Kutch Travel Guide
Food and drink
Food and drink
The majority of the population is vegetarian. Jains, Brahmins and some other caste perform strict vegetarianism. Jains also refrain from eating kandmool food grown below the ground such as potatoes, garlic, onion , Suran etc. Hindus perform various degree of vegetarianism but certainly do not eat beef. In the villages, staple foods include bajra and milk. Bajra was introduced by a brave king of this region named Lakho Fulani. During his period of exile, he came to know about this grain in some tribal regions. They also extensively drink buttermilk during lunch. Milk is considered to be sacred food and offering it to somebody is considered a gesture of friendship and welcoming. Settlement of dispute invariably follows offering milk to each other as a concluding remark. In the Kutchi engagement ceremony, the bride's family offers milk to the groom's relatives as a symbol of accepting their relationship. Tea is the most popular drink in this region and is enjoyed irrespective of sex, caste, religion or social status. Tea stalls where groups of people chat over tea are invariable sights of every village or town entrance from early morning to late evening. Most people drink it with milk and sugar. Offering black tea to guests is considered to be a bad gesture. Tea without milk is offered when people are visiting host to mourn death of relatives. Tea was introduced in this region by the British as part of medicinal purpose to counteract the plague epidemic in the early 19th century. Alcoholic liquor is another popular drink, though it has been illegal to drink or possess since Kutch was incorporated within Gujarat. Most of the liquor drunk in this region is distilled from molasses by local people in villages. As a rule, women do not drink.
The dominant religions of Kutch are a form of Vaishnav Hinduism, Jainism and Islam. Sikh Gurudwara is also situated in kachchh at Lakhpat. This gurudwara was originally a house where the first guru Shri Guru Nanak stayed during his journey to Mecca. The Swaminarayan Sampraday has a huge following in this region. Their main temple in this district is Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Bhuj. Anjar city is the really famous also as Swaminarayan Mandir and Swaminarayanians.
Kutch district (also spelled as Cutch or Kachchh) is a formerly-independent district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,612 km², it is the largest district in the state of Gujarat and the second largest district of India after Leh.
Kachchh literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kachchh which is shallow wetland which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word is also used in the languages of Sanskrit origin for a tortoise and garments to be worn while having a bath. The Rann is famous for its was marshy salt flats which become snow white after the shallow water dries up each season before the monsoon rains.
The district is also famous for ecologically important Banni grasslands with their seasonal marshy wetlands which form the outer belt of the Rann of Kutch.
Kachchh District is surrounded by the Gulf of Kachchh and the Arabian Sea in south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Small Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kachchh. When there were not many dams built on its rivers, the Rann of Kachchh remained wetlands for a large part of the year. Even today, the region remains wet for a significant part of year. The district had a population of 1,583,225 of which 30% were urban as of 2001. Motor vehicles registered in Kutch district have their registration Number starting with GJ-12.
Remote and sparsely populated while the district of Kutch may be, it has had an interesting history. The Indus valley civilization, known to be one of the first ever civilised societies consisted of the ancestors of Kutchis as well as others. However now most of the river lies in Pakistan after India was split up.
A few major towns of the Indus Valley Civilization are located in Kachchh. Dholavira, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological site in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in the northern part of the Kachchh district - the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The Dholarvira site is believed to have been inhabited between 2900 BCE and 1900 BCE, declining slowly after about 2100 BCE, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied, finally by villagers among its ruins, until about 1450.
Kutch was formerly an independent state, founded in the late 13th century by a Samma Rajput named Jada, from which name the Jadeja Rajputs derive their patronymic. The Jadeja dynasty ruled not only Kutch but also much of neighbouring Kathiawar for several centuries until the independence of India in 1947. In 1815 Kutch became a British protectorate and ultimately a princely state, whose local ruler acknowledged British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. Bhuj was the Capital of Princely State of Kutch. One surviving relic of the princely era is the beautiful Aina Mahal ("mirror palace"), built in the 1760s at Bhuj for the Maharao of Kutch by Ram Singh Malam who had learnt glass, enamel and tile work from the Dutch. Along with that during that time period Kutch had its own currency, while the rest of British India was using rupees.
Upon the independence of India in 1947, Kachchh acceded unto the dominion of India and was constituted an independent commissionerate. It was created a state within the union of India in 1950. On June 1, 1948, Chhotalal Khovshaldan Desai became its first Chief Commissioner. He was succeeded by Sambhajirao Appasaheb Ghatge in 1952. He was in office till October 31, 1956. On November 1, 1956, Kachchh was merged with Bombay state, which in 1960 was divided into the new linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, with Kachchh becoming part of Gujarat state.
On the Partition of India in 1947, the province of Sindh, including the port of Karachi, became part of Pakistan. The Indian Government constructed a modern port at Kandla in Kutch to serve as a port for western India in lieu of Karachi. There was a dispute over the Kutch region with Pakistan and fighting broke out just months before the outbreak of the Second Kashmir War. Pakistan claimed 3,500 sq mi (9,100 km2) of the land and an international tribunal was set up. It awarded 350 sq mi (910 km2) of the claimed land to Pakistan, the rest remaining with India. Tensions flared again during the Atlantique Incident as it came just weeks after the 1999 Kargil Conflict.
The epicentre of the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake was in this district. It was the most severe of the more than 90 earthquakes that hit Kutch in 185 years. Much of Bhuj was destroyed or damaged, as were many villages. Many of the attractions of Bhuj, including the Aina Mahal, have still not been restored as of 2009.