The walled city of Bhuj is the headquarters of the Kutch district. The princely citadel of Bhuj is named after its Bhujia fortress, which overlooks the city from the city from a hill nearby named Bhujiyo Dungar.The region is said to have witnessed the Indus Valley Civilization, exile of the Pandavas during the Mahabharatha period and the invasion of Alexander the Great. The golden period of Bhuj came when the Jadeja Rajput rulers shifted their capital from Anjaro to Bhuj in the mid 16th century.Bhuj also serves as a base for visiting the Flamingo city for the adventurous travellers.Bhuj is most famous for the wide variety of handicrafts which includes Kutchi embroidery with mirror work ,bandhini,hand printed textiles and saris etc.
Bhuj was founded in 1510 by one of the local ruler Maharao Hamir, but however Rao Khengarji I made Bhuj his capital in 1549.Till Bhuj became a part of India in 1947, Bhuj remained an independent princely state under the rule of the British. The Mughals extended a great support for the local rulers. But however after their decline the rulers of Bhuj felt very insecured and so their built a fortress around the city which was soon overtaken by the British in 1819.After that, Rao Pragmalji, another ruler, constructed three royal palaces in the city, Prag Mahal and Ranjit Vilas Palace at Bhuj and Vijay Vilas Palace at Mandvi. Rao Lakhpatji was a great patron of art and literature and in the year 1750 AD he built the famous Aaina Mahal.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The ideal time to visit the city of Bhuj is during the months of winter for in summer the sun is very sharp.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
The Rann Utsav festival also known as the Desert festival is celebrated every year in February/March and most of the time it coincides with the Shivratri festival.The highlight of the Rann Utsav is the demonstration of traditional handicrafts, cultural events and tours in and around the city. Folk artists and dancers perform cultural events and shows.
Aaina Mahal which is nearly 350 years old is considered to be one of the most exquisite monuments of the city. This palace houses the Maharaja's private collection of paintngs, royal furniture, textiles, arms, ivory works, manuscripts etc.The architect of this palace is Ramsinh Malam who has done it with the European style of architecture. The other highlights of the palace are the mirror work, tile work and fountains in a two storied building with Darbar Hall, hall of mirrors, and suites for royal family.
Rao Pragmalji's palace is an ornate Italian marble and sandstone building which was constructed in the later part of the 19th century. Parts of it are now used for government offices but the vast Darbar hall and the clock tower are open to the public. This mahal is a mix of both Italian Gothic style and European style of architecture done by the famous architect Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins.
The Kutch Museum
The Kutch Museum was initially a part of the School of Art established by Maharao Khengarji III in 1877.It is the oldest museum of Gujarat. The Museum has eleven sections on inscriptions, archeology, sculpture, paintings, coins and currency of the Kutch state as well as from almost every country of the world, a shipping section showing models of ships made in Mandvi, sections on musical instruments, arms and ammunitions, philately and a section on Natural history added in 1978.
Darbargarh Palace complex is more of an intricate maze erected in various stages with about three sections separated by open courtyards. The palace is built with the Rajput style of architecture featured with fabulous carved jharoka balconies, jail -screens and cupolasn get a beautiful view of the old fort, which now accommodates a government office and a school.
Sharad Bagh Palace
Sharad Bagh Palace which is now a museum displays a collection of silver caskets, stuffed tigers, elephant tusks and even Maharao Madan Sinhji's tennis trophies! The folk museum has a re-created Kutchi village in the forecourt and an outstanding collection of beadwork, embroidery, leather articles, woodcarvings, pottery, and historic relics.
The Maharao's chattris
This is actually the burial ground of the royal people known as Chattardis mainly for the Rajor dynasty and is situated in the heart of the town very close to Lakhparo lake. The funeral rites of the Raja Lakhpat which took place in 1796 is the grandest of all. His 15 queens committed sati after his death and the main hall of his Chattardi has their idols along with his. This place also has the palias of famous warriors,bardic poets and queens who committed sati.
Rudra Mata Mandir
Rudra Mata Mandir which is nearly 400 years old is situated at a distance of 14kms from Bhuj on the banks of river Khari.The presiding deities of the Rudra Mata Mandir are the Maharajas of Kutch - the Jadeja family. Very close to this mandir is the Garha Safari Lodge, a theme hotel that has a panoramic view of the river and offers an experience of staying in bhoongas , the traditional dwellings of the villagers but with all the modern comforts.
Bhuj is most famous for the wide variety of handicrafts which includes Kutchi embroidery with mirror work, bandhini, hand printed textiles and saris etc. The items in the shopping list also include silver jewelry, gold jewelry and many other items. The bazaars in Bhuj follow the old traditional style of displaying goods and items.