Curious Wheels

by Anurag Dagar (India)

Making a local connection India


Crocodiles!! We shouted together as one of our friends was trying to capture a shot of a common crane, oblivious of the crocodile nearby. We started on cycles from Bhuj in the morning and this was our first stop on the route (25 kms from the start). There was a local tea shop and a water body behind with birds and many crocodiles (that we found out later!!). Kutch is a one of the most beautiful places in India. The place is famous for the great Rann of Kutch which is a salt desert. Thousands of tourists visit Rann of Kutch every year from Nov-Feb. However, we chose to cycle around the lesser known and unexplored paths of Kutch Coastal on cycles. Our journey started from Bhuj (330 kms from Ahemdabad), an ideal staring point. Bhuj is a beautiful place known for its centuries old palaces, museums and temples. It is well connected by Roadways, Railways and Airways. From Bhuj we cycled to a place called Mandvi. We got into a Jain Dharamshala (10 kms before Bhuj). We had lunch and took a nap there before heading to Vijay Vilas Palace and Mandvi beach. Mandvi was once a major port of the region. We enjoyed walking along the sea shore of Mandvi during the sunset. The next was a long ride as we wanted to cover Pingleshwar (another untouched and beautiful beach) and then reach Naliya where we decided to stay. Riding through traffic free roads, we enjoyed the view, as we cycle past wind mills and cotton fields on both sides of the roads. It was more than a 100 km ride on this day but totally worth it. Naliya is a small and busy town. There was much to see so we called it a day. Early morning the next day, we decided to visit the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary. The Great Indian Bustards are on the endangered list and there only 20 odd birds remaining. However, we were a bit disappointed as we couldn’t sight the birds. We got back on the saddle to ride to Narayan Sarovar, a popular pilgrimage place. Once we reached our hotel, we visited the ancient Koteshwar Mahadev temple, the westernmost point of India. Next day morning we planned on visiting Lakhpat before heading to Mata-no-Madh. Lakhpat is the western most town of India. It is sparsely populated, but very interesting place. The town is enclosed by long 18th century fort walls. Beyond the fort walls was the border of India Pakistan. We were lucky to be offered lunch at Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib (a place of worship for the Sikhs), as we really needed to re-fuel. The Granthi gave us a quick tour of the place. After spending time at Lakhpat, we headed to our stay at Mata-no-Madh. The next day we headed back to Bhuj completing 450 kms of our entire cycling journey. It was truly an amazing experience to ride on the coastal roads – serene beaches, cotton fields, windmills and friendly and warm locals.