Rann of Kutch

While many of you must have heard or read it somewhere, for those who haven’t, what best describes any traveller’s theorem is- “Kutch nahi dekha, toh kuch nahi dekha.” (meaning you haven’t seen anything if you haven’t seen Kutch). There isn’t a single characteristic of Kutch, in Gujarat, that works against this famous phrase. If you ever happen to visit this splendid section, you will be a witness to this amazing piece of geography that turns marshy during the monsoons and then back to its brilliant white glory during the winters and summers.

Kutch has been a conflux point for people of various castes and creeds. Although the salt desert better describes Kutch, the hospitality and the warmth in the conduct of its people is also well known. Religion and religious fairs are interwoven in Kutch’s culture. The culture of Kutch is so prosperous, vibrant and authentic that it will surely spellbind you in every way. Imagine how wonderful it would be to just see white salt as far as your sight reaches.

Witness bright yellows and blues while passing through the highways in complete contrast to the white sands of the desert. There is something poetic about this place that will catch your attention in a way you won’t be able to forget it for the rest for your life.

Coming to the vastness of this place, it runs on a stretch of 16,000 sq. kms, thus becomes the largest salt desert in India. Rann of Kutch is divided into Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch. Both of them are quite similar to each other, yet so different.

The Little Rann of Kutch is home to the last remaining population of the Ghudkar- the Asiatic wild ass and to more than 140 species of birds including migratory birds like flamingos. It spreads across 5 districts- namely, Rajkot, Kutch, Surendranagar, Jamnagar and Banaskantha. The wild ass sanctuary in Little Rann of Kutch offers exciting cross desert safaris, superb wildlife viewing opportunities and is lined up with colourful villages on the edge of the deserts.

Two of the most exotic fairs and festivals of Kutch are Rann Mahotsav and the Ravechi Fair. Rann Mahotsav is organized every year at Dhordo village in Kutch and the festivities run for a month and a half. During this time Kutch becomes extremely colourful and adds new charm to the white land of Dhordo village. It begins on a full moon night of December following which the extravaganza attracts people from all over the globe. Similarly, the fascinating Ravechi fair is celebrated with great pomp every year between the months of September and October. This land of vast emptiness sees the maximum number of visitors during the time of these festivals wherein they all stay in tents and witness the lives and religious culture of the locals. Both of these witnesses activities like folk dance, desert festivals, camel safari, live-in tents, musical moments and many more exciting events. Be a part of this festival and witness Kutch weaved in a beautiful dream.

On full moon nights, the sky is clear and the moon is bright, the white sands light up radiantly. For those nights, the moon becomes the Earth and the sight is worth a million bucks! But before visiting The Rann of Kutch, there are a few precautions you will need to take so as to make it a smooth journey for yourself.
– Make sure you obtain permits before entering the Rann.
– Don’t forget to carry your identity card wherever you travel.
– Another thing is, that the salt in the desert looks like a normal rock salt that we usually eat, but don’t eat it there! We know a few people who tried doing so and came back with a burnt – mouth for the rest of the days!

Watch the sunset from the pristine white desert which also happens to be one of the most picturesque sights in the world. There are usually very few places that catch your attention in such a way that you can’t get over the fact that you too have been there, and Rann of Kutch is surely one of those places. It’s wonderful to see how a land with plain white salt becomes so beautifully wonderous.

Aurangabad

The rapidly growing city of Aurangabad, more famously known as the ‘Tourism Capital’ of Maharashtra stands today as the gateway to world heritage sites like the Ajanta and Ellora Caves as well as mausoleums such as Bibi ka Maqbara. The city name translates to ‘Built by the Throne’ and is named after Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb, who at one time had conquered a large part of the country.

Throughout time, Aurangabad has been a major silk and cotton textile production centre with the famous, Paithani silk sarees originating from here. Industry aside, the city is famous for its 52 gates. It is these very gates that gave Aurangabad the name of ‘City of Gates’. There are multiple tourist attractions in the city apart from the Buddhist caves dating back to 3 A.D., there are mosques, a lake named after bird watcher, Salim Ali and a bird sanctuary.

