Every year folks come down at Kutch to experience White Runn (desert) festival from October-March. Everyone who visit the Kutch ; generally ignores exploring Bhuj – one of the main city of Kutch. But I highly recommend spending a day in this beautiful yet quiet city.
You can see few trashes of the earthquake that happened in 2001 and few tales from the locals but yet it is not like other populated cities of Gujarat. If you are in the city for a day, here is the list of places to visit in Bhuj and things to do:
Prag Mahal & Aina Mahal:
Your first stop in the city should be Prag Mahal. It is more like European style architecture straight from France. It was designed by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins in the Gothic style with beautifully decorated interiors in Italian style wit spacious rooms,Verndahs and Darbar Hall .It is commissioned by King Prag Mahalji in 1860. There were many Italian artisans who were involved in its construction.The building is built mostly in red and white marble stones.
Darbar Hall is the main attraction inside the palace. It houses 38 doors which kept open during gatherings.It has large chandeliers, statues with European architecture which gives the glory of bygone era.As you climb the stairs of Bell Tower; you can have stunning view of Bhuj City.
The clock tower is significant element of Prag Mahal which is 150 Mt high.There are only two of this kind in India.It is one of the best example of 19th century colonial architecture of India. You can see the cracks between the walls which show the damage done to the building during devastating earthquake in 2001.
Time: 9:00 AM to 12 AM, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM, Closed On: Public Holiday
Entry fees : INR 30, Charges for Photography: INR 50
Beside the Prag Mahal, there is Aina Mahal which is magnificent from inside. It was built by Rao Lakhpatji in 1761.The craftsman Ramsinh Malam who spent 17 years in Europe has commissioned the palace with mixed Indo-European style. As its name suggests ‘Aina Mahal’ means ‘Mirror Palace’; it was constructed with marbles walls studded with mirrors. Ramsinh established a glass factory at Mandvi to meet the deman of mirrors; manufactured china tiles in a factory in Bhuj.
The Palace was also damaged in 2001 earthquake, however portion of it was restored and converted into the museum which displays bedroom, music room, jewel pieces, paintings, palanquin etc. Don’t forget to click the beautiful carved doorways, window boxes.
Time : 9:00 AM to 11:45 AM, 3:00 PM to 5:45PM
Closed : Thursday
Entry fees : INR 20, Charges for Photography : INR 50
Kutchh Museum is the oldest museum of Gujarat situated near Hamirsar lake in Bhuj. The museum houses 11 sections which depicts the aspects of kutchi lifestyle, architecture, crafts and heritage of tribal peoples. The museum also has exhibits of embroidery, paintings, arms, musical instruments, sculpture and precious metalwork.
It also houses the archaeological section dedicated to Indus valley civilisation. Different kinds of stone tablets are available. On the 1st floor of museum, you can have introduction to fabulous kutchhi textiles and crafts which is made in different parts of kutchh.
Time : 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Closed : Wednesday, Public Holiday
Entry fees : INR 5 only, Charges for Photography: INR 50
Chhatedi [Shooting Place]
Chhatedi is one of the historical places in Bhuj. The place is being maintained by the archaeological survey of India and houses the ruins and a garden. It is like stone boulders in hampi with some historical significance.
The major part of it was damaged in the earthquake of 2001.The famous bollywood movie ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ has been shot here; and locals name the place as shooting point.
Travel Tips: Entry is free
The earthquake on 26 January 2001 destroyed much of the city of Bhuj, including Swaminarayn temple. The devotees of Kutch residing in India and abroad, have resolved to construct a new temple a short distance away from the old temple.
The new temple has intriguing stone work which makes it once to visit the place.
Enjoy the Sunset at Hamisrsar Lake
Hamirsar lake is local’s favourite spot for hangout. It is dotted with eateries and snack corners. You can enjoy the sunset by the lake to end the beautiful day; if you are lucky you can click many birds in the winter in your camera lens.
I must recommend trying Dabeli – famous snack of Kutchh made with spicy vegetable & potato mixture stuffed between the Pav/bun; topped with pomegranate, sev and peanuts.
Visit Local Market area
Bhuj is famous for handicrafts and there are so many options for shopping.Shroff bazaar is the place where you can pick up the block printing stuff, handmade purses, kutchhi jewelleries, household items and so many other things to chose from.
Try Delicious Gujarati Thali
A trip to kutchh is incomplete without trying Gujarati Thali. Kutchhi Thali includes recipies from millet and few local cuisines. Try the Thali at Annapurna restaurant OR Toral restaurant near Bhuj Station.
After having delicious lunch/dinner, must try Gulab Pak at Khavda Sweets on hospital road.
Rahee’s Tip: you can take simple Lunch/Dinner at Swaminarayan Temple at INR 50.
How to Reach:
Bhuj is well connected by air to major cities of India. It is well connected by train from Ahmedabad and Mumbai. You can easily get buses from other major cities of India to bhuj.
Auto is best possible way to move around for sightseeing. Do bargain well before paying few extra bucks.
There are many budget stay options available in Bhuj. I had stayed at Swaminarayan guest house which provides budget stay with all meals at reasonable price. If you opt to book accommodation on arrival in Bhuj, you will get few cheap deals.
You can visit Mandvi from Bhuj [60 km] which houses beautiful Mandvi beach and Vijay Villas Palace.
Station to Guest House: INR 100
Sightseeing by auto: INR 150
Accomodation : INR 1200 for AC room
Food : INR 100-150