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Bhuj

India's western state of Gujarat has a cultural wealth on a par with Rajasthan's yet is still visited by few. It is home to some of most colourful tribes, exotic textiles and glorious temples in India. In arid south-central Kutch, the remote medieval town of Bhuj entrances visitors with its lively mud-walled buildings, mirror work, local dress and crafts, including exquisite and elaborate tie-dyed and embroidered silk textiles.

Rao Khengarji established Bhuj as the capital of Kutch in the 16th century. The Old Town, a jumble of alleyways, bazaars, palaces, courtyards, gateways and dazzling Hindu temples, is famous for its silverwork, either engraved or fashioned into ornate, Rajasthani-style jewellery.

The town was at the epicentre of the January 2001 earthquake, with great loss of life and 90% of its buildings destroyed, but while recovery has been slow it has been successful, and the people of Bhuj are again welcoming visitors with enthusiasm. Bhuj’s most famous sites include the Aina Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), the Gothic-styled Prag Mahal Palace and the beautiful white marble Shree Swaminayan Temple near Hamirsar Lake.

Bhuj is one of the very few main towns in the Kutch region, so it serves as a central access point to most of the remote regions of Kutch. Beyond Bhuj are the Rann of Kutch and the scheduled tribal areas, making it the ideal gateway to fascinating surrounding villages and places of great natural beauty.

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