Bhavna Resort and Farm is a bright and charming little getaway that is located in the Surendranagar district that lies in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat state in Western India.
Located close to the Bajana gate of the Little Rann of Kutch, this homely place is convenient to stay and enjoy not just the wonders of the Wild Ass Sanctuary but also several heritage sites and famous temples that lie along the Ahmedabad – Bhuj corridor which connects the Little and Great Ranns of Kutch.
I had the pleasure of sojourning at this cheerful and cozy retreat during my visit to the Little Rann of Kutch, on my return from the Rann Utsav at the Great Rann of Kutch. Adding to the enjoyment, was that we had the delightful company of good friends of ours from Ahmedabad, Anand and Sujata.
A comfortable stay and delicious Gujarati cuisine are the highlights of this resort.
Enjoy the pleasures of Bhavna resort and farm as I take you through its pleasantly rustic environs.
About Bhavna Resort and Farm –
Bhavna was a labor of love that was brought into existence by Rupal and Prashanth, two partners who own and run this resort.
Initially starting out as social workers with an NGO called Ganatar which focused on education for the children of the salt pan workers of the Little Rann, Rupal and Prashanth later went on in 2007 to develop a farmhouse on a beautiful patch of ancestral land that belonged to Prashanth.
Understanding the tourist potential of the location, they decided to convert the property into a resort in 2012, beginning with a mere 4 cottages, which have now grown to an impressive 34 in number.
Features of Bhavna Resort and Farm –
The resort is located alongside the main road and a clear sign board ensures that one does not miss the little turn off to the left, leading to the main gate of the premises.
The large 7 acre property begins with the reception to the left of the gate where one completes the check in formalities and obtains the wi fi password.
The dining hall is opposite the main gate and has a sprawling lawn to its left, complete with a circular area earmarked for bonfires.
To the right of the restaurant lies a large green patch with several shrubs that bear Ber fruit (Indian jujube) and corn.
Adjoining the hall is a souvenir shop called Rajadi Handicrafts around which there is also a courtyard where wandering artisans display their wares in the daytime.
Behind the reception building is the parking area for their 4×4 safari vehicles, the gaushala (cow shed) and a substantial vegetable garden where they grow their pesticide free produce.
The cottages are situated deeper inside and accessed through paths lined with brilliantly hued flowers and neatly trimmed hedges.
A swimming pool and an area for indoor games complete the picture.
Vegetable garden –
Being a lover of fresh produce, I was simply ecstatic to see their garden bursting with fresh palak (spinach), vibrant methi (fenugreek), glistening brinjals, shiny flat beans (Sem), crisp onions and many other delightful vegetables.
The land that looks as arid and chunky as the inhospitable cracked earth of the Little Rann a few kilometers away, has been transformed with their efforts and the once barren earth now produces robust and thriving plants that truly amaze. ‘Life finds a way’ is the phrase that comes to mind when one witnesses the miracle of their success.
It is heartening to note that there is no use of chemical pesticides and only traditional methods like coal ash, jaggery water, cow urine and castor oil are used against pests.
They also encourage local farmers to visit the garden and learn new technologies to promote organic farming in the area.
The produce from the garden is used in the restaurant and it goes without saying that it is one of life’s greatest feelings of accomplishment to grow one’s own food.
Ber garden –
Ber is a common fruit found in these regions. Several shrubs have been planted and yield really crisp and delicious fruit of both the tiny berry and larger apple variety. The fruit here is of a better texture than the soapy ones I have found in Bangalore.
Intercropped with the fruit bearing plants are rows upon rows of corn, which mostly serve as fodder for the cattle that they rear.
Cattle egrets freely roam this field and are quite fearless as they strut around, unconcerned by the human beings near them.
One can spend an interesting time here eating the sweet, ripe fruit and watching egret antics.
The resort owns 16 cows which are of the indigenous Kankrej breed, characterized by their large size and extra large horns. 6 of them are currently milk producing with the rest consisting of heifers and calves. All their dairy needs of the resort are taken care of by these cows and so also is the manure for their gardens.
Likewise, the corn that they grow makes them self sufficient where fodder is concerned.
Bhavna resort boasts of 34 charming cottages, fashioned on the style of Koobas.
Koobas are the traditional, rustic, mud plastered homes of the region. The signature mirror work and mud work of the region, also finds a place on the walls of the homes, enlivening the dull brown of the earth colored walls. The overlay of mud is intended to keep the interiors cool even during the harsh summers.
The cottages at Bhavna are air conditioned and equipped with double beds, TV, bottled water, clean and modern washroom, geyser etc. There is a liberal use of ethnic furnishings in keeping with the Kutchi theme.
While they are quite comfortable, they could do with a bit of aesthetic sprucing up where the washbasin, plastic framed mirrors, bathmats, towels and furniture are concerned but on the whole they provide reasonable decent accommodation.
Basic soap and shampoo are available.
Traditional hammock seats outside every cottage, make sure that one has a swinging time and guests can spend a quiet session swaying on them, just enjoying the breeze and birdsong.
Apart from the regular ones, there are also 2 family style cottages that can house larger numbers.
