MANDVI: WHERE SHIPS SET SAIL
Some Images From Our Trip To Mandvi
Most people have a fascination with the high seas, sailing ships, and other things maritime. If you fall in this category, Mandvi, one hour away from Bhuj, will captivate you. Mandvi has a 400-year-old shipbuilding industry and has served as a seaport since its humble beginnings in 1574 at the hands of the kings of Kutch. Located at a junction of two major trade routes, the camel route through the desert, and the sea spice route, Mandvi saw ships from East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, and further afield during its heydays. During the 1700’s Rao Godiji, the ruler of the region presided over a total of four hundred ships, and Mandvi was the most important harbor in the region. In its early days, this was a fortified town with a massive stone wall of which very little remains today.
Mandvi soon became a rich, prosperous town with numerous religious centers. The first to be constructed was Sundarwar Temple, after which the Lakshminarayan Temple and a mosque, the Jama Masjid followed, in the 17th century. Although Mandvi has been replaced by Mumbai as the major harbor of the region, its famous shipbuilding industry is very much alive and still thriving. A visit to the shipyards next to the River Rukmavati is a revelation; every ship is constructed by hand, with timber from Malaysia’s tropical forests, like it has been done for centuries.
How to get there: Take a flight from Mumbai to Bhuj, from where an hour’s drive will bring you to Mandvi. If you want to do a road trip from Ahmedabad, take the NH 947, and then the NH 41. This is a 6-hour trip.
Where to stay: Try the luxury beach tents at Vijay Vilas Palace if you feel like indulging yourself. Otherwise, Serena Beach Resort also offers comfortable accommodation.
Where to eat: Mandvi will make any food lover’s heart race with pleasure. The traditional Gujarati food is especially tasty. Thalis are delicious anywhere you try them and do not forget to sample a few Dabelis, Kutch’s twist on the vada pav.
✿ Walk along the River Rukmavati and watch how wooden ships are constructed in the shipyards. The amazing skills of these workers will captivate anyone, even if you are not drawn to things of a maritime nature. For centuries craftsmen have implemented the exact same shipbuilding skills their ancestors did to create these wooden oceans-crossing vessels.
✿ You are not in Goa, but that does not mean you cannot have a wonderful time on the beach. Mandvi has a few charming surprises, like the wide, pristine beach next to Vijay Vilas Palace. Mix with the locals on Kashiwshvanath Beach, and partake in the fun. Stay until sundown, wander among the beachfront stalls, sample some delicious street food, and take a ride on a camel.
✿ Put on comfortable shoes, wind down the pace, and explore this ancient town on foot. Go on a leisurely walk through the charming streets, enjoy the architecture of the buildings. Take pictures of the once affluent homes that show the city’s prosperous past with their windows of colorful stained glass, and beautiful carvings. Notice the European influences brought with the fleets of ships during the years of plenty.
✿ Go souvenir shopping at one of the city’s many bazaars. Look out for bandhani textiles and other local items. Sample some of the local dishes at the market food stalls.
✿ Visit the incredible salt desert at the Great Rann of Kutch, only two hours away by road. The salt desert turns into an expanse of salt marshes during the rainy season and is well worth a visit.
Some Images From Our Trip To Mandvi