Kutch District

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This article is about the modern district. For the princely state, see Cutch State. For the former state from 1947 to 1956, see Kutch State.
Kutch district
કચ્છ જિલ્લો
District of Gujarat
Location of Kutch district in Gujarat
Location of Kutch district in Gujarat
Country India
State Gujarat
Headquarters Bhuj
Tehsils 10
Government
 • Lok Sabha constituencies Kutch
 • Assembly seats 6
Area
 • Total 45,652 km2 (17,626 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 2,092,371
 • Density 46/km2 (120/sq mi)
Demographics
 • Sex ratio 951
Major highways 1

Kutch district (also spelled as Kachchh) (Gujarati: કચ્છ, Sindhi: ڪڇ) is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,652 km²,[1] it is the largest district of India.

Kutch literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kutch which is shallow wetland 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. The Rann is famous for its marshy salt flats which become snow white after the shallow water dries up each season before the monsoon rains.

The district is also famous for ecologically important Banni grasslands with their seasonal marshy wetlands which form the outer belt of the Rann of Kutch.

Kutch District 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 Little 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. The district had a population of 1,583,500 of which 30% were urban as of 2001.[2] Motor vehicles registered in Kutch district have their registration Number starting with GJ-12.

Geography[edit]

Kutch District, at 45,692 square kilometres (17,642 sq mi), is the largest district in India. The administrative headquarters is in Bhuj which is geographically in the center of district. Other main towns are Gandhidham, Rapar, Nakhatrana, Anjar, Mandvi, Madhapar, Mundra and Bhachau. Kutch has 969 villages. Kala Dungar (Black Hill) is the highest point in Kutch at 458 metres (1,503 ft).

Kutch is virtually an island, as it is surrounded 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, of the disputed Kori Creek. The Kutch peninsula is an example of active fold and thrust tectonism. In Central Kutch there are four major east-west 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 Kutch 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 during the 2001 earthquake.[3]

Rivers and dams[edit]

There are ninety-seven small rivers in Kutch District, most of which flow into the Arabian Sea, but some of which feed the Rann of Kutch.[4] Twenty major dams,[5] and numerous smaller dams, capture the rainy season runoff.[6] While most of these dams do not affect the Ranns, as they are on rivers that feed directly into the Arabian Sea, storage of rainy season water upstream from Kutch and its use in irrigation has resulted in less fresh water coming in to the Ranns of Kutch during the rainy season. This is true of the Great Rann, but particularly true of the Little Rann which is fed by the Luni, Rupen, the Bambhan, the Malwan, the Kankawati, and the Saraswati rivers. However sea water from the Arabian Sea still continues to be driven into the Great Rann by storm tides aided by high winds.[7] Water remains a serious issue in Kutch.[8]

Dams in Kutch District
Dam Reservoir River depth in meters
when full
near
Bhukhi Dam Bhukhi 73.00
Berachiya Dam Nyara 70.40
Chang Dam 18.00
Don Dam Kharod 47.75
Fatehgadh Dam Malan 22.70
Gajansar Dam Gajansar Panjora 31.08
Gajod Dam Nagmati 90.82
Godhatad Dam Mitiariwali 23.00
Goyala Dam Goyala Sugandhi 8.00
Jangadia Dam Janghadia Khari 38.60
Kaila Dam Kaila 79.25
Kalaghogha Dam Phot 37.00
Kankawati Dam Kankawati 131.67
Kaswati Dam Kaswati 51.20
Mathal Dam Dhadodh 82.78
Mitti Dam Mitti Mitti 18.50
Nara Dam Nara 27.43
Niruna Dam Bhurud 43.58
Rudramata Dam Pur (Khari) 66.44
Sanandro Dam Kali 59.74
Suvi Dam Suvi 42.67 Lilpar
Tappar (W.S) Dam Sakara 40.85

Divisions[edit]

Under the Kutch princely state, Kutch was divided into Aani, Abdaso, Anjar, Banni, Bhuvad Chovisi, Garado, Halar Chovisi, Kand, Kantho, Khadir, Modaso, Pranthal, Prawar, and Vagad.

