Festivals of Gujarat > Kutch Mahotsav
Like so many other regions of Gujarat.
Kutch has its own distinctive character. It is, in fact, a peninsula, lying between the
Sir river, the Sir Creek and the Great Rann of Kutch on the north-west, and the Gulf of
Kutch on the east. The country is somewhat bare and wild, with some cultivated fields near
the villages. It has a remarkably heterogenous population, who belong to 18 different
tribes, each with its own language and culture. Yet Kutch, with its colourful people,
historic towns, and remarkable handicrafts, has much of interest to offer visitors.
Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, Ltd.,
(TCGL), organised an unusual tour of Kutch, in resonse to the request of many who
wished to visit an area quite different from urban India.
This tour was called a mahotsava, or great festival,
because of the great variety of sights and scenes that are offered to visitors. The
mahotsava consists of a six-day tour of Kutch, in which all requirements of the visitors
are taken care of.
This lies at the heart of Kutch and is
linked by many roads to the rest of the peninsula. Also in Bhuj are the Aina Mahal or
Glass Palace which was built in the 18th century, the Kutch Museum - which is Gujarat's
oldest, and the Bharatiya Sanskruti Darshan complex, which holds some remarkable frescoes
depicting the RAM-LILA. The rural bazaars of Bhuj sell its exquisite handicrafts.
Mata no Madh is an old temple believed to
be 1200 years old. It is dedicated to the Mother Goddess. The temple has many unusual
features and its treatment of dimensions and of space are unique.
Lakhpat, once a flourishing port, and now
deserted, reminds one that in ancient limes, ships sailed to West Asia from Gujarat's west
coast. Time stands still at Lakhpat, recalling to mind an era long past, through the many
sites in the city, including the Sikh Gurudwara, and the 200-year tomb or dargah of Ghaus
Narayan Sarovar means the Lake of Narayan,
a name for Vishnu. There are actually five sacred lakes here. A temple complex is located
on one of these. Narayan Sarovar is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for orthodox
Hindus. The architecture is ancient and awe-inspiring.
Koteshwar, another place on the nwhotsava
route, is also a site which pilgrims invariably visit.
Bhadreshwar is considered an important
religious site by the Jain community but it also has shrines, mosques and temples, as well
as a unique and ancient step-well.
Anjar, near Gandhidam, is famous for the
samadhi of Jesal Toral, the Ajaypal
Temple, and the shrine of Pinjora Pir. The
bungalow of James Macmurdo contains remarkable examples of the art of Kutch.
Mandvi in southern Kutch, is a renowned holiday centre with a beach overlooking the
Arabian Sea. The Vijay Vilas Palace evokes the royal splendour of the past. Mandvi's Hawa
Mahal is also imposing, and reminicent of similar palaces in Rajasthan. Banni and Khavda
are villages set like jewels in an expanse of desert. In these villages live some of the
most talented craftsmen of Kutch who practise their traditional skills, to produce
Dhola Veera was once an important part
of the Harappa Civilisation, proving that the Harappa culture extended to Gujarat.
Excavations are still in progress-
Dhrang is another location famous for
its rural fair and for the handicrafts, traditional objects, hand-printed and embroidered
fabrics made and sold there. It is also famous for the jewellery available there.
The Kutch Mahotsava is usually organised during February and
March each year. Other places of interest nearby are Rajkot, in Saurashtra ( 16 kms from
Bhuj), Jamnagar ( 189 kms from Bhuj ) Junagadh (260 kms from Bhuj ). Bhuj has an airport
with flights to different destinations. Buses can carry visitors to Ahmedabad or anywhere
else, en route.
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