Bhuj – Phoenix City

Our plan for the “Great Rann of Kutch” brought us to the gateway of Kutch, the city of Bhuj.

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This city’s history is like that of a phoenix. It rose from the ashes of its own foundation.

If you are ever looking for an exemplifying story of courage, will and resurrection, look no further to the journey of rebuilding of the city of Bhuj, located in the western State of Gujarat, India.

The city was annihilated by a massive earthquake with magnitude of 7.7 on Richter scale on 26 January 2001. The city suffered a huge loss of life and property.

Bhuj Earthquake 2001
Image Credits : Google Search
Bhuj Earthquake 2001
Image Credits : Google Search

The inclusion of this place in our journey around Gujarat was a very special and inquisitive moment. We reached to Bhuj from Dwarka via bus, completing an overnight journey.

The city shows no sign of the trauma or tragedy that occurred in the past. Just like any other Indian city, it’s lively and  a little congested.

We checked in early at our hotel at around 8 in the morning, which was at walking distance from our bus stop at station road. Pre-booking the bikes, was a good option, and the provider agreed to arrange the pick up near our hotel.

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There were small stalls that opened early morning, serving tea, Vada pav, Poha and other Gujarati breakfasts. We started our journey to Kutch and came back in the night at around 11 at night. Tired and hungry, the city didn’t disappoint us as a lot of small eateries were open at that time.

We woke up at around 7 in the morning and due to the constraints of time, we had to select a place that would become a happy memory and that’s exactly what we did.

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Bhuj Chhattardi, yes probably a place many people haven’t heard of but if you really like historic places and appreciate the artistry of construction.This is the place to be in Bhuj.

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Royal Chhattardis or Royal cenotaph are one of the very popular site here. It is built of red stones. “Chhattardi” in local language means Umbrella. Here you will see a number of Royal umbrellas which are constructed by royal kings to protect and provide shade to the dead royals.

These Chhattardis were built in 1770 AD to glorify the tombs of the Royal family. It has polygonal shape with intricately carved roofs and many balconies. Some of the impressive and largest tombs are of Rao Lakha Rao Rayadhan, Rao Desai and Rao Pragmal.

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It is also featured in famous Bollywood movie ” Hum Dil de chuke Sanam” starring Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai.

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A still from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam at Royal Chhattardi (Image Credits : Google Search)

 

The place looks partially destructed, but the view around is majestic. It captures the architecture and craftsmanship of the designers like no other place we had seen.

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The carvings depict the background of the royal heritage, probably dedicated to the respective kings of the time.

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Also there were some unique designs which were looking like a amalgamation of Indo-Greek style of painting.

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The remains were telling a story of their own. There were lots of sculptures of women portrayed in traditional attires and jewellery and there is one temple in the centre of the place dedicated to lord Ganesha.

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There were quite a few people there and all were admiring the architecture. It’s a good place to spend around 2-3 hours, in awe and admiration of these beautiful sculptures.

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There is a lake nearby which is not that clean but one can spot some migratory birds there.

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From there, with still some time left on the cards. We went to visit Prag Mahal and Aina Mahal which are located side by side at Darbar Gadh road, few kilometres from the Chhattardi.

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With very short time left to board our train to Ahmedabad. We clicked pictures from outside of the 2 places and headed back to hotel for checkout.

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Though the two structures are adjacent to each other but have a complete difference in their architectures.

The Prag Mahal has a Gothic European design with sky high pillars and a clock tower, about 50ft high that is in synchronisation with city time.

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The Aina Mahal has more of an Indian classical feel to it with well designed balconies which are dwelled by a lot of pigeons. The place was a bit crowded even in the peak afternoon.

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Then the fun part began, it was around 12 in the noon and our train was delayed for 6 hours. This would have affected our journey in a big way and we would have missed our flight from Ahmedabad but thanks to the good road connectivity in the state. We went to bus stand, and boarded a bus to Ahmedabad, which turned out to be a good decision.

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The road journey across the agricultural fields of the area was great. There were a lot of windmills on the way and some salt extraction sites.

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Weather was not too harsh and the will to travel was still swinging high.

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We reached Ahmedabad at around 8-9 p.m. and after searching for some options online, we decided to have dinner at Moti Mahal restaurant near railway station. The primary reason being it’s good review and the secondary being it’s location near railway station, so that we always had a chance to get some conveyance to reach the airport in time. The food was good and the dessert called “firni” served as the cherry on the cake or probably the cake itself. We boarded our flight and reached Mumbai on time.

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Through the ups and downs, tiredness and rejuvenation, there was never a dull moment on this extravagant trip of Gujarat. Though we travelled a very small part of this huge state along the coastline, we have made enough memories to cherish throughout our lives. The bond of friendship grew stronger and the flame of spirit of travelling ignited.

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Gujarat, the state, Gujarat, the culture, is one trip one cannot afford to miss in this multi coloured and diverse country called India.

Here are few stills from our Gujarat trip, you can catch the full stories on our website.

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