Princely welcome

It was like something out of a movie. On most work journeys we felt super lucky when our accommodation had hot water, clean sheets and somewhat decent toilets. So imagine my delight when after a day in the hot sun visiting this amazing cotton farmer organization and driving back to Mandvi for hours, we arrived at THE BEACH! And not just any beach, but our very own private beach with luxury tents. Wait, NGO? What? It was off-season and this amazing luxury beach tent camp was a fantastic deal. We all ran into our own maharaja-esque abode and emerged shortly afterward to wolf down an amazing barbecue made just for us. The service was impeccable. The next morning we woke up to brilliant sunshine and the calm Arabian sea. Each of us (there were about 8 of us) went about the beautiful beach in our own rhythm, just taking in the pleasure of a beach so empty, so clean (and a bit cold in October-swimming wasn’t quite an option). After breakfast we had an hour or so before our first work meeting so we decided we absolutely had to take a gander at the gorgeous Vijay Vilas palace (the beach camp is actually on the palace grounds). Vijay Vilas is a superbly maintained smallish palace (largish mansion) owned by the Maharo (Prince) of Kutch. Many Indians recognize Vijay Vilas instantly because it’s been featured in some Bollywood movies. My colleague Anup told me exactly which movies and which scenes in those movies were filmed there but I forget. Anyway, we went around this wonderful place and on our way out we casually asked whether we could meet the Maharao. Wouldn’t you believe it the man met us! (I supposed it didn’t hurt I that I had two very blonde Norwegian colleagues with me). He’s a lovely man, made lots of nice small talk, and after some chit chat with him it was time to leave and go back to our work.

Mandvi Palace Beach is definitely a place I want to return to with my other half. And if the price to pay for going off-season and having the beach all to myself is water too cool to swim in, so be it. I’ve got the warmth of my friends in Bhuj, Rapar and Mandvi, whom I will write about soon…

Here’s a link to Mandvi Palace Beach:
http://www.mandvibeach.com/

I told a friend from Kutch I was about to write this blog and he also said that the international kite festival in Mandvi is definitely worth visiting, so if the timing works out go for it: http://www.gujarattourism.com/showpage.aspx?contentid=483

Other things to do: eat a Kutchi dabeli (a sort of veggie burger that’s a local specialty) and buy some bandhani cloth-it’s the most amazingly tiny tie-dye work you’ll ever see.

To get there you fly to Bhuj (from any major Indian city). From Bhuj it’s a couple of hours in a taxi. Pretty darned easy…

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