Chakra

Garavi Gujarat: a tale of prophets,blackbucks, wild asses, white desert and India's forgotten mother

128 posts in this topic

@@Chakra , seriously, how much of your writing talent has been influenced by watching Bollywood movies?! Your words almost brings music and dances into my room. And all the research you have put into this trip, it has to be used by future visitors.

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I'll keep this section short with less word and more photos. There is a small village called Nirona which has a few spectacular artisan family. This part is dedicated to those amazing craftsmen of Gujarat. Specially the art of Rogon. Rogon is a paint made from mixing a few ingredients with Castor oil. After a couple of days the paint hardens enough for the artist to use a pointed metal object to draw patterns on a piece of cloth. Totally handmade. Unbelievable control. I'll also upload a video. I request you see till the end to see how the flowers are made. There is only one family who has been practising this art for last hundred years and one can't buy it anywhere else. It was on the verge of extinction and was revived when prime minister Modi gifted one of the creations " Tree of life" to Obama.

Nirona also houses a few other craftsmen. Some of them make bells out of recycled metals and the other ones create beautiful intricate designs on wood with lacquer work. These are very poor villagers who depend on tourists and I felt genuinely happy to help them out. But I was disgusted with the attitude of some of the tourists who did not show any interest to learn the art and just haggled for the price and was busy taking selfies.

The last village belonged to the "harijans" : the untouchables. Just fifty years back they would not even dreamt of letting their shadow touch a high caste Brahmin like me and probably would have been fined for that. But thank God those days are gone and I was welcomed to their huts and I was absolutely blown away by the riot of colors and my wife bought quite a few stuff. Totally worth it.

 

The art of Rogon

 

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Exquisitely handcrafted

 

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The Tree of Life which was gifted to Obama

 

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The clan chief Gaffar bhai

 

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Making objects out of recycled metals

 

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A Cow bell

 

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Kangaroo in Gujarat ????

 

 

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Absolutely primitive art straight from Stone age

 

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Two street urchins !!!

 

Big attitude in pint size

 

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The colourful village of the "Untouchables. "

 

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My wife taking a keen interest

 

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Riot of colours

 

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Lanes of Nirona village

 

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The Rogan art of painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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With some trepidation I approached the last leg of my journey through Gujarat : The Great Rann of Kutch or GRK. Will it live up to the hype ? Will it be too touristy ?

But there was no need for me to be apprehensive. The Great White Desert is so so vast, that despite their most sincere attempts, my fellow Indians have not managed to ruin the desolate tranquility of this unique place. 7500 square kilometers of GRK was waiting for me, sadly most of it beyond reach for mere mortals like me. You need extra special permit from Military to get there and me being a "foreigner" : no chance.
PM Mr. Narendra Modi had done a great service to common Indians by making the GRK more accessible and holding a three month long Rann Utsav festival at Hodka village to promote the cultarl aspects of the villages around Rann and Kutch in general.
But the Indians have lost no time in destroying the peace by holding picnic parties with music, camel rides and indiscriminately littering the pristine landscape with plastic wrappers from crisp packets and the notorious cancer inducing chewing stuff "Paan-parag".
In an attempt to reduce that, this year government had stopped allowing private cars into the area but understandably they could not prevent people from carrying Paan-Parag with them and throwing garbage everywhere. My heart bled to see people casually throwing garbage when there was a bin literally within touching distance. When will they learn ? In an attempt to shame people I started collecting litters from the Rann in presence of others, they just watched and laughed !!
Gujarat Tourism have also made a towering steel structure which stands like an eyesore. Initially I hated that, but one good thing was that from the top it gave me a spectacular Bird's eye view of the whole horizon.

Every year a huge Tent City of thousands of tent erupts in this area and one can have a full package of food, accommodation, shopping and entertainment. The recent fad is to see the Full Moon rising over the Rann and bus load of tourists descend on the Rann on those nights. It was too much for me.

I had decided not to stay at the Tent City and instead opted for a small resort run by a local villagers at another village called Dhordo. It turned out to be a great decision. Small, personal and most importantly passionate about their services. I was proud to see the unity among Hindus and Muslims working together to make the project a success.

One must visit the Rann Utsav to get a flavour and then swiftly move away from that to explore the more distant areas. Here are my tips for intrepid travellers.

GRK can be accessed from two more areas where hardly any tourists go.
1. The Ekal Mata-ji Rann on the way to Bhuj from a small village called Chobari. Ekal Mata is the goddess there and the access road is pretty decent.
2. But even better option is the Rann near the ancient Indus valley civilisation of Dholavira, which is situated in an isolated island called Kadir Bet. The problem is that even the might of Indian Military have not managed to build a road through this marsh land. From the GRK at Tent City to the island Kadir Bet is only 36 km as the crow flies, but the only way to reach Dholavira was to take a huge detour. Local drivers joke that to go to add Dholavira just add one Zero. They are correct. The 36 km distance becomes 360 km !!!

