Kachchh

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

District map of Kutch

Kachchh or Kutch (Hindi: कच्छ, Gujarati: કચ્છ, Sindhi: ڪڇ ضلو) is a district in Gujarat in India.

Variants of name

Origin of name

Kachchh literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kachchh 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 and garments to be worn while having a bath.

The Administrative Divisions

Divisions- 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.

The region

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.

Kachchh District is surrounded by the Gulf of Kachchh and the Arabian Sea in south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Small Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kachchh. When there were not many dams built on its rivers, the Rann of Kachchh remained wetlands for a large part of the year. Even today, the region remains wet for a significant part of year.


Kutch District, at 45,692 square kilometres, 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).

Rivers - 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. 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. Water remains a serious issue in Kutch.

Jats in Kutch

Hukum Singh Panwar[1] (Pauria) quotes D.C. Ganguli[2] who refers to modern Kutch as the Jartradesa of tenth century A.D. with her Kings Phula and his son, Laksha or Lakha.

Lakhpat town in Kachchh district probably derives its name from its founder Rao Lakha, so it is named Lakhpat. Lakhpat is fortified town with high walls, several gates and bastions made out of hard stone. After a short period of prosperity, Lakhpat lost is maritime significance in 1851 AD, when the Sindhu river changed its course. Once a thriving town with population of 15,000 is today a deserted town with only few families living here.[3]

The Jats of Kutch are a cattle breeding nomadic Muslim community. They are one of a number of communities of Maldhari pastoral nomads found in the Banni Grasslands Reserve region of Kutch.[4]

The Jat, or Jath in Kutch claim descent from Hindu Jats of the Indus delta region of Sindh, in Pakistan, where a good members of the tribe still reside. Those who remain in Sindh are referred to as the Sindhi Jats. From there, they moved into the Bani region in search of pastorage. With the partition of India, the Jats of Kutch have lost all contact with their kinsmen in Sindh. They appear to be distinct from the Jat community of North India and Pakistan.[5]

The Jats are a Maldhari cattle hearding group, and are mainly distributed in Kutch and Saurashtra region. They have three territorial divisions, the Halai Jat (found in Jamnagar and Porbandar), Verai Jat (Banaskantha District), and Kutchi Jat (found in Kutch District). The Kutchi are further subdivided into the Dhanetah, Girasia and Fakirani, the latter consider themselves superior to the other two, and are strictly endogenous. They are further divided into clans like the Badajang, Podani, Aamar, Vangayi, while the Girasia are divided into the Mudrag, Bhallad and Hallayi. All these clans, except the Fakirani, enjoy equal status. The Saurashtra Jat, known as Malaks, maintain a system of Gotra exogamy.[6]

In addition to cattle rearing, the community are also involved in the breeding of camels, especially the Fakirani. A good many of the Saurashtra community are small scale peasant farmers. A few are landless, and work in as agricultural labourers. The Kutch Jat are also known for their embroidery work.

Sand Rulers in Kachchh

Gunthli is a small village about 36 miles north-west of Bhuj, has the ruins of a walled city, rising boldly from the Dharur River, which falls into Run about 12 miles north. The line of the walls, 2250 yards round and something of an oblong square in shape, though much decayed may be clearly traced. Inside is nothing but a heap of ruins, the remains of houses and temples. In I828, the villagers constantly turned up pieces of old vessels, ass coins, and occasional boxes of money. An old Mahadev temple was believed to bold snake-guarded treasured.[7]

On the bank of a small late to the west of the fort, seven grave stones, palias, with peculiar designs but no writings, are said to have been raised in honour of seven claimants for the hand of Guntri the adopted sister of the seven Sānds, once the rulers of the fort. It was from these seven Sands, probably early in the fourteenth century, that the Sammas captured the fort and made themselves masters of western Kutch. [8]