The buildings at the resort are decorated with artistic mudwork, mirror work and colorful drawings. It is highly commendable to note that this is literally the handiwork of the owners who have personally worked with their own hands and decorated every single wall in the place. 6 years of experimenting and battling with the rains that annually wash away their hard work, has now brought solutions that are longer lasting and do not dissolve.
Some of the cottages are also studded with pebbles, probably for the same reason of greater durability. One of them reminded me of the fairy tale cottage from Hansel and Gretel 😀
The dining room also stays with the ethnic theme, with antique utensil showpieces, colorful furnishings, low lying tables, handmade decorative bird hangings, mirror work, torans (door hangings) and even a brightly painted pot containing water for washing.
There are also regular tables and chairs for those who cannot sit low.
The cuisine is mainly local which means Gujarati but there is a smattering of North Indian (Punjabi) that appears at lunch time.
The meals are thali style (plated) and unlimited as in a buffet. Bottled water is available at MRP
Lunch time also sees walk in guests, hence they maintain a generic North Indian cuisine.
We had paneer gravy, rotis, pulao, papad, dal, salad etc. and unlimited lotas (glasses) of delicious home made buttermilk to wash down the food. Crisp jalebis were our dessert.
The quality of the food was very good but being keen on having exclusive Gujarati cuisine, we were relieved that dinner was more of the local variety with dishes like Sev tamatar ki sabji (tomato and thin crispy fried chickpea noodles), Baingan bhartha (smoked brinjal mash), Alu methi (potato and fenugreek greens), Alu bhajjia (batter fried potato wedges), Kichu (steamed and seasoned rice flour), Kadhi (curd based gravy), Phulka (puffed wheat bread) and Bajra roti (pearl millet bread). An excellent meal, further enhanced by the fact that the fenugreek and brinjal were homegrown and freshly picked. Truly unbeatable flavors!!!
Breakfast was also an exciting affair with items like Kanda poha (spiced beaten rice), Papdi ghathia (deep fried chickpea ribbons), Thepla (fenugreek infused wheat flat bread), pots and pots of home made ghee, mouth watering pickles and the star of the show, the Wadhwani marcha (local chilli pickle) that we ate in ‘main course like’ quantities 😀 Of course there was cut fruit to shush the conscience.
Bread is also available for those who may not prefer local food but it goes without saying that I did not even turn and look in its direction 😀
The food is made with love and the flavors are fresh. For me some of the dishes were a novelty but it was commendable to note that even our accompanying friends from Ahmedabad, enjoyed the spread.
Rajadi stall and courtyard market –
In order to help the local artisans sell their handicrafts, Bhavna has put up a stall named Rajadi Handicrafts near the entrance. Here they stock the traditional Kutch products made by the locals including mirror work wear, metal bracelets, necklaces, bead work jewelry and many such items.
In addition, they provide space in the adjoining courtyard for local women who come to display and sell their handiwork. These women come from the near by village of Dasada and make great models for portrait pictures 🙂 Of course, once you show interest in them, they do compel you to buy their reasonably priced wares and that is a small price to pay for encouraging their work.
Activities within Bhavna Resort and Farm –
The resort provides indoor games like chess, carrom, ludo and other board games. One can also use the small swimming pool though it seemed to be drained out when I visited (I forgot to ask why).
One can also simply relax and while away time swinging on the hammock chairs, or pottering in the vegetable garden or chatting with the person in charge of the cows or strolling through the ber garden.
The chill nights of winter are warmed by the blazing bonfire around which the guests gratefully congregate to ‘thaw’ themselves.
Things to do in the surroundings –
Wild Ass safari –
The safari and sortie into the Little Rann of Kutch is the highlight of the winter season. One embarks on this adventure in the hope of spotting the Indian Wild Ass and other mammals like Chinkara (gazelle), Golden jackal, Indian fox, mongoose etc.
The region also provides a geographically conducive passage for several migratory birds that fly in from Europe, Africa etc and make the place their home for 4-5 months.
Bhavna is a bare 9 km from the Range Bajana access point of the Little Rann. This gate is advantageous since it is the closest to the wetlands and water bodies that play home to the migratory birds.
Safaris take place in the morning and evening and are usually of a 4 hour duration.
The process for embarking on a safari involves obtaining the permit from the forest department office and then setting off with a guide and vehicle which most of the resorts provide.
An open jeep will be charged Rs 400-500 (weekdays/weekends) and camera charges are extra at Rs 200/-
If using your own vehicles, make sure you take a guide because LRK is a terrain of vast nothingness and GPS cannot really be relied upon. It can take mere moments to drive into oblivion and totally lose all sense of direction, even for those who are not directionally challenged like me 😀
Our safari with open jeep and guide, was organized by Bhavna resort. More about this in Part 2 – Wild Ass Safari, LRK.
Other places of interest –
While in the winter months, the LRK safari would be the most sought out activity, there are several other points of interest within a 100 km radius that attract visitors and not necessarily only in winter.
