Miles of dusty desolation torn asunder by a smooth road, herds of cows and buffalos desperately grazing although there is no grass to be seen, women walking towards the horizon carrying vases of water… if I have to list out my first impression of Kutch in a series of visuals, these will be some of the initial scenes. But in hindsight, they look more clichéd than dramatic because most self-respecting travellers I know have already been to this place and I am finally here now after years of failed and postponed plans and yet, I am having to cut short the trip due to time and fund constraints. So, my Rann of Kutch trip, for this year will be limited to just getting the basic feel of the region and experiencing a first-hand view of the salt deserts apart from the more ambitious Dholavira trip that is scheduled for tomorrow (Hope Murphy doesn’t strike there too).
So, what have I done so far? After spending the first night at Bhuj, the headquarter of Kutch, the first place I visited was the famous Kalo Dungar (Black Hill), the highest point in the Rann. I am not exactly sure why it is called so in the first place because the colour is not exactly black. It is earthy brown from one side and of course, the other side offers us the view of the white desert which offers more shades of blue than one can imagine.
There are some interesting myths associated with the place. There is a temple called Dattatreya Temple at the top. It offers free lunch to everyone who drops by. I had it too (but feel free to donate some money for maintenance and help of those who actually need free food). According to the story Lord Dattatreya once offered his own body to starving jackals here and so the priests here offer food to the jackals. I think it happens in the evening but I was there at noon and so missed this spectacle (One of the reasons why you should have personal vehicle on such trips).
It is actually strange to imagine that wild animals frequent this place considering the barrenness, altitude and sweltering heat and not to mention the tourist flow nowadays. But I guess it happens because I did see a lot of small birds. I did not identify all of them but I fulfilled one of my lesser dreams of capturing the scarlet derriere of a bulbul.
I wish I could stay there till the evening but had to leave as I had to cover other places. I will come back with the remaining stories, later on, now I have to start packing for Dholavira.
Reaching Kalo Dungar
It is around 95 kms from Bhuj. The nearest town is Khavda. The buses generally go no further than Khavda. You can still hitchhike using local vehicles but may be difficult if you are not used to the scorching sun of western India. The best is of course if you have your own vehicle or otherwise, you can hire cabs from Bhuj. They charge INR 8/KM which sounds cheap to begin with but you must be careful because they often come with added conditions. For instance, I was told that while the rate was as I mentioned, they round it up to 300kms even if I travel less. Of course, it is not an issue if you are there as a group but may be difficult for a solo traveller, that too one with financial issues.
18 thoughts on “Kalo Dungar: Black or Blue?”
Seriously, this place is full of tourists? From your pics it looks like a destination one can escape to when in need of a real break from the din of the city.
Nice images, as always. 🙂
It is!… I just avoided clicking them…
Amazing photos , Great to read your post.
Amazing. I know where I am going for the next trip. 🙂
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Is there a path direct from kala dungar to dholavira? In the map that loos to be a short distance than via bhuj.
I do not really think so… It is just desert with no transportation (or even a road) in between apart from the road I mentioned in my Dholavira Guide.
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The views from Kalo Dungar is lovely. The color of the ocean is just in contrast to the landscape. Too bad about not being able to spend more time here.. The offering of food to the jackals sounds like an interesting event. 🙂
Sometimes it’s good to get a basic feel of a place and then return at later date for another visit to delve in more deeply. I too am curious about the reason for the name of the Black Hill! Some great birding from the looks of it.
We figured also on our trips that in the places, where we didn’t have our own transport, we missed out on the essentials. We love nature and wildlife more than anything, so we’d also have wanted to see the feeding of the jackals. I didn’t even know that there are jackals in India! I wouldn’t want to get further into the offering of bodies to them though 😉
I’ve never been to Rann of Kutch and actually have never even considered it. The whole desert landscape can be a big turn off for me, especially since I live in the UAE, which is a desert all over. I crave for greenery! But I do like your pictures and it seems like an interesting place to explore, thanks for sharing such a detailed experience.
Rann of Kutch is a place I want to see from a long time, but honestly this view isn’t something I expected. Of course the views from top are amazing, but it looks too barren and dry and too hot to go and hike up till the highest point. The temple offering food for free is amazing and I do agree one should donate something as a kind gesture. I guess I should start reading more on the Rann of kutch 🙂
Kalo Dungar looks like a great spot for scenic views. Nice tip about the cab drivers possible changing fares.
This looks like a really beautiful place and I agree with earlier commenters that it definitely looks isolated and without any other tourists. Clever photography by you I suspect 🙂 I really like the tradition of offering food up to the jackals as well.
You’ve really managed to capture some beauty and make it look like a really quiet place to visit! Kalo Dungar looks stunning, the view reminds me of that from the top of Mt Vesuvius, all blue sea and sky. Really nice place – maybe one day I’ll get there!
My mom used to tell me stories of Kalo Dungar way back in my Childhood saying that the jackals will attack us there if we were bad kids 😉 It was only later when we grew up we realized why that story. I have never been here though it is so close to my birth town but I hope to remedy that one soon. It was good seeing it here.
That blue is insane, I don’t think we have seen such an expanse in a hot desert environment!