The story is that Mod and Manāi, two Samma outlaws from Sindh, by treachery gained possession of Vāgham - Chāvdagadh ten miles north of Kora near Lakhpat. Vāgham Chavda, whom the Sammas killed, was a vassal of the seven Sands. They at first threatened punishment, but were appeased by the offer of a larger tribute and of one of the Samma brothers as hostage. Part of the tribute was paid in grass, and one year the Sammas, in each cart of grass, hid some armed men. As the carts passed through the city gate, the blind gatekeeper smelling something more than grass, said, "There is either flesh or pulse in the cart?". A spear driven into one cart cut the thigh of a Jat soldier. But he, uttering no sound of pain, as the spear was pulled out rubbed off the blood, and, in spite of the blind man's warning, the carts passed in. At night the armed men left the carts, fell on the garrison, seized the fort, and drove the seven Sānds into Kathiawar.[9]

The People of Kutch

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.Some communities came from Sind,(mostly Kutchi speaking- Lohanas, Bhatiyas, Khatris..) and some from Saurashtra.(Gujarati speaking- Sorathiya, Ahir, Girnara..) Many migrated from north Gujarat ,especially in Vagad region(Gujarati speaking- Prajapati)

The major groups such as the Lohana, Bhatia, Kapdi, Jadeja, Gadhvi, Darbar, Kathis, Rajputs, Mali Samaj, Leva Patel, Kadva Patel, Brahmins, Nagar Brahmins, Nandwana Brahmins, Khatris, Rabaris, Rajgor, Shah, Bhanushali, Jains (Visa and Dasa Oswal), Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas, Mistris, Kharwa, Meghwals, Wankars, Vankaras, Ahirs, and many others have adopted a settled lifestyle and have struck a life rhythm close to that of modern-day towns.

The Banni region is home to a number of nomadic Sindhi-speaking Muslim groups such as the Dhanetah Jaths, Halaypotra, Sanghar [Kutch Muslam Sanghaar Jamat-now in Karachi] Pakistan Hingora, Hingorja, Rahima, Bhadala, Mutwa, Raysipotra, Sammas, Theba and Node, maintain more traditional lifestyles.

Tahsils in Kachchh district

Kutch District is divided into ten talukas:

