Bhuj is the closest city to Rann of Kutch. It has an airport, with flights from Mumbai. It is also well connected by train from Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Pune etc. We reached Bhuj at around 5 pm by a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai. A cab from Hotel Oasis picked us up. Hotel Oasis is one of the many hotels in Bhuj that caters to tourists travelling to Rann. It’s a decent hotel with around 25 rooms. You can read my review of hotel Oasis with photos/ restaurant menu on this post. Bhuj turned out to be a much smaller city than I expected it to be. I could compare it to the town in Jharkhand where my parents are settled in right now (Hazaribagh) and Hazaribagh is much bigger, cleaner and organised. Bhuj has strategic importance because of its proximity to Pakistan and is therefore so well connected. The market roads are otherwise like many small Indian towns – dirty, stinking and small vehicles (bikes, autos and bicycles) driving from all sides regardless of the cars and pedestrians; along with cows, buffaloes and dogs.
Food in Kutch
We were excited to be in Bhuj because we love Gujarati food. After living in Mumbai for few years, we were looking forward to eating Dhabeli, Dhokla, Pav Bhaji and Gujarati snacks. Bhuj cuisine is, however, little different and is called Kutchi cuisine. It’s on the spicier side than Gujarati food. There is no concept of Kutchi Thali where you can sample different items.
Attractions in Bhuj
Most of the attractions in Bhuj close by 5:30, so we could not visit any of them on the day we arrived. Hotel Oasis is hardly 1.5 km away from Prag Mahal palace and Kutch museum. It’s also 2 km away from Bhujiya hill, which is the highest point in Bhuj. On the first evening, we headed straight to the market near the bus station in Bhuj for roadside snacks. We had Dhabeli for Rs.10 and Pav Bhaji for Rs.20 Also had Pani Puri and bought some sweets and snacks. We had our morning pick up for Rann Ustav and got a chance to explore Bhuj again on the day we returned. On our way back, we went to the following attractions:
- Sri Swami Narayan Temple: This is a very famous temple and the architecture is superb.
- Aina Mahal: It is an 18th-century palace in Bhuj. The walls of the palace are of white marble covered with mirrors separated by gilded ornaments with shades of Venetian glass. The palace was partially restored after it was damaged in the 2001 earthquake.
- Bhujodi (Laxmivilas Handicraft Village & Craft Park): This handicraft village is in the outskirts of Bhuj. It is still under construction and has few shops that sell souvenirs and handicrafts.
There are other attractions in Bhuj like Bhujiya hill, Prag Mahal and Kutch museum; but after looking at the maintenance of Aina Mahal, we were not enthusiastic about visiting either Prag Mahal or Bhujiya Hill. Kutch museum was closed on the day we went. Have you been to Bhuj? Do you have any pointers for readers of the blog? Leave a comment…