Kutch District is divided into ten talukas: Abdasa (Abdasa-Nalia), Anjar, Bhachau, Bhuj, Gandhidham, Lakhpat, Mandvi, Mundra, Nakhatrana, and Rapar.[9]

Wildlife sanctuaries and reserves[edit]

From the city of Bhuj various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.

Demographics[edit]

According to the 2011 census Kutch District has a population of 2,090,313,[10] roughly equal to the nation of Macedonia[11] or the US state of New Mexico.[12] This gives it a ranking of 217th in India (out of a total of 640).[10] The district has a population density of 46 inhabitants per square kilometre (120/sq mi).[10] Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 32.03%.[10] Kutch has a sex ratio of 907 females for every 1000 males,[10] and a literacy rate of 71.58%.[10]

Culture[edit]

Language[edit]

The language spoken predominantly in Kutch is Kutchi language, a slightly varied dialect of standard Sindhi, to a lesser extent Gujarati, and Hindi. The script of the Kutchi language has become extinct. It is now mainly written in the Gujarati script. Samples of Kutch script are available in the Kutch Museum. The increased use of Gujarati language is mainly because of its being a medium of instruction in schools. Often, the Kutch language is mistaken as a dialect of Gujarati, however, this is not true. The Kutch language bears more grammatical similarity with Sindhi and lexical similarity with Gujarati.

People[edit]

Main article: Kutchi people
A Meghwal woman in the Hodka village, north of Bhuj.

Kutch district 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), Sindh, Afghanistan and further. Even today, one can find various nomadic, semi nomadic and artisan groups living in Kutch. Ahirs lives a comparatively large group in Kutch.[13]

Economy and industries[edit]

Historically Kutch was always considered a backward region due to its location and submerged geography. The situation seemed to have worsened after the disastrous Kutch earthquake. But in the next decade, the economy took an almost miraclous jumpstart due to the intense efforts of the Gujarat government. Kutch today 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 commissioning 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.

Quality of roads is good in Kutch. The large part of the growth of Kutch came after intense development by the state government as part of 2001 earthquake relief.

Due to the existence of two major ports, transportation as a business has thrived. Since historical times the people of Kutch have formed the backbone of trade between Gujarat mainland and Sindh. After the formation of Pakistan this trade stopped for good, but due to the inception of the Kandla port, trade boomed again.

Kutch is Mineral rich region with very large reserve of Lignite,[14] Bauxite, Gypsum among other minerals. Kutch got tax break for Industries for 15 years after the major earthquake on January 26, 2001. Lignite is mined only by Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) at its two mines in Panandhro and Mata no Madh. The Panandaro mines has now been reserved for GEB and GMDC power plants and GMDC has stopped supply to other industries from there.[15]

Kutch also houses Sanghi Industries Ltd's Cement Plant. It is the India's single largest Cement Plant[citation needed]. The company is now planning to increase the capacity at its Abdasa location from 3–9 million tons per annum.[16] By 2015, the company plans to produce 20 million tons.[16] Kandla port is also in Kutch. It is considered Gateway to India's North. It is managed by the Kandla Port trust.

Other major Industries in Kutch are Tata Power's first 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) of India. Adani Power expects to tie up funds for its 3300 MW plant by March 2012 and is on track to complete the installation of 10,000 MW projects by 2013. The other major companies are the Welspun Group of Companies, Ajanta Clocks, Orpat, JayPee Cements, Jindal Steel and one of the largest windmill farms concentration. Kutch region is also a major producer of salt.

Kutch district has a scanty forest cover. Hence there is negligible risk of illegal cutting of forests. This coupled with the adequate facilities available at Kandla port has helped establish the timber market. In 1987, "Kandla Timber Association" was formed in order to resolve the specific problems of timber importers and timber allied industries coming up during the period. The timber industry is growing at a faster pace with 300 saw mills working in Gandhidham-Kandla Complex.

The Little Rann of Kutch is known for its traditional salt production and various references mention this to be a 600-year-old activity. During the British period, this activity increased manifold. It was used to fund a substantial part of the military expenses of the British government.