Dholavira was really two birds in one stone for me. Ruins and Rann !!

The Rann around Dholavira is spectacular to say the least. The arrow-straight last ten km of road to Dholavira, which lies like a shining black snake through the dazzlingly white salt desert on both sides , is undoubtedly one of the best drives in my life. Not a single tourist in sight, no loud songs, no permit needed, no check posts, only occasional tracks of animals breaking the monotony of the flat land.

About 5 km from the ruins of Dholavira all signs of civilisation ends and then it is just endless salt desert. The salt flat at Rann Utsav was marshy and dangerous to walk whereas the rann at Dholavira was rock hard.

One of my favourite fantasy books is the "Malazan : Book of the Fallen". I felt like one of the soldiers of the indomitable 13th legion of the "Bonehunters", under the leadership of Captain Ganoes Paran, about to start my march across the impassable "Glass Desert" in search of The Fallen God.

Only a blood sacrifice saved the Bonehunters, but I practiced some Yoga instead , while dear wife cavorted like a Bollywood heroine. A photographers paradise !

The edge of the Rann near Dholavira had a unique area where lied the fossils of Petrified Trees where the wood have turned into stone. I sat among those thousand year old trees just to ponder about my insignificance in the Great Game and soon make friends with patrolling BSF soldiers.

They graciously invited me to watch them perform "Puja" at the Lord Datttareya temple and we chanted loudly for ten minutes. I sensed some familiar rhythm and lo and behold, the guy on drums was from Calcutta. He was just over to moon to see someone who could speak his language in this farthest corner of the land. The people around these remote places were friendly, accommodations really surpassed my expectations and food simple, but served with pride.
So folks, take my advice, spend some time at Rann Utsav and then quickly move away towards Dholavira.


I saw GRK from many points, even from the highest point of black hills ( Kalo Dungar) and still I won't hesitate to return in a heart beat.
Now I really need to see if Bolivia can live up to Gujarat.

I'll put up some photos of the GRK from near the Tent City and then move towards Dholavira.

 

The Road to rann : last 1 km by foot. The huge tower looms with the usual camel riders underneath

 

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Other modes of transport are also available.

 

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The Monstrosity looms

 

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The Bird's Eye view from the top of the tower

 

 

 

Humans like crawling ants in the vast expanse

 

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If you walk just 10 minutes you leave the camel riders and picnic goers far behind

 

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I don't know what is this fascination of camel rides but that gave me some good photo ops

 

 

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I started walking and walking and walking and walking , soon the music fell silent, the plastic wrappers disappeared, the camel riders turned back and it was just the setting Sun and I. I attempted to meditate but sadly my trousers got wet from sitting on the semi dry salt and I had to give that up.

 

Moving away from the Robot Occulus of Frank Herbert's Dune series

 

 

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The good old friend sun sets

 

 

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The White Sea

 

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Time to mediate but the girls clearly had other ideas in their minds :

 

 

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This is the way to treat your sister to show who is the boss !!

 

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Walk like an Egyptian

 

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My wife trying to emulate her Buddha with Thousand Hands dance routine. But that handbag and uncooperative dancers are ruining the show

 

 

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:angry::angry::angry:This person will rot in hell

 

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Walk back in dark

 

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Cultural programme about to begin. Do I smell a hint of artificiality ? I don't like politicians' pictures looming large

 

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The entrance to the Tent City

 

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Posted (edited)

@@Chakra still thoroughly enjoying your way of dishing out information in such a fun humorous manner, and trying and failing to keep up with the witty banter between you and @@Galana. but what a marvellous incredible free hand painting that is on the materials! it is good of you to share such amazing crafts with us. may it stay alive for years to come.

 

Seeing your pictures, I can also imagine myself in the middle of the sea of salt, drinking in the dryness and the vastness, and feeling like you are the only person in the whole wide world with the golden silence as your companion.

wonderful.

Edited by Kitsafari
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Posted (edited)

@@Chakra still thoroughly enjoying your way of dishing out information in such a fun humorous manner, and trying and failing to keep up with the witty banter between you and @@Galana. but what a marvellous incredible free hand painting that is on the materials! it is good of you to share such amazing crafts with us. may it stay alive for years to come.

 

Seeing your pictures, I can also imagine myself in the middle of the sea of salt, drinking in the dryness and the vastness, and feeling like you are the only person in the whole wide world with the golden silence as your companion.

wonderful.

