Kutch

Kutch is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,612 km², it is the largest district in the state of Gujarat and the second largest district of India after Leh.

Large part of Kutch known as Rann of Kachchh is shallow wet-land which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word is also used in the languages of Sanskrit origin for a tortoise and garments to be worn while having a bath. It is interesting to note that when its map viewed upside down, it resembles a tortoise.

Kutch is surrounded by the Gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea in south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Small Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kutch. When there were not many dams built on its rivers, the Rann of Kutch remained wetlands for a large part of the year. Even today, the region remains wet for a significant part of year.

Kutch had a population of 1,583,225 of which 30% were urban as of 2001.

Geography

Kutch with 45,652 km², is the second largest district in India. The administrative headquarter is in Bhuj which is geographically also in the center of district. Other main towns are Gandhidham, Adipur, Anjar, Mandvi and Mundra. The district has 966 villages.

Kutch is virtually an island, bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west; the Gulf of Kutch in south and southeast and Rann of Kutch in north and northeast. The border with Pakistan lies along the northern edge of the Rann of Kutch. The Kutch peninsula is an example of active fold and thrust tectonism. In Central Kutch there are four major east west oriented hill ranges characterized by fault propagation folds with steeply dipping northern limbs and gently dipping southern limbs. From the gradual increasing dimension of the linear chain of hillocks towards the west along the Kachchh mainland fault and the epicentre of the earthquake of 2001 lying at the eastern extreme of Kutch mainland fault, it is suggested that the eastern part of the Kutch mainland fault is progressively emerging upward. It can be suggested from the absence of distinct surface rupture both during the 1956 Anjar earthquake and 2001 Bhuj earthquake, that movements have taken place along a blind thrust. Villages situated on the blind thrust in the eastern part of the Kutch mainland hill range (viz. Jawaharnagar, Khirsara, Devisar, Amarsar and Bandhdi) were completely erased

Languages

The languages spoken predominantly in Kutch are Kachchhi and Gujarati. Kutchi draws heavily from its neighbouring language groups: Sindhi, Punjabi and Gujarati. Script of Kutchi language has become extinct reducing it to a dialect, occasionally written in the Gujarati script. Samples of Kutchi script are available in Kachchh Museum. Kutchi and Gujarati are not mutually intelligible though Sindhi and Kutchi are to some extent.

People

Kutch is inhabited by various groups and communities. Many of these have reached this region after centuries of migration from neighbouring regions of Marwar (Western Rajasthan), Sind, Afghanistan and further. Even today, one can find various nomadic, semi nomadic and artisan groups living in Kutch. While certain groups like the Kutchi Rabaris, Meghvals, Wankars, Ahirs , leva patels and many others have adopted a settled lifestyle and have struck a life rhythm much close to that of the modern day towns. There are still some groups such as Dhanetah Jaths, Halepotra, Raisipotra and even the Sammas, Node and other Muslim groups who stay in the Banni region, in much more primitive living conditions.

The Leva Patel group of Kutchi’s have 24 Ghams, the leva patel group migrated out of kutch in 1970′s and came to England, many Kunbi people settled down in Wembley and Kenton,that is were you will still find the majority of Kunbi people

A number of natives migrated to Africa, especially South Africa, Kenya , Uganda and Tanzania, in the early 1960′s and also form a substantial expatriate population in the United Kingdom.

Economy and Industries

Kutch is a growing economic and industrial hub in one of India’s fastest growing states – Gujarat. Its location on the far western edge of India has resulted in the commisssioning of two major ports Kandla and Mundra. These ports are near most to the Gulf and Europe by the sea route. The hinterland of north-western India hosts more than 50% of India’s population.

And Very well connected By Road, Rail and Air. Road qualities are one of the best in India. Kutch have very large number of small truck fleet owners and Village Ratnal have largest number of truck ownership in Asia. People have natural Entrepreneurial skills and large number of people of Kutch have are NRI and Businessman, Industrialist all owner India and support a lot to local economy by Investment and remittance. The Village of Baladia is considered Richest village in Asia with more than Rs. 2 bn bank deposits and all 100% villagers are creditors and no debtors and separate article was published for Baldia and Ratnal in Time Magazine. Kutch is Mineral rich region with very large reserve of Lignite, Gypsum and lot of other mineral. Kachchh got tax break for Industries for 15 years after the major earthquake in January 26, 2001. And now houses Asia’s largest Cement Plan, Sanghi Cement. Kandla – India’s largest port by cargo handling. Mundra – One of the most sophisticated high-tech ultra modern port. Other major Industries are Welspun, Ajanta Clocks, One of the largest windmill farms concentration, Kutch region produces 70% salt of India. Kutch is world famous for Handicraft and Embroidery. Bunni – Embroidery and Bhujodi Village is famous for hadicraft and shawls. The Belts From Towns 1) Shamkhiyali – Bhachau -Gandhigham -Kandla, 2 ) Gandhidham – mundra, 3) Gandhidham – Adipur -Anjar – Bhuj, 4) Bhachau – Bhuj houses hundreds of Industries. And It is part of Silver corridor of India. The Major Industries in Kutch are Import-Export, Transportation and Cargo Handling, Cement, Mining, Ports, Salt, Tourism, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Timber, Real Estate, Retail and lot more. The local environment, people and government is very business friendly and pro-industry. The towns of Gandhidham and Bhuj are very livable, peaceful and environment is very conductive for any business. If you are thinking to Invest in India, don’t miss to evaluate this region.