Communities involved in salt production are mainly Chunvaliya Koli, Ahir and Miyana (Muslim), residing in 107 villages in the periphery of Lesser Rann of Kutch. These communities are traditionally known to have the skills of salt production and are known as ‘Agariyas’. Water quality in 107 villages of Lesser Rann of Kutch is saline, thus agriculture is not an option. Hence salt production is the only livelihood option for Agariyas. As per the Salt Commission’s report there are 45000 Agariyas working in the salt pans of Kutch. Out of the estimated total annual production of India of about 180 lakh tonnes, Gujarat contributes 75% - mainly from Kutch and other parts of Saurashtra.

Religion[edit]

As per the 2001 census, the district's population was 1,526,331, of which most around are Hindu. The remainder of the population adhere to mostly Jainism and Islam. There are also some Sikhs and a Gurudwara is also situated in Kutch at Lakhpat. This Gurudwara was originally a house where the first Guru Guru Nanak stayed during his journey to Mecca. The Swaminarayan Sampraday has a huge following in this region. Their main temple in this district is Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Bhuj. Anjar city is the really famous also as Swaminarayan Mandir and Swaminarayanians. A related Sarswat Brahmin are called Kutchhi Sarswat Brahmin. Maheshwari (Maheshpanthi) Shampraday. Many kutchis follow Jainism and there are equal number of kutchi Muslims too.

Food and drink[edit]

The majority of the population is vegetarian. Jains, brahmins and some other caste practice strict vegetarianism. Jains also refrain from eating kandmool food grown below the ground such as potatoes, garlic, onion, and yam. Hindus practice various degree of vegetarianism but certainly do not eat beef.

In the villages, staple foods include bajra and milk; bajara na rotla with curd and butter milk is very common food for all the Gujarati people. 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. Alcoholic liquor is another popular drink, though it has been illegal to drink or possess since Kutch was incorporated within Gujarat. Most of the liquor drunk in this region is distilled from molasses by local people in villages. As a rule, women do not drink alcohol.

Textile Art[edit]

Kutch is one of the most prolific regions in India in the area of textile art. Kutch embroidery is dense with motifs and is one of the most beautiful forms of textile art. A variation with mirrors sewn into the embroidery is one of the signature arts of this region.

An example of Kutch Embroidery - Antique Dowry Bag

Within the category of Kutch embroidery there are several sub-categories as each tribe and sub-tribe produces a unique signature form of art.

History[edit]

One of the water reservoirs at Dholavira

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 ancient civilised societies, developed in this area also and several sites belonging to this civilisation are discovered in Kutch.[17] However, now most of the river lies in Pakistan after British India was partitioned.

Prehistoric period[edit]

A sequence of Indus glyphs discovered near the northern gate of Dholavira

A few major towns of the Indus Valley Civilization are located in Kutch. Dholavira, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization.[17] It is located on the Khadir island in the northern part of the Kutch district - the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The Dholarvira site is believed to have been 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.[17]

Medieval and British period[edit]

Main article: Cutch State

Kutch was formerly an independent kingdom, founded in the late 13th century by a Samma Rajput branch called Jadeja Rajputs. The Jadeja dynasty ruled not only Kutch but also much of neighboring Kathiawar for several centuries until the independence of India in 1947. In 1815 Kutch became a British protectorate and ultimately a Princely State of Cutch, whose local ruler acknowledged British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. Bhuj was the Capital of Princely State of Kutch. One surviving relic of the princely era is the beautiful 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. Along with that during that time period Kutch had its own currency, while the rest of British India was using rupees. The Maharao also had built at his expense the Cutch State Railway.

Modern period[edit]

Coat of Arms of Princely State of Cutch dating back to 1893 AD.

Upon the independence of India in 1947, Kutch acceded unto the dominion of India and was constituted an independent commissionaire. It was created a state within the union of India in 1950. On June 1, 1948, Chhotalal Khovshaldan Desai became first Chief Commissioner of Kutch State. He was succeeded by Sambhajirao Appasaheb Ghatge in 1952. He was in office till October 31, 1956. On November 1, 1956, Kutch State was merged with Bombay state, which in 1960 was divided into the new linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, with Kutch becoming part of Gujarat state.

On the Partition of India in 1947, the province of Sindh, including the port of Karachi, became part of 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. Both India and Pakistan claimed the entire 3,500 sq mi (9,100 km2) of the land and an international tribunal was set up. It awarded 350 sq mi (910 km2) of the claimed land to Pakistan, the and the rest to 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 of the more than 90 earthquakes that 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 as of 2009.