Thanks very much friend. I'm glad that you are still following the tale, despite the poor representation from wildlife. Your description of the Rann is so poetic that I'll steal that for any future description. Yes, I do enjoy the exchanges with @@Galana, who is like the fountainhead of all knowledge. Will post a few more pics of the GRK shortly.

Edited by Chakra
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A few photos from the tiny resort and the local folks, who are doing a tremendous job !

 

 

Beautifully decorated Bhunga : mud hut

 

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Lovingly hand painted interior

 

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Decorated with mirrors : a very traditional Indian style , known as Stole when used on fabric. Nowadays they don't use proper glass in clothes because they break in washing machine and instead use an artificial material

 

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A few local villagers performed a few songs for us. Did not feel artificial at all

 

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This gentleman is playing a simple metallic instrument known as More- chang.

 

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Muktar Ali : this boy had such pure innocence in him that I could not help but taking a pic. He is the future of modern harmonious religious tolerant India. A Muslim boy working with Hindus from his village to promote tourism and his heritage to foreigners.

 

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Very simple but filling food

 

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Our next destination was the island : just 36 km away but 360 km of travelling

 

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Yes please do smile

 

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On the way to our next Destination : Dholavira Indus valley civilization ruins and the surrounding Rann

 

 

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This is a very Gujarati style of drinking tea. The tea has to be poured into the saucer and then drunk with a big "slurp". I wonder what is the point of having a cup ?

 

 

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Mava or Mawa : The ultimate baddest food for your cardiovascular system. Special buffalo milk boiled and boiled and boiled with sugar and "ghee" ( think of butter with 100 times more fat) added when the milk is nearly dry. From six litres of buffalo milk one gets about 1 kg of Mawa,

It is so rich that just a few spoonfuls will satiate you. I had to taste this heavenly nectar

 

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We met the Nomadic Rabari tribe again. The world on the camel-back and the journey never ends .

 

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Traditional Kutcchi men

 

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A very pretty and bejeweled cow

 

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Dholavira tourism resort. Well, Resort is a bit of overstatement !! Our bhunga with the omnipresent Char -Pai

 

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Very simple food served with love to hungry travelers.

 

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Breakfast with "Pauha" : desiccated rice fried

 

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India is everywhere in India

 

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Colourful thatched roof

 

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The painting inside, do the ladies look at bit too manly ?

 

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From Here to Eternity

 

 

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#102 - #107 were fascinating installments and a cultural immersion for me!

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@@Chakra I have enjoyed devouring this entire report in the past day or two. So enjoyable! Your photos are wonderful and I love the humor and descriptions! Looking forward to more.

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#102 - #107 were fascinating installments and a cultural immersion for me!

 

Thanks very much. If you had enjoyed the "virtual cultural immersion", then may I suggest a visit to Kumbh Mela for your next India trip and a "physical Immersion" in Mother Ganges to wash away all your sins ! That is an experience you'll never come across anywhere. The largest human gathering in the world. Just make sure they don't pitch your tent in the middle of the Naked Yogis !!

Jokes apart , I'm serious. You'll enjoy the experience.

 

 

@@Chakra I have enjoyed devouring this entire report in the past day or two. So enjoyable! Your photos are wonderful and I love the humor and descriptions! Looking forward to more.

 

Thanks very much. You contribute so much to ST with your reports, I'm indebted to you. Nice to hear that I managed repay some of that. Just a couple of more days of trip left and hope you enjoy till the last.

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Just photos. No words needed.

 

 

The last 10 km road to Dholavira

 

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Track of a Nilgai

 

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Running the Rann

 

 

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The thick hard crust of salt

 

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? resembles the map of India

 

 

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The endless horizon

 

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After checking in and enjoying our lunch at Dholavira resort we drove for another 5 km to reach the edge of the village and where the rann began again. This really ticked all the boxes for me. Not a single soul in sight apart from the omnipresent sentries who were very happy to get the chance to talk to a human. The surface was rock hard and we could have easily driven there.

I had to assume my Yogi Pose here while others just rolled in the salt.

Then we explored the petrified trees section. I have seen such trees before but here there were quite a few. Sadly because of lack of maintenance a lot of them were crumbling.

We waited till the sunset. It was slightly cloudy but still a fantastic view. And that was the end of my love affair with the truly Great Rann of Kutch.

 

 

Yogi-ji meditating

 

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The "Temptress" interrupting my meditation

 

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Doing Aerobics Jane Fonda style

 

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The Petrified Trees

 

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Literally the edge of the world. All life form stops. Just the scene from "Malazan : book of the fallen." The Thirteenth Legion about to start their march across the impassable desert in search of the fallen God.

