After our visit to Mandvi Palace, we headed to the famous Mandvi shipbuilding yard on the banks of Rukmavati river. It is estimated that the shipbuilding industry in Mandvi is more than 4 centuries old. Located south of a well-known bridge running over the river, the shipbuilding area is a short 15 min drive from Mandvi Palace. As we drove past the bridge and along the river bank, we started noticing under construction boats with giant wood planks everywhere. There was no formal sign which announced the shipyard, so we walked around and asked people about where we can find the famous Mandvi shipyard. Turns out, the river bank itself is the official location where Mandvi builds its famous dhows and ships. We walked down to the river bank to take a closer look at one of the ships. The construction was massive with the height being atleast 3-4 stories tall from where we were standing.
(driving towards Rukmavati river bank, Mandvi)
(a dhow under construction)
(the planks were very skillfully bent to give the boat its shape)
(Rukmavati river bank)
(a few ships being built on these banks)
Interestingly, no worker was present near the ships when we went. We had many questions about this fascinating place, but there was no one from whom we could get answers. So, we drove further down the road and explored the area. We walked through a littered dirt road to perhaps the biggest ship that we had seen. There were a few workers working on that ship and their manager was also standing nearby. We walked up to him, introduced ourselves and told him how curious we were to know more about this industry. He was kind enough to give us a quick overview of the shipbuilding industry. He talked about where his clients came from and how it cost anywhere between 3 to 4 million dollars (15 to 25 crore rupees) to build one of the larger sized dhows. What I found incredible throughout the shipyard was the amount of work done manually. Literally everything was being built manually and we did not see any mechanization in the shipyard. Techniques that are centuries old are still used even today to build impressive looking ships.
(this ship was going to a customer in the Arab Emirates)
(this ship was being taken apart before being rebuilt)
While learning about the ships and dhows, we noticed an interesting bird near the keel of one of the boats. It looked like a Stork. Looking over the river bank, we saw lots of seagulls. We also managed to spot some Flamingos. The district of Kutch happens to be the largest Flamingo breeding site in all of Asia. It is easy to spot them at Mandvi (river bank) and also at the White Rann. Their legs are reddish pink in colour due to the carotene rich diet that they have. In fact, the more pink their legs, the healthier they are. Flamingos are also the only birds that eat with their heads upside down.
(an interesting bird which looked like a Stork)
(lots of seagulls)
(the famous flamingo)
(lots of flamingos with newly built boats in the background)
After an insightful time at the shipyard, we headed to our final destination of the day – the Mandvi beach. The beach had quite a vibrant atmosphere, with vendors selling food, camel rides, horse rides and parasailing rides. The beach, though cleaner than many other beaches of India, was still a little bit littered. But the water was quite clean, and we did dip our toes in the Gulf of Kutch. The most symbolic sight of Mandvi beach is perhaps a row of windmills along the coast. A walk along the coast in the setting sun was a great way to reflect on our Mandvi trip.
(at a food shack on Mandvi beach)
(windmills on Mandvi beach)
(recreational activities at the beach)
(roasted corn is a popular beach snack in India)
(the sea shore during low tide)
(camel rides were popular wherever we went in Kutch)
(horse rides were also ubiquitous)
(a dog sleeping at the beach)
And with the sunset came an end to our day trip of Mandvi. I would highly recommend Mandvi to everyone visiting Bhuj. For us, it was a highlight of our trip and we would love to return back and stay here for a few laid back days.