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A lost port: Mandvi

Long ago, it was a famous port when people voyaged on the seas now become a tranquil place. A small municipality city on the bank of Rukmavati river of Kutch district of Gujarat, a state of India. 

Bhuj is the nearest large city of Mandvi and it was founded by Khenergi, the king of Kutch in 1574. It is a historical city as the name Mandvi originates from the name of wife of Bharat of Hindu epic Ramayana.

The view of city in map. The city is surrounded by some small villages and distance of those within 20 sq km. It will take 2 days to visit the villages and watch the villagers activities.

Gundialy a Pottery Village where approximately 200 peoples are living and they are the experts in making of terracotta, earthen pots of different shapes and sizes, water bottles,  kinda show pieces and many more. It was a déjà vu to me when I was roving the village as in my childhood I had seen this pottery making in my village.
The village is 10 km off Mandvi on the way to Dhrabudi-Modhava fishing village.

The elaboration of 'terracottas', the small pieces are being created, dried and made this hut shape. They have painted the pots with the mud colour and white to give the pottery a generous view.

By used this large wheel beautiful potteries are being created. Before that there are a long list of process from collecting soil to making them soften.

Now a days the soil soften precess becomes quite easy as they have some electrical equipments. In my childhood I had seen the manual process of soil soften mechanism and it took lots of labour. But now using the machines just with in a few minutes they will make those flawless delicate earthen pots. 

The penultimate product of the running wheel. I bought one earthen bottle from this village and carried 'with care' to Pune. The price is reasonable as hardly 150 INR.

I am trying to make some pottery with Mohammad bhai at his home. He is running the pottery business and workshop from his childhood. He used to visit as guest faculty to the arts college of Ahmedabad.

Look at their smiling face after collecting their wooden fuel they are returning to home. I am on the way from pottery village to Modhava fishing village. 

It is 13 km off from Mandvi. After netting the fishes are dried here manually as fishing is the main occupation of the local people.

Black Sea gulls and Ibis are busy in searching their food at Ravalpir beach which is close to the Modhava village. 

Its very common way to dry fishes near the sea shore mostly found lesser crowded beach.

A bird's eye view for food mainly fishes by a Sea gull. 

The remarkable footprints, without harm to nature.

No doubt his collected large crabs from netting will be the delicious dish for todays's dinner. 

One of the most ancient Hindu sites are situated here @Dhrabudi. This village also in same route to Gundialy as it is 9 kms from Mandvi. You can have some kind of local foods here.

My vehicle for 2 days of 'Mandvi roaming'I was roaming Mandvi city with Mehboob bhai in his auto rickshaw and of course he become my tour guide too. 

He is from Jat village. Mehboob bhai's big asset is his family member i.e. the total number  35. 

I was honour to get the invitation for dinner at his home. Bajra roti, alu-matar curry with delicious rasoon chatni. Its a mouth watering chatni with awesome preparation. This chatni I have had in the resort of White Rann desert of Kutch. 

The interesting thing of their family is all the lady or son in laws were wearing full sleeve blood red colour gown where the colourful handmade design of Jot stitch is attached at front. They made that traditional jot stitch at their home. The dress is absolutely a Gujrati look. 

Approximately 400 years ago all the ships anchoring at Mandvi coming and going towards Arab. That time the ships was operated mainly by winds so due to the position of Mandvi at bank of Rukmavati all the sailors have to port their ships here. So Mandvi used to be a famous crowded port at that time. 

The river Rukmavati still now glowing as I visited this place on first week of February in 2019 so the water level was quite low. But it is now a days a major and common problem to our rivers.

A plenty number of vessels or launches can be seen in standing position at the river. 

Traders and merchants from West Asia and Africa used to come and stay at Mandvi. Through out the brink of river you can see the buildings of European architecture's style which used as guesthouses for those royal time of this city. 

Most of the buildings are abandoned today whereas some of them turns to hostels, shops others are just looking at the Rukmavati

Till now, lots of old buildings with carved angels or stained-glass windows can be seen around the city depicting the magnificence of the place that existed during times past.

The wealthy shipowners used to stand at the tower of wager to scan the horizons and wait for the return of their cargo ships from east Africa, betting on which one would arrive first. 

Mandvi is one and only place of industry for hand made Wooden ship. Though the port is not using for trading purpose now but the traditional art is preserved here. 

Until the rise of commercial city Mumbai and private port Mundra this was an important port of India where the wooden sea vehicles were built entirely by hand. They are still build manually on today's date by craftsmen who are hardly literate without any kind of engineering knowledge by the people of Karva community of Gujarat

Mainly the Sal trees from Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and local babool trees of Gujarat used to make and repair the ships. The ships are used in cargo purpose and are very famous at Saudi Arab aka Dhow. 

