India: The Nature of Kutch Inspires

For our last week in India at the end of January we decided to venture to the Kutch region of Gujarat. Not highly touristed, most visitors to India don’t make it to this desert area known for its exceptional textiles and handicrafts. (Although they do have an aggressive ad campaign with Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan touting “the silvery sands of Kutch.”)

We were excited about visiting small villages and seeing beautiful handicrafts, but we had no idea that the area had so much natural beauty. We arranged an autorickshaw driver to take us to some of the villages surrounding Bhuj, the largest city in Kutch (which means it was still pretty small). Our driver, Bharat, turned out to be excellent, taking us to villages and areas we surely would not have seen without him. As we drove away from Bhuj and into the desert outback, we soon realized we would be driving through one of the most beautiful areas in India.

Castor oil plants are abundant in Kutch and treasured by the population.

Bharat soon taught us about castor oil, whose fields we kept driving by. Castor oil is produced by drying out the flowers (the spiky green things) and then crushing them to release the seeds. The seeds are then crushed to reveal a waxy, oily substance–castor oil–which as you probably know can be used for myriad medical treatments, lotions, and other remedies.

Dried castor oil flowers.

Bharat shows us the castor oil seeds.

After some more driving we came upon a watering hole, surrounded by camels and water buffalo. It really was beautiful and made me want to go to Africa even more!

We also drove through some gorgeous marshland filled with exotic birds.

On our second day Bharat took us to this gorge he knew about. Honestly, I don’t even know where we were, but suddenly he had us climbing down into a canyon!

I certainly had no idea something like this exists in India! Did you?

We also some interesting birds nest and had an adventure getting our autorickshaw through some water.

But the grand finale was seeing the “White Desert”–those silvery sands that Amitabh touted. Kutch is home to the Great Rann, reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world. It takes up a large portion of the Thar desert and goes straight across the border to Pakistan. Bharat told us the only way to traverse the white desert is via camel and after seeing it–and walking on it–I believe him. Some of the salt is dry and hard but the further in you go the more marshy it becomes and soon you find yourself sinking into the desert.

Doesn't this salt chunk look like the shape of India?!?

Check back soon for posts about the villages and handicrafts of Kutch!

9 Comments

Filed under Animals, India, Natural Beauty, Transit

9 responses to “India: The Nature of Kutch Inspires

  1. Absolutely loved the pictures. Kutch looks so beautiful.

  2. That’s so beautiful. Some of those bits of desert, and definitely the beautiful gorge, are just like Jordan. I must put that on my places to visit in India!
    Carol.

  3. ASHOK M VAISHNAV

    It is so great that you could ‘see’ so much of Kutch.
    If one has an eye, there are many ways and many things to ‘see’ @ Kutch.
    The development of self-supprting infrastructre, preferbaly owned, run and maintained by the loacl people can ceratinly go a long way to make Kutch as sustained preferred destination for the discerning visitors.
    Of course, the quality of infrastructure should be of reasonably comfortable standard.

  4. I belong to Kutch!! Come again!

  5. judyjams

    Such great photos! Wish I had still been with you guys for this part of the journey!

  6. Pingback: India: The People and Handicrafts of Kutch | Brooklyn Meets Bombay

  7. Niranjan Buch

    Kutch needs travellers like you. We have not seen such variety of nature in kutch and this flora and fauna.

    Thanks.

  8. the wayfarers club

    It’s amazing to figure that you came across such place in india, i.e. the gorge you’ve been to in kutch. I being a local from gujarat has never came across such place, though i would to explore such place and any help would be very appreciated. Also do check out our showcasing of kutch at our facebook page of travel club which we operate. Do visit and i would like to share your pictures and stories on our page.

    https://www.facebook.com/WayfarersClub/

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