 

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These two legionnaires do not seem to be too worried about their march

 

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Petrified trees

 

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Tree trapped inside rocks and turned into rock

 

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lose up

 

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Hollow tree trunk

 

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Fossilised creatures

 

 

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Salty water still visible in some areas

 

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My little companion

 

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And the sun sets

 

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Posted (edited)

Incredible India! Incredible Chak!

 

"? resembles the map of India " - no, more the map of Africa

Edited by xelas
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Incredible India! Incredible Chak!

 

"? resembles the map of India " - no, more the map of Africa

Agreed.

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Loved everything on page 6 except the litterers.

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My goodness, @@Chakra, you just sucked me into this!! I started reading the report thinking I'd spend half an hour on it but I just could not put it down :o What a wonderful report this is on the offbeat paths & tracks of Gujarat. I don't know where to begin with your writing & photography - suffice it to say that they are both sublime & I am so looking forward to reading your Alaskan Adventures whenever you get to them.

 

Talking about culture, you must tell @@Galana about the Indian musical art of 'jugalbandi'. That's precisely what the two of you have given us here - each of you have made the other better & better - until we got this jewel of a report. Too many lovely things to point out, but the birds and the wolf and the asses and the salt pan and the rock formations and the camels were among the many eye-catchers for me.

 

Chapeau & shabash!

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My goodness, @@Chakra, you just sucked me into this!! I started reading the report thinking I'd spend half an hour on it but I just could not put it down :o What a wonderful report this is on the offbeat paths & tracks of Gujarat. I don't know where to begin with your writing & photography - suffice it to say that they are both sublime & I am so looking forward to reading your Alaskan Adventures whenever you get to them.

 

Talking about culture, you must tell @@Galana about the Indian musical art of 'jugalbandi'. That's precisely what the two of you have given us here - each of you have made the other better & better - until we got this jewel of a report. Too many lovely things to point out, but the birds and the wolf and the asses and the salt pan and the rock formations and the camels were among the many eye-catchers for me.

 

Chapeau & shabash!

 

Thanks a ton. That's a big compliment, especially coming from a veteran and professional like you. I'm blushing.

Your suggestion of Jugalbandi is great, clearly reflects the musical/singing connection to your name. Well, it is no ordinary Duet/ Jugalbandi : must be equal to the status of none other than the sitar maestro Pandit Ravishankar and George Harrison of the Famous Four.

Well, the Alaska trip has been pushed back to 2019. My eldest daughter plans to leave her nest next year for University and both the daughters wanted to have a "proper family holiday" before she leaves. I've been avoiding Disney like a plague for nearly ten years but had to give in to their demands for last time. So a few week next summer will be spent in the land of Mickey ( with a few days in Everglades and the Keys to keep me sane) but then the following year I'll be back on the wheels driving the Richardson highway , Glen Highway, McCarthy road and if my wife allows, then perhaps even the Dalton Highway. I'm sure a few eagles, bears and caribous will come to meet me.

I'll be back shortly to wrap up this trip. More history and culture I'm afraid, but not completely devoid of wildlife I assure you.

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Wow ! I've been away for a couple of days and the whole look of ST has changed. In the beginning I was not sure if I was in the right place. Will take me a while to get used to the new lay out, I guess. Honestly the first look has failed to impress me and editing seems to be a little more difficult. 

Never mind, I really need to wrap it up soon. 

History was always my first love but sadly it was not an option to pursue that as a career. So nowadays whenever I get the chance, I get back to my childhood sweetheart. I am not familiar with the history curriculum in Indian schools any more, but in my days all Indian children started their history lesson with the chapter on Indus valley civilisation. One of my first memories is the picture of a seal of the Unicorn or the One Horned Bull, which was found all over the Indus valley or Harappan civilsation.  Harappa and Mohenjodaro were two sites which were first excavated and gave the name Harappan. 

The debate went on for a while whether Harappan civilization was older than Egypt and recent dating are strongly in favour of Harappa.  Egypt : in your face. :P
Sadly after the partition most of the Harappan ruins fell into Pakistan and it was not possible to visit any more for Indians. A few years back i tried again but the hassle of obtaining Pakistani Visa from UK put me off. My luck with ruins was not getting any better. I had plans to go to Eastern Turkey to see the temple of Gobkele Tepe, undoubtedly the oldest relic of a religious site in the history of mankind, dated to be ten thousand years old, way way before pyramids. 

I was in the planning stage and got in touch with some local guides, but all of a sudden Syrian civil war broke out, ISIS emerged with its full brutality and sadly the Kurdish guide who I was in touch with died in the battle of Kobani. I believe the priceless treasure of Gobkele Tepe is now a heap of rubble covered in weed, as Turkish government have more pressing issues. 