Just think: a handmade ship from a small city of India sailing in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region

Dhow is the traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts used to carry heavy items, such as fruit, fresh water along the coasts Arabia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh. It is a traditional art required a lot hard works. 6 - 12 months are required to complete a ship. Maintenance is required once in a year. 

After talking to Nishant Hiralal Fofindi of Sagar Ship Model, a shipbuilder company get to know the details. Its their family business and the traditional skills are modified over generation. 

They took order (by phone also) to make a miniature of any kind of ships such as Unicorn, Black Pearl and will send to your address by courier.

Vijaya Vilas palace, The palace was built as a summer resort for the Yuvraj Shri Vijayaraji and is therefore, named after him as Vijaya Vilas Palace during reign of Maharao Shri Khengarji III.

It is located on sea-beach of Mandvi. It is a well maintained and decorated palace. You have to take off your shoes to visit the palace from inside. This palace mainly this area has facilitated shooting of some famous Bollywood movies.

A view through Zafri of the palace terrace. I have seen some incredible design of Zafri on marble in this palace.

Handcraft textiles: Mandvi is a superb source of Bandhani (Tie and Dye), Batik, Beadwork (jot), Hand block print, Embroidery, appliqué, patch work, Rogan painting, Warli painting, Zari work of Kutch district. Here you can see the productions of above crafts also.

Dristi Craft house is a handloom workshop where different kinds of awesome block print are done. 

You can see the whole process where the village girls are engaged in end-to-end print on the cloths. I have described the the process of block prints in My Interest tab.

At end of the winter the migratory birds visit the western part of India specially on the sea beaches. At Ravalpir Beach you can see the famous flamingos are tremendous busy on finding foods from water. 

Just watch them carefully without any disturbance they will entertain you with their dance form. You will love it.

There is an international meditation centre located at 25 km far of Mandvi called Dhamma Sindhu Vipassana Meditation Centre.

A gate of Modhava village of Mandvi represents the histories of this old city.

The whole city was surrounded by an 8 km long stone wall which is 3 meter in height. In 1993, the local Municipality decided to demolish some part of the wall to free land, but local people opposed to that and went to court for the same. Unfortunately after rejection of the appeal by court, the 300 m long wall was finally demolished by municipality. 

This 400 year old city was also greatly affected by 2001 Bhuj earthquake. 

So, you are interested about Mandvi I guess, leme tell you how to reach there from any corner of India.

How to reach?

You may reach either via Ahmedabad or Bhuj. Bhuj is the nearest Airport and Rail station. Lots of state transport buses and jeeps depart from Bhuj about every 30 minute towards Mandvi.

For city-village tour you can contact to Mehboob. He will happily guide you to see Mandi with his auto rickshaw. You may contact with him via cell number: 9913843749.

You can reach Dwarka from Mandvi port by launch within 2 hours, but the service remains closed during winter due to shortage of water in river.

Where to stay? 

I used to stay in homestay mainly and luckily I got Rukmavati guest house at the tariff of 700 INR per night.

My primary attraction of this guest house. As per the owner you can any book to read and if you couldn't finish carry with you, complete the book and return it via courier.

The building is three storied and whole interiors are  decorated by awesome crafting, made by the owner only.

The bird feeders are placed on the terrace where in the morning lots of birds are coming to have food and water and the terrace becomes the concert place for the them.  

Open terrace with the huge number of vegetations. It is a house of Mr. Vinod at Mandvi just crossing the bridge you can see the board displaying the name Rukmavati. Vijay is taking care of the house at day time, nice person. He will provide you the preliminary guidance.

I love to eat the local food always to get the flavour of that area. So the classic Gujarati food Dhokla, Fafda, local Peda. Mandvi is famous for Dabeli definitely try that. But still if you want to have your known food there are lots of mainly veg Restaurants.

Yep ...when I decide to visit Mandvi I was prepared for lots of handicrafts shopping. There is huge items to shop. Starting form earthen pots to awesome collections of cloths material, hand made prints blocks to jot stitches. Market remains open till Sunday 12 noon.


  1. Fantastic, Awesome trip with detail local informations.
    I really love your style to potray your trip.

  2. Very beautifully described

  3. খুব ভালো লেখা, তিলোত্তমার পুরোনো জায়গা ও তাদের ইতিহাস নিয়ে রোমিং ডায়েরীর লেখার অপেক্ষায় থাকলাম।

  4. Good start Mahuya...lovely pics!!
    Would love to read more in times to come...keep it up 😉

  5. Khub valo likheachis didibhai. 👍 all descriptions and related images both r just too good 👌 keep it up 👍

    1. Thank you so much Bony..

  6. Wow! Very well written with such detail descriptions and pictures.


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