Kutch is known as the Wild West of India. The region is filled with a rough kind of fascinating and enigmatic beauty. Though this place looks like a sprawling desert that goes on forever, but this was a seasonal island. The region looks like a tortoise shaped structure. The topography of the land is flat and is quite dry. This region has, on one side, the Gulf of Kutch and also the Great and Little Ranns. The Ranns remains hard and the mud remains dried during the summer months; however during the monsoons, this region remains submerged with seas water then with the fresh water from the river. The infertility of the land is caused by the presence of salt in the seas water.
Over the land of Kutch, the river Indus flowed at one point of time. Once, this was the place of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, which dates back to a 5000 years back. In the year 1819, a huge earthquake occurred and the route of the river got changed. Thus the dry desert came into existence. Again, another earthquake occurred in 2001, in the month of January. As many as 30,000 people died in this natural disaster. Numerous villages were utterly destroyed and became ruined.
Narayan Sarovar, Koteshwar Temple, Lakhpat and Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary are the four major locations in the northwestern portion of Kutch, which fascinates people the most.
THINGS TO SEE
Narayan Sarovar: Among all the sacred pilgrimage locations, Narayan Sarovar is a much different type of experience all together. From Bhuj, one has to make a journey of about a 100 Kms and cross the deserted scrub region of Kutch in order to arrive at this point. It is located in the extreme western corner of land in India. After the rough journey on barren lands, the glimpse of a sprawling lake will be much welcoming and the spiritual aura of the place can be felt easily.
Among the fives sacred lakes belonging to Hindu religion, Narayan Sarovar Lake is one. The others are the Mansarovar located in Tibet, Pampa located in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar located in Orissa and Pushkar located in the state of Rajasthan. This lake is linked with a heavy drought that took place in the Puranic time period. During this time, Narayan arrived here, answering the prayers of the sages. As he touched this land with his toe, a lake came into existence. This lake is considered sacred and also it is believed to be holy for taking a bath. The wife of Maharao Desalji dedicated and built many temples in the name of Shri Trikamraiji, Laxminarayan, Govardhannathji, Dwarkanath, Adinarayan, Ranchodraiji and Laxmiji. These temple is an area of fascination for those who came here in religious pilgrimages.
Koteshwar Temple: Since most of the region of the western Kutch is dry and desert, a person coming to the temple of Koteshwar after coming from the western corner of Kutch gets refreshed by the glimpse of the vast sea. The ocean rekindles the spirit within the human body, its calms on down and gives a relaxing feeling. The temple of Koteshwar is the last structure that has been constructed by the humans, on the westernmost corner of India. Unlike the Dwarka temple, this temple does not remain crowded; thus one can come here to expect to meet ones inner peace and enjoy the serene environment.
A legend is present, surrounding Koteshwar. The legends begins from the time when Ravana a present from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva gave a Shiva linga containing great power; however Ravana, in hurry, dropped this Shiva linga and it fell on the earth, in this very spot in Koteshwar. In order to make Ravana realize his wrong doing, the linga was made to convert into a thousand similar duplicates. Thus Ravana could not identify the original one and he thus picked up a duplicate copy and left. The original Shiva linga was left behind here and thus the construction of Koteshwar temple took place. The tourists coming here can visit the temple and have a nice stroll along the beach.
Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary: A wide variety of flora and fauna is present in the Narayan Sarovar Wild Life Sanctuary. The main type of animal living here is the chinkara, which an Indian gazelle. Only the animals who can put up with the rough climate of the desert can survive. This is the reason for seeing many types of animals which cannot be seen anywhere in India. The major portion of the Narayan Sarovar is covered with forests of thorn plants and scrubs, along with wetlands, which are seasonal in nature and dry kind of Savannah vegetation. One can see mainly Gorad and Babul trees. In the eastern plant forests of Gorad is there while on the western portion, Babul trees are present. Hermo, ber, pilu, thor, gugal, salai, ingorio, kerdo, carissa, and the famous “gando baawal” plants constitutes some of the 250 types of flowering plants, which are found here.