So when I got the chance to see Dholavira, the largest excavated site of Harappna civilisation in India I was not going to let it go. Only a fraction of the whole site, perhaps a quarter,  was excavated before money ran out and the earthquake of 2001 caused even more problems. My heart bled standing in the middle of the ruins while goats roamed and local kids played hide and seek. When Archaeological Society of India abandoned excavation they covered large section of ruins with tarpaulin and piled soil on the top, hoping to preserve the the structures and dig up again on their return one day. India has money to spend on Inter continental ballistic missiles but sadly nothing for her mother.

Most of the Indians are of darker skin tone, not very tall and have round facial features, apart from inhabitants of some northern states who look more like Aryans. So we all belong to the Dravidian civilisation and have decided to turn our backs to our mother and severed our umbilical cord with the only remnants of the Dravidian civilisation , namely the Indus valley civilisation. 

Recently Bollywood movie industry took interest in Harappan civiliation and a movie was made called Mahenjodoro. I usually do not see these main stream Bollywood movies with song and dance cliche with countless retelling of Romeo and Juliet but I made special effort to see this movie. Well, history was raped. One of the big scenes was when the dashing hero used his supernatural power to control four horses. Good Lord, Horses were unknown to Dravidian civilisation. They came to India much much later with Aryan invaders. 

Dholavira went through seven stages, it was inhabited for nearly 2000 years continuously, interspersed with abandonment, clearly due to natural disasters like earthquake. Eventually at 1900 BC it was permanently abandoned. Why ? No one knows for sure. The most plausible theory is the drying up of the once mighty Saraswati River. This is a river which was mentioned in numerous ancient Hindu scriptures as one mighty life giving river. Most of the Harappan ruins are scattered around the Why did it dry up ? Climate change ? Most likely. With drying up of river the commerce with Mesopotamia stopped and eventually people moved away. 

Dholavira is unique in three ways. 

1. World's oldest signboard was found here. A signboard with ten symbols made of Gypsum, each about 35 cm tall,  was found lying face down in front of the Northern gate. The wood had rotten away long time back but the letters survived and they were clearly fixed to the top of the gate one day. The symbols have not been deciphered. Anyone interested in deciphering the Indus scripts ? 

Saddest part is that those symbols are now lying in the rubble and protected from the elements by a few asbestos and tin coverings. I sometimes wished the British had found Dholavira and taken away the treasure to display in British museum. 

2. Its incredible water management system and hydraulic engineering that contains at least 16 reservoirs and an elaborate systems of drains and sewers. In the citadel area there is an intricate network of storm water drains, all connected to an arterial one and furnished with slopes, steps, cascades, manholes (air ducts / water relief ducts), paved flooring and capstones. The main drains were high enough for a tall man to walk through easily. The rainwater collected through these drains was stored in yet another reservoir that was carved out in the western half of the citadel. Altogether the reservoirs have an area of about 10 hectares, or 10 percent of the area within the walls. This fabulous system made it possible for the Dholavirans to thrive in their desert home.

3. Use of stone where most of the Harappan buildings were made of bricks and finding of a few circular spoke like structures of polished stone which appeared to be the harbingers of Stupas in Buddhist monasteries. 

Anyway , enough of lamentation. Time to go travelling back at least five thousand years. I know this won't be of much interest to many but I feel it is my duty to share this with as many humans as possible. 

I start with some artifacts stored in the small museum next door, dusty, poorly lit with no one to prevent me from stealing a piece. Entry fee : 100 rupees. My friends come to to UK and want to go and see the Stonehenge. A few stones standing next to each other and nowadays you can't even go close to the stone unless you are President of USA or a druid by profession. Cost : £ 15 !!!!!  UK government would have minted money out of Dholavira. 

 

I have to thank our guide Ravji-bhai who had taken part in the original excavation and literally knew each and every brick. 

 

The museum with no curator and little light to see the artifacts properly 

 

35029750916_971ab79ef4_b.jpgDSC_6131dsc_6131dsc_6131dsc_6131 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

An aerial view of a small section

34682236780_e03f212533_b.jpgDSC_6142dsc_6142dsc_6142dsc_6142 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

I knew one day I'd stand face to face with the mythical One Horned Bull ( ? Unicorn) of Harappa. My dream came true. The terracotta seal with the mythical beast. 

34258856293_dc8ebb881a_b.jpgDSC_6150dsc_6150dsc_6150dsc_6150 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

I can almost imagine Harappans indulging in this game. One can see the depressions in the middle of the squares to keep the pawns in place.  what sort of game was this ? 

