A truncated Complete Tour of Gujarat


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Politics, Religion and Language:

Dear readers of my Travelogue :-

I have trekked at many places in Western Ghats as well as in the Himalayas. I have trekked with many organisations. I have also toured along with many groups. In all these occasions we never discuss Politics, Religion and Language. Because these three topics always divide the people.

My intention of writing this Tlog is to unite the people and not to divide them. I know very well that even sites like BCMT will not allow such things. In fact this is not the right forum to discuss such issues.

I have not talked about Politics in my Tlog so far. I will not be talking it in future also.

However the dividing line between Politics and Development is so thin that we might find it difficult to notice it. Hence there are chances that we might mistake the Development for Politics.

As already told in my story, we have to finish our Gujarat tour in few days, due to lack of time. We were able to do that only because of the Development even in this remote part of Gujarat. And if I fail to acknowledge the same, I will not be doing justice to the people behind this Development. I have covered each and every point that I have noticed so far in my tour. And if I don’t talk about Development that I have noticed now, then I will be failing in my duty.

Hence I have talked about the development in the upcoming posts/pages of my Tlog. Kindly don’t take it as Politics, but read it only from the Development point of view. I don’t belong to any political party. I am just an ordinary traveler like you. I have no hidden agenda behind my story.

And now kindly allow me to continue my story. Happy reading…
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A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

Day 12: (29 Jan 2015):

Little Rann of Kutch in Kutch Circuit

In search of Kachchar in Wild Ass Sanctuary

(Note: If you have come to this page while searching for some travel related information of Gujarat, I suggest you start from Page 1 of this travelogue)


It is BAD to expect everyone to be good in English :)

As usual we got up in the early morning and vacated our room. According to the internet, there are a couple of places to see in Morbi. Time was most important to us. And we very well knew that those places will not be open at this early morning. Still we wanted to give a try. Before I take you to the tour of Morbi, I must tell you about Morbi.


If you look at Morbi’s location in the Gujarat map, you will most probably wash your hands off from this place. It is just before Kutch district, the last corner of Gujarat. I might compare this to Tirunelveli District of Tamilnadu.

What business or industrial impact can Morbi have in total India’s GDP? Well, you will get a pleasant shock of your life, if your impression on Morbi is like that.

{Morbi produces
  • 70% of the India’s gross ceramic production; 5% of the world’s needs.
  • Around 80% of CFL production.
  • Is the largest producer of wall clocks.
  • There are around 600 ceramic manufacturing units with production worth Rs 4,000 cr annually. This is due to the availability of sands on the beds of Machchhu River.
  • The main products are ceramic tile, vitrified tiles, floor tiles, glazed wall tiles, luster wall tiles, sanitary wares, porcelain tiles, spartek tiles, glaze tile, roofing tiles and mosaic tiles.
  • Major industries of Morbi are: Ceramics – Varmora, Sun Heart, Simpolo, Prism; Clock – Ajanta, Samay, Sonera, Sonam etc.
  • The majority of workers are females from neighboring villages. Clocks are also exported. A paper mill produces a wide range of paper products and some paper crafts are operating in the city. Source: Internet}

So in a nutshell, Morbi is much-more bigger than what one can imagine. To go to Bhuj from Jamnagar, we don’t have to go to Morbi. But we wanted to have a glimpse of this city. Also Morbi is the gateway to the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) from Jamnagar side.

Hence we decided to visit Morbi and go around the city’s outskirts. We went a bit further away from Samay (Ajanta) Clock Company, and returned back.


Ajanta Samay Clock Company

All the roads leading to Morbi are dotted with Vitrified Tiles hoardings. We went inside the city again and reached the Mani Mandir.

Mani Mandir:

{It is a temple situated in the courtyard of Wellingdon Secretariat. The images of Laxmi Narayan, Mahakali, Ramchandraji, Radha- Krishna and Shiva are worshiped in this temple. Mani Mandir is made out of Jaipur stone with excellent workmanship and exquisitely carved elements-arches, brackets, jalis, chhatris and shikhara. Source: Internet}


Mani Mandir, Morbi

As said earlier, we just saw it from outside and went ahead.