Handicrafts

Kutch has a strong tradition of crafts and is famous for its embroidery. The finest ari embroidery was woven for the wealthy people. Women in rural areas once engaged in preparing beautiful clothes and decorations for dowries.

Another important art of Kutch is bandhani, which primarily originated in the region. Women wear saris of bandhani art on festive occasions like marriages, or holidays like Navaratri and Diwali. Handprinting is used to make bedspreads, pillow covers and other household furnishings.

Mud work is another artwork of Kutch. Artistic wall pieces made with mud and mirror work are used to decorate homes.

Religion

The dominant religions of Kutch are a form of Hinduism, Jainism and Shia Islam.

Foods and Drinks

The majority of the population is vegetarian. Jains perform strict vegetarianism. They also refrain from eating kandmool food grown below the ground such as potatoes, garlic, onion etc. Hindus perform various degree of vegetarianism but certainly do not eat beef. In the villages, staple foods include bajra and milk. Bajra was introduced by a brave king of this region named Lakho Fulani. During his period of exile, he came to know about this grain in some tribal regions. They also extensively drink buttermilk during lunch. Milk is considered to be sacred food and offering it to somebody is considered a gesture of friendship and welcoming. Settlement of dispute invariably follows offering milk to each other as a concluding remark. In the Kutchi engagement ceremony, the bride’s family offers milk to the groom’s relatives as a symbol of accepting their relationship. Tea is the most popular drink in this region and is enjoyed irrespective of sex, caste, religion or social status. Tea stalls where groups of people chat over tea are invariable sights of every village or town entrance from early morning to late evening. Most people drink it with milk and sugar. Offering black tea to guests is considered to be a bad gesture. Tea without milk is offered when people are visiting host to mourn death of relatives. Tea was introduced in this region by the British as part of medicinal purpose to counteract the plague epidemic in the early 19th century. Liquor is another popular drink, though it is illegal to drink or possess. Most of the liquor drunk in this region is country made, distilled by local people in villages from molasses. As a rule, women do not drink.

History

Remote and sparsely populated while the district of Kutch may be, it has had an interesting history. The Indus valley civilization, known to be one of the first ever civilised societies consisted of the ancestors of Kutchis as well as others. However now most of the river lies in Pakistan after India was split up.

Prehistoric Period

A few of major towns belonging to Indus Valley Civilization are located in Kutch. Dholavira locally known as Kotada Timba is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological site in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in northern part of the Kutch – the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The Dholarvira site is believed to be inhabited between 2900 BCE and 1900 BCE, declining slowly after about 2100 BCE, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied, finally by villagers among its ruins, until about 1450.

Medieval Period

Kutch was formerly an independent state, founded in the late 13th century by a Samma Rajput named Jada, from which name the Jadeja Rajputs derive their patronymic. The Jadeja dynasty ruled not only Kutch but also much of neighbouring Kathiawar for several centuries until the independence of India in 1947. In 1815, Kutch became a British protectorate and ultimately a princely state, whose local ruler acknowledged British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. A beautiful mirror palace, one surviving relic of the princely era is the Aina Mahal (“mirror palace”), built in the 1760s at Bhuj for the Maharao of Kutch by Ram Singh Malam who had learnt glass, enamel and tile work from the Dutch.

Modern Period

Upon the independence of India in 1947, Kutch acceded unto the dominion of India and was constituted an independent commissionerate. It was created a state within the union of India in 1950. On November 1, 1956, Kutch was merged with Bombay state, which in 1960 was divided into the new linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Kachchh thereupon became a part of Gujarat state.

After the Partition of India in 1947, the province of Sindh, including the port of Karachi, ended up in Pakistan. The Indian Government constructed a modern port at Kandla in Kutch to serve as a port for western India in lieu of Karachi. There was a dispute over the Kutch region with Pakistan and fighting broke out just months before the outbreak of the Second Kashmir War. Pakistan claimed 3,500 sq. mi of the land and an international tribunal was set up. It, however, awarded only 350 sq. mi of the claim by Pakistan, the vast majority remaining with India. Tensions flared again during the Atlantique Incident as it came just weeks after the 1999 Kargil Conflict.

The epicentre of the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake was in this district. It was the most severe earthquake (out of more than 90 earthquakes) to hit Kutch in 185 years. Much of Bhuj was destroyed or damaged as were many villages. Many of the attractions of Bhuj, including the Aina Mahal, have still not been restored.

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