I visited Bhuj-Kutch after almost four decades. Around 50kms from Bhuj are the busiest port cities, Gandhidham and Kandla. Kandla is the largest seaport in Kutch district of the State of Gujarat on the west coast of India.
My Childhood Days
The first 16 years of my life I had spent in these quiet cities. Life those days was peaceful, secure and free of any distractions. A lot of my childhood memories included my mother’s passion for maintaining well-manicured lawns and flowering garden. Her fabulous home cooked food, the aroma wafting through the entire house. My father is even to this day remembered for his devotion to his patients and to the medical profession.
A big playground in front of the house where I spent a considerable part of the evenings playing with friends. It was here, where I actually learned cycling. On the secure roads in the colony, my father gave me my driving lessons. Every corner of the house and its surroundings held countless memories.
Kutch -Art, Craft & Culture
Kutch is situated in the north of Gujarat state on the west coast of India. It is famous for its art and craft all over the world. People from diverse communities and castes live in Kutch
People in this part of Gujarat are humble, simple and affectionate. They are known for their simplicity, hard work, and their hospitality. There is a certain warmth in their communication and the way they would treat any visitor. Even after four decades, I saw no change in the culture and attitude of the people of this place. They would instantly connect with you and treat you as one of them.
Dust storms and the earthquake tremors is a normal way of life in this part of the country. But the most tragic earthquake which razed Bhuj and surrounding places and caused havoc was on the 26th January 2001. I had lost a few friends and acquaintances on that fateful day.
What I was seeing now was a rebuild Bhuj. Good accessible roads, clean villages, a model city with new buildings.
The Rann festival has put Kutch on the global map today. And you can see signs of that as you board the flight from Mumbai to Bhuj and most of your fellow travelers are the tourist from other countries.
While I was traveling to Gandhidham with the intention of attending the Golden Jubilee celebration of my school, I had planned to spend time with friends and visit the craft villages in & around Bhuj.
Unfortunately, I could spend only a day in Bhuj, but what I saw & experienced was amazing. My personal passion for art & craft overshadowed the fatigue that I felt having spent a large part of my three-day trip in traveling and visiting school friends during the School celebration.
Trip to the craft village of Kutch
Within the short time that I had at my disposal, I interacted with locals, craftsmen & weavers, founders of NGO. The NGO’s work towards upliftment of the craftswomen in these villages. They help in training them and supporting them to channelize their traditional skills for sustaining their craft & culture.
I was able to visit Bhujodi craft village, Hiralakshmi Memorial Crafts park, the Swaminarayan Temple and Madhapur Village. Madhapur Village is about 6kms from Bhuj. It is Asia’s richest village according to a survey and an article published in Time of India.
About 65% people of this village, mainly Patel’s, are NRI’s settled in Gulf, USA, UK & Africa.Despite their riches, the people of Madhapura are unassuming and lead a simple lifestyle
One striking thing is the humble and simple attitude of the village craftsman. They are good marketers and craftsmen, several of them honored by the President’s award. Many of them have extensively traveled all over the world, but at heart, they are simple folks.
I did shop for some of the exclusive products created by these craftsmen. Showcasing a few below. If you are interested in any of these products and need help, leave a comment below and I will be happy to help.
Frankly, you only need to visit these places, to experience it.
As aptly summed up by Sam Ewing-
“When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood.” ~Sam Ewing