Welcome to Kutch!
Kutch is an erstwhile princely state of India. It is the largest district of the state of Gujarat and the largest district in India covering an area of 45,652 sq kms. The land is virtually ‘an island’ resembling a tortoise “Katchua or Kachbo”, surrounded by seawater. Thus, the name "Kutch".
Fact to remember:
"Mahe of Puducherry is the smallest (9 sq kms) district of India by area while Kutch of Gujarat is the largest."
Kutch was also known as Kutchdweep or Kutchbet earlier. The Great Rann of Kutch and the Little Rann of Kutch are uninhabitable deserts, which during the monsoon season (June to October) are often completely submerged by floods.
Traditional Kutch Homes
The Great Rann of Kutch, along with the Little Rann of Kutch and the Banni Grasslands on its southern edge, is situated in the district of Kutch and comprises some 30,000 square kilometers between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River in southern Pakistan. The marsh can be accessed from the village of Kharaghoda in Surendranager district.
The area was a vast shallow of the Arabian sea until continuing geological uplift closed off the connection with the sea, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the great. The Ghaggar River, which presently empties into the desert of northern Rajasthan, formerly emptied into the Rann of Kutch, but the power reaches of the river drained as its upstream tributaries were captured by the Indus and Ganges thousand of years ago.
Although most of the marsh is in protected areas, the habitats are vulnerable to cattle grazing, firewood collection and salt extraction operations, all of which may involve transportation that disturbs wildlife. There are several wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves on the Indian side in the Rann of Kutch region. From the city of Bhuj, various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch/ Kachchh district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Charidhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.
The economy of Kutch is still agro-based and in spite of the shortage of water, lot of emphasis is being laid on agricultural and farming activities. Besides the State government, Non-governmental charitable and research institutes like the V.R.T.I. (Vivekananda Research and Training Institute) at Mandvi are helping the farmers in adopting latest farming techniques.
Kutchi Costumes are unique and some of the embroidered ones are very costly as well. Mirror work and embroidery work forms an integral part of Kutchi Handicrafts, irrespective of the community or the ethnic group to which they belong. However, the workmanship differs.
In fact, the various communities can be identified by the pattern of handicrafts and dress or costumes they were. For instance, the Garacia Jat women wear only red or black Chunnis while Rabari women wear black open blouses or Cholis with Odhnis to cover their heads.
In the rural areas women generally wear Chaniya Cholis during the whole year, Chaniya Cholis are of different designs and fashion changes after every 50 kms. Typical Kutchi costume is incomplete without ‘Abha’ and ‘Kanjari’. ‘Abha’ is the name of the typical Choli worn by women folk and ‘Kanjari’ is a long blouse beautifully embroidered and with mirror work. Most men in Kutch wear loose trousers, a long-sleeved under-jacket, a short coat, a plain or silk bordered cloth. Normally men prefer white clothes except the Muslims who prefer colored clothes.
Rabari female dress includes long black woolen skirt, ’Ludi’ and backless blouse, ’Kapadu’. The veil, ’Odhani’ is of black wool with tie & dye pattern. Rabari male dress includes tightly gathered pure white upper garment ’Kadiya’ and long dhoti like wrapped lower garment.
Rabari women of Kutch
The dress of a Harijan lady mainly consists of cotton, silk or satin printed material's skirt, blouse and chunni. However the style change in subgroups. Harijan males are normally seen in whites except except during the festivals.
Kutch men mostly wear a turban over their heads
Ahir young women wear gathered skirts of red, green, blue, orange or brown tie and dye (Bandhej or Bandhini) cloth with rich embroidery. Older married women wear plain black cotton tube skirts and simple decorated cotton or plain Mashru blouses in subdued colors during the festivals.
Extreme climate & temperature ranges from 2 degree C in winter to 45 degree C in summer. Rainfall is very less with average annual rainfall being around 14 inches. The three main seasons are: Summer (from February to June), Monsoon (from July to September) and Winter (from October to January).
Gujarati, Hindi, and local dialects like Kutchi.
Best Time to Visit:
Late October to early April.
Kutch is the home of the last remaining population of Khur (wild ass) in India. There is also a diverse bird population, particularly of the large flamingos. Both are protected in the 5,000 sq kms Little Rann Sanctuary, near Dhangadhra. One has to get permission to enter from the sanctuary superintendent’s office in Dhangadhra.
The people of Kutch believe in simple living and high thinking. The staple food is Rotlas made of Bajri (millet) which the local relish with Butter milk or ‘Chhas’, Butter and Jaggery or ‘Gud’. ’Khichhdi’ made of rice and dal (pulses) is liked by everyone.
The usually Kutchi Cuisine consists of Roti or Rotlas, Curd, Butter milk, Dal, Curry, Vegetables, Papad and Kachumbar. Dry rotlis or Theplas and Khakras and Sev (of Gram Flour) are made and stored as food during travelling etc.
Kutchi Food or Kutchi Thaali
Dabeli: A very famous Kutchi dish
Nowadays, more tasty and palatable food is finding favor than the nutritious one. The main delicacies in food items are Khaman dokla, Gathia, Undhia, Muthia,Raita, Dahi wada, Kachori, Bhajia, Bhaji made of brinjal, bitter gourd and lady’s finger etc. As a change from normal food, Dabeli, Puri Shak, Pav Bhaji, Bhakarwadi, Papdi, Kadak etc. have crept in. There are many varities of sweets like Adadiya, Gulab Pak, Son Papdi, Mohan thal, Pedas, Halwa, Gulab Jamun, Jalebi, etc. Seeds of Dhaniya or Dhana dal, Betel Leaf or Pan with Supari is served after food as the last item.
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