Gujarat – Day 11

January 23, 2020 : Culture, Handicrafts and Salt Flats

We have a very full day today exploring villages and the farthest north part of the state which is a huge salt flat known as the Great Rann of Kutch. It lies on the border between India and Pakistan, and we actually have to bring our passports and pass a border control point before we are allowed out onto the salt flats.

We start the day visiting a small village with excellent examples of bhunga dwellings. Bhungas are traditional houses unique to the Kutch region. They are circular walled with thatched roof. They are known for their structural stability in earthquakes and for being climate responsive. It also protects against sandstorms and cyclonic winds. They are also stunningly beautiful.

A Bhunga Home in the Kutch Region of Gujarat.
Interior of a Bhunga dwelling.
Some of these Bhunga houses have not been so elaborately embellished with colorful paint.
Tribeswoman welcomes us to her village.
A young girl sits outside a Bhunga entrance doing embroidery.
Leaving this village we encounter rush hour again. Major traffic jam.

Next we visit the village of Nirona to see an art form that is practiced only here but probably originated in Persia. Rogan is a form of textile painting which uses a rich, brightly colored paint made from castor oil and natural colors. The artist uses a metal rod to drag a viscous line of color into a pattern. The demonstration we saw was amazing, and of course we had a chance to purchase some wonderful examples of this art form afterwards.

Exquisite example of Rogan Painting. Look at the tiny white dots embellishing the pattern. Of course the more detailed the painting, the more expensive. This one was not cheap.
Another beautiful example of Rogan Painting.
I didn’t purchase anything extravagant at the Rogan Art Studio, but here I model a new, simple (inexpensive) Rogan Art scarf.
Near to the Rogan Art Studio we met a bellmaker, who could hammer out a cowbell in just a few minutes. He also creates many other types of bells.
An amazing variety of bells this artist has created are available for purchase.
Naturally, I purchase the bells attached to a cat. I wonder how my cats at home will react?
John encounters someone hornier than him! 🙂
During a walk through the village we see this abandoned building with the most incredible doors and archways.Someone needs to give this building some TLC.
We also come across this beautifully painted Krishna Temple.
Ceiling with incredible colors in the Krishna Temple.
Exterior ornamentation on the Krishna Temple (see also the photo at the top of this entry).
Boys passing in the lane outside the Krishna Temple.
The next village we visit is Bhirandira, home to the Meghwal Tribe.
A welcoming smile from a villager.
Local barber shop in Bhirandira.
Sometimes participants in impromptu group shots are reluctant to smile for the camera.
A villager stops for a quick sip of Masala Chai tea. They serve it in saucers so it cools quickly and can be consumed right away.
It is hard to imagine that this is everyday attire, and not something intended for a special occasion. How wonderful to live a life so charged with vivid colors.
Colorful, glorious Gujarat.
Even our lunch stop is bedazzled by color. Look at what they have done with the ceiling by hanging rectangles of colorful textiles.
Continuing on towards the Great Rann of Kutch we pass a herd of camels in the field. They are very plain compared to what we are about to encounter.
We make our way out to the salt flats on a camel-drawn cart driven by this handsome man.
At the salt flats the camels are bedecked in color and even tattoos.
My dear, what a lovely shade of eye shadow you are wearing!
How could we resist getting a photo mounted on this tarted up beast.
Celebrating 30 years of leading Toto Tours, I could never have dreamed at the beginning that I would be standing here today!
Musicians lend a mystical atmosphere as the sun begins to set over the Great Rann of Kutch.
The sun sets on the Great Rann of Kutch marking the end of another amazing day of adventures in Gujarat!

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