34682099600_60516f57aa_b.jpgDSC_6165dsc_6165dsc_6165dsc_6165 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

Pottery

34226139134_e8aaccec3b_b.jpgDSC_6149dsc_6149dsc_6149dsc_6149 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

34258820503_1053894688_b.jpgDSC_6158dsc_6158 by Desi DNA, on Flickr
 

Animal figures. No Horse, Bollywood please take note 

34682042470_ae7a931416_b.jpgDSC_6189dsc_6189 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

35070142725_8f580816f9_b.jpgIMG_9930 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

Stone sling balls. What use ? 

35029664276_753205c616_b.jpgDSC_6156dsc_6156 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

Weight measurements 

34905381132_761a3087b5_b.jpgDSC_6207dsc_6207 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

Beads from sea shells

34258708623_b75cfcffd8_b.jpgDSC_6206dsc_6206 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

The traditional mother figure with wide hips, signs of good potential of child bearing 

34938388601_3d321a8fc0_b.jpgDSC_6193dsc_6193 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Something from the kitchen. Mortar and pastel ? 

34258800893_dd58453042_b.jpgDSC_6160dsc_6160 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Copy of world's oldest signboard. What did the visitors see when entering the gate ? " Do not forget to pay your taxes " ???? 

34225990264_00967932e1_b.jpgDSC_6186dsc_6186dsc_6186dsc_6186_edited-1 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

And this is how world's oldest sign board is preserved for posterity !!!! Covered by some asbestos sheets and stones. Apparently people were touching it all the time and slowly eroding it so authorities decided to cover it up. For God's sake, someone please do something. 

34938242071_80840551bd_b.jpgDSC_6325dsc_6325 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

This used to be the office of Mr RS Bisht, the archaeologist who dedicated his life to the excavation. 

35029511356_3389974e88_b.jpgDSC_6217dsc_6217 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

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@Chakra

This has been a really fascinating report. Very witty and extremely informative narrative and some really lovely pictures.

I have enjoyed it very much.

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10 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

@Chakra

This has been a really fascinating report. Very witty and extremely informative narrative and some really lovely pictures.

I have enjoyed it very much.

Much appreciated. Hope you will consider visiting these places in future. The people here deserve more exposure. 

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Absolutely unique trip report! 

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4 hours ago, xelas said:

Absolutely unique trip report! 

Unique just like the author:):):)

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On 5/28/2017 at 8:37 PM, Chakra said:

 

 

The glimpse into the past continues. Now we are outdoor. 

 

One of the sixteen huge reservoirs. The gap  is for overflow into the next reservoir

 

35029478416_5e1b3b7304_h.jpgDSC_6247dsc_6247 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

35069601145_a0f083b4db_h.jpgDSC_6251dsc_6251 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

The biggest Eastern Reservoir , only partly excavated 

 

34258697473_72831201dd_h.jpgDSC_6227dsc_6227 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

35029498276_5deea93533_h.jpgDSC_6228dsc_6228 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Trees  growing on top of the citadel wall 

 

34681982460_0d191bfb54_h.jpgDSC_6235dsc_6235 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Some reservoirs had sloping entrances so that the bullock carts could go all the way down to fetch water in big containers 

 

 

35069594555_6b8b630c48_b.jpgDSC_6252dsc_6252 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

A Harappan lady going down the steps to get some water. Louis Vuitton handbags are that old ? 

 

34681931880_6b00847c17_b.jpgDSC_6262dsc_6262 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

34681913010_0326d1f73d_b.jpgDSC_6271dsc_6271 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Steps of history

 

34938294881_869b830f9d_b.jpgDSC_6276dsc_6276 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Extremely well constructed with precise sharp corners. Perfect engineering 

 

35069583325_65f4565e9b_b.jpgDSC_6259dsc_6259 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Mud bricks 

 

35069572195_9f2fb7c694_b.jpgDSC_6268dsc_6268 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 The very unique polished stone structures. Use of sandstone with bricks. Not seen in any other Harappan ruins 

 

35029411396_22659ce273_b.jpgDSC_6283dsc_6283 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

34258619633_fed4a75114_b.jpgDSC_6285dsc_6285 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

The Northern entrance with the stone structures

 

34225871154_33a06abc03_b.jpgDSC_6296dsc_6296 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

34905866372_960dd03a7b_b.jpgIMG_0022 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

The shape of rooms started changing from square to circular. Most likely because circular structures withstood earthquakes better

 

34225861314_68ef1cc0a9_b.jpgDSC_6302dsc_6302 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

? A kitchen. Grinding mills 

 

34258597823_73ed2bdce4_b.jpgDSC_6306dsc_6306 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Polished stone pillars. What was their purposes ? No one knows.

