Between Mandvi in Kutch and Morbi in Kathiawad Peninsula, there lies a huge area which is a wet desert, neither land nor sea. The marshes are extensive and inaccessible. In the northern parts abutting Pakistan, Border Security Force uses special all-terrain vehicles.
In view of the inaccessible sea-front, we are moving faster than originally envisaged.
Industrialization is taking place wherever possible mainly in the form of power plants. The ports of Mundra and Kandla and the town of Gandhidham are the major activity spots. The little Rann of Kutch and the sanctuary protecting the Asiatic White Ass occupies a major part of the landscape. After Monsoons it is flooded and inaccessible.
We start from Mandvi with a view to make a stopover at Mundra or a nearby place. We skip the beautiful highway and take a smaller road nearer to the coast. In fact, we return back to Mandvi after driving 15 Kms. on the highway. We take the Mandvi-Gundiyali-Nana Bhadiya-Shiracha- Mundra road.
We experience our first flat tyre. The Michelin pump we bought passes the first test successfully.
On the way temples galore.
Temples are accompanied by Tea Shops serving the milky brew of rural life. This is haji Ibrahim’s shop at Nana Ladiya.
A part of the landscape is dominated by two power plants. One of Tatas and the other of Adani group.
Once it was dominated by the Kharik palm, the dry date palm. It is still cultivated commercially.
It is green everywhere after the recent rains but one can see it is temporary. The dryness of the desert will return shortly. We arrive at Mundra and decide to skip the port area. Ports and industrial units are not our agenda unless we get an easy access.
We move on through the old town towards the next place. The Bhandreshwar is an ancient Jain centre and an important Jain pilgrimage centre. We have our lunch here. Rs. 50/- for Jains and Rs. 60/- for Hindus. The eating places are different within the same hall.
Bhadreshwar has a beach and a Diwadandi. I think the Gujarati word Diwadandi describes the structure better than the English word Lighthouse.
As usual permission to enter was refused.
The next stop is Kandla. Looks deserted, almost a ghost town. This was once among the top five ports of India.
We look at the Diwadandi from a distance. Don’t want to ask for permission to enter.
One needs to go through the town of Gandhidham to reach Kandla. In fact, Gandhidham is the town and Kandla is the port. We stay overnight at Gandhidham after a long day on the road.
We found this man on the way collecting taxes in the name of Ashapura Mata.
Suryakiran Naik &