Darbagadh Palace & Suspension Bridge:

{The members of the royal family used to dwell in the Darbagadh, which was their initial and original home. It has a wonderful view of the river. The entrance of the Darbagadh is a huge gate, which has strikingly beautiful engravings on it. However this place has been now turned into a heritage hotel.

The suspension bridge at Morbi was constructed in the early 20th century. The swinging pylons can be observed while entering Morbi. It is held up to a very high standard and is thought to be an engineering phenomenon. Repairing and restoring activities of the bridge has been carried out recently. Source: Internet}


Darbagadh Palace, Morbi

The Palace is very close to the Mani Mandir. As it is converted into a Hotel, we thought that we can have our breakfast there, so that we will be able to see the palace also. But the watchman told us that the Hotel opens at 10 am. We asked for the Suspension Bridge. He took Rs 10/ as entry ticket and asked us to follow a small gate adjoining the Palace Building. The gate led us to a small pathway, (sort of Balcony with railings) surrounding the Palace. We followed the path and reached the Suspension Bridge.


Pathway to the Suspension Bridge


Observe the Machchhu River

By the look at the location of the bridge and it's location, it was most probably used by the inmates of the Palace. It was not meant for public use, I think.

And how is it?. Ok, for Morbians, it might be a place to visit.


Suspension Bridge, Morbi

But it is like any other thousands of Suspension Bridges that we see in Himalayan villages. There is nothing much to talk about it.


A suspension bridge in the Nepal-Himalayas in ABC Trek (Pic taken in 2012)

By 8 am we finished the Morbi circuit and drove to Halvad...


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary


If Morbi is ‘Gateway’ to Little Rann, then Halvad is the ‘Gate’. We reached there at around 9 am. It was time to have a sumptuous Gujarati breakfast again. And we relished the same, at some road side shack.


Another day, another round of Gujarati breakfast

From here on wards our Kutch Circuit tour starts.

Before I take you to Kutch, I must show you the Little Rann. It is also known as Little Rann of Kutch (LRK). The Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary (WAS) is located in this desert. It is an inland salt marsh, a white desert. So let me first introduce to LRK & WAS.

Wild Ass Sanctuary (WAS) in Little Rann of Kutch (LRK):

{Popularly known as Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch lies on the edge of Great Rann, near Kharghoda (Khar Gaddha). It is a vast barren land of salt marsh where few brave souls do salt-panning.

Little Rann is such a hostile terrain that even locals don’t dare to enter deep inside the sanctuary because incidents of getting lost due to heat mirage is very common

Little Rann is also considered one of few breeding grounds of Flamingos. Wild Ass is a sturdy creature, which can gallop at the speed of 50 kmph. Here world’s last population of Indian Wild Ass still exists along with the Indian Wolf, Desert Fox, Golden Jackal, Chinkara, Nilgai, and Black buck.


1. Sanctuary Superintendent, Dhranghdra, Surendranagar. Phone: 02754 260716.

2. Forest dept, Bajana: 09427651773. Source: Internet}

Ok, let us come to the point. WAS has not only got Wild Asses, but also several other wild animals, birds etc. But we were interested to see the Wild Asses only. We were not very particular about other wildlife, as they can be seen in other places also.

There is one more issue. Almost all the internet sites tell us that there are some fixed timings for the safari in LRK; and it is for some fixed duration. And we have to hire a 4×4 jeep.

There is one more point. All the tour operators, Lodges, Gujarat Tourism, Forest Dept etc whom I contacted, told me that it is not possible to finish Wild Ass Sanctuary like we finished Black Buck Park, Sasan Gir & Narara. It is better if we stay in some resort or hotel, hire a guide and taxi, take the permits, and see the Wild Ass Sanctuary. This would have taken us at least 2 days; and would have costed us around 8 to 10,000 INR. We were against both these points.

While preparing my Tour Guide, I had read many articles about Little Rann of Kutch. A travelogue (www.thinkingparticle.com) by Mr Vishnu Kumar was found to be very interesting to me. The Gentleman had written “If you are interested just to sight the herd of Wild Asses and Salt panes then Kuda is the convenient entrance to the sanctuary. A return trip to Kuda will cost you 1000 INR with private taxi. Taxi driver will take care of the permit thing. You might not need it at all”.

