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A vibrant city with the imposing...
The stronghold of several erstwhile...
Declared as India's first UNESCO World...
The verdant Ananthagiri Hills is...
Located on the banks of River Godavari,...
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Adding to the splendour of the Aina Mahal, the Prag Mahal lies right next to it. Made of Italian marble and sandstone, the palace has spacious halls and a 45-m-high bell tower, which is a major attraction for visitors. The clock tower in the palace, which is considered to be the second-highest tower of its kind in India, is another attraction. From the top of the tower, one can get sweeping and panoramic views of the city.
Reflecting the royal grandeur of times gone by, there are a variety of classic statues and chandeliers in the grand Durbar Hall of the palace. Prag Mahal also houses a museum that exhibits remnants and personal collection of the royal family.
Hodka Village is one of the growing rural tourism spots that attracts visitors for its rich art and crafts and strong cultural backgrounds. Located at a distance of about 63 km from Bhuj, the village is home to the Meghwals, who are traditional craft and embroidery artisans from further north. Tourists get a chance to live with the communities in Hodka's Village Resort called Shaam-e-Sarhad or sunset at the border.
The name 'Hodka' comes from Gujarati word 'hodi', meaning boats. It is believed to have been set up by the Halepotra clan from Sindh. They were majorly cattle herders in search of pastures.
Built in red sandstone with exquisite carvings, these cenotaphs with umbrella-shaped domes, belong to the royal family of the Raos of Kutch. They were built by Rao Lakhpatji, a Jadeja ruler, in the 18th century.
Among all the funerary monuments, the cenotaph of Rao Lakhpatji is the largest, and includes sati stones denoting the sites where 15 of his consorts gave up their lives after his death. The walls of the cenotaphs have been inscribed with sculptures of deities, couples in local costumes, animals and hunting scenes.
Situated on Kutch's southern coast, almost 53 km from Bhuj, Mundra is a hub for tie-and-dye fabric and block print cloth. The Mundra Port is a popular attraction here as earlier the town used to be a centre for the trade of spices and salt. Mundra is also home to the Mahadev Temple, which bears memorials to celebrated sailors of the region. It is said that some of these sailors advised the sultan of Zanzibar and even guided the famed explorer Vasco da Gama to India. Tourists can also pay a visit to the shrine of Darya Pir, who is the patron saint of Kutchi fishermen. It is believed that the saint came to Mundra from Bukhara in 1660, and was much-loved by the locals, who still come at his shrine to seek blessings. The Mughal Gate, which stands tall to this day, was also constructed in his honour.
Set up in 1877 by Maharao Khengarji, the Kutch Museum is the oldest of its kind in Gujarat, which was built to exhibit the wedding gifts of the king. Built in the typical Gothic style of architecture, it is a great place to trace the royal history of Gujarat.
The museum houses 11 galleries, namely, picture gallery, anthropological section, archaeological section, textiles section, weapons section, music instruments section, shipping section and stuffed animals section. Moreover, there are sections devoted to the tribal community that exhibit ancient artefacts, folk arts, crafts and information about tribal people, who are a major part of Kutch's history and culture. It is famed for housing the largest collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions that can be traced back to 1st century AD. The museum is also home to remnants of the Kutchi script text, which is now extinct, along with a collection of coins that includes the 'kori', which was Kutch's local currency. The museum also showcases exhibits relating to embroidery, paintings, arms, musical instruments, sculpture and precious metalwork. As you enter the two-storeyed building, you are greeted by an 18th century statue of 'Airavata' (a mythological white elephant who carries the Hindu god Indra).
The Aina Mahal was built during the reign of Rao Lakhpatji of the Jadeja Rajput dynasty, in the 18th century. Also called the Hall of Mirrors, the palace is a flamboyant structure that is lined with mirrors and pieces of glass. Shimmering and shining, the palace flaunts a mixed Indo-European style of architecture. It is said that its creator Ramsinh Malam built it after training as an artisan in Europe for 17 years. Malam personally made the beautiful fountains, mirrors, glasswork, doors inlaid with gold and ivory as well as a pendulum clock in sync with the Hindu calendar.
The palace is a two-storeyed building that has a Durbar Hall and suites for members of the royal family. Aina Mahal, which is a part of the Darbargadh Palace, also houses a museum. There are paintings, photographs, royal possessions and some of the finest samples of Kutch embroidery on display.
One of the principal ports of Kutch and Gujarat, Mandvi is a treasure trove of trade and sea voyage secrets. Situated about 58 km from Bhuj, it was established as a port town by the king of Kutch in 1574. Here, one can visit the shipbuilding yards along River Rukmavati to see wooden ships being built by hand till today. Its 400-year-old tradition of ship-making is unique. The ships are called dhows and are completely made by hand.
Another feature of interest is a visit to the Tower of Wagers, where wealthy ship owners once waited for their fleets to return. An unmissable site is the Vijay Vilas Palace, which was built by Rao Vijayrajji in 1929. Its unique antiques and exhibits are quite amazing. In fact, many Indian movies such as Lagaan and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam have also been shot here. Mandvi is also blessed with quiet beaches where one can spot flamingos and other migratory birds. The popular Mandvi Beach is located at a point where the Rukmavati river joins the Arabian sea. Tourists can also sample the tasty double rotis or dabelis (a delectable snack) that are quite popular here.