 

34681880330_71ced48028_b.jpgDSC_6304dsc_6304 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

Most likely a base for a large wooden pole for opening a closing gates

 

34681821800_ceb53c1513_b.jpgDSC_6337dsc_6337 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

Imprint of insects fossilised 

 

34258555653_0f3d7a0984_b.jpgDSC_6326dsc_6326 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

The extremely well engineered Storm Drains for people to go inside and clear the chambers. Properly designed vents for harmful gases to escape 

 

34938267021_4de1f782aa_b.jpgDSC_6308dsc_6308 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

Following the steps of a cleaner 

 

34226438454_1b362473e1_b.jpgIMG_9991 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Deep inside the bowel of the reservoirs 

 

34225835314_4bd4c9b6a1_b.jpgDSC_6313dsc_6313 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Job done. Some tips  please ?

 

35070117975_12bcea7be0_b.jpgIMG_9997 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

A special water chamber, most likely for ladies to have a leisurely time

 

34938206661_f2cc7da64e_b.jpgDSC_6340dsc_6340 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

My favourite part. The grooves made on the stone from the friction of ropes used by my ancestors to pull water out of the well.  Marks of history 

 

35069463545_369953ea25_b.jpgDSC_6342dsc_6342 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Tools from the kitchen

 

Stone for sharpening of knives

 

34681797650_aff4458dc9_b.jpgDSC_6347dsc_6347 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Grinding pot 

 

34905177352_9b6af4bcf5_b.jpgDSC_6348dsc_6348 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

The eastern gate 

 

34681783130_b991812131_b.jpgDSC_6353dsc_6353 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Sentries on their positions 

 

34682561140_7680b747dc_b.jpgIMG_0029 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

The famous signboard 

 

34682587760_c749685b39_b.jpgIMG_0012 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

34938242071_80840551bd_b.jpgDSC_6325dsc_6325 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

The bailey 

 

34905150432_63f326e5f3_h.jpgDSC_6361dsc_6361 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Goats roam in the vast area in front of the Bailey where once important ceremonies used to take place 

 

34905204622_cd8257bd3d_h.jpgDSC_6329dsc_6329 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Grooves from wagon tracks 

 

35069417575_2cd6baf2ea_h.jpgDSC_6357dsc_6357dsc_6357dsc_6357 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

The market sections with parallel arterial roads cutting through shops. 

 

35029254066_ad3915d8c7_h.jpgDSC_6376dsc_6376 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Shopfronts 

 

35029261126_f9c5915b36_h.jpgDSC_6367dsc_6367 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Sitting on the crossroads of civilisation: literally 

 

35030032386_e1321d99d2_h.jpgIMG_0035 by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

Adios, My Mother !! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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thank you for taking me on this intrepid (and fun!) journey and discovery into the heart of Indian civilisation. its been enlightening and at times depressing (litter! crowds! parties and loud music on the great Rann? argh) and beautiful (that great white expanse, those beautiful craftwork). May Modi continue to protect it for more generations to come. 

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Well the journey appears over and ends on a high.

I have caught up and thank you so much for taking me along with you to a fascinating part of the world. I have enjoyed the exchanges and the cultural indoctrination but most of all I have enjoyed seeing your ladies really get into the swing of the trip and show such humour. I hope we are not going to have to wait until 2019 to see more. Thanks again.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Galana , don't worry, I hope to back before 2019 with some more humorous posts. And I'm not yet done with this trip.  

On the way back to the airport I had a full day and decided to take a long detour to see some more handicrafts and ruins. The first stop was the weaving of Patola saree, eye-wateringly expensive but eye-poppingly intricate design. The whole five yards of the saree is made from  two or three dyed threads, hand-weaved and tying knots at pre-calculated distances. Can take up to six months to make. This is supposed to bring luck and prosperity to a house. My mother-in-law had a couple of these, which were handed down to her daughter and she was not going to get any more from me !!  

 

Just a couple of pics of Patola being made DSC_6633dsc_6633.thumb.jpg.5a46ac901617cc24e40378e565743f20.jpg

 

 

DSC_6639dsc_6639.thumb.jpg.91239eff38c16c719a7b3bd4df4bf947.jpg

 

 

Next I was off to the ancient capital of Gujarat : the town of Patan to see one of the best preserved Stepwells called Rani ni Bhav. People who have visited Rajastahn must have seen these step wells which go down and down to preserve water. The beauty of the Patan step-well was its intricate and almost intact architecture. 

 

DSC_6723dsc_6723.thumb.jpg.e4506dac2691bbebe3f6c68e1620d2f3.jpg

 

 

There were seven levels. 

 

DSC_6695dsc_6695.thumb.jpg.d734244cc464252105e519159d8cfbd4.jpg

 

 

The concept of the Mother Goddess riding a lion was present in far East for a long time. Here is Mother Durga, one of the main deities of Hinduism, riding a lion and killing the demon who took the form a black buffalo. 