Villages in Kachchh district

Adesar, Adhoi, Amaliyara, Amar, Amarapar, Amardi, Ambapar, Ambara, Anandpar, Anandsar, Angiya Mota, Angiya Nana, Anjar, Antarjal, Aral, Asambiya Mota, Asambiya Nana, Bada, Badalpar, Badargadh, Bag, Baladiya, Balasar, Baroi, Bayath, Bela, Beraja, Bhachau, Bhadali, Bhadara Mota, Bhadresar, Bhadroi, Bhanada, Bharapar, Bharapar, Bharasar, Bharidia, Bharudia, Bheraiya, Bhimasar, Bhimasar, Bhirandiyara, Bhitara Mota, Bhojay, Bhuj, Bhujodi, Bhuvad, Bibar, Bidada, Bitta, Budharmora, Chandiya, Chandrani, Chandroda, Chapreli, Chhadavada, Chhasra, Chirai Moti, Chirai Nani, Chitrod, Chobari, Chopadva, Dabhunda, Dagala, Dahinsara, Darashadi, Davri, Dayapar, Deshalpar, Deshalpar, Deshalpar, Deshalpar, Devisar, Devpar, Devpar, Dhadadhroni Vandh, Dhamadka, Dhaneti, Dhavda Mota, Dholavira, Dhoravar, Dhori, Dhrab, Dhrobana, Dinara, Dolatpar, Don, Dudhai, Dumra, Durgapar, Faradi, Fatehgadh, Fulay, Fulra, Gadani, Gadhsisa, Gagodar, Galpadar, Gandhidham, Gedi, Ghaduli, Ghanithal, Gharana, Godhra, Godpar, Gorewali, Gundala, Gundiyali, Habay, Hamirpar Moti, Hamirpar Nani, Hodka, Jadupar, Jakhau, Jambudi, Janan, Jangi, Jarpara, Jaru, Jatavada, Jawaharnagar, Jesda, Jikadi, Jiyapar, Juriya, Kabrau, Kadol, Kakarva, Kali Talavdi, Kalyanpar, Kalyanpar, Kalyanpar, Kanaiyabe, Kandagara Mota, Kandla, Kankhoi, Kanmer, Kanpar, Kanthkot, Kapurasi, Katariya Juna, Kathda, Kera, Khakhar Moti, Khambhara, Khandek, Khanpar, Khari, Kharoi, Khavda, Khedoi, Khengarpar, Khirai, Khirsara, Khirsara, Khokhra, Khombhdi Moti, Kidana, Kidiyanagar, Koday, Kodki, Kotda, Kotda, Kotda, Kotda Athamana, Kotda Jadodar, Kotda Ugamana, Kothara, Kuda, Kukma, Kumbhariya, Kunaria Nana-mota, Kunariya, Kuran, Kurbai, Lakadiya, Lakhagadh, Lakhapar, Lakhapar, Lakhond, Lakhpat, Lakshmipur, Laliana, Layja Mota, Lodai, Lodrani, Loria, Ludiya, Ludva, Luna, Luni, Lunva, Madhapar, Makhel, Mamaymora, Mamuara, Manaba, Mandvi, Manfara, Mangadh, Mangvana, Manjal, Manjuvas, Mankuva, Maru, Maska, Matana Madh, Mathak, Mathal, Mathda, Mau Moti, Mauvana, May, Meghpar, Meghpar, Merau, Mindiyala, Mirjapar, Mithdi, Mithi Rohar, Moda, Modsar, Modvadar, Mokhana, Momaymora, Morgar, Mota Bhadiya, Mota Kapaya, Mothala, Moti Bhujpar, Mundra, Nadapa, Nagalpar, Nagalpar Moti, Nagiyari, Nagor, Nakhatrana, Nakhatrana Nana, Naliya, Nana Kapaya, Nandasar, Nani Khakhar, Nara, Naranpar Pasayati, Naranpar Ravli, Naredi, Navagam, Navinal, Ner, Netra, Nilpar, Ningal, Nirona, Nundhatad, Padampar, Padana, Padhar, Palansva, Panandhro, Patri, Pipari, Pragpar, Rajpar, Ramaniya, Rampar, Rampar, Rampar, Rampar, Ramvav, Rann of Kachchh, Rapar, Rasaliya, Ratadiya, Ratadiya, Ratadiya, Ratadiya Mota, Ratnal, Rav Moti, Ravapar, Rayan Moti, Raydhanpar, Reha Mota, Reha Nana, Roha, Rudramata, Sabhrai Moti, Sadau, Sai, Samagoga, Samakhiari, Samatra, Sandhan, Sanghad, Sangnara, Sanva, Sanyra, Sapeda, Sarli, Satapar, Sedata, Selari, Sherdi, Shikarpur, Shinay, Shirva, Shivlakha, Sikara, Sinugra, Somani Vandh, Sukhpar, Sukhpar, Sukhpar, Sumarasar, Suthari, Suvai, Taga, Tal, Talvana, Tapar, Tera, Tharavada Nana, Thoriari, Tindalva Mota, Todiya, Trambau, Tumbadi Nani, Tuna, Tunda, Ugedi, Umaiya, Vada, Vadala, Vadva Kanyavala, Vallabhpar, Vamka, Vandh, Vandhiya, Vang, Vanki, Vanku, Vanoi, Varadiya, Varli, Varnora Nana, Varsamedi, Varsana, Vayor, Vekra, Vidi, Vigodi, Vijpasar, Vinjhan, Vira, Virani, Virani, Virani Moti, Vithon, Vondh, Vovar, Vrajvani,

History

V. S. Agrawala[10] writes that Ashtadhyayi of Panini mentions janapada Kachchha (कच्छ), under Kachchhadi (कच्छादि) (IV.2.133) (शैषिक अण्। काच्छ:)[11] , which represented the water-logged portions in the south as against dry area of north. Kachchha was historically connected with Sindh forming province in 7th century when Yuan Chwang visited the country. The inhabitants of Kachchha were called Kāchchhaka.


The Indus valley civilization, known to be one of the first ever civilized societies consisted of the ancestors of Kutchis as well as others. However now most of the river lies in Pakistan after India was split up.

A few major towns of the Indus Valley Civilization are located in Kachchh. Dholavira, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological site in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in the northern part of the Kachchh 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.

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, 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.

