We traveled to Bhuj, we visited many surrounding areas like the Great Rann of Kutch and Mandvi. After visiting all these places we did a day trip land’s end of the westernmost tip of India. We took a day trip from Bhuj to Nakhatrana, Ashapura temple also known as Mata No Madh, Lakhpat Fort & Gurudwara Sahib, Koteshwar & Narayan Sarovar. We traveled from Bhuj and returned back the same night. It was a long day trip but interestingly the roads were empty and everything was so conveniently managed that we didn’t felt tired.
We traveled on empty roads and sometimes there was no vehicle in sight for several Kms. The roads are single lanes but there was no traffic of vehicles so we traveled fast.
Also read about A day trip from Bhuj to Mandvi Gujarat
A road trip from Bhuj to Mata No Madh, Lakhpat, Narayan Sarovar and Koteshwar.
We started early morning because we wanted to see some birds in Banni Grasslands of Nakhatrana.
Bhuj to Nakhatrana is 50 Km and we reached in one hour. It is the base for visiting Banni Grasslands and handicraft villages in the area.
Nakhtrana is sparsely populated as most of the towns or villages beyond Bhuj town. The desert has bushes and there are some lakes in the area around the town. Due to the water availability in Banni grasslands, many migratory birds visit here in winter months. Grey Napped Tit, Small Minivet, Common Iora, Lesser & Greater Flamingos, Painted Sandgrouse and Grey Hypocolius are commonly spotted here.
This place becomes a paradise for bird’s watchers in winters. We spotted some birds and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings. If you are a bird watcher then I recommend that you stay in this area. There are some nice options for night stay.
There are several villages around Nakhatrana, where you can buy from artisans directly and see them at work. We have already visited and seen the artists at work in their workshops so we didn’t visit any in these villages for this. The hand embroidery, tie & dye, wood carving, lacquered wood crafts, and Rogan painting are popular handicrafts seen in these craft villages of Nakhatrana.
Ashapura Temple / Mata No Madh
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Ashapura, who is the patron deity of Kutch. The temple was originally made in the 14th century and renovated in 1823 after it damaged in the earthquake of 1819. The main sanctum has a red painted stone as an idol of Ashapura Mata, it is 6 feet tall and 6 feet broad at the base. There is lots of open space around the main sanctum.
Thousands of devotees visit this temple during the Navaratris which fall in end March/beginning April and end September/beginning of October. The camps are arranged around the temples to accommodate the devotees from Gujarat and other parts of India.
There is a huge bell in the temple compound. A very interesting story is associated with this bell. It is said that Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro of Sindh presented this bell to temple. The legend is that in 1762 his army attacked Ashaputra temple but the soldiers became blind by the curse of Ashapura. After knowing this Ghulam Shah swore to present a huge bell to the temple. His soldiers regained their sight after his pledge and Ghulam Shah kept his words.
There a busy market around the temple and we parked our cab around 100 meters from the temple. The shops around the temple mostly sell souvenirs related to the Ashapura goddess and other local products. The temple is well maintained and clean, a good place to experience local culture.
Lakhpat Fort and Gurudawara Sahib
Lakhpat Fort is situated at the northwestern tip of India near Pakistan border. It was once an important port city of India but now virtually abandoned for almost 200 years. It is believed to a rich city from where big merchants operated their business with other cities. The name Lakhpat is said to be driven from word “Lakh” as everyone here has lakh’s (Million) of Rupees. The ruins inside the fort tell the rise and decline of a great port city.
From the surrounding walls of Lakhpat fort, I saw the vast emptiness of the desert and the sea. The local guys told us it was from this vast sea desert long caravans used to travel to the middle east and Europe with Indian goods. Now only a few people live here. The walls around the town are still intact and offer tremendous views out over the Rann. We were told that clear desert air and no pollution due to its remote location, the night sky is spectacular especially the new moon for best stargazing.
The Gurdwara Sahib is situated inside the fort and it is also known as Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi as it was established after the visit of first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev. He on his way to Mecca for Hajj stayed in the town in 1519-1521 during missionary journey called Udasis. The Gurdwara was established here in an early 19th century to commemorate his visit. It is a place of worship for the Sikhs and people from other communities also pay their respect here.
This Gurdwara has preserved Guru Nanak Dev’s wooden footwear, cradle (Palkhi), and manuscripts. Nowadays the Gurudwara is maintained by the local Sikh community and Gurdwara Shri Guru Nanak Singh Sabha of Gandhidham. The Gurdwara is declared a State Protected Monument by the Gujarat archeological department. It was also got damaged by Bhuj earthquake of 2001 but they conserved it well and also won the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award of Distinction for conservation.
The fall of Lakhpat is a mystery but according to popular and scientific theory. After the 1819 earthquake, the Indus River shifted its course to the west and the Great Rann of Kutch dried up, so did Lakhpat. It became difficult to transport goods from the marshland and shallow seawater, this causes the fall of Lakhpat.
Koteshwar and Narayan Sarovar
We started from abandoned town of Lakhpat to Koteshwar. There was no traffic on road for many Kms and only a few vehicles passed us in 30 Km stretch between two cities. It is a single road, there are no villages on the way, it’s uninhabited and there were Babul or wild bushes on both sides of the road. The roads were narrow but well maintained may be because of this along with the India Pakistan border and a lot of military movements.
We reached Narayan Sarovar by late afternoon. The water of the Sarovar was not very clean but I saw few people and kids taking bath in it. Narayan Sarovar Lake is one of the 5 holy lakes of Hinduism. The other four lakes are Mansarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Hampi Karnataka, Pushkar in Rajasthan and Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa.
There is a temple of Vishnu on the banks of the lake, who is the main deity. There are temples of goddess Laxmi and other gods also in the area.
Narayan Sarovar to Koteshwar is 4 km and we reach there within few minutes. Koteshwar is the land’s end of western India and temple on the seashore is last construction on the Indian side. By the time we reached it was early evening. The temple was open for darshan, so we first visited the temple and then went to the seashore. The seafront is developed and from here the temple on the shore looking beautiful and standing tall.
It is a nice place to relax as there was so much peace and the nice cool breeze made us relax after a long journey.
After spending some quality time in Koteshwar, we started for Bhuj which is 160 Km and 3 hours drive. It was a smooth drive because there was no traffic.
Thing to know when traveling to Koteshwar, Narayan Sarovar from Bhuj
* From Bhuj to Nakhatrana, Lakhpat, Narayan Sarovar, Koteshwar and return to Bhuj is 330 Kms.
* There are buses twice a day from Bhuj to Lakhpat and Narayan Sarvar but these are not very convenient due to limited duration.
* Start early morning to visit all places during the daytime.
* Carry some food, snacks, and water because there are very limited food stalls or shops on the way.
* There are no restaurants in Lakhpat but you can have free food from Gurudwara kitchen.
* In Gurudwara Sahib Lakhpat, they have a dormitory for the visitors.
* There are few small shops in Narayan Sarvar and Koteshwar selling food items and tea.
* There is a Gujarat Tourism hotel called Toran and a Dharmshala of Narayan Sarovar temple trust, where you can stay for the night.
* There is practically no traffic on the roads and we moved fast from one place to another.
* We felt totally safe even while traveling in most secluded roads.