The coastal town of Mandvi is located at the point where the Rukmati river meets the Gulf of Kutch and was one of the major ports in the Kutch region. Mandvi is one of the top destinations that will come up on your search results on places to visit in Kutch and here are the top things you can do in this laid back port city.
Mandvi is approximately 60 kilometres from Bhuj and takes about an hour and a half to reach by road. Hiring a cab is the fastest and easiest option.
1. Visit the Vijay Vilas Palace
The Vijay Vilas Palace built in red sandstone stands majestically on a sprawling estate with well laid gardens and marble fountains. The palace was once the summer retreat for the royal family of Kutch and is their residence at present. A small portion of the palace, converted to a museum is now open to public.
The museum is a grand display of several photographs and artifacts of the royal family but gives very little information about the history of the palace or the relevance of the photos. The palace is surrounded by acres of vegetation and flanked by the sea on the far side, possibly making it an ideal hunting ground for the royal family once upon a time. Various taxidermy mounts of wild animals, adornments and photos from hunts bear proof of the royal family’s hunting prowess.
This beautiful palace and its open roof top is now more popular as a shooting location for several popular Bollywood films, making it a perfect spot for your photo-ops. As exquisite as the place is, it left me wanting more, to know about the history and rich legacy of its royalty.
2. Snack on authentic”Dabeli”
This is a snack I often relish at a chaat joint near my house in Bangalore but little did I know that the snack originated from the town of Mandvi. So when in Mandvi, it was a must do for me to try some authentic “Dabeli”. While it is just boiled potatoes with an assortment of chutneys stuffed in between a pav, it was the special dabeli masala loaded with peanuts that stood out for me. Stop anywhere in Mandvi (make sure to go to the crowded places) and try the famous snack.
**Tip - Make it spicy, if you're high up on the spice tolerance meter !
3. Visit the ship building yards
As you enter Mandvi, the sight of the wooden ships or “dhows” lining the banks of the dry beds of the river Rukmati is something you are not likely to miss. Mandvi boasts of a 400 year old ship building yard that till this date is functional. We were there late into the evening, so found the building yards to be closed for the day. But from what we heard from the locals, you can visit the “dhows” during the daytime, when craftsmen are at work and are more than happy to strike a conversation and take you around the 400 year old yards.
4. Witness a spectacular sunset and mesmerizing moonrise at Modhva beach
While the Mandvi Beach and Wind farm beach are the more popular tourist haunts with a lot of eateries, water sports and camel rides, we chose to avoid the crowds and go to the lesser known Modhva beach, suggested by our AirBnB hosts. If you are a person who loves beaches for the peace and calm it brings, this is the spot you are looking for. 11 kms from Mandvi, this virgin beach is a paradise for birders and the perfect place to catch the sunset and moonrise.
Nestled between a tiny fishing village, this hidden gem was the highlight of our Kutch trip. Miles of untouched rippled sand and the mighty sea dotted with fishing nets and tiny boats, made it the perfect backdrop to watch the sunset in its myriad golden hues and see the silver moon reach its heavenly crescendo on a full moon night.
With no other soul in sight and just flamingos and sea gulls for company, I had found my “happy place”, a place where the lulling sounds of the waves drowned out the cacophony of thoughts in my head, where solitude and calmness overpowered every other emotion. Horizon did seem like a place that could actually be reached.
We spent a good two hours here just walking around, chasing sea gulls and flamingos, clicking pictures and taking in the serenity of the place before heading back to Mandvi.
5. Dinner at “Osho”
Head back to Mandvi town and walk through the fort bastions to arrive at this tiny restaurant on the first floor of a building to feast on some gastronomic, lip smacking goodness of the Gujarati thali. Let me warn you, this place has an “eat till you drop” policy, so be prepared to eat more than you think you can. The people at the restaurant take the meaning of “hospitality” seriously, to point of rebuking you if you refuse to eat and are delighted to feed you with multiple rounds of piping hot pooris, rotlas, curries,dal, kadi and sickly sweet jalebis.
6. Visit the numerous temples in the port town
While there was only so much we could pack into an evening, do visit the numerous temples in the port town if time permits and you’re in the mood for some divinity and blessings.
- Shree Swami Narayan Temple
- 72 Jinalaya
- Shitala Mata Temple