Basurde Xiao Long

Gujarat (Rann of Kutch, Ahmedabad), India. 9-13 November 2023.

Gujarat (Rann of Kutch, Ahmedabad), India. 9-13 November 2023.

Note: The original entry was written in Spanish here.

This is a translation into English using ChatGPT.


Photos: Ahmedabad (153)


Photos: Kutch (350)


Video (1'51"): Mandvi Beach (Kutch, Gujarat). November 10, 2023.


Video (2'03"): Preparation of mawa @New Bhirandiara tea & mava center (Kutch, Gujarat). November 11, 2023.


Video (3'23"): Great Rann of Kutch (Gujarat). November 11, 2023.


Video (9'29"): Ahmedabad and Kutch (Gujarat). November 10-13, 2023.


Video (1'05"): My prediction for the Cricket World Championship final. November 13, 2023.


Video Relive (2'38"): Kutch (Gujarat). November 10-12, 2023.


Video Relive (2'14"): Ahmedabad (Gujarat). November 13, 2023.


On Sunday, November 12, Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated in India. That's why we didn't have classes on Friday, November 10, or Monday, November 13, making it a beautiful 4-day weekend. There was no shortage of plans to make in India, and this time I decided to visit the state of Gujarat. The reason: I wanted to explore the Great Rann of Kutch, a white desert.


Here was the logistics:




- Wednesday, November 9: Indigo Flight 6E2501 Delhi T2 (18:40) – Ahmedabad T1 (20:15). Duration 1h35´.

- Wednesday, November 9: Train 2097 Ahmedabad Jn (23:35) – Bhuj (06:30+1). Duration 6h55´.


- Sunday, November 12: Train 20908 Bhuj (22:35) – Ahmedabad (05:10+1). Duration 6h35´.

- Monday, November 13: Indigo Flight 6E2209 Ahmedabad T1 (21:00) – Delhi T2 (22:35). Duration 1h35´.




- Night of November 9: On the train from Ahmedabad to Bhuj.

- Night of November 10: In Bhuj, at Kuldip Gadhvi's home (Desert Adventures Kutch).

- Night of November 11: In Bhuj, at Kuldip Gadhvi's home (Desert Adventures Kutch).

- Night of November 12: On the train from Bhuj to Ahmedabad. Afterward, I booked a room at the Hotel Prime (Relief Rd, Ahmedabad).




My main interest was to visit the Great Rann of Kutch, a saline desert. I will talk about it later. I was looking for ways to get there, and it seemed easier to do it with a guide than independently.


I found a tour on the website that said "4 Days / 3 Nights Tour to the Great Rann of Kutch from Ahmedabad." The dates matched perfectly, so it was perfect. I contacted them but never received a response. I also saw other tours, like this one with Sahjanand Tours that started directly in Bhuj. Or this one from Rannutsavonline that seemed quite expensive.


Digging around, I came across this website (Tripsavvy), to an article that said "How to visit the Great Rann of Kutch: Essential travel guide." They provide very useful information, and I found the following paragraph:


"If you want to visit the Great Rann on a day trip from Bhuj, you can rent a taxi or a motorcycle. Alternatively, there are small group tour packages available.


Opting for a guided tour eliminates the hassle of planning and sightseeing. Kutch Adventures India is based in Bhuj and is dedicated to rural and responsible tourism in the area. The owner, Kuldip, will create a customized itinerary for you, which will include visits to the surrounding artisan villages (for which Kutch is known)."


I started exploring the website and liked what I saw.


- A guide concerned about sustainable tourism and the development of local communities.

- The possibility of staying in his home and experiencing a more authentic, local experience.


Here is more information about Kuldip and what he does:








I contacted him by email, he responded quickly, and we agreed on the plan.


What you see on the Internet and reality often differs. However, my stay at Kuldip's house exceeded all expectations; it was a real pleasure to spend a few days with him and his wife at their home. If you go to the Kutch area, I recommend 200% that you contact him. He is one of those people who conveys energy, passion for his work, and a true desire to contribute to the development of the region. You really feel welcomed, don´t hesitate in contacting him!


Thursday, November 9, 2023.


The last day of school before the long Diwali weekend, so at school, we dressed in traditional Indian outfits. Here, you can see some photos.


We finished at 4 pm, went home to pick up my backpack, and headed to the airport. For 4 days, I only carried a backpack that I didn't have to check in, so I was traveling light. The flight was uneventful, departing from Delhi at 6:40 pm and arriving in Ahmedabad at 8:15 pm.


On October 14, I had booked a train for that night from Ahmedabad to Bhuj, in first class (1A). Ahmedabad Jn (11:35 pm) - Bhuj (6:30 am the next day). A six-hour and 55-minute train ride, which is quite comfortable in a sleeper berth. When I booked the train, there were no available seats, and I was placed on WL2 (second on the waiting list). Typically, the waiting list tends to move, and before you board the train, your seat is usually confirmed. However, as the days passed, the waiting list didn't move, so I had to come up with a plan B.


I booked an overnight bus with Red Bus from Ahmedabad (11:00 pm) to Bhuj (7:00 am the next day). An eight-hour bus journey, but it also had sleeper berths. While waiting to board my flight in Delhi, I checked the train website and saw that I was still on the waiting list, WL2. Upon landing in Ahmedabad, I received a text message from the train company confirming my seat. So, at the last minute, I had two tickets, one for the bus and one for the train. I chose the train, as it seemed more comfortable to me.


Friday, November 10, 2023.


I arrived at the Bhuj station at 6:30 am and took an autorickshaw to Kuldip's house. He was waiting for me there. Also staying at his house were a very nice Italian couple, Ercole and Ioselita.


Kuldip drove us in his car to visit Mandvi. This is what the Lonely Planet guide says about this city:


"Boats are the raison d'être of Mandvi. This small town, an hour from Bhuj, is a significant shipyard, but not for modern creations of metal, but for large wooden dhows crafted by artisans, commissioned by Arab merchants. The city itself is equally attractive. It suffered less from the 2001 earthquake than Bhuj, so the heart (around Mochi Mazaar) is still lined with beautiful old buildings in faded pastel shades and temples with originally sculpted facades, as if they were vignettes. There are also extensive beaches, such as the stunning, long, clean, and private one near Vijay Vilas Palace, or the public Kashivishvanath beach, with food stalls and camel rides, 2 km from the center, east of the Rukmavati River."


If you imagine Noah's Ark, that would be the term "dhow" mentioned in the paragraph—large wooden ships. When I lived in Dubai (2005-2008), I was always fascinated by the Deira area, the Creek, where these large dhows docked and were in operation, with an impressive flow of goods.


While strolling through the city of Mandvi, we were invited to enter a traditional carpentry workshop. The carpenter, over 80 years old, was carving doors for a Jain temple. He shared his very interesting story; he had worked as an artisan in Oman.


We visited the market, the city, and then went to a beach. I went into the sea for a swim and had to walk almost 100 meters into the water for it to reach my waist.


On the way back to Bhuj, we stopped in a village called Talwana to visit a Jain temple called 72 Jinalaya.


Saturday, November 11.


The plan for this day was to visit the Great Rann of Kutch.


On the way, we stopped at New Bhirandiara tea & mava center and saw how they prepared mawa, also known as khoya. It is a popular dairy product in India, and you can read more about its preparation on Wikipedia under "Khoya." Here are a couple of recipes indicating how to make it (recipe 1 and recipe 2). It was delicious! 😋 In the video, I mention that it is loaded with sugar. That's what I understood, but reading the recipes, I see that's not the case. You can add sugar, but it's not a necessary ingredient.


In Mandvi the day before and at this place, I was surprised to see that people usually drink tea not in cups or glasses but in saucers where we would typically place a coffee cup. A curious custom.


We continued our journey to the Great Rann of Kutch. This is how the Indian-visa-online website describes this white desert:


"The Rann of Kutch is the only white desert in India and one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The world's largest salt deserts are found in various parts, with the white sand patches of Kutch being the only salt desert in the Indian subcontinent.


Located in the western part of India in the state of Gujarat, the Rann of Kutch is divided into two main parts known as the Great Rann and the Little Rann.


Marshy fields divide the area between the India-Pakistan border in the west, with several rivers in the north and the Gulf of Kutch in the south.


Although it is a desert area, the Great Rann of Kutch has evidence of civilization dating back to the Indus Valley period, with one of the largest Harappan sites located in this region of India. It seems that the desert wasn't as harsh as it appears!


And when seen through the eyes of an explorer, the vast salt patches would surely seem much more beautiful than its name suggests.


The Rann of Kutch is a salt desert with vast expanses of salt scattered across large stretches of land by the Arabian Sea. The salt comes from the ocean tides, creating a place that looks like white silk adorned on the land as far as the eye can see. Several salt deserts exist in the world, where, in some places, the salt appears to have a darker texture due to the strong presence of other minerals.


The Great Rann, which constitutes the majority of the Rann of Kutch, is home to many villages scattered throughout its expanse. It's challenging to imagine life in an unfavorable environment like a desert, but the villages of Kutch have maintained great cultural and culinary diversity, reminding us that creativity doesn't have to depend on surrounding situations.


The flat expanses covering the ground with salt and other minerals naturally form as the salt settles with each tide coming from the Arabian Sea, visible in the distance on the horizon. As the sun shines on the salt blankets, one can be amazed by this clear wonder of nature.¨


In summary, these extensive flat surfaces are marshes in summer and salt flats in winter. From November 10 to February 25, 2024, the Rann Festival or Rann Utsav is celebrated in winter. They set up a city with tents, and there's a lot of activity (official website). We were in another area of the salt flats and did not visit the tents. According to the Indian-visa-online guide:


"The tent city of Kutch welcomes several tourists each year to witness the colorful side of Gujarat. A visit to Tent City would mean experiencing cuisine, culture, nature, and people, all together in one place.


The village of Dhordo, located in the Kutch district, welcomes tourists from all over the country and abroad and is the best choice for exploring the area during the festival.


The semi-arid grasslands of the Banni Reserve become a hub for tourists to explore the native culture and food of the region, along with many expeditions and activities available for adventure enthusiasts.


The Rann Utsav or the Rann Festival, as it is called, appears as a confluence of all the beautiful things of Gujarat in one place. As a traveler, it is one of the best ways to experience the western part of India.


The spectacular Rann Festival is the best way to witness the captivating beauty of the salt-inlaid land. The village of Dhordo, located on the border between India and Pakistan, becomes the gateway to experiencing the Kutch marshes.


Days of festivals and musical events showcasing local culture and cuisine paint the dry desert with the bright colors of Gujarat during the three winter months.¨


It's undoubtedly cool, but whenever crowds can be avoided, it's better.


This is how the Lonely Planet describes Kutch:


"Kutch, the Wild West of India, is a geographical phenomenon. Bordered by the Gulf of Kutch and the Great and Little Rann, this turtle-shaped flat territory is a seasonal island. In the dry season, the ranns are vast deserts of dry mud and white salt. With the arrival of the monsoon, they first flood with saltwater and then with freshwater. The salt from the ground sterilizes virtually the entire lower part of the marshes. Only in the scattered 'islands' that emerge above the salt level does thick grass grow, providing fodder for the region's animals. In the villages dotting the arid district of Kutch, various sub-castes and tribal groups live, and their crafts are among the best in the country, especially textiles with exquisite embroidery and mirrors. Despite the tremendous earthquake that devastated several towns in 2001, the tenacious inhabitants of this harsh region have rebuilt their lives and welcome visitors with delight."


Back in Bhuj, we visited three traditional villages that sustain themselves through craftsmanship:


We had lunch in Khavda village. The residents welcomed us with colorful dresses and traditional outfits and great kindness. After lunch, we visited Damabhai's loom. Here is what a sign recounting his story said:



My name is Damabhai Marwada. I live in Khavda village 70 km north of Bhuj. I live with my wife, mother, father and my 2 brothers in a joint family. I come from Marwada community living in Khavda for generations and engaged with leather work, seasonal farming and various other manual works. I´am 23 years old (2019) and studied only up to 9th standard and after dropping out of school, I started working in farms which was physically hard and challenging and it´s rain based and the region where I live is dry and rain is un predictable and hardly enough for farming. So 5 years ago, I decided to learn Kharad (tradicitional rug weaving) which has been practiced in my distant family for generations but unfortunately today there are only 3 families left in Kutch who practice this craft on nomadic loom, using sheep and camel wool. For the past 4 years I worked for Tejsibhai (National Award Winner Rug Weaver) in Kukma village (80 km far from my family home) but after getting married last year, I decided to stay closer to my family in Khavda village so that I can develop my small business and stay closer to my family which is very important to me. However Khavda is quite far and out of reach of many visitors (my potential customers). Being a small and independent rug weaver is quite challenging these days when everyone is buying products online or from famous shops/outlets. Fortunately I found this great initiative ¨United Artisans of Kutch¨ where my story and rugs can reach to my potential customers who would admire what I have been creating. I have dream to develop this craft and find space in the market and take this traditional craft to national and international level. I hope you will enjoy seeing my rugs and hopefully someday be my guest at my home in Khavda if you are traveling in Kutch, Gujarat. Thank you.


