Saturday, October 9, 2010

Visiting Kachchh

I just returned from a wonderful trip to the western most tip of India, Kachchh, now a part of the state of Gujarat. Kachchh means land that gets intermittently wet and dry (and is also the root for the word tortoise in Sanskrit) and here are found wet lands in the rainy season that dry up once the rains are over each year. The area, though a part of Gujarat, retains its cultural and historical identity and its ties to the neighbouring regions of Rajasthan and Sindh in Pakistan are still evident. Kachchh is bounded by the Gulf of Katchchh and the Arabian Sea on the west. The Great Rann of Kachchh, a part of the Thar desert, and the Little Rann of Kachchh (Rann means saltmarsh) form the northern and eastern parts of the district and the Banni grasslands lie in the south, forming a unique ecosystem.

I was visiting to attend a conference on the maritime history of Gujarat, titled Gujarat and the Sea - the first of its kind, to be organized in Mandvi, which served as a major port for this region. In addition, the organizers arranged for groups to travel and visit different regions of Kachchh, which are quite remote and hard to access. I plan to write a brief account of each of the five days that I spent there, but I begin with a few pictures that capture the overall spirit of the region.

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