Aurangabadi food is much like Mughlai or Hyderabadi cuisine with its fragrant pulao and Biryani. Meat cooked in fresh spices and herbs is a speciality, as are the delectable sweets. The local cuisine is a blend of Mughlai and Hyderabadi cuisine, with an influence of the spices and herbs of the Marathwada region.

At the end of every Aurangabad visit, one mustn’t forget to take back Mashroo and Himru fabrics that are made out of an age old weaving craft and is unique to that place.

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    • We are back home from our trip to India…what an adventure! It is not an easy country in which to travel, but your detailed plan made the trip relaxing and very interesting. From Delhi to Aurangabad everyone associated with Indebo was great. Lilly and Monika in Delhi were always available to address any concerns or questions we had. We were fortunate to have excellent guides who were punctual, courteous and very knowledgeable – Alice Martin, USA
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Matheran

Matheran was discovered in 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet the then collector of Thane district. The hill station grew more accessible and popular under the patronage of Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay. He introduced roadway and in 1907 opened a mountain railway (toy train) for the first time.

The 20 kms toy train journey takes you through spectacular grassy hill slides, plains, sheer cliffs, plateaux and thick forest cover from Neral.

Mahableshwar

Mahableshwar is the largest and one of the most spectacular & most popular hill station in the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats. It is at a height of 1372 meters above sea level. It is only accessible by road from Mumbai either via Pune or Mahad. It has a pleasant climate throughout the year. In summer temperatures range between 16 degree and 20 degree Celsius and in winter it falls even further.

Mahableshwar has two ancient temples, a church and a treasure trove of 30 exotic sites or points from where one can get a good view of the dense forest and hush green valley below, with an exquisite mix of crystal clear water of lake Venna, coupled with tranquil surroundings make boating an unforgettable experience. Add to it the entralling Lingmala Falls & the tempting array of jams and jellies, Mahabaleshwar promises to be every holiday’s dream come true.

Pune

Pune’s history is also closely associated with Shivaji and the Maratha Empire. Pune passed into English hands in 1818 who developed it into an army town with a distinct English air in the cantonment of the city.

Old Pune is a crowded, bustling commercial city with narrow lanes and close-set houses while the cantonment area is spacious, spread with old-set bungalows.

Daulatabad

The famous fort of Daulatabad was once considered invincible. In the 8th century AD, this site was the capital of the Yadhava rulers of the Deccan and was known as Devagiri.

Mohammed bin Tughlaq, the Sultan of Delhi in the 14th century, was so impressed by this fort that he decided to shift his capital to this site and renamed it Daulatabad. Situated on a pyramid-shaped hill, the fort with its slippery gravel pathways, spiked gates, spiral staircases and dungeons is a sight to behold.

Paithan

Paithan is particularly well known for its Paithani silk sarees. Once a centre of trade, it was also the capital of the Satavahanas. Today it is an important excavation site. Jayakwadi dam close by is an ideal observation point for bird watchers. Paithani sarees are the famous sarees of Paithan. A heavily brocaded Paithani takes anywhere from six months to one and a half years to weave.

Ellora

Extending in a linear arragement, the 34 caves and monasteries of Ellora comprise Buddhist Chaityas (shrines),and Viharas(monasteries), together with some of the finest Hindu and Jain temples from the 5th to the 11th century AD.

Ellora, unlike the Ajanta caves, was never ‘rediscovered’ . Known as Verul in ancient times , it has continuously attracted pilgrims since early times to the present day. The earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena (cave29), while the most imposing excavation is that of the Kailasa Temple (cave16), which is the largest monolithic structure in the world. The Jains caves are dedicated to Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism and the Tirthankaras, or teachers, worshipped by the Jains.

Ajanta

Ajanta has some magnificent rock-cut caves, 30 in number, date from 2nd Century BC to 7th Century AD. They are exclusively Buddhist and are unique in that they combine three Art forms ‑ architecture, sculpture and painting. Superb frescoes and paintings depicting episodes from the Jataka stories and the life of Lord Buddha are world famous.