Bhuj – Gujarat
Bhuj is the main city in Kutch. It is an old-walled city with narrow, winding streets. It is a fascinating place in which to walk around with its ornate temples, old palaces, gateways, and winding lanes. The people are friendly and helpful.
Bhuj became the capital of Kutch in the mid-16th century and was ruled by the Jadejas Rajputs until Independence.
The Tourist Office, in the Aina Mahal Palace in the old city, is open daily except Sat 9 am to noon and 3 to 6 pm. They can arrange a guide. They also sell a few pamphlets about Kutch and can provide information about permit requirements.
Aina Mahal (Old Palace)
The interesting old palace of Maharao Lakhpatji is built in the traditional Kutchi style. It was designed by Ram Singh from Saurashtra, who used Indian and European designs. The Maharao Madansinji Museum has a collection of paintings, photos, and Kutchi embroidery. There are historical artifacts belonging to the Maharaja. There is a 20m long painted scroll of Maharao Pragmalji followed by his army celebrating a victory over the Mughals.
The most interesting room is the Hall of Mirrors, which has walls made of white marble and is covered by mirrors surrounded by gilded decorations. The Fuvara Mahal is a music room with fancy, glass-blown lanterns and Venetian glass shades. The Pleasure Pool has a square in the middle where the Maharaja would sit. Hira Mahal has an adorned bed, some outstanding Kutch carpets, and clocks.
Prag Mahal (New Palace)
The Prag Mahal, across the courtyard from the Aina Mahal, is a new marble and sandstone palace built at the end of the 19th century. Parts of the palace are now used as government offices. Tourists can visit theDurbar Hall and the clock tower. There are paintings of former maharajas in the Durbar Hall. Open daily except Sat 9 am to noon and 3 to 6 pm. Admission Rs 5; camera Rs 20, video Rs 50.
Sharad Bagh Palace
This small palace, built in 1867, has a beautiful well-kept garden. On display are personal items of the last Maharaja, who died in 1991.
Established in 1877, this museum has a good collection of archaeological artifacts, weapons, a picture gallery, musical instruments, and textiles.
The Swami Narayan Temple, near the Aina Mahal, is interesting. Open 7 to 11 am and 4 to 7 pm.
The Bharatiya Sanskriti Darshan (Kutch Folk Museum) has reconstructions of traditional village houses. It has some interesting private exhibits of antiques and textiles.