Road to Dholavira
We boarded the early morning bus (5:45 AM) from Bhuj to Ravechi. Just after occupying my window seat, I dozed out and it was quite chilly. First ray of the sun struck at my eyelid and I regained the conscience. Bus was fully packed with school kids and stopping between school and villages. Then I realized the basic purpose which bus fulfills in this part of Gujarat. These morning busses are mainly for connecting schools to the villages so that all the kids from rural part of Kutch can reach schools… Public transport is not just about connecting cities….It’s takes other aspect in account… so be patient and enjoy the entirety…
Arid Landscape near Dholavira Island
Finally we made it to Rapar at 10:30 AM and lodged in one of the hotels near Bus stand. Rapar is the largest town in the eastern side of Kutch. With no other major town in its vicinity, Rapar is the only place with decent medical facilities, schools and markets. That’s the reason hundreds of people from nearby villages visit Rapar every day. There are just 2-3 basic hotels in Rapar and all are cheap and nasty.
Village near Lodrani Kutch
With its lazy settings, Rapar intrigued us and then caught our attention as a place for our extended stay. Influenced by the sluggishness of Rapar, we went for a quick nap under the sun and even forgot that we were supposed to head further to Dholavira, which is some 89 km from Rapar. We had no idea how tricky it would be to cover those remaining 89 km despite having a half day in hand. Mostly mini busses ply between Rapar and Dholavira. The next mini bus to Dholavira was departing in one hour but they mentioned that we will not get Bus back from Dholavira on that evening. The next Bus from Dholavira was in the morning.
Salt Marsh around Dholavira
Pradeep Sir was apprehensive with the plan of reaching Dholavira and getting stranded for a night. I convinced him with an idea of getting a lift back to Rapar….Sometimes we should take some blind decisions…that’s the fun of traveling… As a contingency planning, I asked him to buy some fruits and snacks for our dinner…. We both were agreed with the idea of spending night in the bus or under some shelter…. Bus driver was stunned with our plan… Finally bus departed….
Cone Shape huts around Dholavira
Famous Long Horn Bullock of Kutch
White Rann of Kutch before Dholavira
Rapar to Dholavira is not an easy ride. Road condition is also not that good and there is no town to get help in case your vehicle gets any problem. Bus journey to Dholavira took us very close to the life of tribes and communities in this side of Kutch…. Their outfits, ornaments, eating habits…and most importantly their perception about us….The outsiders…. Bus stopped at many villages and every time we learnt something new… In the end, I helped the bus driver replacing a deflated tire..
Salt plain on the way to Khadir bet
Finally Bus reached to the village of Shiranivadh which is the last village before the island of Khadir, where excavated site of Dholavira is located. A bridge over the white desert of Great Rann connects the island to Shiranivadh. It’s a vast terrain of salt marsh and exquisitely fascinating. Many travelers visit Dholavira just for witnessing the white desert before the island. It’s an amazing site and even fall beyond the white desert of Dhordo. Unlike Dhordo, walking on the salt desert can be tricky here because it’s more of a swamp. Another glimpse of the white desert was truly fulfilling and made the day. Finally Bus arrived at Amrapar which is the first village on the Island. I felt like as if I reached to the other shore after a voyage. Finally Bus reached Dholavira which lies on the edge of island overlooking the Great Rann. Excavation site of Dholavira is 1 km away from the Bus stop and can be easily located.
Khadir bet surrounded by white desert
Dholavira is a deserted village and quite off the tourist trail. Gujarat tourism department is doing remarkable job to promote it but its remote geographic location is a major hindrance. Most of the part of the Khadir Island is army base with little presence of ASI (Archeological Survey of India). Finally we reached to the excavated site which is nicely walled by ASI. Comprehensive Museum which displays artifacts recovered during excavation is located at the entrance of the site. Sincere visit to the Dholavira museum is must for grasping widespread interpretation of Harrapan civilization. Guide and curator are very welcoming and helping in nature. They are passionate about the whole site and explain everything in detail. Museum in itself is very informative and self-explanatory.
Dholavira Excavation Site
We directly headed to the excavation site which was completely void of tourists. Despite of frailty with archeology, I was able to absorb (to some extent) what Dholavira was trying to convey. There was this thought…very strong…that these sullen surroundings were once a home of a stirring civilization…prosperous in every sense…evolving with time…and then time took its toll… Now there is nothing….except those memories buried under the ground… And we are digging their past…. Step wells, citadel, castle, bailey, and ceremonial grounds narrate their glory in a slow fashion… The best part of the Island is its serenity and awe-inspiring settings in the middle of Great Rann…. It was like standing in the middle of a white ocean which has no undulating motions on the surface… we meandered around the island for more than 2 hours and witnessed an exalting Sunset in the midst of the white sea fringed with floating islands….
Finally we returned back to the parking lot and started our incessant effort for getting a ride back to Rapar. Tourist inflow is thin in Dholavira hence we were not having a luxury of attempt. I remember we were categorically rejected 4-5 times which includes some lame excuses as well. For the first time, I was rejoicing those rejections because deep down I wanted to spend a night on Khadir Island under the sky. Finally with the help of our generous guide, a driver agreed to drop us at Rapar. It was indeed the last tourist vehicle away from Dholavira.
Cactus at Dholavira excavation site
It was already dusked so we withdrew the idea of getting down at the bridge over the white desert. I am unable to find a word which can go along with the degree of fascination we had about White Desert of Great Rann. We agreed to the plan of revisiting the white desert next morning which apparently could not materialize due to our lazy attitude ushered in as a side effect of Rapar. Insanely fast driver covered that 89 km in just 2 hours and we touched down to Rapar again.
Southern Reservoir of Dholavira
In the evening, Rapar turns to a slow motion carnival adorned with dim street lights and pleasing soundtrack underlying. Far away from chaotic alternatives, Rapar is the town where you would love to spend weeks. The next appeasing side of Rapar was the meal we had in the Punjabi restaurant near Adesar circle. There is couple of eating options in Rapar and all offers delectable meals. Gujarati Thali is the best deal and economical as well. Motivated with ulterior curiosity about Rapar, I sauntered in the streets…chit chatted with Pan walas… acquainted with locals… enjoyed a fag under the stars…. Shadows of evening turned to night… artificial lights were off… Only curiosity was left… Sorry Rapar, I could not decipher you…. Then the night she fell….all around…
Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order