I HAVE VISITED the famous Grand Canyon in the USA, and seen it after a heavy snow fall. I have also seen a fabulous canyon in New York State, a few hours drive away from Buffalo. However, it was not until the first of February 2023, that I heard of, and then visited a grand canyon in Kutch, which is now part of the Indian State of Gujarat.
The canyon, named Kadiya (aka Kaliya) Dhro, is 73 Km north of the coastal city of Mandvi, and 33 Km northwest of Bhuj. Although the canyon is many, many thousands of years old and had been known to locals forever, its existence only became widely known in 2020. It was then that Varin Suchday, founder of the Kutch Travel Club stumbled across it. He had heard it discussed by local tribes people, whilst he was assisting them during the covid19 crisis, and with considerable difficulty, he managed to find it in the midst if the poorly mapped, arid semi-desert countryside.
We drove from Mandvi to a dusty parking area about 4 Km from the canyon. Several battered jeeps wait there to take visitors to the site. We boarded a well-worn Mahindra jeep, which was driven by a young fellow who looked to be about 15 years old; his voice had not yet broken. He drove us skilfully along sandy tracks strewn with rocks, precarious slopes, potholes, and other hazards. We held on to the Mahindra’s metal structural elements to avoid being thrown out of the constantly jolting and tilting vehicle, which had neither doors nor seatbelts. The tortuous track threads its way across dried up beds of streams; over boulders and sharp projecting stones; and past branching cacti and thorny bushes. Every now and then, other faster jeeps overtook us on this perilous, winding path. Other vehicles travelling in the opposite direction either waited for us to pass or vice-versa. After about thirty minutes of this exciting journey, we reached a parking area near the canyon.
The canyon is in the district of Ulat village, which we did not visit. A fast-flowing river, in which our driver spotted a crocodile, has over the millennia formed the canyon. Like the Grand Canyon, but far smaller, its walls are horizontally striated. The striations vary in colour. Here and there, you can see roundish rock formations that look like huge mushrooms. Their stalks are also striated. Parts of the riverbed that are not submerged are rocky platforms with patterns of grooves resembling crazy paving. The striations result from the alternate layers of shale and sandstone combined with the effects of sea air (for more detail, see: https://zeezest.com/travel/kaliya-dhrow-in-kutch-is-a-geological-wonder-to-behold-zee-zest-1054).
We visited the canyon on a Wednesday morning during the school term, so the place was not crowded. I have been told that on Weekends and during school holidays, large crowds of people come to view the interesting geological formations. We saw less than twenty other tourists, mostly Indian. Many were standing precariously on the rocks close to the water, posing for pictures probably destined to appear on Facebook and/or Instagram. I took many photographs of this lovely place.
I am extremely grateful that my wife’s cousin, who lives in Mandvi, arranged for us to visit the canyon, a geological jewel hidden deep in the Kutch desert. Although far off the ‘beaten track’, it is a highly worthwhile destination. A word of advice: the ride in the jeep is not a good idea for those with unhealthy backs!