Bhuj: A Historical Trip
Bhuj, the westernmost city of India, is a treasure trove of heritage and culture been associated with the ancient history of kings and empires. Bhuj is known for its small, meandering streets, palaces and temples. Here are the don’t miss out the list of places to visit in Bhuj on your next trip!
Well for starters and low budget traveller, the cheapest and convenient way to reach Bhuj is by train. However, you might not get a lot of direct trains from your place and might need to reach Ahmedabad first. Due to train connectivity, it makes sense to either explore it as a weekend trip from Mumbai or you can combine it with a day trip over the long weekend during the Rann Utsav or just a visit to The Great White Rann of Kutch (Like I did). By train, it will take 13 to 17 hours to Bhuj from Mumbai. Bhuj has an airport but the flights to Bhuj will be costly due to less frequency which can raise your travel expenses by a great deal.
From Mumbai, you can take 22903 Bhuj AC Superfast Express on Friday leaving Bandra Terminus at 11:45 PM and will reach Bhuj the next day around 12:40 PM.
For the return journey from Bhuj, you can take 22956 Kutch Express on Sunday leaves from Bhuj at 08:15 PM and will reach Bandra Terminus the next day around 11:25 AM.
To move around hire a bike/scooty. This is perfect for solo and budget travellers. A scooty will cost you around ₹500 to ₹1000 for 2 days. However, make sure you have your driving license with you. Also, take 2-3 layers of clothing as it can get really cold when riding post sunset.
Where to Stay?
Bhuj has been of the commercial hub for Gujarat you would be able to find many pocket-friendly accommodations in the center part of the town. Here are some of the suggestion-
Day One: Surreal Places In Bhuj
Reach the hotel complete the check-in and let start with one of the finest place to see around Bhuj.
Vijay Vilas Palace - Bollywood's preferred shoot destination
Vijay Vilas Palace is very well-maintained, and often the scene of filming for Bollywood productions. It was built of red sandstone in the Rajput style, with a main central dome, Bengal domes at the sides, bastions at the corner, and colored glass windows.
Artisans from various parts of India, such as Rajasthan, Bengal and Saurashtra along with the Mistris and Suthars of Kutch were called upon for the making of the palace, as a result of which traces of different religion aesthetics are reflected in the palace. Originally a summer abode for the Kutch rulers, its first floor is now the erstwhile royal family’s residence. The palace also has a private beach with luxury tents that can be rented out by the tourist. Since the palace has been well-preserved, it also used as a background for many Bollywood feature films. A portion of the palace is now converted into a resort, offering accommodation options with ethnic decor and is replete with modern amenities. Inlaid tile work, distinctive stone carving, manicured garden, intricate jail work, magnificent water streams and murals are the highlights of the palace.
Visiting Hours: 08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Once a famous port and now one of the must-visit tourist places in Bhuj. Mandvi Beach is one such place where one can expect sea, sand and sun. Mandvi is an old port town that has beaches, horse and camel rides along the shore. In addition to being a laid-back beach destination, Mandvi Beach is also popular for its camping and water sports facilities. It is one of the secluded and undiscovered beach destination with clean water and beautiful views which makes it one of the most romantic places in Gujarat for couples.
Mandvi was established as a port town in 1574 by Khengarji, the king of Kutch. Mandvi port was an important trading center until Mumbai came into the picture.
Day Two: Surreal Places In Bhuj
If you feel like just to see The Great White Rann post the Rann Utsav Festival, go for it before Sunrise and enjoy the sunrise, which is mind-blowing as said by locals. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it do. Atleast will have something to see next time. So we start our day post breakfast and checkout from the hotel.
Kala Dungar - Black Hill
Kala Dungar is the highest point in the Rann of Kutch and is also known as the Black Hill. The view of the Rann of Kutch from this place is soothing to the eyes as you can see
widespread water as far as your eyes permit. Dattatreya Temple at the Kala Dungar which is a 400 years old famous temple. Legend says that when Dattatreya walked on the earth, he stopped at the Black Hills and found a band of starving jackals. Being a god, he offered them his body to eat and as they ate, his body continually regenerated itself. Because of this,
for the last four centuries, the priest at the temple has prepared a batch of prasad, cooked rice, that is fed to the jackals after the evening aarti.
