"Ancient temples, tall hills and a deep sense of serenity"
Bhuj is known as a desert city, with a history dating back to kingdoms and empires, palaces from the rule of the Naga chiefs, the Jadeja Rajputs, the Gujarat Sultans and the British Raj. With numerous temples, small streets, and traditional handicrafts, Bhuj is one of the unique historical sites in India. It is a municipality in the Kutch district of Gujarat. The city was left in a state of devastation after the 2001 earthquake and is still in the recovery phase.
However, Bhuj connects its visitors to a range of civilisations and essential events in South Asian history through prehistoric archaeological finds, remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan), places associated with the Mahabharata and Alexander the Great's march into India. The land of Bhuj is home to various historical sites, like the 2000-year-old Kshatrapa inscriptions in the kutch museum, hall of mirrors in the Aina Mahal, the bell tower of Prag Mahal, the sculptures in Ramakund stepwell, and the beautiful Hamirsar lake. Hence, Bhuj is a blend of vibrant history and ethnic cultures.
Places To Visit In Bhuj
1. White Desert of Kutch
Also known as the Great Rann of Kutch, the White Desert is a vast area of pristine white salt desert often explored for its natural beauty and ecological importance. It is also called the world's largest salt desert which stretches from the mouth of River Indus to the Gulf of Kutch. Besides being a filming location for several Bollywood movies, the White Desert of Kutch is strongly scrutinised as it lies on the northern India-Pak border. The White Desert is cited with numerous sanctuaries for wildlife, floral and wetland preservation.
2. Mandvi Beach
Standing near the Vijay Vilas palace estate in Bhuj, Mandvi Beach is a secluded and undiscovered beach destination with clean water and beautiful view. Take a long walk along the shore as you witness the sun setting over the horizon, or go for bird spotting and discover the beauty of Kutch through its fauna. With its tranquil surroundings being it's most alluring quality, Mandvi Beach makes for an enchanting rendezvous with nature and its beauty.
3. Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Less than 100 km away from Bhuj, this sanctuary is spread over an area of about 7505.22 sq. km. in the Kutch District of Gujarat. This wildlife sanctuary is considered as one of the largest seasonal saline wetland areas.
4. Aina Mahal
The Aaina Mahal palace, or 'Hall of Mirrors' was built during the flamboyant rule of Lakhpatji in the middle of the 18th century. This beautiful palace also houses a handicraft museum where the crafts from various parts of Kutch is put.
5. Hamirsar Lake
Hamirsar Lake is located in the western end of Bhuj. Its water level depends on the time of the year. It might be dry and largely deserted, or full of water, and encircled by merry families. The lake is absolutely stunning in look and has a cheerful outlook. It is a must visit, for a happening and lovely get together.
6. Shri Swaminarayan Temple
Originally built in the year 1822, it was the first of many Sampradey Swaminarayan temples.
7. Kutch Bustard Sanctuary
Also known locally as the Lala Prajan Sanctuary, its primary aim is to conserve the Great Indian Bustard. Among many other different varieties of wildlife that can be found within the reserve, there are three different kinds of Bustards themselves in the sanctuary.
8. Pirotan Island
From the total 42 islands in the Arabian sea on the eastern coast of Jamnagar, only two islands are accessible for tourists. The most famous one from these two islands is, Pirotan islands.
9. Kutch Museum
Initially an integral part of School of Arts, Kutch Museum is the oldest museum in the state. It has a marvellous collection of antiques dating back to 1st century AD. The Kutch Museum was a private collection to display all the unique gifts Maharao Khengarji III received on his wedding, prior to opening the gates forever for the public, who were earlier allowed only on special occasions.
10. Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary
A 125km drive away from Bhuj, this sanctuary covers an area of about 444 sq. km. and is one of the distinct eco-system in the Kutch district of Gujarat state.
11. Mata no Madh
Located 138 km from the city of Bhuj, Mata No Madh is a historical temple dedicated to Jadeja deities and is situated west of Kakkadbhit. The original 1200 year old temple was demolished during the earthquake of 1819 AD.
12. Prag Mahal
Prag Mahal is a palace which was built in 19th century. It is located next to the popular Aina Mahal in Bhuj of Gujarat. Situated in the heart of the city, Prag Mahal is easily accessible. The entry fee is also nominal. Visitors are accompanied by one of the staff members as a guide to show them the intricate work at the mahal.
13. Banni Grassland Reseve
Spread across an area of 3,847 square kilometers, are currently legally protected under the status as a Protected or Reserve Forest in India. It has been identified as one of the last remaining habitants of Cheetah in India by Wildlife Institute Of India.
14. Clock Tower
With a height of 45 feet, Clock Tower is a prominent feature of Prag Mahal. Visitors are drawn to this 19th century Italian Gothic structure in large numbers for the stunning panoramic view it provides of the town. The architectural marvel has also been featured in numerous well-known Bollywood and Gujarati movies.