I contacted Vishnu Kumar also over the phone. But he was helpless, as he had not gone to Kuda to see WAS. It was only the information he had given in his blog.

There is a proverb in Kannada, which means “For a person who is drowning, holding on to even a grass stick will be of great help”. I have experienced this, umpteen number of times, in my travels through out India.

I had told you that we just finished our breakfast at Halvad. There were some local people and some shopkeepers. We asked about WAS with them. They did not know either Hindi or English. So language was a big problem.

We tried to use the “Google Translate” to some extent. We also tried to make use of the photos of Wild Ass from “Google Images”. All that we could find out was that Wild Ass is known as “Kachchar” in local language.

Then one driver, who knew little bit of Hindi came forward to help us. He said that we can sight Wild Asses at Kuda, or even at Tikar village.

Halvad to Kuda is 40 kms, where as Halvad to Tikar is 20 kms. After LRK, our next destination is Bhuj. From Kuda to Bhuj we can go via Tikar. So we decided to go to Kuda itself. Because for sighting Wild Ass if we are not successful at Kuda, then on the way at Tikar also we can try it out.

GMaps was telling us that the road to Kuda is a cross-country road. The journey is not going to be easy, and will be a tough one. We mentally prepared ourselves for this route and started driving. Soon we left the highway and took a left turn. The road was not tarred, but a mud road. Not a single house or soul to find any where near by.

But hats off to GMaps, even such small nondescript roads were also mentioned in it. (One small point to be noted here.. Don't expect all roads in all villages of all states to be recorded in GMaps. Because my own village's tarred road is not shown in GMaps. Has it got anything to do with Gujarat State? I don't know). GMaps also had some ups and downs while showing the directions, but with our common sense and experience we were able to reach the village Kuda...


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

What is there at Kuda? Nothing, simply nothing along the tarred road. There were few huts far away from the road. We went further down the road, and found some cowherds grazing cows. Again there is the problem of language.

So we used our Sign Language. We told them that we want to see Kachchar (Wild Ass), by showing the photo of the Wild Ass. And we offered them tips. Oh, Eureka, they were very glad to help us out.


:evil: The biggest Idiot :evil: .. along with Vipul and Ghanashyam, cowherds turned our local guides. (Idiot because, I tried to venture out in the LRK in spite of all those warnings, just to save some time)

These two boys – Vipul and Ghanashyam of Kuda village, became our guides for LRK WAS. Now there is one more point. Lots of websites warn that even local taxi drivers will get lost in the mirage of salt panes of LRK. So it was very tricky situation. We are in some unheard place, with unknown people, and in an unknown environment. All we know was that “we don’t know anything about this Wild Ass Sanctuary”, yes, that is all we knew.

So we checked the Longitude and Latitude of the place, by mobile “Tool Box” App. We took a screen shot of the same.


Screenshot of Altimeter taken at Kuda Village

Then we opened “My Tracks” App. This App will record the route in which we are going. So, in case if we are not able to find out the right way to come back, then we can use these two parameters and easily return to the starting point.

Along with these two new guides, we took off from the tarred road. We were on an off-the-beaten-path. I will guarantee you that majority of the 4×4 SUV Taxi drivers may not venture out like this.

With full faith in God, we started driving slowly inside the so called desert. We drove for a couple of kms. The guides asked us to stop the vehicle. Then by foot, we went in one direction in search of Wild Ass.

We went through some fields. Some laborers and farmers were doing farming related activities in their field. I could notice water at few places even in this remote desert border.

We went little bit ahead. And what we saw was amazing. It was beyond our imagination. No, dear Modiji, we can’t think of this kind of a scene even in our dreams.

What we saw along the way? Simple, we saw water; we saw water flowing in the Little Rann of Kutch desert. It was a desert, a salt desert at the edge of LRK. By looking at the flora and fauna, we can confidently say that it is part of LRK. And from where these farmers are getting the water for their farming activities? And why was this water getting wasted simply on the vast desert field of LRK?


