When on holiday, travellers usually resort to visiting the popular attractions in that city. It may be a good idea but here’s something even better! How about exploring the offbeat and the not-so-quintessential tourist spots? That’s always a fun way of getting to know a place better, learn in detail about its roots and culture. And one such place around which you’ll find villages standing as a glorious testimony of the beautiful past of Gujarat is the Rann of Kutch.
Usually, the Rann of Kutch is synonymous to the Rann Utsav but if you’re visiting this colourful revelry, you must don your adventurer’s hat and go on a loose to explore the villages in the area. A break from the usual urban humdrum, which we’re exposed to, at all times, spending some time here is an absolutely new experience. So here’s a list of 6 villages in Gujarat that you must visit on your next holiday:
At a distance of 8 km from Bhuj lies the Bhujodi village. The textile hub of Kutch, this village is inhabited by 1200 people, most of whom develop handicrafts and textiles. Weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, these people are happy to welcome tourists as a guest and give them insights into their everyday lives and how their day at work looks like. If you make friends with them, they may even be generous to let you try a hand at their work. Around the village, a few kilometres from the village is Ashapura Crafts Park, which is a non-profit organization that lets artisans display their work and even organize dance and music events for guests. Another similar set up is Shrujan that lets women of the village improve their skills and earn a living from it.
One of the best places to witness the extraordinary art forms of Gujarat, Nirona has earned itself the place of being a hub of artisans with different families that have established their hold in the village owing to their different expertise. The village, about 45 minutes from Kutch, has the Khatris who are known for their Rogan artwork and the Luhars who have established themselves for making copper bells for several generations. The stories of these artistic people are steeped in interesting anecdotes of their belongingness and establishment in the village. Painting on fabric using castor seeds, the cloth produced from this art is so appealing to the eye that you cannot help but pick up a few pieces for yourself or your loved ones!
66 km ahead of Bhuj is the Khavda village, which is the last stop towards the north of Bhuj to get bottled water and fruits. Primarily run by women, the handicrafts made in this village include handmade dolls and Ajrakh block printing. The leather craftsmen here are exceptional too, and what make the crafts and products of this village unique is the well-blended Muslim and Meghwals who each bring their area of finesse to the table to together create one fine piece of work. Wood carvings in this village are also a hit among visitors. This is also the prime centre for the flamingo population in Gujarat, the reason why it’s called the Flamingo City of India.
On reaching Hodka, about 65 km from Bhuj, visitors will find themselves in an authentic village setting, but with an exception. A village resort here allows guests to experience the life of the village while still enjoying urban comforts. The village is known for its leather crafts and embroidery work and was first inhabited by the Halepotra clan, around 300 years ago. At the village, you will also find the wetlands of Chhari Dhand where one can spot over 32 species of raptors and common cranes.
As the name of this village explicitly suggests, Ajrakhpur is the original centre for Ajrakh work in Gujarat. All the tie-dye and block printing work that includes beautiful colours seamlessly contrasting with the dull hues of a desert can be found here. The Sind Muslims brought this traditional work to this village 400 years ago and since then, the place has grown to teach Kachchi men and women living here, the art of producing fine Ajrakh work. As you spend time in this gorgeous village, you learn the fine art behind making these prints that sometimes requires the cloth to be washed up to 20 times to develop the finest piece of work that needs to be sold or sent out.
Of course, there is never enough attention that can be given to the Dhordo village in Kutch that is the hub of culture and traditions of Gujarat. It is often called the gateway to the Rann Utsav and is situated on the edge of India-Pakistan border, 80 KM from Bhuj. It is popular for its White Desert, art & craft villages and also bird watching as a lot of migratory birds arrive here for nesting.
For more information, visit Gujarat Tourism