Kutch Travel Guide, Gujarat


A land of colour, culture and spectacular topography, Kutch with its rustic beauty is nothing less than a pictorial wonderland. Kutch, the land of the creators, myriad colors, and infinite variety, is the place where time has left its footprints. The literal meaning of term Kutch is something which intermittently becomes wet and dry. The term 'Kutch' is also used for tortoise in Sanskrit. A large part of the Kutch, commonly known as the Great Rann of Kutch, submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during the winter season. Starting from Indus valley civilization to Rao dynasty, every ruler has gifted Kutch legacy of art and architecture.

History: Forming the North-Western region of Gujarat, Kutch is a land of heroism and romance. One can see the traces of human settlement in Gujarat since the time of Indus Valley Civilization, which signifies that the early Stone Age man used to love in the area. In fact, one of the largest Harappan sites in the Indian sub-continent, Dholavira is located in the Khadir Bet Island of the Kutch. Historians say that Kutch was first ruled by Enander I of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, who was later overthrown by Indo-Scythians and then finally Gupta Empire came into power. Due its amazing geographical conditions, Kutch has captured the interest of many republics like Maitraka of Valabhi, Chavdas, Solanki, Vaghelas, Sindh, Rajput Samma and later in the thirteenth century, the length and breadth of the area were seized by the Jadeja Dynasty. In the year 1819, Kutch was captured by the East India Company after fighting a terrifying battle against the Jadgea dynasty.

Popular Tourism Places in Kutch: Places like Bhuj. Mandvi, Dholavira, Gandhidham, and Anjar are amongst the best places to visit in Kutch region that people hardly know. Narayan Sarovar, one of the five holy lakes mentioned in Shrimad Bhagvad and many other Jain and Hindu pilgrimage sights are also located here. Bhuj, the Kutchi capital of yore, get the maximum attention but there are many other places that one should know. Places like Dholavira (an archaeological site that contains the ruins of the Harappan city), Aina Mahal and Parag Mahal in Bhuj, Than Monastery and Vijay Villas Palace of Mandvi are worth a visit for the history buffs. Other than the major historical travel destination, Mandvi is also a port city with an amazing shipbuilding yard. The coast and marshlands of Kutch attract many migratory and domestic birds including giant flocks of flamingos, pelicans and common cranes are often seen flying in the region.

Kutch is a beautiful amalgamation of the sea and desert that can charm anyone with its beauty. One place that deserves a special mention in the Kutch is the charming white deserts of the Great Rann of Kutch. Spanning over an area of 7505 sq km, Great Rann of Kutch the world’s largest salt desert that remains covered with water during the monsoon season, and over the winters, the water evaporates, leaving a vast expanse of the dry hard mud, which dazzles like a diamond under the scorching sun and appears like an eerie under the bluish glow during the night hours. People who want to relish the view of the desert from a different angle should climb the Kalo Dungar (black hill), the highest point in Kutch. Top of the hill offers the splendid view of the Kutch region, Thar Desert and the Great Rann. During the winter season, this dramatic expanse of salt land is a magical wondered. Amidst the magical landscapes, a carnival of high-spirited gaiety, the Rann Utsav is marked by the excellent quality of folk dance, music, and art. Brimming with hospitality and traditional flavours, Rann Utsav is a grand extravaganza, which is celebrated every year for three months.

Contrasting the beauty of the Great Rann of Kutch is the Little Rann of Kutch, a land that is just not meant for the faint-hearted people as this is the place where nature shows its harshest form. Barren land of the Little Rann is the abode of wild ass (locally called khur), as well as bluebells, blackbuck and chinkaras. In this part of Kutch, one can see people pumping up ground water and extracting the salt.