15. Kranti Tirth For Shyamji Krishna Varma
Kranti Tirth is a massive memorial complex built in the honour of Shyamji Krishna Varma who was a well-known Indian Freedom Fighter, Journalist and a Lawyer. The memorial complex houses important memories of Shyamji and his sacrifices. It provides a glimpse into the historic Indian Freedom Struggle that was fought to free the country from the British Reign.
16. Kutch Fossil Park
The Kutch Fossil Park was established in 2002 by Mohan Singh Sodha, an Army Veteran and a passionate fossil collector. He solely gathered and showcased this unique historic preserve for about half a century now.
17. Bharatiya Sanskruti Darshan Museum
Bharatiya Sanskruti Darshan Museum has an extensive collection of folk art, textile art, crafts, paintings, rural/traditional architecture and archaeological samples belonging to the region including the remote areas. The valuable articles were collected by a Government Servant who travelled to most areas of the region while in service and wished to display them together under one roof for the public to enrich their knowledge about the region.
18. Bhujia Hill
Overlooking the beautiful town, Bhujia Hill is a prominent natural formation considered to be of immense religious and historical importance. It is often associated with the legendary victory of Bhujanga against Bheria Kumar. It also served as a perfect location for Bhujia Fort that adds to the aesthetic appeal of the splendid Hill and defended the Jadeja Chiefs. The hill requires at least 200 stairs to reach the top.
19. Hill Garden
A hilltop amusement park, Hill Garden is a favourite picnic spot in the town. With some rides, boating facilities, a museum and a splendid little water park, the attraction is a youngsterês hub. The location is also perfect to get a beautiful panoramic view of the town and enjoy a mesmerising sunset amidst the beautiful natural surroundings.
20. Vande Mataram Memorial
Located at a distance of 10 kms from Bhuj, in the village of Bhujodi in Gujarat, Vande Mataram Memorial is a museum and one of the top tourist attractions in the city. Sprawling over 12 acres of land area, the memorial is built by the Ashapura Foundation to commemorate the most important struggles faced by the Indian soldiers right from the Revolt of 1857 to the Freedom Movement of 1947. It is a tribute to the brave and fearless freedom fighters of India.
The top sightseeing places in Bhuj are White Desert of Kutch, Mandvi Beach, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Aina Mahal, Hamirsar Lake, Shri Swaminarayan Temple.
How to Reach Bhuj
The Bhuj Airport, also known as the Rudra Mata Airport is the city's own airport. This domestic airport is situated about 5.5 to 9 km from the Bhuj city centre and can be covered by a 15 to 20-minute drive. The Bhuj Railway Station is just about 4 km from the city and can be reached through a 15-minute taxi ride.
There are quite a few bus stands in Bhuj, with the nearest ones at Lal Tekri, Ghanshyam Nagar and Sanskar Nagar. These bus stops are within a radius of 2 km from the city centre. The farther bus stations are at Mirjapur and Madhapur, which are about 4 to 5 km from the Bhuj city centre.
Best time to visit Bhuj
October to February is the best time to visit Bhuj and its nearby areas. The weather is pleasant, and it is also the time for the Rann Festival in Kutch. Summers (March-June) are quite hot and should be avoided. Monsoons are also warm and humid and make the sightseeing uncomfortable. However, if you have to go to Bhuj in the monsoons, you can visit this place if you don't mind a little rain.
Food of Bhuj
Most of the places here offer only vegetarian food. The town is popular for traditional fried snacks such as Khakhra, Papad as well as the sweet and crunchy Jalebi. Also try the tea available at the local stalls on the streets, which is usually served in saucers. Other than these don't miss out on the Gujarati thali, brimming with Rotlas, Vegetables, Sev Tomato, Lentils, Kadhi and much more.
Also find instances of popular South-Indian and Chinese cuisines. The other Gujarati delicacies include Dhokla, Thepala, Fafda, Khandvi, Hahdwoh, Ganthia, Oondhiya as well as sweets like Ghevar, Puran Poli, Basundi and more.
More about Bhuj
Apart from some temples and fort, the place has various other places one can visit. Places like Hiralakshmi Memorial Craft Park, Kutch Museum and Kutch Fossil Park are some sites depicting the richness of the area. If you are one of those people who would love to spend your day by the side of a beautiful water body, then head to Hamirsar lake or Narayan Sarovar.
Bhuj has a variety of things to offer for all the people interested in city shopping. With authentic handicraft items and clothes boasting Gujarati Embroidery, you are sure to get mesmerised while roaming around the street markets of Bhuj. Plan to visit this beautiful place while the great Rann Utsav is happening, and you will be sure to make the trip something you and your family won't be ever able to get off their mind.
Bhuj is a treat to the eyes of visitors. One can explore everything from white desert to beautiful temples, and from wildlife sanctuaries to the cultural landscape.
Who should visit Bhuj?
From people in groups to couples, and from families to just someone stung by the wanderlust bee, this place serves all. Anyone who wants to break their routine can head to Bhuj for an unforgettable experience.