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BHUJ HISTORY & TRAVEL INFORMATION
Bhuj town is the largest city in Kachchh District of Gujarat State. The town was established in 1510 by Rao Hamirji. In 1549 Rao Khengarji I made it the capital of the princely state. It was a sovereign princely state under the British colonial rule and was annexed in to Gujarat state when India became independent in 1947.
There was a devastating earthquake in Bhuj in January 2001 that destroyed much of the city. The population of Bhuj in 2000 was about 136, 430. The city is situated on the outskirts of the salty marshes famous as the Rann of Kachch and is about 110 meters or 360 feet above sea-level. The Bhujiyo hill on its eastern side divides the city from Madhapar village. There were originally three big lakes in Bhuj, of which only one called the Hamirsagar still has water. There are some smaller lakes also. The old town of Bhuj was entirely inside the fort. The recurring earthquakes destroyed much of the fort. A few walls still remain of the fort. The first Swami Narain Sampraday Temple was built in this city in 1822.
Bhuj has direct flight connections to Mumbai with Jet Airways and Air India flights. Bhuj airport was originally military base with limited facilities for commercial flights. The buildings in the airport were earlier all belonging to the Bhuj Rudra Mata Air Force Base and only recently a small civil terminal building has been built. The civil airport has been named Shyamji Krishna Verma Bhuj Airport. The road network around Bhuj is relatively good and the road to Ahmedabad is partially a national highway.
Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachchh University of Bhuj has 22 colleges affiliated to it of which seven are in Bhuj. University awards degrees in Arts, Science, Commerce, Law, Education, Management, Pharmacy, Social Welfare and Engineering. Bhuj is a famous destination for shopping of handicraft work. Artisans of neighboring villages bring their art work to sell in Bhuj. Important landmarks for people wishing to study and know more about Kutchi embroidery are Shrujan, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), Kalaraksha and Women Artisans' Marketing Agency (WAMA). Bhuj is an ideal starting point to visit the Rann of Kutch, the natural reserve.
Attractions in Bhuj
Aina Mahal Palace built by Maharao Lakhpatji and designed by Ram Singh in a blend of traditional Kachhi and European architecture. It is surrounded by a small, fortified courtyard built in the 18th century and located in the old part of the city. The Maharao Madansinji Museum has a collection of paintings, photos, and Kutchi embroidery as well as historical artifacts belonging to the Maharaja. There is a 20 meter long painted scroll depicting Maharao Pragmalji followed by his army celebrating a victory over the Mughals. The most interesting room is the Hall of Mirrors, which has walls made of white marble and is covered by mirrors surrounded by gilded decorations. The Fuvara Mahal is a music room with fancy, blown-glass lanterns and Venetian glass shades. The Pleasure Pool has a square in the center for the Maharaja to sit. Hira Mahal has an adorned bed, some outstanding Kutch carpets, and clocks. Opening hours: 9 to 12 noon and 3 to 5.45 PM. Photography is not allowed.
Prag Mahal (New Palace) is separated from Aina Mahal by a courtyard. It is a new marble and sandstone palace built at the end of the 19th century. Parts of the palace are now used as government offices. Tourists can visit the Durbar Hall and the clock tower. There are paintings of former maharajas in the Durbar Hall. Opening Hours: daily except Saturday from 9 am to noon and from 3 to 6 PM.
Sharad Bagh Palace is a small palace, built in 1867 that has a beautifully maintained garden. Personal items of the last Maharaja, who died in 1991 are exhibited in this palace. Opening Hours: daily except Friday from 9 AM to noon and 3 to 6 PM.
Kutch Museum, formerly known as the Ferguson Museum (named after its founder Sir James Ferguson, Governor of Mumbai during the rule of the British), was established in 1877 and has a fine collection of archaeological artifacts, weapons, a photo gallery, musical instruments, and textiles. It is also the oldest Museum in the state of Gujarat. Opening hours: daily except Wednesday and the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, from 9 to 11.30 AM and 3 to 5.30 PM.
The Swami Narain Temple, near the Aina Mahal, is an interesting Hindu temple and is open from 7 to 11 AM and 4 to 7 PM.
The Bharatiya Sanskriti Darshan (Kutch Folk Museum) has repicas of traditional village houses. It has some interesting private exhibits of antiques and textiles.
Excursions from Bhuj
Special permits have to be obtained from local government offices in Bhuj to visit the villages in border areas. 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. The village of Dholavira is an ancient site associated with the Indus Valley Civilization. Than Monastery (60 kilometers) and the sea resort at Mandvi (60 kilometers southeast) are important places to visit. Anjal Wild Ass Sanctuary and the town of Gandhidham are other places worth visiting near Bhuj.
Fairs and 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.
There is a daily flight between Mumbai & Bhuj and there is a daily night train with 2-tier ac sleeper berths Between Ahmedabad & Bhuj.
Hotels in Bhuj:
The Prince Hotel in the city – 42 rooms
Hotel Ilark in the city - 24 rooms
Garha Safari Lodge outside the city – 17 ethnic cottages
(on the road to Hodka & airport)
Distances from Bhuj:
Mandvi Beach – 45 kilometers or 28 miles
Ahmedabad – 398 kilometers or 247 miles