Another legend has it that there was once a holy man named Lakkh Guru residing at Kala Dungar and worshipping the Lord Dattatreya. He used to feed wild jackals. There came a day when he found he had no food, so he cut off a part of his body and offered it to the jackals, saying, "Le ang!" ("take the body part"). Over the centuries, this got corrupted to "Long".
Kala Dungar Magnetic Hill
Kalo Dungar Anti Gravity slope is a hill road with an optical illusion of a gravity hill where the vehicle seems to defy the gravity and roll from downslope to up the slope.
Lunch @ Umiya G
This place is undoubtedly the best place in Bhuj to eat authentic Gujarati Food which satisfies all your taste buds at an unbeatable price.
Prag Mahal & Tower
Prag Mahal, built-in 1860's by the great designer Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins in the Italian Gothic style. The palace was commissioned by Maharaja Pragmalji II and has been a joint contribution of both Indian artisans and foreign workers. The entire palace is made from
Italian marble and sandstone, the grand durbar hall with its classic status and chandeliers are the highlights of the Prag Mahal. This exquisite property has its clock tower, the top of which offers a panoramic view of Bhuj. The Prag Mahal boasts of the second-highest clock tower in India. A portion of the palace is converted into the museum, exhibiting several remnants and
personal collections of the royal family. In 2010, a part Prag Mahal was devastated due to the earthquake and the same is under renovation for quite a long time. The palace became immensely popular after part of the Bollywood blockbuster 'Lagaan' was shot here.
Visiting Hours: 09:00 AM to 11:45 AM & 03:00 PM to 05:45 PM
Aina Mahal Palace
The Aina Mahal in Bhuj is one of the finest examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture constructed ever in India. This dreamy palace is the divine creation of Ramsinh Malam. The palace is unique and extraordinary in terms of interiors and architecture. Many water bodies and fountains are engulfed in the interiors of the palace, forming a variety of patterns that charms the viewers. Spread over two floors, the building features Darbar Hall, a hall of mirrors, and suites belonging to the various members of the royal family.
The fabulous Aina Mahal is a part of the extravagant Darbargadh Palace of Bhuj. Content and the architecture of the palace are associated with the life story of its architect, Ramsinh Malam, who was rescued by the Dutch when he got shipwrecked at the East African Coast. Later, he was taken to the Netherlands, where he mastered the art of tile making, enameling, and clock making. Years later when Ramsinh came back to Kutch, the ruler of Kutch- Rao
Lakha gave him an opportunity to display his skills. The Aina Mahal was thus ornamented with Venetian-style chandeliers, silver objects, clocks –all made locally under the Ramsinh’s supervision. Superb local craft like scroll paintings, jewelled swords, ivory inlaid doors, and paintings depicting processions are displayed in the palace.
The museum is also a part of the Aina Mahal. Exhibits displayed in the museum include paintings, photographs, royal possessions and finest samples of the Kutch embroidery. An exquisite collection of the museum also includes a 15 meters long scroll that depicts the Royal Procession of Maharao Shri Pragmalji Bahadur. The fort also holds a compound; a portion of the same is almost in ruins. With so many attractions to see, Aina Mahal is surely a significant heritage of the Kutch region.
Visiting Hours: 09:00 AM to 11:45 AM & 03:00 PM to 05:45 PM (Except Thursday)
Shree Swaminarayan Prasadi Mandir
Accidentally saw this temple on the way to Prag Mahal, since I don't know anything about Swaminarayan but the temple is a masterpiece in Marble. You can describe it with all the
adjectives from the books of architecture. Fine architecture, Good ambience, the mosaics flooring and they allow cameras. The best part of this place the peace of mind and spiritual energy. The place is very much alive and so beautiful. Just for the note females are not allowed inside the temple.
Hamirsar Lake - peaceful and photogenic place. Walking along the lake's edge is a great way to get from one place to another, with the Aina Mahal and Praga Mahal, the Kutch Museum,
the Ramkund Stepwell and Ram Dhun Temple and the Swaminarayan Temple all located very close to the eastern side of the lake; a walk from the Aina Mahal to the Swaminarayan Temple (passing all the other sites mentioned), further around the other side of the lake is the Sharad Baug palace, and the road to the royal chhatris.
Other Must See Places In & Around Bhuj
Chhari Dhand - a paradise for bird watchers
Narayan Sarovar Kutch - one of the holiest lakes of Hindus
Dholavira Kutch - Rustic, beautiful and charming