Farming, sea and desert well represent the diverse culture of Kutch. The land is the abode of one of the most colourful people who spot gaudy dresses; a visit to Kutch is an inspirational experience. Many pastoral communities in Kutch are semi-nomadic herders of camel and sheep. All the major nomadic communities, namely rabaris and ahirs, are blessed with a creative intellect and often create finest handicrafts and popular textile techniques including block printing, tie-dye and weaving. Tribes of the sleepy villages like Hodko, Nirona, Mandvi and Bhujodi, makes gorgeous embroidered garments for wedding trousseau. The delectable surf embroidery, the geometric beauty of Khareek patterns, the dramatic spirit of pakoo's tight square chain and double button stitch embroidery of the sodha Rajput, as well as the mirror work embroideries of Rabari and Ahir craftswomen- all find plenty of buyers. The Kutch region has been a melting point for many communities from across the borders- Sindh in Pakistan, Marwar region in Western Rajasthan and beyond- adding to the rich handicrafts offered in the region.

One can experience the beauty of Kutch in myriad ways- walking on the beach of Mandvi, witnessing the art of the past at the beautiful palaces of Bhuj, and moreover, satisfying the shopping hunger by paying a visit to the local market. The place is so lovely, enigmatic, mysterious that even the legends says..

“Kutch nahin dekha toh kuch nahi dekha.”

Things to Do in Kucth

  • Purchase Kutch embroidery jackets, mirror work fabrics, patchwork fabric, pottery, silver jewellery, rogan paintings, leather products and embroidery runners from the local markets of Anjar and Bhuj.
  • Go for a beach walk on the coastal land of Mandvi.
  • Visit the sites of Indus Valley Civilization sites in Dholavira.
  • Sample local cuisines of Kutch like Dhokla, Thepala, Fafda, Kachori, Khandvi, Hahdwoh, Ganthia, Oondhiya, Debra, Surat Paun and countless other Gujrati delicacies.
  • Stay in an eco-resort or spend a night in the tribal homestays.
  • Go for a jeep safari in the Jeep SafarI in the Little Rann of Kutch
  • Walk at the White Rann of Kutch in full Moonlight
  • Visit the Rann of Kutch's Indo-Pak border area.
  • Experience Kutch at its colorful and exotic by attending the Kutch Utsav.
  • Go for wildlife safari to the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch in northwest Gujarat.
  • Meet and greet the Gujarat's African-Indian tribe- Siddi tribe, who stay in the Bhuj region.
  • Go on a camel safari and camp out in the Great Rann of Kutch white desert.
  • Enjoy the panoramic view of Kutch from the top point of Kala Dungar.
  • Witness the grand history of the region by visiting some of the oldest museums of Gujarat.
  • Visit the sleepy village of Hodko to buy some embroidered clothes.
  • Experience the beauty of Great Rann of Kutch by taking part in ATV rides, bicycle trip, para-motoring stints, ATV rides and star gazing jaunts.

Interesting Facts

  • Great Rann of Kutch is reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world.
  • Flamingo city in Kutch is the largest flamingo breeding ground in the world.
  • Dholavira, an archaeological site in Kutch district, is a part of Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • Mundra Port in Gujarat is the largest private port in India.

Where to Stay Booking a stay in Kutch is never a problem as here one can find many budget hotels, luxury hotels, resorts, and homestays. Small towns like Mandvi, Gandhidham, and Bhuj offers good best-maintained hotels. If planning a trip around festival season then it's advisable to book in advance as most accommodation remains full and even over charge. People who are attending Rann Utsav should stay at the tent city, located nearby the venue. Other than the tent city they are many eco-resorts that offer rustic experience to travelers. See below for the resorts where one can book their stay on a trip to Kutch:

Hotels in Kutch (region wise)
Bhuj Naliya Gandhidham Mandvi Mundra Nakhatrana
City The Village Resort Panchvati Guest House Radisson Hotel Kandla Serena Beach Resort The Fern Residency, Mundra Hotel Relish
Hotel Mangalam Hotel Bhagwati Inn Sharma Resort Radhe Motel The Shiv Nautica JP Resort
Hotel Ilark Hotel Disha Ambar Sarovar Portico Vijay Vilas Heritage Resort Hotel Galaxy Residency Hotel Rudraksh
Hotel KBN JP Resort Holiday Village Resort Hotel Kalash Hotel Samudra Hotel Fun 'N' Food
Hotel Oasis Hotel Sea View The Grand HV Beach Hotel Hotel Arsh Palace Infinity Rann Of Kutch