One of the most crowded places in Mahabalipuram, the Five Rathas or Panch Rathas are five monolithic temple structures built by the Pallavas in early 7th century AD. The buildings displaying exquisite carvings are named individually after Draupadi and the five Pandava brothers.
I have an affection for studying stones. While I was in Kanchipuram, I dropped by at the sandstone temple of Kanchi Kailasanathar at the break of dawn. Located in one of the busiest cities of Tamil Nadu, the temple was commissioned in the 8th century by Rajasimha, one of the greatest kings of the Pallava Dynasty.
We drive to Mandvi Beach to laze out in the winter Sun. The beach is a curving stretch of yellow sand fringed by green waters, with windmills on one side and an uninterrupted view of the Arabian sea on the other. The sea is safe for swimming and the beach is ideal for walking. The beautiful beach offers many fun activities including Camel rides, bubble floats, speedboats and even para-sailing. But for us peace hunters, a few steps away there is the silence of the gentle waves and the occasional herons flying by.
The Dhordo tents are the most amazing place to stay while exploring the beauty of White Rann. Located just 15 minutes away from the white desert, with luxury tent accommodations, round the clock Gujarati delicacies, a caring staff and numerous activities, you will not have a dull moment for the stay.
I would be the last person to get up at 5 am on a vacation. But I did and yes I am not complaining. I was witness to the most lovely sunrise over the white melted salts of White Rann. The silence accompanied with the vastness of space, the cool breeze of early November and the locals dressed up in ghagra & cholis make this moment a feast for my disenchanted urban soul.
We ride out deep into the desert to explore Kalo Dungar also known as the Black Hill. Kalo Dungar is the highest point in Kutch and the best place to enjoy a panoramic view of the amazing Rann of Kutch. Though not literally black, the hill is known so because in olden times, the merchants returning to Kutch from Sindh used to be guided by this lonesome hill in the grim desert, which used to appear black because of the shadow cast by the sun.
Nothing beats a sunset and that too at the endless desert of White Rann. While basking in the beautiful sunset the only thought that grazed my mind was this, right here..is one of the “Real” 7 wonders of the world.
Chattardi in Bhuj is a small yet wonderful place to experience the history of Kutch. These Chattardis or umbrella shaped domes were built around 1770 AD to glorify the tombs of the Royal families of Rajput lineage. Surrounded by sea on one size and the grim Rann mountains on the other, Kutch remained cut off from the rest of India, in a time-wrapped cocoon with its amazing culture and art confined within these natural boundaries.
Today we ride to a 16th century temple in Lepakshi. Hidden away in the suburbs of Andra Pradesh, this small town was sufficiently influenced by the stone sculptures of Vijayanagar Empire and includes a huge monolithic bull that sits staring at the Temple.