Kachchh

Kutch district is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,652 km², it is the largest district of India. The population of Kutch is 21 Lacs, literacy rate is 59.79% and the sex ratio is 908. It has 10 Talukas, 939 villages and 6 Municipalities

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. Motor vehicles registered in Kutch district have their registration Number starting with GJ-12. The district is well connected by road, rail and air. There are four airports in the district, Naliya,Kandla, Mundra, and Bhuj, which is well connected with Mumbai. Being a border district, Kutch has both and an army and an airforce base.

The history of Kutch can be traced back to prehistorical times. There are several sites related to Indus valley civilization in region and is mentioned in Hindu mythology. In historical times, Kutch is mentioned in Greek writings during Alexander. It was ruled by Menander I of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom which was overthrown by Indo-Scythians followed by Maurya Empire and Sakas. in the first century, it was under Western Satraps followed by Gupta Empire. By fifth century, Maitraka of Valabhi took over from which its close association with ruling clans of Gujarat started. Chavdas ruled the eastern and central parts by sevnth century but were came under Solankis by tenth century. After fall of Solanki, Vaghelas ruled the state. Following conquest of Sindh by Muslim rulers, Rajput Samma started moving southwards to Kutch and ruled western regions initially. By tenth century, they controlled significant area of Kutch and by thirteenth century they controlled whole of Kutch and adopted a new dynastic identity, Jadeja.

For three centuries, Kutch was divided and ruled by three different branches of Jadeja brothers. In sixteenth century, Kutch was unified under one rule by Rao Khengarji I of these branches and his direct decedents ruled for two centuries and had good relationship with Gujarat Sultanate and Mughals. One of his descendants, Rayadhan II left three sons of whom two died and third son, Pragmalji I took over the state and founded the current linage of rulers at the start of the seventeenth century. The decedents of other brothers founded states in Kathiawar. After turbulent periods and battles with armies of Sindh, the state was stabilized in the middle of eighteenth century by council known as Bar Bhayat ni Jamat who placed Rao as a titular head and ruled independently. The state accepted suzerainty of British East India Company in 1819 when Kutch was defeated in battle. The state was devastated by an earthquake in 1819. The state stabilized and flourished in business under subsequent rulers.

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. Twenty major dams, and numerous smaller dams, capture the rainy season runoff. 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 into 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. Water remains a serious issue in Kutch. Kutch’s thirst for water is satisfied by Narmada river flowing from Sardar Sarovar dam.

Higher education in Kutch is regulated by Kachchh University since 2003. About 43 colleges in total are affiliated to the university, offering courses in Humanities, Science, Commerce, Medicine, Nursing, Education and Computing Science. Professional courses in Engineering, Pharmacy and Management are regulated through the Gujarat Technological University.

The language spoken predominantly in the Kutch district is Kutchi language and Gujarati. 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.

Kutch district is inhabited by various groups and communities. One can find various nomadic, semi nomadic and artisan groups living in Kutch. Gujarati Ahirs comprise a comparatively large group in Kutch.

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, most certainly do not eat meat. The few Muslims here eat vegetables, chicken, mutton and occasionally camels as Halal meat is considered a Sunnah (good deed) as part of their religious traditions.