The wonderful town of Kutch is located at the core of Gujarat. Known for the highly popular Rann Utsav, Kutch has come on the global map because of this festival. Yet, beyond the white desert and the lively Rann Utsav, Kutch is also brimming with other avenues that will inspire and mesmerize you. These places are what make Kutch so culturally rich and divine. From beautiful hamlets to the Rabari communities, Kutch has a lot of hidden gems that are waiting to be explored.
Here are some of the things you can do when you visit Kutch.
Lastly, you just cannot miss the famous Rann of Kutch when you come here. Acres and acres of salt are laden at the edges of shallow water, that makes it look like a white desert. With glistening land and beautiful dunes, the Rann of Kutch is nothing but a sight for the sore eyes. The entire place also comes alive during the Rann Utsav, which is their annual festival. It is exceptionally lively and exciting and is one of the most visited cultural festivals in India. You should also come here during full moon nights when the entire desert starts to glitter from the radiating aura of the moon.
One of the most famous attractions in Kutch is its handicraft village. These little hamlets are filled with local artists who practice art and crafts. During your visit to these villages, you will be privy to the wonders of Kutch artwork and the backbreaking process that these artists use to create these stunning products. These hamlets are unique and you should visit them if you could.
Little brown huts mark this small hamlet of Hodka Village. Home to artists who create the most mesmerizing Banni embroidery, Hodka is a revelation. It is laden with handicrafts in all colours imaginable- from red, green, yellow, purple, you will find everything here. You can also witness the art of making these lovely handicrafts. From home decor to jewellery, you will find everything here.
The quaint hamlet of Jura is known for its copper bell making. As unique as it sounds, this is quite a famous culture of Kutch. This art was brought from Pakistan and is practiced to date by Huser Sidhik and his family members. The bells are made from scrap metal, as they are melted and shaped in the form of bells. The distinguishing feature of these bells is that no two bells sound the same when they start to chime!
Located close to Jura, the Nirona Village pays homage to the wonderful Rogan Art. Populated with artists who practice this quince technique, this village is quite a lovely visit. This art process was mainly used to decorate bridal wear but is now used in other types of clothes as well. The technique includes using a metal needle dripping with paint to make wonderful designs by hand on the fabric. If you look at the finished product, you will find yourself applauding the worker who made this with such precision and delicate hands.
Known for its traditional Ajrakh block printing style, Ajrakhpur Village is filled with wonders. The block printing is also done by Ising natural dyes like- Turmeric, pomegranate, ink, and mud, which is then used to create yards of fabric. The block is usually shaped and made by hand to give it that perfect form and design. The entire process is so fascinating to watch, that you will not be able to take your eyes off it. Every family in the village is part of this process, and it is a wonderful experience just to even witness the beauty of this process.
One of the often missed parts of Kutch is its desert communities. Situated in the middle of the famous Thar Desert, you will find the consequences of the horrific Partition that had left people in tatters. This place is the other half of the Sindh province in Pakistan. Yet, even after the division, you will find such harmony and unity in this region that you cannot help but feel all warm. You can drive to the famous Khavda village, which is located quite close to the border on Pakistan.
Here you can just roam around, talk to the locals, and learn all about the terrible partition. The locals here are filled with stories and anecdotes about the atrocities and tragedies that gripped them during Partition. It is an eye-opening visit, and you should visit Khavda if you have the luxury of time.
The people of Kutch, especially in the rural area are so true to their culture and traditions, that you be surprised. From wearing ethnic sarees to sporting beautiful jewellery, the culture of Kutch is every photographer’s dream. You will find women from different communities wearing the most ornate and colourful sarees, coupled with gold earrings and intricately designed nose rings. It is quite hard to miss this lovely visual representation of the culture.
However, the rural parts of Kutch are quite conservative, so make sure you ask before you decide to take a photograph. Most women will even hide their faces with their sarees when they see any stranger approaching.
Kutch is also known for its Rabari community, which consists of herders and gypsies. They are usually placed in the semi-desert regions of Kutch, these herders are quite a mesmerizing cultural aspect.
The Rabaris were camel and sheepherders, who used to live a nomadic lifestyle. You might still find most of them going from one place to another and sleeping in little tents. You might be able to even visit a few villagers and families. The entire community is very different from the kind of life one is used to. They are away from the modern world of technology, and can hardly write. Literacy and education are not priorities, and you will hardly find any schools.
Most of the Rabari families are extremely cordial and will welcome you with open arms. They will even offer you tea and snacks to make you feel at home. If you are lucky, some of the families also dress up and dance for their guests, which is quite magical.
The Rabari women are also known for their intricate and elegant jewellery. You will find most of them wearing large and heavy nose rings. You should also buy some Rabari needlework since it is one of the most intricate and regal handiwork you will ever see.
Kutch is also famous for its little pink feathered flamingoes, that come here to breed. There is also a Flamingo city however, it is not open for tourists.
Every lake and every little water body in the city is brimming with flamingos during the winter season. Most of the water bodies look like a sea of pink colour, as these lovely birds come here in hordes.
You will also find white pelicans, Eurasian spoonbills, and black-legged stilts at Kutch.
Once you reach Kutch you will start to realize that there are almost no restaurants or eateries here. You have to be literally on a diet of street food, which is true even more delicious. From mouth-watering diabetes and bhaji pavs, the street food here is quite something. Munch on some Gujarati staples like fafda and thepla as your tastebuds go on a culinary journey.
Kutch is truly a revelation and a hidden treasure chest for India. Even though Rann Utsav is a huge success with thousands of people from all over the world coming to Kutch for the festival, most of them do not venture out too much. Kutch is blessed with a wonderful culture and you must traverse through this rich land to explore all of these places to truly feel the essence of Kutch.