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Kutch me if you can

Actor Purab Kohli travels to the Chari Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve, Kala Dungar and the Bhuj Palace in Kutch and comes away tired, but spellbound by the sights of Gujarat, and the hospitality of its people

Day 1
It is searing hot when I and my friends land in Kutch in the month of May. We start our weekend with an early morning trip to the Chari Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve. It is an amazing place that lies at the edge of the Banni grasslands and offers fantastic views of birds both common and rare.

Purab standing on the salt flatlands: 'This was one of the most enchanting moments of my life. I walked two kilometres into this shimmering stretch of land.'


We carry packed breakfasts and make sure we reach the premises by 5 am, in spite of having to drive over broken roads, and make our way through muddy and dusty lanes. We see several Indian cranes and flamingoes, a few endangered birds and large flocks of migratory birds.

It is surreal to watch the sunrise from a strategic point in the reserve with camels in the foreground and flocks of birds flying over the shimmering water, as the sun's rays dance their way to the earth.

I could spend hours watching a beautiful scene such as this, unfold before me. And I do bask in this morning mirth for about three hours before I head to the neighbourhood shrine.

Road to devotion
The dargah of Haji Pir is located on a barren desert land. The little shrine is witness to the famous Haji Pir festival around this time, every year. Along the way, we pass several groups of people heading for the festival on foot from the surrounding villages.

The last refuge of the khur lies in the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary in
the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat


We decide to stop by at the adjacent village and get someone to make rotlas for us. Once there, the villagers not only arrange to make rotlas, but they also serve us the tastiest pickles ever!

We laze around after the heavy lunch for a while before setting out to Hadko village. I check in at the Hadko resort, which is a beautiful replica of a Kutch village.

Day to remember
A while later, we are guided to the nearby salt flatland. This is one of the most enchanting moments of my life!
I get disoriented for a second seeing the white dessert: For miles and miles together I can see only shining white land.

To call it fascinating would be an understatement. I walk for two kilometres into this shimmering stretch of land.

Pigeons rest on architectural details of Bhuj's darbargadh, in Bhuj, Gujurat


While the rest of the gang returns to Hadko, I go along with a local guy to a nearby forest where camel herders have set up tents for the night.

Day 2
Waking up to the bells of the camels and a beautiful crescent moon is a rare experience. The herders make kheer for breakfast. This is normally done for guests. But the camel milk tea is regular, and I, honestly, quite liked it.

By 10 am, I reach the Kala Dungar. My friends are already there. Kala Dungar is a black hill that  overlooks the Rann of Kutch.
 
It's all white, and it is quite something. Imagine the contrast we are on a black hill looking at the pristine white stretch of land that seems to touch the horizon. There's sand flying all over and the only break in the white are the blue patches of water.

Glimpses of everyday village life in Kutch


Around 2 pm, when we descend the Kala Dungar, we stop at the base, where the village folk treat us to some rotlas and pickle! We reached Bhuj late that evening, driving through areas, where at times we didn't see anything, except the brown sand for miles together.

Finally, dressed for the evening we proceeded to the Bhuj Palace from where one gets a mesmerising view of the city. Watching the sunset from here is an overwhelming experience. After a tiring weekend, I decide to have an early night. I completely deserve it!

80
The speed in km/ hr that the Indian wild ass, or khur, is capable of running. The khur is considered one of the fastest Indian animals

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