When we visited the beaches at Daman, Kutch Mandvi, and the temple town of Somnath, we saw camels on the beach. Their owners offer rides to holidaymakers, who have come to enjoy the sun, sea, and sand.
However, camels are not only kept for pleasure. All over Gujarat, we spotted camels drawing carts and wagons in towns, villages, and in the open countryside. Apart from being picturesque to my western eyes, they are much valued beasts of burden.
Gujarat and Kutch are areas with a semi-desert terrain and almost desert weather conditions. The camel is ideaaly suited to this environment. Most of the camels used in Gujarat State are bred in Kutch and are highly priced.
Read much more about this fascinating part of western India in “TRAVELS THROUGH GUJARAT, DAMAN, AND DIU” by Adam Yamey. The paperback is available from lulu.com, bookdepository.com, and Amazon, which also supplies the Kindle version.
A view from Vijay Vilas Palace near Mandvi
Mandvi is a small but significant seaport on the coast of Kutch. Formerly an independent kingdom, Kutch is now part of Gujarat State.
Here are some brief excerpts about Mandvi from Adam Yamey’s paperback book “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu” (click here: NOW! )
ALSO available on KINDLE as “Travelling through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu” ( click here: HERE ! )
“After traversing a long multi-arched bridge across the wide mouth of the River Rukmavathi, we entered Mandvi. It has a population slightly over fifty thousand. It is no larger than many villages elsewhere in India but is an important centre with a seaport. We passed a circular stone bastion and a stretch of the old city walls attached to it before entering the old city through a lovely, old, narrow stone archway. Cowpats, to be used as fuel, were drying on its walls. Much of the rest of Mandvi’s once extensive fortifications have been destroyed in recent years.”
Cow dung drying on the remains of the city walls of Mandvi
“The bazaar is a tangled warren of narrow, smooth-surfaced lanes lined with shops and some venerable, picturesque buildings. The older buildings are embellished with verandas and upper-storey terraces and much nicely carved woodwork.”
“Numerous motorbikes and scooters wove their way through the crowds of pedestrians, who ambled along paying little or no heed to the motorised two-wheelers, whose owners sounded their horns unceasingly.”
“During our subsequent travels in Gujarat, we began to get used to mingling with vehicles that moved through bazaars, getting so close to us that we were almost hit by them. That we were never harmed by them is a testament to the skill of their drivers.”
“I managed to become detached from my companions and became quite lost in this picturesque environment because I was too busy taking photographs…”
“…Luckily, I knew the name of the shop, to which the others were heading. A kindly shop owner sent his shop assistant to lead me to the shop, where I was supposed to be.”
“I noticed a plastic building shaped like a dome. Standing on the shore, it reminded me of the hemispherical concrete bunkers that the Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha built all over Albania. This one had no defensive purpose. It was the fishermen’s office. Across the almost dried up mouth of the river on the opposite bank, we could see the large wooden boats being constructed in Mandvi’s ship yards.”
“Mandvi is well-known for its production of wooden dhows, which are sold to, and used in, the Arabian Gulf, mainly Dubai. The owner of one of the yards, whom we saw seated in a deck-chair, informed us that the timber for the boats is imported from Malaysia. It is not teak, but the highly durable and water-resistant sal wood (Shorea robusta).”
“After our shopping expedition, we drove to the nearby sandy Mandvi Beach by the Arabian Sea. We walked passed many flimsy-looking stalls and huts selling snacks and knick-knacks. Near these, there were horses and tattooed camels available for hire to visitors.”
“J drove us to the Shri Ambe Dham Mandir … Next to the mandir (temple), there is an alcove containing a greater than life-size model depicting Mother India wearing a gold-coloured crown and a robe (coloured orange, white and green) holding the National Flag of India. Behind her, there is a large map of India showing all of India’s states labelled in Gujarati script. Models of nine men wearing various Indian national costumes (including Sikh and Muslim) stand around the female figure.”
If you have enjoyed these excerpts, then read much more about Gujarat, Daman, and Diu by clicking: