season Uttarayan, a holiday also known as Makar Sakranti. Evidently, more colourful street scene and the many lively conversations were only waiting for me in the days to come. …

Adalaj Ni Vav: A Stepwell In Gujarat Like No Other

Located about 12 kms outside the north end of Ahmedabad, Adalaj ni Vav acts as one of the prominent historic establishments and many tourists’ first choice to see a stepwell, around Ahmedabad. Other than its impressive ancient structures, what sets it apart from the other stepwells in Gujarat is its spectacular mix of Indo-Islamic architecture and design. And that’s not it. Its completion speaks of a story that goes in the usual Bollywood style of the bygone days – containing the bits of love, war and hatred! The Story Behind Its Existence The legend has it that Adalaj ni Vav was originally commissioned by King Veersinh, sometime during the early 15th century, who was ruling the town of Adalaj at that time. But before its completion, King Veersinh got into a fight with a neighbouring King Mehmud Begada, and lost his life. As a result, the construction work for Adalaj ni Vav stopped. When King Veersinh’s wife Rani Roopba got the news, she vowed to complete her husband’s work and schemed to trap King Mehmud …

Stepwells Of Ahmedabad: Taking You Back In Time

From Baroda, in South; to Patan, in North – Stepwells (or vavs, as locally known) can be found almost all across Gujarat. For hundreds of years, their efficiency in storing water, in response to the semi-acrid climate and seasonal fluctuations, helped the local population strive and survive. Today vavs represent rich history and act as prominent historical sites for architecture students and tourists alike. It is believed that some of the vavs must have been built at Mohanjodaro during the Indus-Valley civilisation. Ahmedabad, too, has two prominent vavs, both of them an extraordinary heritage site to visit. I ended up visiting them after an undeniable request from an auto rickshaw driver in Ahmedabad, according to whom, Mata Bhavani and Dada Hari vavs are an important cultural heritage, gifted to his city. Hopelessly driven by his encouraging gamut, I decided to give them a visit. My first stop was Dada Hari ni Vav, a carefully designed 500-year-old, which was originally built under the reign of one of the most prominent sultans of Gujarat named Mahmud Begada. A …