The Varnindra dham Swaminarayan temple at Patdi is a new temple that had its opening ceremony in Sep 2017. Built by the Swaminarayan gurukul, this is a grand and unique structure spread over 100 acres and is a huge attraction for pilgrims and visitors alike.
Modhera Sun temple – which is a monumental marvel from the Solanki dynasty.
Sankeshwar Jain temple – is 45 km from Patdi and is an important pilgrimage destination for Jains.
Bahuchara mata temple – is a minor Shakthi Peeth, 45 km from the resort. Also called Murge wali mata, this deity sits on a rooster and is the patron of the Hijra (Eunuch) community.
Rani ki Vaav – 80 km away from the resort, is a grand step well at Patan and is a UNESCO heritage site.
Nalsarovar bird sanctuary – which is over 100 sq km in area and plays host to several bird species.
Thol bird sanctuary – 70 km from the resort, has a artificial, shallow freshwater lake that is home to several migratory and other water birds.
Bhavna resort is also strategically located en route from Ahmedabad to Bhuj so those travelling to the Great Rann can conveniently stop over for some sightseeing before proceeding to Bhuj.
A sample itinerary would be to set out from Ahmedabad, stop at Bhavna resort and do the Wild Ass safari and lunch and then proceed to Bhuj which is around 4 hours drive.
Internet Connectivity –
Phone signals are good for the most part. Wi Fi is available through the resort with reasonably good quality.
Best time to visit –
LRK is a seasonal attraction. The extreme climactic conditions of the region make it inhospitable for certain periods of the year.
Hence if the Wild Ass safari or Birding is the attraction, then the best time to visit would be in the winter months of October to March. There are nearly 385 species of birds that have been sighted and documented in this region. The migratory birds are present during the winter months but the flamingos live here for much longer periods and create entire colonies filled with their nests and eggs.
April to May are months of extreme heat with temperatures going upto 50 deg c. Though most of the birds have said bye bye, mammals can be sighted in these months by those who can brave the temperatures and embark on the safari. Strangely the nights and early mornings are still as pleasant as they are during the cold months.
From 15th June to 15th October, the LRK safari remains closed to visitors due to the area turning into a marshland in the monsoons. Though the rainfall is scarce, the land lies inundated with shallow water and the mammals move to the higher locations called Bets that dot the desert.
However, the resort remains open to the public for this duration, except in the months of July and August where it closes for its annual break. June and September continue to bring tourists who are there for the other attractions as mentioned above.
Visitor Profile –
Bhavna is suitable for all types of visitors ranging from families to couples to solo travellers.
The main appeal in the surroundings being the Wild Ass safari and birding at Little Rann, it provides a convenient stopover for photographers and wild life enthusiasts.
The presence of many temples in the surroundings also make it suitable for pilgrims and those on religious tours.
Getting there –
Bhavna Resort and Farm is located at Patdi village in the Dasada taluk of Surendranagar district in Gujarat.
The nearest major airport is Sardar Vallabhai International airport at Ahmedabad, which is around 100 km away.
From Ahmedabad, one can get to Bhavna by rail, bus, cab or private vehicle.
While the easiest would be to drive down in one’s own car, the alternatives for those who travel from outside Ahmedabad would be to take a cab from the airport (approx Rs 3000) one way to Bhavna. The resort will also arrange for a cab if informed in advance.
One can also take the train from Ahmedabad to Viramgam which is the nearest major railway station 35 km from Bhavna (many long distance trains also pass through Viramgam). From here one can hire a cab or avail of the transport services provided by Bhavna for around Rs 800 (as on date).
There are comfortable AC Volvo buses from Ahmedabad heading towards Bhuj. Enquire if they will make a stop at Malvan along the state highway, which is 15 km from Bhavna. Pick up from here will be arranged by the resort for Rs 300.
In case one is already at Bhuj for the Rann Utsav during the winter months at the Great Rann of Kutch, then one can approach Bhavna from that direction again by cab, bus to Malvan or train to Viramgam. Bhuj airport and railway station are around 260 km from Patdi.
My Journey –
As I mentioned, I had the company of friends who live in Ahmedabad and so my journey was very quick and comfortable in their car.
We left at around 10 am and we were at Bhavna before 12 pm. The excellent road has a few small tea stalls/washrooms along the way, so there was one quick 10 minute stop en route.
Likewise on the return drive, we set out at 10 am to reach Ahmedabad before 12 pm.
The landscape is mostly made up of cotton and castor fields that flank the excellent 4 lane highway.
The village of Patdi had some good looking fresh vegetables and it was also the season for fresh Hara channa (fresh green chick peas) which I would have picked up had I been returning to Bangalore right away. However, I had my pending tryst with Ahmedabad and so I had to regretfully make do with a mere picture.
Booking and Contact –
Bhavna Resort and Farm is located at –
Dasada Road, Patdi, Surendranagar 382765
For more pictures see My Facebook – Bhavna Resort and Farm – Little of Kutch – An Overview. Also catch me on My Twitter and My Instagram
Please Note – This is a collaboration, based on the invitation of Bhavna Resort and Farm and I thank them for hosting me with their warm hospitality.
The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
Feb 8th – 9th, 2019