The Lāngala tribe is mentioned in Mahabharata after Kachchhas along with Pangal (Pakhalla), Sindhu (Sindhu), Kachela etc.[12] [13]

Visit by Xuanzang in 641 AD

Alexander Cunningham[14] writes that The fourth province of Sindh, in the seventh century, was Kachh, and it was still attached to Sindh in the time of Akbar. It is described by Hwen Thsang as situated at 1600 li, or 267 miles, to the south-west of the capital of Sindh, 1 which at that time was Alor, near Bhakar, on the Indus. This agrees with the details given elsewhere, 1 which make the route as follows : from Alor to Brahmana, 700 li to the south, then to Pitasila 300 li to the south-west, and then to Kachh 700 li to the south ; the whole distance being 1650 li. But the general direction is south, instead of south-west, which agrees with the actual position of Kachh. The province is named O-tien-po-chi-lo, which M. Julien renders as Adhyavakila, or Atyanvakela, but for which no Sanskrit equivalent is offered either by himself or by M Vivien de St. Martin. I think, however, that it may be intended for Audumbatira, or


1 M. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' i. 207, 208. See Map No. IX. 2 Ibid., iii. 170.


[p. 303]: Audumbara, which Professor Lassen gives as the name of the people of Kachh. They are the Odomboerae of Pliny 1 , but there is no trace of this name at the present day.

The province is described as being 5000 li, or 833 miles, in circuit, which is much too great, unless the whole of the Nagar Parkar district to the north of the Ran was included, which is most probable, as this tract has always been considered as a part of Kachh, and still attached to it. Taking its northern boundary as stretching from Umarkot to the neighbourhood of Mount Abu, the whole length of frontier will be upwards of 700 miles. The capital, named Kie-tsi-shi-fa-lo, was 30 li, or 5 miles, in circuit. This name is rendered as Khajiswara by M. Julien, and as Kachchheswara by Professor Lassen. But as the Chinese syllable tse represents the cerebral , I think that tsi must have the same value ; and I would therefore read the whole as Kotiswara, which is the name of a celebrated place of pilgrimage on the western shore of Kachh. That this is the place actually intended is rendered certain by the pilgrim's description of its position, which is said to be on the western frontier of the country close to the river Indus, and to the great ocean. 2 This is a most exact description of the position of the holy Kotesar, which is situated on the western frontier of Kachh, on the bank of the Kori branch of the Indus, and close to the great Indian Ocean. This identification is further supported by the


1 Hist. Nat., vi. 23.

2 M. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 175 : ....


[p.304]: statement that in the middle of the city there was a famous temple of Siva. The name of the place is derived from Koti+iswara, or the " ten million Iswaras," and refers to the small limgam stones that are found there in great numbers. Iswara is the well known name of Siva, and the lingam is his symbol.

M. Vivien de St. Martin has identified this capital with Karachi ; but the distance from Alor is not more than 1300 li, or 217 miles, while only the initial syllable of the name corresponds with the Chinese transcript. The country is described by Hwen Thsang as low and wet, and the soil impregnated with salt. This is an exact description of the low-lands of Kachh which means a "morass" (Kachchha) , and of the salt desert, or Ran (in Sanskrit Irina), which forms about one-half of the province. But it is quite inaccurate if applied to the dry sandy soil of Karachi. There is also a large swamp extending for many miles, immediately to the south of Kotesar.

Historical places in Kachchh

Notable persons

External links

References

  1. The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations/The Jarta or Jartika or Jartrika theory,p.57
  2. His. and Cul. of Ind. Peop. Vol. IV (Age of Imp. Kanauj), 1955, p. 101.
  3. Gujarat Guide Online
  4. People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Two edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 528-533
  5. People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Two edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 528-533
  6. People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Two edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 528-533
  7. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Cutch, Palanpur, and Mahi Kantha, p.222-223
  8. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Cutch, Palanpur, and Mahi Kantha, p.222-223
  9. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Cutch, Palanpur, and Mahi Kantha, p.222-223
  10. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.51
  11. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.498
  12. Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/Appendices/Appendix III,p.338,s.n. 19
  13. :कच्छा गॊपाल कच्छाश च लाङ्गलाः परवल्लकाः किराता बर्बराः सिद्धा विदेहास ताम्रलिङ्गकाः Mahabharata (VI.10.55)
  14. The Ancient Geography of India/Western India,pp. 302-304

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