Damabhai @United Artisans of Kutch

Ps. I design my own rugs following my own understanding of designing and inspiration but I can also create rug/carpet if you have your own unique designs.¨


Excellent initiative by the United Artisans of Kutch. Here is their website:






This small carpet will decorate a corner of my garage in San Martín de Don.


The second village we visited was Gandhi un Gaam. They had several craft shops. In one of them was a woman, Kheta Ben, of a certain age, who had once appeared on a postage stamp issued by India Post dedicated to rural women of India.


The third village we visited was Nirona. The characteristic craft of this village was lacquered wood, wooden tools painted using a curious method. I'll explain it below, translating from a sign that was there and from this website:


"Lacquered Wood Craft:


The art of making lacquer-decorated wooden objects has been practiced in India for centuries. In Kutch, this craft is the domain of the semi-nomadic Vadha community.


The Vadhas traditionally worked on the move, going where their skill was needed in the villages bordering the Great Rann of Kutch, and producing vibrantly colored wooden furniture and home accessories. They developed their skills using forest products and the colored stones/minerals they found in their environment.


The kaleidoscopic craft of Kutch.


Today, turned lacquered wood is a declining craft in Kutch, practiced only by a small number of families. Craftsmen depend on sales made during the limited tourist season of Kutch. The lack of exposure and access to a stable market only worsens an already low quality of life, and many younger community members refuse to continue with the livelihood.


Lacquer, a material obtained from insect resin, has been used in Indian craftsmanship for centuries. Colored lacquer is applied to wood through heat by turning it with a manual lathe. In the process, the craftsman maneuvers the lacquered colors to create handcrafted patterns in kaleidoscopic designs. This type of lacquered pattern is found only in Kutch.


Turned lacquered wood is practiced using simple tools: a homemade lathe, a rope attached to a bow, and sticks of colored lacquer. Each lathe is bounded by two iron rods that bend toward each other fixed to the ground. The distance between them depends on the length of the wood the craftsman is turning; the wood must be securely held between the pointed ends of the rods. The craftsman begins by carving the wood. Once the wood is carved into a product, craftsmen apply lacquer to the wood to create kaleidoscopic color patterns, unique to Kutch. Traditionally, lacquer was colored with vegetable dyes. Now, craftsmen use brightly colored chemical dyes."


We watched a craftsman perform the process. Afterwards, they showed us several items they had made, and a lacquered wooden spoon, fork, and rolling pin will fly to Spain at Christmas. As night fell, families began to cook outdoors over fires. The dinner seemed very simple, mainly consisting of roti (a type of flatbread). There was a constant clanging sound from a boy with some mental illness who continuously struck a metal object with a stick.


From there, we returned to Bhuj. That night, Kuldip's son and the neighborhood kids enjoyed setting off a bunch of fireworks and pyrotechnics for Diwali.


Sunday, November 12.


We dedicated this day to exploring Bhuj. Here's how Lonely Planet describes it:


"This is Gujarat's most fascinating city, with ancient palaces full of treasures, grand dining halls, and an old town that is a bustling network of narrow, lively alleyways. There are also a couple of interesting museums and plenty of shops selling high-quality local textiles.


Bhuj is also a springboard to visit the surrounding villages, the beautiful natural surroundings of the Great Rann, and the textile world that attracts curious visitors from around the globe.


The Rajputas Jadeja, who took control of Kachchh in 1510, made Bhuj their capital 29 years later, and it has been the most important city in Kachchh since then (and the capital of the region). In 2001, a massive earthquake almost completely destroyed Bhuj. Although nearly rebuilt, the city lost much of its historical architecture, and some palaces still bear scars from the disastrous event."


In Bhuj, we visited:


- Prag Mahal: Cracks from the 2001 earthquake are still visible. The Maharaja's taxidermy collection is in a sorry state, with the heads of animals repaired with packing tape (I have never seen worse restoration in my life :) Several scenes from the movie Lagaan, starring the great Aamir Khan, were filmed here. Lagaan, which I loved, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Oscars.


- Aina Mahal: It was closed at noon, and I didn't see it.


- Cenotaph Rao Lakhpatji Chhatri.


From there, we walked to Hamirsar Pond and Rajendra Park.


We had a thali lunch at the Green Rock restaurant.


After lunch, we split up. Ercole and Ioselita went to Aina Mahal (which they said is amazing) and to a market, while I:


- Visited the Kutch Museum, but a sign in Gujarati or Kutchi indicated that it was closed for Diwali, from the 12th to the 15th.


- Smritivan Museum in Memory of the 2001 Earthquake. I found it incredible, both in terms of architecture and content. It's a top-notch museum globally. They have Virtual Reality glasses and even an earthquake simulator. Impactful.


