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Tuesday 8 January 2019

Kutch Diaries #Dholavira

If you think you have seen the White Desert by just visiting Dhordo in Kutch, you are sadly mistaken. The real White Rann is in places of lesser commercial exploitation, such as Dholavira. That and a visit to the site of the ancient Harappan city of the Indus Valley Civilization, make Dholavira a must-see on your Kutch itinerary!
So if you are planning to experience the ongoing Rann Utsav (Nov-Feb) in Kutch, don't miss Dholavira!

Dholavira locally known as Kotada timba located at Khadirbet in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat is an archaeological site that contains the ruins of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappa City dating back to nearly 4500 years ago. 

The site discovered in 1967-68 has been under excavation by ASI since 1990. Having studied about the Indus valley civilization in history at school and recently read the fictional book Harappa by Vineet Bajpai, I was extremely interested in visiting this place. A half day trip up and down from Dhordo or Bhuj is more than enough but if you are really keen on archaeology you can plan to stay overnight at Dholavira. 

Getting there
By road,
Bhuj - Dholavira - 220 km (4.5 hrs)
Dhordo - Dholavira - 300 km (5.5 hrs)

On the drive when you are nearing the Harappan site you will be blown by the first sighting of the white salt desert, unlike Dhordo this desert is really white!
Rann Resort Dholavira
We halted at Rann Resort Dholavira for a simple yet delicious lunch. This place is pretty close to the Harappan site and looked quaint enough for an overnight stay if one decided on staying on. Most people return back to Bhuj after the Dholavira visit.

What you can see at the Dholavira archaelogical site
The Dholavira site is quite large at over 120 acres and a detailed tour with an archaeological dept. approved tour guide will take you not less than 2 hrs. 

The ancient city is a marvel of the mathematical precision of architecture, advanced structural and modern town planning, water conservation, sanitation of a bygone era. One will be awed to see the mighty reservoirs, underground channels for rain-water harvesting, the fortification of the city with immensely thick walls and the sandstone blocks used for construction. The city has planned areas like the citadel, middle town and lower town, wells, bath areas, the sporting arena etc.

The archaeological museum has on display pottery, seals, vessels, beads, jewelry, tools, dolls and other artifacts that are quite well-preserved. 

The Dholavira signboard bearing inscription with ten Indus characters that is still undeciphered is such a marvelous find!
I am not mentioning all the nitty gritties of the archaelogical tour we had because these are better explained in the Dholavira wikipedia page!

Additional reading
The Rise and Fall of a Harappan City

Fossil Park, Dholavira
About a 4 km from the excavation site is the Fossil Park that lies exposed to elements. You can see the ancient fossils of trees from the Jurassic era here. The fossil park is sadly yet to receive attention from the authorities. Anywhere else in the world, it would have drawn so much more excitement and enthusiasm. Here it seems to be just a lame exercise in attempted archaeological preservation.
More than the fossil park at this point we were mesmerized by the vast white desert lying in front of it. This is supposedly a no-permission area, but the man who claimed to be caretaker of the fossil park graciously allowed us to stroll on the "real" white desert!
The sun was dazzling in its intensity and the endlessly stretching white desert reflected it back. THIS was the "White Rann" we'd been promised, pristine and unsullied! 
Walking on the salty desert we could literally hear the salt crunching under our feet.

Kya aapke reth me namak he? 😜

Azure blue and crystal white!
THIS is the REAL thing folks!
After we knocked ourselves silly clicking innumerable snaps trying to capture the surreal surroundings, we decided to start back on the drive to Kandla, Gandhidham. 
Dholavira - Kandla (192 km - 3 hr 45 mins)

On the drive from Dholavira to Kandla we saw these colorful Kutchi womenfolk walking homewards after a day's work in the fields. Shy at first, they warmed up quickly and agreed to pose for pics with me!
A long day comes to an end! What a fulfilling one it was! Visiting an ancient civilization, enjoying the real white desert and carrying sweet memories of color in a barren landscape! We have just a day left to enjoy beautiful Kutch and we will be done with our short yet memorable holiday!

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and it does not intentionally promote any place or property. All the information and opinions shared here have been gathered and compiled by me based on my personal experience.

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