I am strolling on Mandvi beach, with the cool waters of the ocean slipping though my toes. The noise of the jeering tourists is drowned by the gentle waves of the Arabian Sea. A wave of black herons fly by as if the dimming sun is prodding them to go back to their homes.
Situated at the border of Diu and Gujarat, Mandvi beach is a 6 km long stretch where the pristine water of the turquoise Arabian Sea adjoins the seashore. It was once a major port of the region and summer retreat for King Maharao of Kutch.
Once we were back from the salt desert of White Rann, we decided to spend an evening at this pristine beach. The reception at Click Hotel helped me obtain a car for the ride to the port city.
Drive from Bhuj to Mandvi
Mandvi is about an hour down the road from Bhuj, a busy little place with a spectacular shipbuilding yard. I was pleasantly surprised as the flat landscape gradually changed into a hilly terrain as we drove farther away from Bhuj. While in Bhuj and during my stay at the Rann Utsav, all I have seen is vast stretches of flat lands.
There isn’t much to see along the highway except tiny huts and a few single floored concrete buildings. Mandvi suffered far less destruction than Bhuj in the 2001 earthquake and the heart of town, around Mochi Bazar doesn’t show much damage as I witnessed at Chattardi in Bhuj. The buildings along the colorful town are decorated in faded pastel hues.
History of Mandvi
Located right on the Gulf of Kutch, with the Rukmavati River flowing on the east, the town of Mandvi has a rich history. A fortress was established here in the late 16th century and the town itself was a bustling sea port and trading center. Its landmark temples that drew people from all over the kingdom of Kutch. Today it is a slower, calmer place known for its golden sand beaches and migratory birds.
Our driver dropped us off at the parking area. The beach is just a minutes walk away. Before I reach the turquoise green waters of the sea, huge wind mills on my right draw my attention away. The Wind Farms Beach and Wind-mills, which line the horizon of Mandvi, offer a spectacular view from the beach. The Wind mills projects running here is Asia’s first Wind-Mills Projects, started way back in 1983.
The noise grows louder as we walk further towards the wide sea. It was like a carnival out there. People are busy with swimming, surfing and speed boat trips. Some of the more daredevils are trying their hand at parasailing.
We walk away from the crowd and find ourselves are quiet spot in the sun. A few kilometers away from here lies Vijay Vilas Palace. Built as a summer resort in the 1920s by the then Maharao of Kutch, Vijay Vilas Palace is a beautiful red sandstone structure fusing Rajput architecture with colonial elements. Unfortunately we wont have time to explore it today.
As we sat, chatting away, camels keep running by, carrying shrieking tourists on their back. Apart from swims and walks; one can also avail of these camel rides available at the beach.
But I am here just for a leisurely walk on the beach. The beach is a curving stretch of golden sand fringed by blue-green waters, with windmills on one side, the breakwater on the other, and an uninterrupted view of the Arabian sea in front.
As the hot Sun began to make us uncomfortable, we walked towards what appeared to be a breakwater. Some people were sitting precariously at the edge enjoying the gentle breeze. We couldn’t find any way onto the platform, from our side of the beach, so we resigned ourselves to this side of the sandy beach.
Time flies when you are having fun. I didn’t realize, how quickly evening was upon us. The crowd had thinned and many of the people ferrying camels were casually moving around trying to find interested clients. We don’t ride animals, but I called up to one of the camel owners to ask if I could use his tattooed pet to take some pictures. His pet camel called Saagar, was friendly. He stood there calmly as I took a few photos.
The guy also offered to click a photo of us with the handsome beast.
Sunset on Mandvi Beach
We waited at the edge of the shore, even as the tide slowly receded, revealing more and more of the golden sands. Occasionally someone would disturb the peace with the vrooming of the engines of the monster sand bikes gliding over soft beach sand.
Luckily I was carrying my 80-400mm lens. With the Gitzo tripod holding the beast of a lens, I managed to get a zoomed shot of the lone star in our solar system.
Due to the strong haze, the sun started to disappear a lot before even touching base with the ocean. We said our final goodbyes to the lovely beach on Mandvi and headed back towards the parking lot.
Mandvi beach is one of the finest beach of Gujarat and a historic port town of the Maharao of Kutch. Embraced with golden sands and fishing villages, Mandvi is an idyllic location for a relaxed evening. It is beautifully besieged by windmills on the one hand and green waters on the other. Though not as famous as its northern neighbor Bhuj, Mandvi remains a great place to soak in history and enjoy Kutchi hospitality, all at a leisurely pace.
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Interesting places around Mandvi