Trailing Gujarat: Dhrangadhra, a lesser known delight of Gujarat

After so many days it was an unhurried morning when we were not supposed to catch an early morning bus to some place or start our travel. Missed the early morning busses to Dholavira for the same indolence and missed our last chance to visit the Great Rann. With a heavy heart, we set off for our journey further east… leaving a lot to revisit…a lot undone…a lot imperceptible… Rapar was a delight…it has something…
Moment at Samakhiali Bus stand
                                     Moment at Samakhiali Bus stand
Samakhiali was the next destination which is well connected with Rapar. Samakhiali is the key junction and often referred as gateway to Kutch. It’s a popular transit point for travelers. From Samakhiali , One can get busses to Saurashtra (Jamnagar, Rajkot, Junagadh), Ahemdabad, Bhuj etc.

* Rapar to Samakhiali: Frequent busses (45 km, 48 Rs, 90 minutes).
Power lines through salt Pans
                                            Power lines through salt Pans

Samakhiali is nothing but a bus stand and we reached there in the afternoon. There are not many restaurants on the bus stand so we had to settle on Chai, Fafda, Dabeli…Once again… We were waiting for a bus to Ahmedabad and we assumed better frequency. Most of the busses were too tightly packed to board. Waiting at Bus stand tests your patience which is indeed a virtue of traveling. This part of traveling diminishes the feeling of qualm and introduced nonchalance.
Temple in the street of Dhrangadhra
                                              Temple in the street of Dhrangadhra

Finally Bus arrived and we were on our way to Dhrangadhra. Dhrangadhra is a colorful little town on Ahmedabad-Bhuj highway and most preferred entrance to Little Rann of Kutch. Journey from Samakhiali to Dhrangadhra could have been embellishing if I would have got a window seat. Beyond Samakhiali, SH 49 gets very close to the Gulf of Kutch and passes through a widespread series of Salterns (Salt Evaporation ponds) separated with levees. Landscape is truly overwhelming especially around the Surajwadi Bridge which goes over the salt pans. I think it is one of the major salt production regions of India. Some of those pans were functioning on the orthodox practices which were mostly manual and some were blessed with the machineries to get things done in quick fashion. High Voltage transmission lines embellished the beauty of the entire terrain and I named those “The White Power”… Don’t sleep while commuting on this route….Halvad is another fascinating town enroute which has got some spectacular ancient temples…I could get a distant glimpse…
Wires and the Salt farms
                                             Wires and the Salt farms

We made it to Dhrangadhra in the afternoon with very little knowledge about the process of entering to Little Rann. Trip to Little Rann of Kutch is mostly arranged by tour operators in Ahmedabad. Dhrangadhra is the base only for ardent wild life enthusiasts or independent travelers. We enquired with locals but it all went in vain. We gave it a go by for a moment and enjoyed delicious Gujarati Thali once again.
School building in Dhrangadhra
                                         School building in Dhrangadhra

Dhrangadhra is the little town with bustling streets and vibrant markets. Town is surrounded by a fortified wall which indicates to its ancient roots and historical importance. While navigating through the main market I came across to some white washed and colorful temples. Unlike Rapar, Dhrangadhra is bit louder and colorful. Just after lodging in a budget hotel near Navyug Cinema, we headed out to quench our thirst of Rapar in Dholavira. We visited to Devji Bhai who is the only known guide and tour organizer for Little Rann Sanctuary…received the quotations from him and then headed for meaningless rambling around the town.
Peek to Raj Mahal Dhrangadhra
                                       Peek to Raj Mahal Dhrangadhra

Raj Mahal, home of erstwhile rulers, is a fascinating building but tourists are not allowed. Yet I sneaked through the window and captured some shots. Cinema hall was not running any movie so we were left again with the option of roaming around. We stumbled on a school building which was quite impressive indeed….visited an old salt storage factory… tried roadside stuff and finally invented a way to deal with mosquitoes…  Precisely, we were trying all sorts of non-touristy stuff… After rejecting the quotations from Devji bhai, our visit to Little Rann Sanctuary turned dubious with no other options in hand… It was a brave call towards uncertainty…  Now some immediate actions were needed from my end to arrange a morning trip to Little Rann.
Salty Power
                                            Power lines through salt fields

Here I met Madita and Eva, two German girls who were planning to visit the sanctuary as well. They closed the deal with Devji Bhai but found it really heavy on their pockets. I proposed them to club us in the trip in an exchange of sharing half expenses. They were fine with the idea but were not sure about the reaction from Devji bhai. Shortly afterwards, I planted the second plan to do the tour with private taxi. I did the research on the route and asked the taxi guy a quotation.  He was ready to go in 1800 INR…. Woow… I cracked it..Once again… despite killing the most comfortable option at first place… delicious food followed by another night…
 

How to reach Dhrangadhra: Dhrangadhra is mainly visited by the Independent travelers to Little Rann of Kutch. It lies on main Bhuj-Ahmedabad highway and very well connected with both of the cities. Dhrangadhra is 210 km east of Bhuj and 126 km from Ahmedabad. Frequent state transport busses ply on this route.

* Samakhiali to Dhrangadhra: 82 INR, 114 km, 3 hours. Busses are in each hour.
 

Accommodation in Dhrangadhra: Most of the budget hotels of the town are located near Navyug Cinema. 300 INR for a room with attached bathroom and 200 INR for a room with bathroom outside. Most of the travelers stay in these low-end options.  Not as nasty as you get in other big cities.

Restaurant in Dhrangadhra: Many small restaurants in the main market serve typical Gujarati Thali. Breakfast options are in surplus. Restaurant besides the bus stand is one of my favorite. It’s on the first floor and easily noticeable. However it’s a bit on the higher side. Food is awesome there. Dhrangadhra is a good option for trying local Gujarati food.

 

 

Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order

Trailing Gujarat: Train to Bhuj

Trailing Gujarat: Bhuj, Capital of Kutch

Trailing Gujarat: Northern Kutch, Dhordo and Kalo Dungar

Trailing Gujarat: Western Kutch, Lakhpat and Narayan Sarovar

Trailing Gujarat: Southern Kutch, Beachline of Mandvi

Trailing Gujarat: Eastern Kutch, Splendor of Rapar and Dholavira

Trailing Gujarat: Dhrangadhra, a lesser known delight of Gujarat

Trailing Gujarat: Little Rann of Kutch, Salt Plains and Heat Mirage

Trailing Gujarat: Jamnagar and Marine National Park, Narara

Trailing Gujarat: Dwarka, Where Pilgrims meet the end of earth (Read: Sea)

Trailing Gujarat: Junagadh, City of archaeological attractions

Trailing Gujarat: Gir National Park, last home of Asiatic Lions

Trailing Gujarat: Diu, Real thirst-quencher

Trailing Gujarat: Alang, Where Ships come to die

Trailing Gujarat: Champaner and Pavagadh

Trailing Gujarat: Ahmedabad and Lothal

Trailing Gujarat: Patan, Modhera and Separation

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