The Narmada water flowing in LRK (I am extremely sorry, if the water is not clearly visible in this photo)

While giving details of Narmada Dam on 22nd Jan 2015, in Post #23 - Page 3, I had told you that the Narmada Water goes even up to Little Rann of Kutch Wild Life Santuary. Yes, it comes here, and it quenches the thirst of the wild animals in this region.

These guides brought us here, hoping that it is easy to sight the Wild Ass here. (Because the wild animals will come here to quench their thirst). We could not, but we saw the real development of Ex-CM and Present-PM Modiji. A big hats-off to you Sir, India is in safe hands. May you serve the country for many more years to come. Only a true leader can think of such minute things.

(No, I am not talking about politics, but I am talking about developments in this part of our Mother Land. Because, including Karantaka, through out India, our Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Governments fail to provide drinking water even to Human Beings. And here is a Man who has provided the water to all Living Beings also)

Enroute (4).jpg

Look, what successive Governments have done in Maharashtra. I clicked this photo in 2009 during my MH Tour, on the way to Matheran.

The scenario is not different even today. And even at Chirrapunjee the story is same. Yes it is same though out India.
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A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
In search of Kachchar:

As the guides could not show us the Wild Ass, we walked back to our car. We went in another direction for a couple of kms. The guides asked us to stop the car, and raised their finger in a direction.

Oh, here it is. Mission Accomplished. We saw a big herd of Wild Ass. We were so happy, that for a moment, we thought that our entire Kutch tour is completed.

We saw Wild Asses and Neelgais – they were plenty in number. While three of us were watching these wild animals, MKR slowly went ahead behind the bushes to take some close snaps of them. The Neelgais could smell us easily and ran away. But the Wild Ass stood firm and gave some poses to MKR to shoot them.


(Wild ass and) Neelgai


Some more


:) Yes, it is time to escape from these men :)


:) Wait, I will also come; but let me look at these ‘3 idiots:)

So what would have taken 2-Day-1-Night tour costing few thousands of rupees was over within 2 hours costing a couple of hundreds. With complete satisfaction, we returned back to the tar road, ie, from where we started. We profoundly thanked our guides, tipped them and said ‘bye bye’.

:cop: :cop: :cop:

Now a word of CAUTION, WARNING & DANGER: As said in the beginning of this travelogue, we are experienced drivers and travelers. We have driven in many harsh conditions. We have traveled and trekked in unfriendly terrains. I have even done Chadar Trek (Frozen River Trek) in the Zanskar River. And we know how we are driving, and where we are going; our capabilities and our limitations. I warn you, not to venture out in LRK like we did, in case if you are not used to these kind of driving. (In such a case, I may have to transfer my ‘biggest Idiot’ crown to you)

We also would have loved to stay in some resort, spend a couple of days, and watch the LRK WAS happily like every one. But the time constraint made us to take an altogether different route. And we came out successful.

I again request you to be extra careful in blindly following us in the entire Kutch circuit. If you are faint hearted, it is better you tour the Kutch along with any of the hundreds of tour operators and guides.

(After I came back to Bengaluru, I thanked Vishnu Kumar for that one line in his travelogue).

Having successfully completed one leg of Kutch, we happily drove towards Bhuj....


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary
Towards Bhuj:

On the way we had our Lunch and reached Bhuj around 4 pm.


The switch board in the Hotel where we had our lunch

We had very little time at our disposal. And we had decided what steps to take. We straightaway went to the GTDC branch office at Bhuj to know the permits and other formalities. There we met the receptionist.

Madam, we have come from Bengaluru on a Gujarat tour. We have come in our own self driven car. We want to see all the places in Kutch. Can you help us with the details and permits ?.

Sir, the brochure is in that showcase. Kindly pick one. And you need permit only to go to Rann Utsav ie. Bhuj Festival. When do you want to go there ?

Today is 29th. We want to go there on 31st, the day-after. What are the fees ?

The fees are 100/ per head and 50/ for the vehicle. Kindly pay Rs 250/ and here is your permit.

