Bhuj is a city in the state of Gujarat, western India. It’s known for its centuries-old buildings, many of which were damaged in the 2001 earthquake. Bhuj is the gateway to the Kutch region of Gujarat. It’s one of the biggest districts of the state. It has plenty to offer.
1. Bhuj City
This small but beautiful city is one of the main regions of Kutch. It serves as the entry point. It is advisable to start your exploration of Kutch from this city. With old-world charm, amazing food and great markets, Bhuj city should definitely be on your list.
2. Pragmahal palace
A palace, which may at first seem slightly out of place at the far western edge of India, as it looks like it would be more appropriate in France. Inside the palace, you can visit the main palace halls as well as climb stairs of the 45 m bell tower for an exhilarating view of the city. Stop for a refreshing glass of sugarcane juice on your way out of the compound.
3. Aina Mahal
The Aina Mahal palace, or ‘Hall of Mirrors’ was built during the flamboyant rule of Lakhpatji in the middle of the 18th century and is very beautiful. It also houses a handicraft museum where crafts from various parts of Kutch are kept together. The Aina Mahal is at the northeast corner of Hamirsar Lake, easily walking distance from most of Bhuj. People along the way will give you directions in case you have a tough time finding it. Be sure to explore the rest of the compound outside the palace, with its beautiful carved doorways, elaborate window boxes and balconies. Most of the compound is in ruins, some brought down as recently as the 2001 earthquake. Poke around and explore unexpected places; don’t settle for just walking into the palace museum which is a ready-made experience.
4. Bhuj Fort
Also known as Bhujia Fort is one of the must-visit places. Built-in the 17th century, it’s now an abandoned ruin. A hike to this fort gives a beautiful bird’s eye view of Bhuj town.
5. Sharad Baug Palace
This graceful 1867 Italianate palace is set among shade trees full of crows and bats. It was the abode of the last Maharao of Kachchh, Madansingh, until his death in 1991. It lost most of its 3rd floor in the 2001 earthquake, and the remaining lower floors are closed. However, the adjacent former dining hall now houses the palace’s eclectic museum collection. Standout exhibits are two huge stuffed tigers that the erstwhile Maharao shot, and his coffin.
6. Rani Mahal
The 17th-century Rani Mahal, the former main royal residence, is completely closed, though you can still admire the latticed windows of its zenana (women’s quarters). It’s particularly beautiful around sunset.
When in this part of India, you can actually enjoy one of the finest collection of food. Ranging from traditional dishes to street food, you will get everything. Be it Gujarati thali, sev khaman, kachori or jalebi faafda. It’s a blast for all foodies.
8. Hamirsar Lake
This lake is the largest manmade lake in Gujarat. This lake is a center of recreation activities. People enjoy swimming and playing in the lake. It’s also a place to find some natural shade on a hot summer afternoon. One can enjoy a spectacular view of Aina Mahal, Prag Mahal, Kutch Museum and Alfred High School while walking on the lakeside. One can even visit temples such as the Ram Dhun Temple and Swaminarayan Temple.
9. Swaminarayan temple
This is a big temple complex. The main temple is made entirely of white marble. Like most Swaminarayan temples, this one has typical brightly coloured wood carvings around the building, mostly depicting Lord Krishna and Radha. Located just down the road from the Ramkund Stepwell and the Alfred High school, the temple marks the spot where Swaminarayan sat with local holy men when he came through Bhuj.
10. City shopping
Being an incredibly beautiful, picturesque and colourful city, Bhuj offers a great variety of market stuff. It consists of an excellent community of craftsmen. The items on display in bazaars include embroidered quilts, grain containers, wall hangings, glass bead-work, vegetable colour dye printing, beautiful shelves, embroidered garments, cupboards, leather articles, handicrafts, textiles, tie and dye, ‘Rogan’ art, woolen shawls and the list goes on.
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