Bhuj, the westernmost city of India, is a treasure trove of heritage and culture. Like few other towns, which have escaped the tourist invasion in India, Bhuj offers to the traveler hospitality hitherto unseen in modern times. Bhuj is known for its small, meandering streets, palaces and temples. It also has the oldest museum in the state of Gujarat. It not only has numerous places of interest within the city, but places (especially villages) around it are very famous for their traditional handicrafts and embroidery.
Bhuj is located in the westernmost part of the state of Gujarat, in the western region of India. It is around 300 km from Ahmedabad, the state capital. It is near the Gulf of Kutch, a part of the Arabian Sea. Low hills overlook the city of Bhuj. Though Bhuj is near the coast, yet its climate is hot. It is because of its proximity to the Great Rann of Kutch to its north and the Small Rann to its west, which are vast, sandy, and dry salt flats. Bhuj experiences hot summers (April-June) and mild winters (October-February). It is lashed by southwestern monsoons in the months of June-August.
A local ruler Maharao Hamir founded the city of Bhuj in 1510. In 1549 Rao Khengarji I, another local ruler, made Bhuj his capital. It remained an independent princely state during the rule of the British in India and became a part of India, when it gained independence in 1947.
Fairs & Festivals
Bhuj is known for its Rann Utsav (festival), which is held every year in February/March. Also known as the Desert Festival, it usually coincides with the Hindu festival of Shivratri. The main attractions of this festival are demonstration of traditional handicrafts, cultural events and tours in and around the city.
Best Time to Visit
As summers in Bhuj tend to be harsh and rains can be torrential, the best time to visit Bhuj is during winters.
How to Reach
BY AIR -Bhuj is connected by air with Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The Indian Airlines is on the New Station Road. Indian Airlines and Jet Airways have daily flights to Mumbai. Passenger aircrafts l and at the air force base 3½ km north of the city limits.
BY RAIL -Bhuj railway station is 1 km north of the city. A few trains pass through Bhuj and one has to go either to Palanpur (near Rajasthan border; 391 km) or to Gandhidham, which have good rail connections to important towns around this region.
BY ROAD -One can also get state roadways buses as well as private buses. There is good bus service for Ahmedabad (7-hour trip) and to other towns in Gujarat and Rajasthan. There are regular buses for villages around Bhuj.
Bhuj is known for its palaces, built in the traditional Kutchi style. Aina Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors (Old Palace), surrounded by a small, fortified courtyard built in the 18th century, is located in the old part of the city. It is an important tourist spot and houses a museum within it. The Hall of Mirrors and the Pleasure Pool within this palace are important. Near the Aina Mahal, is the Prag Mahal (New Palace), which was built in the latter half of the 19th century. The Kuchch Museum, formerly known as the Ferguson Museum (named after its founder Sir James Ferguson, Governor of Mumbai during the rule of the British), was built in 1877 and has a good collection of artifacts, depicting the history and culture of Bhuj and its surroundings. It is also the oldest Museum in the state of Gujarat. The Sarad Bagh Palace, the Swaminarayan Temple, Bharatiya Sanskriti Darshan Kachch (folk museum) are other tourist attractions of this city. The city walls built in 1723 by the local rulers on the hills overlooking the city can be seen from different parts of the city.
Places Around Bhuj
There are a number of villages around Bhuj, which offer a cultural fiesta to the traveler. Special permits have to be obtained from local government offices in Bhuj to visit these villages. Some of the important villages near Bhuj are Bhujjodi, which is famous for weaving. Padhar and Dhaneti are famous for traditional Ahir embroidery. Dhamanka is known for block printing. Lilpur is known for its embroidery while the village of Anjar is famous for block printing, tie and dye items and traditional betel nut crackers. Items obtained from these villages make good souvenirs as well as items of daily use. The village of Dholavira is an ancient site associated with the Indus Valley Civilization. Than Monastery (60 km) and the sea resort at Mandvi (60 km southeast) are important places to visit. Anjal Wild Ass Sanctuary and the town of Gandhidham are other places worth visiting near Bhuj.