Yes, it was so easy and simple. Everything was over in few seconds. And that is called a Tourist Friendly State.


Permit issued by Tourism Department

Madam, but some one has told me that we need some permit to go to India Bridge.

That is a different permit. You can visit all other places in Kutch without a permit. To go to India Bridge, you have to contact BSF (Border Security Force) office.

Any idea whether we can get it today itself ?

You have to apply. I think they take around 15 days to issue the permit.

Oh God, 15 days!..... But there is nothing wrong in approaching BSF for this permit, we thought. After all, the maximum that they might do to us is saying ‘Not Possible, You have to wait’.

So we drove to BSF headquarters. GMaps did not had this BSF location entry, so we took little bit extra time to locate it. Once we were there, we were told to give a request letter. ‘And attach the photo copies of:- your ID Proof, Driver’s ID and DL, and Vehicles RC Book. Also show all the originals for verification’

We had all these documents except photocopy of the vehicle RC Book (RC Card). The gentleman at the BSF office was kind enough to take the photocopy of the same in his office machine. We approached the issuing authority for the permits along with all the details.

From where have you come?

Sir, we have come from Bengaluru, in our own self driven car.

What, driving all the way from Bengaluru!. I have not seen any one in my life time so far like this…! Where all you had been. What are the places you went and saw?

Sir, we started from Valsad district of Gujarat. We have covered the entire coastline of Gujarat. (Then I showed him our Gujarat Tour Guide)

Oh, great, fantastic. Even I don’t know all these places. When do you want to visit India Bridge?

Sir, the day after tomorrow; on 31st Jan.

What on 31st. May not be possible. It takes at least 2 weeks for the permit.

Sir, we are tourists. We are travelling on our own. We have only one day to go to India Bridge, ie on 31st. We have taken permit from GTDC, and here it is. If you issue permit to us either today or tomorrow for 31st, then we will see that place also and we will continue our journey

What will you do, if you don’t get the permit ?

We call it as ‘As per the wishes of Almighty’, and we will still continue our journey without visiting this place.

I could notice a smile in his face. He took our application and said- ‘Come and meet me tomorrow in the afternoon. But remember, I will only try, but I can’t assure you anything’.

We left the BSF office.

Soon MKR again got a call from his office assistant.

Sir, I hope you are coming back on 2nd Feb morning.

I doubt whether I can make it on 2nd Feb. But I will be back latest by 3rd Feb night. And I will be in office on 4th morning.

So we have just 2 days to finish all the remaining places in Kutch circuit. And on 1st Feb, we must start our return journey. How to cover all the places; big question. And there are some more places which can’t be missed en route. How to see those places also?...

You will come to know what we did, as we proceed further.

Once we are out of BSF office, our next concern was to find the accommodation. So as usual we went to BAPS SNM. We had the Darshan, and went to the reception. Here we requested for two nights stay. We told them ‘we are totally flexible, if you want us to vacate the room in the morning and re-occupy some other room in the evening, then also we don’t have any problem. Because we have come in our own car’.

By the grace of Swami Narayan, we got the room for 2 days. We finished our dinner in the canteen at the Mandir. As usual, it was tasty, hygienic and filling. Typical Gujarati meal. The rooms are a bit away from the Mandir. But they were like all other SNM rooms. Neat, clean and spacious.

So in one day, we had finished LRK circuit, got the permit from GTDC, applied for another permit from BSF, got the rooms also.

Will we get the permit from BSF or not?
And first of all, what is there after India-Bridge?
Is it worth while going there?
God only knows…

We just thanked God for all the help he was giving us. Discussing tomorrow’s programme, we settled down in the room..


A true traveler does not have a fixed itinerary

Today’s route map from GMaps

Total distance covered: 340 kms.

Tik tik Tik tik ...... the clock was ticking....
Will we, Won't we, Will we, Won't we... my mind was thinking about the permit from BSF. And I tried to sleep...

On Day 13 of our Gujarat tour, let us visit the "Westernmost Inhabited village of India"; and cover Bhuj and other interesting places in the Kutch tourist circuit…. And let us also see whether we get the permit or not...