 

DSC_6679dsc_6679.thumb.jpg.43991ab680fd252362411f7f856e5150.jpg

 

 

And then a quick detour to the Sun temple of Modhera. This was partly destroyed by Muslim sultans after their conquest of India. One of the main reasons being the erotic art of the temple. Some of it has been restored and still looks very impressive. 

 

The reservoir in front of the temple

 

DSC_6951dsc_6951.thumb.jpg.0fc14f0b86f49feffff9379dc0272268.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_6949dsc_26949.thumb.jpg.999ba04849f0ec4697e3610b68df7301.jpg

 

DSC_6901dsc_6901.thumb.jpg.fdcf464bfb47a91e8f9abd7c1ec5e455.jpg

 

 

 

Surya : The Sun God, defaced and amputated. 

 

DSC_6924dsc_6924.thumb.jpg.73091d8cc8905aadf4996277c2f5e0e7.jpg

 

 

Erotic art : very little left 

 

DSC_6884dsc_6884.thumb.jpg.6e4f8026ce0ceb0ab55e0540b7cf7f23.jpg

 

 

DSC_6897dsc_6897.thumb.jpg.af2f5ab1228704fcef9b5e73f3664768.jpg

 

 

DSC_6890dsc_6890.thumb.jpg.d4796c4a610854db3bc2c1cb03b36b29.jpg

 

 

 

Then it was back to airport. But on the way our driver Gambhir Singh took the car off the highway and started getting into country lanes. I thought may be he was finding a shortcut but all of a sudden he stopped and said with a big grin, " Dekh lijiye Saab, Kiteny More chahiyae ?" meaning "have a look Sir, how many peacocks do you want? " He was aware of my interest in birds and took  trouble of finding the village where peacocks roamed everywhere. Incredible India : one of the most beautiful birds in the world were scavenging the garbage dump.  Some of them had developed quite long tails and were clearly trying  to impress the ladies. 

I pressed the shutter to my heart's content and some of them came out quite well !!  

Gambhir Singh's tip was increased by 20 % !!!

 

 

DSC_7110dsc_7110.thumb.jpg.45e138eb8cd9b7a3a188c4710b15f995.jpg

 

 

Two birds in one stone 

 

DSC_7024dsc_7024.thumb.jpg.f27c9d204e67799fa7df228a4147fc92.jpg

 

 

DSC_7004dsc_7004.thumb.jpg.a2db7a9eed934cf50327c7481bfdbab0.jpg

 

 

DSC_7143dsc_7143.thumb.jpg.3c96e5af5711bc503427c4716c0133e4.jpg

 

 

 

The preening 

 

 

DSC_7094dsc_7094.thumb.jpg.3d74000cb9b26b33000ae2291285e565.jpg

 

The lady was not that impressed

 

 

DSC_7060dsc_7060.thumb.jpg.bb66eba714710170fad8c557f37c3be5.jpg

 

One beautiful creature photographing another beautiful creature

 

DSC_7114dsc_7114.thumb.jpg.f0a9df9b2f2ecdf3334741a008d116de.jpg

 

Common Hoopoe as well.  Came to meet me, the reincarnation of Solomon the Wise. But sadly the Hoopoe could not find the Queen of Sheba for me. 

DSC_7201dsc_7201.thumb.jpg.a1dce2f08cd03b48e6fb91646ed4a568.jpg

 

 

 

DSC_7198dsc_7198.thumb.jpg.ec216392efe8b0e05d46e6c354e9956c.jpg

 

 

 

And a line of herons all waiting patiently

 

DSC_7190dsc_7190.thumb.jpg.a080e237e158abe37258ce1db5db3750.jpg

 

On the way back I saw all the cranes flying back to roost. I believe sometimes these lines can stretch up to miles. Sorry, poor shots, from moving car.

 

DSC_7224dsc_7224dsc_7224dsc_7224.thumb.jpg.994f600de9ade50ce82c864349628a7d.jpgDSC_7228dsc_7228.thumb.jpg.a65b35de1bf0089124d7ac9de2b6ac3b.jpg

 

 

That's it. The adventure was complete with a hearty meal from a roadside stall : freshly fried "Bhajia" with salt, onion and green chilies.  Yum, yum , yum !!! 

 

DSC_6759dsc_6759.thumb.jpg.4005b978eff39611cf58fddc2ccfdda3.jpg

 

Gujarat was truly an unexpectedly pleasant and eye-opening trip. I went with little expectations but returned with tons of pleasant memories. 

 

"Phir milenge" : See you again. 

 

Edited by Chakra
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