Like any other small but burgeoning town in this country, Bhuj exhibits all the usual signs. Development on one side – good wide main roads, vehicles, ATMs, and everyone flashing smart phones. But on the other hand, the litter and garbage everywhere is an indication that no lessons in waste management have been implemented. Sadly, it’s just everywhere, including the water body in the middle of the city – the Hamirsar lake.
Steeped in history, and scarred by a devastating earthquake in 2001, some parts of the old fort are still standing and visible as you move through the town. There are monuments that are crumbling, derelict, which give you a glimpse of those glory years. The small gallis through the town hold a quaint charm, albeit a little diminished by large amounts of garbage lying everywhere.
Like any small but growing town, Bhuj has fallen prey to all the usual problems
The narrow lanes are abuzz with activity
As I touched down in the small Bhuj airport and made my way down the main road, I am excited about my first trip to Gujarat. I decided to bypass Ahmedabad and Baroda, the larger towns, and head straight to Bhuj. My primary reason being that my hosts, Katie and Jehan Bhujwala have graciously offered to put me up at their ancestral home in the town and also help me out with my itinerary.
Situated in the camp area, the view from the home of my hosts Katie and Jehan
The house is lovely and is currently being renovated. It will soon be possible to stay there as Katie and Jehan will open it out as a home stay, hopefully from January 2015 onwards
The house is in the camp area and is constructed in the old style, with tall ceilings, filled with charming antique furniture around a large centre courtyard. The old world ambience still lingers on when you enter.
Once I’ve gotten my bearings, along with my hosts, I set off on a small “discover Bhuj” tour. The town still has the remnants of the old fort, and in places it’s quite intact. We pass by a beautiful gate with some detailed carvings.
Parts of the old fort, still stand tall
The narrow gallis take us to an old building from the British Raj – an orange coloured structure that was the district collector’s office. In the afternoon sun, it reflects the light and still looks regal and stands out amidst the new concrete structures. Today, it faces a grim fate though. Like many of our beautiful old buildings; it will likely be ruined totally or razed to the ground.
A building that is now abandoned; testament to the glory days of the past
A short ride away, is the Prag Mahal palace. The old jharokhas and balconies are still intricate and stand out on the palace wall. To the opposite side, is the new version of the palace. The earthquake of 2001 affected quite a lot of the palace walls and structure.
The old palace walls, though affected by the earthquake still sport intricately carved jharokhas
The new Prag Mahal palace, opposite the older one
The new building has an imposing clock tower and with its red brick walls, it projects a feeling of warmth in the fading light.
We wander over to the Bhuj market. Like any Indian bazaar, it’s busy, crowded and filled with people, cows and assorted creatures. Two wheelers and rickshaws honk, trying to assert their right of way. Mostly to be ignored. The honking gets more insistent. Women are about doing their clothes shopping, buying vegetables, silver jewellery, “farsan” – you name it, and it’s available in the market. Including music systems in case you’re missing one at home.
For any kind of shopping, head to the Bhuj market
We wander around the streets for a while peeking into the different shops. A farsan shop walla generously allows us to taste a bit of his freshly fried goodies.
Women flocking in front of an obviously popular shop
A shopkeeper gets creative with his doors!
Beautiful antique silver jewellery for sale
No trip to Kutch without stocking up on their intricate embroidery work
A great place for juice is Bhudia’s which is another ride away from the market in an area near the Hamisar lake. The juice is fresh and we choose a delicious mix – guava and pomegranate – much recommended. They also have an organic farm a little outside of Bhuj where you can get a taste of the local thali, if you want to make the journey.
I’m happy with my first taste and sights of Gujarat. I even have fish fry for dinner, (after a visit to the local fish market) which I was a bit surprised about. I had planned to go vegetarian for this trip!
The local fish market in Bhuj is an assault on the senses. But we did get some fresh fish
I settle into my large room, adjoining a busy road listening to the hustle and bustle of traffic. My initiation into Gujarat has been hectic, noisy, smelly and colourful. But then I wouldn’t have it any other way!
8 thoughts on “Wanderings in Bhuj: a photo journey”
Hope you are trying out the Gujarati food
Yes, Samanvay – have had some delicious food and also a taste of the thali and khichdi! 🙂
Looks a lot like China’s streets. Bet there are lots of wild dogs running around too? 😀
Not wild dogs, but they’re called street dogs here 🙂 and yes – they’re everywhere!
Stumbled upon your blog only in the last couple of days and have been thoroughly enjoying reading about your travel.
Wondering if you could please ping me Katie & Jehan’s details on email. A friend and I are travelling in Gujarat for 21 days in the latter half of December and first week of Jan 2015. We still haven’t finalized a place to stay in Kutch and time is getting short! We’re planning on being based in Bhuj and travelling around the Kutch region between 28 and 31 December 2014.
Look forward to hearing from you!
Want to visit Bhuj since reading Desert Places from Robyn Davidson. Now that I’ve read your post and seen the photos I’d like to visit even more! THX
Yvonne – It’s worth a visit – interesting history, crafts and people! Email me if you need any help or more info!