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Bhuj, in the western state of Gujarat, is home to some of the most colorful tribes in India. Here the womenfolk make exotic crafts including exquisite Lipan or the mud and mirror mural art, lacquer work, Bandhani or tie-dye fabrics and hand embroidered silk textiles. Its Old Town, a medieval jumble of alleyways, bazaars, palaces, courtyards, gateways and dazzling Hindu temples, was established by Rao Khengarji in the 16th century. Bhuj serves as a central access point to most of the remote regions of marshy salt flats of Kutch, an area with cultural wealth on a par with Rajasthan's yet is still visited by few. A short drive from the city is the small beach town of Mandvi, home to a still-active ship building yard where, for over 400 years, the community has continued to build unique boats using traditional technologies.

The town was at the epicenter 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, the beautiful white marble Shree Swaminayan Temple near Hamirsar Lake and the unmissable Chhatedi, the Royal cenotaphs known for their architectural excellence.

November to March is the best time to visit Bhuj when the tribes gather to celebrate some of their most important festivals. During the Desert Festival the arid landscape gets covered under brilliant marquees with lively performances of traditional dance and ballads. 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.

Bhuj North India Bhuj North India
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