Both the male and female counterparts of the chinkara have thorns. It is the only kind of gazelle that has such features. Around 80 percent of a total of 7000 chinkaras that exist in the world resides in this region of Kutch. They take shelter in the scrub forests and thorn forests as well. This sanctuary provides a safe environment for them to survive in a healthy manner. Other mammals like different types of wildcats ranging from the caracal to desert fox, the rare species of Indian wolf, spotted deer and wild boars can also be seen in this sanctuary. The animal which has been given the tag of the “most fearless animal” by the Guinness Book of World Records is known as the ratel or honey badger is also found here.
As many as 184 varieties of birds exist here in the sanctuary. The species of birds that can be seen here are the three types of bustards, the Black Partridge, 19 kinds of birds of prey and also numerous kinds of waterfowl. For a person who lovers bird, this place is a paradise for that person.
Lakhpat: Lakhpat is located at the northwest portion of Kutch, facing towards the direction of Pakistan. It was supposed to be a much significant port city; however people deserted it about 200 years ago. One coming here can feel the history about the up rise and decline of this port city as well as can feel the vacant region of desert and sea.
When the flowing direction of the river Indus altered due to the earthquake that took place in the year 1819, the Great Rann region dried; Lakhpat also did the same. The old magnificence and majestic aura died and all that was left behind was a small town with relics. At present time only the Kori Creek flows in the Rann. The journey to reach Lakhpat is a long and tedious one, but the journey is well worth because of all the things that one gets to explore here. Jamadar Fateh Muhammed built a fort which has walls of length of 7 kms. It was built in the year 1801. The fort still stands in a good condition and it provides a spectacular view of the Great Rann.
India’s three most popular religions consider this place as sacred and holy. During the journey to Mecca, it is believed that Guru Nanak camped here. A gurudwara was later constructed here, where some of personal items belonging to Guru Nanak are kept. All kept buried here is Pir Ghaus Muhammed, who was a Sufi saint. Since he was twelve years old he became a devotee of two religions, namely Hindu and Muslim. The tomb of this Sufi saint is made out of stone and has fine engraving on it. A water tank is said to be a part of the tomb, which is said to have remedial properties for curing skin related problems. Another of the sacred place is the mausoleum of Sayyed Pir Shah having nine domes. This structure has very fine engravings, doors, windows and jaalis.
Siyot Caves: These caves are supposed to exist since the 1st century AD. An inner chamber and an ambulatory is there which face the eastern side. The Chinese travelers had talked about the 80 number of monastic location that was situated near the river Indus’s mouth. It is so believed that Siyot is one of the 8o such sites.
Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary: One can get fascinated and speechless after visiting the sprawling valleys of Kutch covered in grass, having a great variety of animals and plants. The country side atmosphere and the pure nature spell bounds all. He Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is located close to Nalia at the Abdusa Taluka. The area of this place is 2 square kilometers. The sanctuary also includes the forests of villages named Jhakau and Budia. These forests contain birds like the Great Indian Bustard birds and also other species of animals can be found here. The status of a sanctuary is given to this palce in the year 1992.
This bird is described as a huge bird, which lives on the ground and has a lengthy neck and long stretchy legs like an ostrich. The visitors come here to see this neutral toned bird. This sanctuary, which is home to the Great Indian Bustard bird, offers an unusual and ideal place for these birds to survive; however these birds are becoming rare in the other parts of India. Other types of animal that can be found here are the Chinkaras, the jungle cats, Nilgai, the India wolf and many other species.
HOW TO REACH
By air – The principal town of the Kutch named Bhuj, has an airport terminal. It has regular flights from Bombay.
By rail – The closest railway station is located in Nalia, which is located at a distance of 20 Kms from here.
By road – The nearest bus station is also located at a distance of 20 Kms at a place called Nalila. State government buses offer their services here from Ahmedabad.