- From there, I walked to Sunset Point, a place to watch the sunset. But I arrived at night, enjoying the city lights.


Back to Kuldip's house. We had dinner, and a shepherd he knew came to visit to celebrate Diwali. After dinner, I took a tuk-tuk to the bus station to catch the Sayajinagri Express (20908) train from Bhuj (22:35) to Ahmedabad (05:10+1).


Once again, I recommend that if you go to that area, stay with Kuldip. He will take you to see traditional villages, and you will experience local culture firsthand. He's fantastic, and he's doing a lot for the people there!


Monday, November 13.


The train to Ahmedabad arrived at 5:10 am. I had noted that it took 6 hours and 35 minutes, and I mistakenly thought that was the arrival time. So, I set the alarm for 6 am. At 5 am, a fellow passenger woke me up, telling me I was in his berth. Still half-asleep, I showed him my ticket, telling him that I was in my berth, H1, E13. Then I realized we were already in Ahmedabad, and that's why he had my berth. He was boarding in this city, and I had to get off quickly.


Arriving at these early hours, I had made a reservation at the Prime hotel, and I went to sleep for a while before heading out to explore. This is what Lonely Planet says about the city:


"The largest city in the state, also called Amdavad, Ahmadabad, or Ahemdavad, impresses with both good and bad. With traffic, noise, and air so thick you can almost chew it, Ahmedabad can be a bit overwhelming. But the city soon captivates with its incredible architecture—from centuries-old mosques and mausoleums to contemporary and avant-garde design—a labyrinthine old town, some excellent museums, good restaurants, and a lively street food scene, for which it was the first city in India to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The old town, on the east side of the Sabarmati River, was surrounded by a 10 km wall, of which 15 gates still remain. The new city, on the west bank of the river, has wider streets, several major universities, and numerous middle-class neighborhoods."


The Italians had spoken highly of a walking tour of the city organized by the city. You can find information here:

This website also provides useful information about what to see:


I did the tour on my own. I reached an agreement with the auto-rickshaw driver GJ-1 4666 BX to take me to the following places:


- Adalaj Stepwell. Lonely Planet describes it as follows: "The Adalaj Vav, 19 km north of Ahmedabad, is among Gujarat's finest stepwells. Built by Queen Rudabai in 1498, it has three entrances leading to a huge platform resting on 16 pillars with corners marked by small shrines. The octagonal well has five levels of depth and is adorned with exquisite stone carvings (including erotic ones)¨. 


- Narendra Modi Stadium, or Motera Stadium. It is the largest stadium in the world, with a capacity for 132,000 people, and on Sunday, November 19, it will host the final of the Cricket World Cup, India vs. Australia. I hope the host country takes the cup.


- Gandhi Ashram. Lonely Planet describes it as follows: "Sabarmati Ashram - In peaceful and shaded gardens on the west bank of the Sabarmati River, this ashram was Gandhi's headquarters from 1917 to 1930 during the struggle for independence. It is said that he chose the location because it was between a jail and a cemetery, and any satyagrahi (nonviolent resistor) was destined to end up in one or the other. Gandhi's spartan quarters are preserved, and a museum shows a moving and informative chronicle of his life and teachings. From here, on March 12, 1930, he and 78 companions initiated the famous Salt March to Dandi, in the Gulf of Cambay, as a symbolic protest; Gandhi vowed not to return to the ashram until India was independent. The ashram was dissolved in 1933 and later became a center for social assistance to dalits and rural residents. After his death, some of his ashes were scattered in the river in front of the ashram."


- Hutheesing Jain Temple. Lonely Planet describes it as follows: "Outside Delhi Gate, this is one of Ahmedabad's 300 derasars (Jain temples). Although you may have seen some, this one will amaze you with its delicate carvings of deities, flowers, and celestial maidens in white marble. It was erected in 1848 and was dedicated to Dharamanath, the 15th tirthankar (great Jain master); each of the 52 minor shrines in the courtyard houses his image with jeweled eyes. The caretaker may allow you to go to the rooftop."


- Hazrat Bai Harir Stepwell and Mosque.


- Sidi Saiyyed Mosque.


- Riverfront Flower Park and Atal Pedestrian Bridge.


That's what the day allowed because it was time to go to the airport. Indigo flight 6E2209 Ahmedabad T1 (21:00) – Delhi T2 (22:35).


Four very well-utilized days. India is a marvel, with fantastic things to see wherever you go.

0 comentarios