Sunday, May 14, 2017

A day well spent in Bhuj before proceeding to Rann Festival, Kutch

After spending a good time near Dwarka temple, we continued our journey to Bhuj. We had to stay there for 1 night and leave for kutch the next day as it's only 80 km from Bhuj. Google maps showed us a straight route to Bhuj via Jamnagar through NH 947 and then continue on NH 27 till Bhuj. The road was crowded with trucks and other commercial vehicles till we took a turn towards NH 947. I must have driven for around 15-20 minutes when we realized the road was absolutely deserted. We were probably the only ones on the road within at least a radius of 3 KM.  After about 15 km, the road condition had worsened and there was a point when I could not find out the straight path on the road as it was filled with huge pile of sand and the area was surrounded by water.

Alley near dwarka temple
The alley leading to Dwarkadheesh temple

By now we were certain this is not the right way. I quickly took a U turn and continued till we reached back on NH 51 from Dwarka. I searched for an alternate route on maps and found a route via Porbandar and Rajkot. This route was taking 2 hours more than the route via Jamnagar. But looking at the road condition and situation, we decided to take the alternate route. This route turned out to be a bliss. The route was a complete breeze, except a certain section where we met with a jam. We drove on NH 51 till Porbandar, then went on NH 27 towards Rajkot, Morbi and finally Bhuj.

peahen on highway
Large group of peahen on the way to Bhuj
Traffic pile up on NH27.
We reached our hotel, Tree Top residency which was just on the highway, at around 4PM. The hotel's lobby was beautifully decorated but the room was one of the smallest I had ever checked into. We asked one of the staffs if we could cover any attraction at this time. I had an idea about couple of lakes in the city and that flamingos come there during the migration period. But the staff informed us that the lake is almost dry so no point going there. There's parag mahal and aina mahal nearby. We decided to relax for the day, visit these forts next morning and continue for Kutch.

prag mahal entrance
Prag Mahal. The staircase leads to the museum on the right. We have to remove footwear before entering the museum.
lagaan shoots in Pragmahal
Photos from the movie Lagaan which were shot in Prag Mahal.

Since we had to report at the Rann festival at 12 and it was only around 1:30 hrs from here, we had a good amount of time to spend at Prag mahal. The fort gets it name from Maharaj of Kutch, Pragmalji. Construction of the fort was designed by a Col Henry Saint Clair Wilkins and has a visible neo-gothic style. It was one of the first neo-gothic style fort in India. The biggest attraction of the fort is a big bang type clocktower.

Clocktower at Prag Mahal
The staircase to the clocktower. PS: those are my legs

The fort complex is situated in a relatively densely populated area but it has an ample parking space. The entry fees is 20Rs per person but one has to buy a separate ticket for camera. The fort wasn't in good condition. It had incurred huge damages during the bhuj earthquake. The maintenance was negligible as well.  This was the fort where lots of scene of bollywood movie Lagaan was shot. The management has posted images from the shoot at several spots where it was actually shot.

Prag Mahal museum
The musuem in Prag Mahal exhibiting artefacts used by royal family.
Prag mahal Room
One of the rooms in Prag Mahal. A scene from Lagaan was shot here.
A big group of school children had come by now and it was getting crowded. We quickly went up to the clocktower and took some photos before the crowd block the staircase. Aina Mahal is on the same premises. It suffered huge damage during the 2006 earthquake so most of the portion of the fort is closed for visitors. The portion which is open includes a museum, bedroom. courtroom, old artefacts. As the name suggests, the mahal was full of mirrors and glasses. Similar to Prag mahal, Aina mahal was also not well maintained.

Prag Mahal premises
Prag Mahal premises. Notice the damaged portion (due to 2006 earthquake)

It was almost 11 by now and we had to reach Kutch at 12, we decided to conclude our visit at Prag mahal and continue with the journey. I wanted to visit the village where most of the movie Lagaan was shot. The place was on the way to Kutch. But due to time shortage, we decided to drop the plan. Stay tuned to the blog for posts on Kutch.

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