Major Bollywood film shootings[edit]

J. P. Dutta's Bollywood film Refugee is shot on location in the Great Rann of Kutch and other locations in the Kutch district of Gujarat, India. This film is attributed to have been inspired by the famous story by Keki N. Daruwalla based around the Great Rann of Kutch titled Love Across the Salt Desert[18] which is also included as one of the short stories in the School Standard XII syllabus English text book of NCERT in India.[19] The film crew having traveled from Mumbai was based at the city of Bhuj and majority of the film shooting took place in various locations around in the Kutch District of the Indian state of Gujarat including the Great Rann of Kutch (also on BSF controlled "snow white" Rann within), Villages and Border Security Force (BSF) Posts in Banni grasslands and the Rann, Tera fort village, Lakhpat fort village, Khera fort village, a village in southern Kutch, some ancient temples of Kutch and with parts and a song filmed on set in Mumbai's Kamalistan Studio.

Just after the film shooting of Refugee finished, the film crew of another Bollywood film Lagaan descended on Bhuj in Kutch and shot the entire film in the region, employing local people and villagers from miles around. A set of a full period Village was constructed for the film with typical Kutch style mud houses or huts with thatched straw roofs called boongas.[20]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kutch". Vibrantgujarat.com. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  2. ^ "Census GIS India". Censusindiamaps.net. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  3. ^ Karanth, R. V.; Gadhavi, M. S. (2007-11-10). "Structural intricacies: Emergent thrusts and blind thrusts of central kachchh, western india". Current Science 93 (9): 1271–1280. 
  4. ^ "Rivers of Kachchh Region". Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Gujarat: Disaster Management Plan: Operation of gates and rule curve levels for Irrigation Projects". Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpsar Department. p. 28. 
  6. ^ "2001 Kutch Earthquake Gujarat State, India: Investigation into Damage to Civil Engineering Structures: Dams". The Japan Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE). 
  7. ^ Gupta, Vishal Jaishankar (2011). "Geomorphodynamics and morphoecological management in the little Rann of Kutch". Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.  |chapter= ignored (help), full document
  8. ^ Bhagat, Pamela (6 June 2004). "A desert weeps". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 27 June 2004. 
  9. ^ "Kachchh District Panchayat: Taluka Panchayat". Kutch District. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "District Census 2011". Census2011.co.in. 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  11. ^ US Directorate of Intelligence. "Country Comparison:Population". Retrieved 2011-10-01. Macedonia 2,077,328 July 2011 est. 
  12. ^ "2010 Resident Population Data". U. S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-09-30. New Mexico - 2,059,179 
  13. ^ http://www.apnaorg.com/books/english/aboriginal-tribes/aboriginal-tribes.pdf
  14. ^ The brown gold of Kutch - By tapping the huge mineral deposits of the Kutch region, Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation Ltd. plans to turn the backward area into a prosperous one.; SPECIAL FEATURE: GUJARAT; By V.K. CHAKRAVARTI; Volume 20 - Issue 06, March 15–28, 2003; Frontline Magazine; India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ a b "SIL to set up cement plant in Kutch" (cms). News article (Ahmedabad: Times of India). 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  17. ^ a b c McIntosh, Jane R. (2008). The Ancient Indus Valley : New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. ix. ISBN 9781576079072. 
  18. ^ LOVE ACROSS THE SALT DESERT; by Keki N. Daruwalla. Pdf of full story posted at Boston University at [2]. Bollywood connection - J. P. Dutta's "Refugee" is said to be inspired by this story; learnhub, University of Dundee
  19. ^ (iii) Supplementary Reader; Selected Pieces of General English for Class XII; English General - Class XII; Curriculum and Syllabus for Classes XI & XII; NCERT. Also posted at [3] / [4], [5]
  20. ^ Google Books Preview: "The spirit of Lagaan - The extraordinary story of the creators of a classic"; by Satyajit Bhatkal; Published by Popular Prakshan Pvt. Ltd.; ISBN 81-7991-003-2 (3749)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 23°54′54″N 70°22′01″E / 23.915°N 70.367°E / 23.915; 70.367