About Kutch
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About Kutch

The Wild West of India; off the beaten track and largely unexplored by outsiders, Kutch is a treasure trove of ecological and historical wonders waiting to be discovered.

Stretching along the Tropic of Cancer, from Rajasthan to the Arabian Sea, Kutch covers more than 45,000 sq km and is one of India’s largest and most geographically distinct regions.

Distinguished by striking geological features, Kutch hosts a variety of unique ecosystems, from the seasonal wetlands and salt flats of the Rann, through large swathes of untouched grassland and open expanses of desert, to the lush tropical greenery and salty mangrove forests of the coast.

These breathtaking landscapes are home to a wide variety of species, from flamingos and swimming Kharai camels to the endangered Indian wolf and leopard, many of which are rarely seen elsewhere.

Evidence of human settlement here dates back to the stone age. At Dholavira, remains of one of the first great cities of the Harappan / Indus valley civilization can be found, dating back 5000 years.

From that time, the striking geography of Kutch has attracted a wide variety of settlers from different tribes and the attention of many great civilizations, from the Greeks of Bactria to the Mughal conquerors of Sindh, the tales of heroism and romance in Kutch are as vast and numerous as the grains of sand in the desert.

Eventually, the Rajput Jadeja dynasty seized control of Kutch, ruling for 438 years, from 1510 until the time of independence in 1948.

Each influx of tribes and ruling kingdoms has contributed to the rich tapestry of Kutchi culture, leaving a legacy of distinctive styles, architectural wonders and artisanal techniques passed down through the generations. Even today, Kutch is famous for its craft traditions, a land of creators working with wood, metal and cloth, weaving, dying and printing some of India’s finest textiles by hand, using methods passed down unchanged through hundreds of years.

Kutch is paradoxically a place where one can see the imprint of a range of distinct cultures from different eras, and yet, a place where it sometimes feels as though time has stood still, the peaceful rhythms of village life and the nomadic pastoral traditions of more than ten distinct tribal peoples continuing today just as they have done for hundreds of years before. One of the best rural tourism destinations in India, the simplicity and quietness found here is a striking contrast to the frenetic pace of modern urban life. Inspiring and humbling, Kutch is an amazing place to visit remote villages and tribes, learning from them and witnessing a completely different perspective on life.

Vast and ancient, colorful and culturally diverse, this is an enchanting and mysterious land where ancient traditions live on and every great epoch since the dawn of time has left its footprints in the sand.

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Places of Interest
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The Great Rann of Kutch

Experience the once in a lifetime opportunity to ride on one of the world’s largest salt deserts, the Great Rann of Kutch, measuring 7500 sq.kms. In Hindi, Rann means desert which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word “Irina”, also meaning desert. The region is home to a wide variety of wildlife from flamingos to the wild ass. The Rann is part of the Indian wild ass sanctuary and the Kutch desert wildlife sanctuary; a must see a place for nature enthusiasts and those interested in wildlife photography. The government of Gujarat holds an annual three months long festival called the ‘Rann Utsav’ between the months of December and February which brings in people from all across the globe.

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Fossil Park

The Kutch Fossil Park is the brainchild of an ex-army man, Mohansinhji Sodha, who has travelled miles over his lifetime collecting fossils. His efforts are on display at this museum where you will encounter over 10,000 specimens. See this private collection in all its glory.

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Tera Fort

Visit the heritage village of Tera and experience real village life. Although farming is the main occupation of the villagers, the ancient craft of bandhani (tie and dye) has been a major source of income for many families. The village is also an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, Jains and Muslims.

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Roha Fort

The steps leading up to Roha Fort are worth the effort when you visit its beautiful ruins. The fort stands on almost 16 acres and is 500 feet above ground level. The peace and calm of the ancient fort will take your breath away. In fact, the famous Gujarati poet Kalapi wrote his romantic poems on the hill of Roha, inspired by its peace and proximity to nature.

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Dholavira

Dholavira Photo
The Dholavira - an ancient city is located in Khadir island of the Rann of Kutch which belongs to Harappan sanskruti. It was designed and built before 4500 years. There were many architects done to organize the civilization of the city at that time. It is one of the UNESCO Heritage Place and one of the most exciting places to visit when visiting Kutch for the tourists.

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Lakhpat Fort

Visit the ancient city of Lakhpat, once one of the biggest and richest port cities in entire Gujarat. Once home to 15,000 residents, the small town is now occupied by less than 566 people. The 7 km fort walls, which were erected in 1801 and which surround the town, remain almost intact and offer spectacular views of the Great Rann and the sea. The clear desert air and remote location of Lakhpat make it an amazing location to capture the most spectacular night skies as well as sunsets.

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Kera Shiv Temple

Located just 22kms from Bhuj city, visit the famous Shiva temple of Kera, dating back to the tenth century. Made up of red and yellow stone, only part of the temple remains after the 1819 earthquake, although the inner sanctum remains intact. A history enthusiast’s paradise.

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Dhinodhar

On the highest peak of Dhinodhar hill, there is a small, domed, somewhat cracked shrine of limestone and mud plastered with cement, built by Brahma-Kshatriya Shethh Sundarji Shivji in 1821 (Samvat 1877). The shrine faces the east and has no doors.

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Siyot Caves

Siyot Caves Photo
Visit some of the oldest caves in India. The Siyot Caves are five rock-cut caves situated near the village of Siyot. Dated around first century AD, the main cave has an east facing sanctum and ambulatory which suggests it was once a Shiva temple. The caves were later used by Buddhists. A 1988-89 excavation found clay seals engraved with Buddha images in various mudras as well as traces of Brahmi inscriptions.

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Wildlife in Kutch
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Communities in Kutch
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Other Places in Kutch
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TESTIMONIALS
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This was my first time traveling to Gujarat India. I'd read that it's like the wild west, a region of environmental extremes. These kinds of places have always attracted me provided it was safe and the accommodations comfortable. My stay at the Kutch Classic Riding Camp provided me with many incredible experiences. A friendly staff member lead me to my elegant tent which had everything thing I needed, even a fan. The camp has a stable of handsome Marwari horses, one more stunning than the other. It was hard to choose which one I wanted to ride. I got to cantor across the white desert, encountered wild camels, experienced the country side intimately like you can only do on horse back. I rode into small villages where I was greeted with curiosity and delight. I'm a photographer whose passion is to capture/document the culture and tribal traditions. The organization of the tour and the accommodations were excellent and the meals, tasty. I look forward to my next adventure with the Kutch Rider Camp.

Joan L. Miller, Miami, Florida USA