My first stop on my journey through Kutch, headquarters of the district and the most important place in the area is the city of Bhuj. Picturesquely placed between two streams, Bhuj was built by Rao Khengarl (1548-85) with a city wall, 10.5mtrs high that forms a polygon to surround it. It has 5 major gates and one small gate known as Chathi bari. Not much remains of the fort wall after the multiple earthquakes Bhuj has been through over the years. The city stands largely resurrected following the massive 2001 earthquake that destroyed most of the place. Against the dramatic backdrop of Bhujio hill and is an interesting city to explore. The tombs, palaces, museums and other buildings from the rule of Naga chiefs, the Jadeja Rajputs, the Gujarat Sultans and the British form a part of Bhuj’s beautiful history. Bhuj is an ideal springboard for visits to the surrounding artisan villages like Nirona and to places of great natural beauty like the Great White Rann, and its textile tourism is attracting visitors from around the world. But today is about the Darbargadh complex and all the palaces within. So let’s take you on a walk through Bhuj’s beautiful palaces:
The beautiful Aina Mahal (Mirror Palace) was built for Maharao Lakhpati in 18th century by sailor and master craftsman Ramsingh Malay, who trained in Holland for 17years as an artisan. It features delft-style-blue-and-white tiling influenced by the artist’s time spent in Holland. The was an entertainment room was my favorite decorated by ﬁne pieces of art. Belgium chandeliers and lamps. The marble throne in the centre-back was meant for the king. The musicians sat on the brocade and embroidered divan in the middle. The small island was surrounded by lanterns and moving water – this ensured the room remained cool, The lamps would be filled with coloured water. With a layer of oil and a wick on top. The lamps would be lit up along with the numerous chandeliers.One can imagine the overall result of the coloured light of the chandeliers and lamps reflecting on the water, the sound of the fountain and the beautiful melody of the instruments being played. Must’ve been surreal. With spectacular gold and ivory inlaid doors at every turn, its decor was royal and splendid. You can’t help but stare g in awe at the chandeliers and the intricate mirror work on the pillars.
Prag Mahal Palace is the largest of the three palaces in the Darbargadh complex. Built in the 19th-century it wouldn’t look out of place in Europe but is located next to the Aina Mahal in Bhuj, Gujarat, India. Built in the Italian Gothic style by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins in 1860 for king Pragmalji, much of the palace as destroyed by the 2001 earthquake. This exquisite property has its clock tower, the top of which offers the panoramic view of Bhuj. The Parag Mahal boasts of the second highest clock tower in India. Walk inside to admire its ghostly darbar hall, with its high ceiling and antique furniture this hall sports a royal and classic look. I love how travel brings people together. Meet @kim_woods_yarns a collector and enthusiast of all things vintage & artsy and @brisgard a gardener and a hardcore cider making purist. They love travelling and this is their 10th trip to India ? They were living at the same Airbnb homestay as me and have decided to accompany me on my adventures through. I decided to climb the stairs of the 45m bell tower for an exhilarating and sweeping view of the city.
The last stop for the day is the 17th century Rani Mahal (Queens Palace), the former main royal residence, is completely closed up after it was partially destroyed in the earthquake however you can still admire the latticed windows of its zenana (women’s quarters).