Gujarat is the state with the longest coastline in India, totalling to about 16000 km. Along this coastline, in the district of Kutch, lies Mandvi – one of the best kept secrets of Gujarat. Known for its calm and serene beach, Mandvi has multiple beaches – the Mandvi beach (often popularly called as the Kashi Vishwanath beach, the Wind Farm beach that is 7 km west of the town, and the Maharaja’s private beach. The Maharaja lives in the Vijay Vilas Palace, which is also a heritage resort and has his own private beach behind the palace.
Mandvi is surrounded by a fort with a wall about 8 km long. This fort was built in 1549 by Rashori Bharmalji. The fort, like most lesser known ones in the country today, is in ruins, a major part of it having been destroyed with time. This fort, is said to be a resting place for the kings in its time. When one enters Mandvi, there is a bridge on Rukhmati river which one has to cross, which marks the beginning of the Mandvi fort.
Mandvi itself used to be a major port center in its glory days. It was considered to be one of the richest cities in Kutch due to this. At that time, pilgrims going to Mecca would go via Mandvi.
Mandvi can be visited all year round, but the best time to visit would be from October to March, especially if you wish to roam around and also cover the Rann of Kutch in the same trip. The nearest airport and railway station is in Bhuj, around 50-60 km away. Various tour buses operators as well as GSRTC have buses plying between all major cities and Mandvi. You can also get a bus to Mandvi from Bhuj as well as Mundra.
The Vijay Vilas Palace is a must visit in Mandvi. The palace depicts the fusion architecture which inspired the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. You can also choose to stay here, at the luxury tents off the Palace’s private beach.
Roaming around is tedious work, hunger is sure to follow. Head over to Osho, located in a narrow building in the busy market area. The food is very economic and delicious. you would break the attendant’s heart if you refuse second and third helpings of the food here! The market around is always abuzz with people and hawkers. If you are a street food junkie, save space for super soft dhokla and the famous Mandvi ni Dabeli here.
Unknown to many, Mandvi has a ship building yard. You can visit the ship building yard here, and if you are allowed to and can manage it, you can get up and close and see the ships being built by climbing up on one.
The sand on the beach is quite loose and doesn’t stick to the feet as much. There are windmills by the beach, and camels to take you for short camel rides if you wish to. But, the best is to just walk bare feet in the cool sand in the evening and feel the sea brush past your feet.