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Regions of Gujarat

The main regions of Gujarat are the Kutch and Saurashtra.

Kutch is the north westernmost part of Gujarat which is the least appealing climatically, the most sparsely populated and off the beaten tourist track. The various communities such as Rabaris, Ahirs and Meghwals have a distinct dress and practice a particular craft. Kutch has a central ridge of Jurassic sandstones, with underlying basalts penetrating the beds from place to place. It rises to a height of between 275 m and 325 m, and like the plains of the Indus into which it drops almost imperceptibly, it is almost desert. To the north of the ridge is the Great Rann of Kutch, a 20720 square km salt marsh, which provides a natural boundary with Pakistan. The Little Rann of Kutch is situated to the south. The low lying Rann of Kutch in the north, a part of the Thar Desert, is a hard smooth bed of dried mud in the dry season Some vegetation exists, concentrated on the little islands. The herds of the endangered wild ass that roam on this barren area feed at night on vegetation at the edge, then retreat inland during the day. A sanctuary has been created for them but there is little point contemplating visiting it because it is a sensitive border area, accommodation is non existent and the beasts themselves are very rarely seen. With the arrival of the southwest monsoon in May, the saltwater of the Gulf of Kutch invades the Rann and Rajasthan rivers pour fresh water into it. It then becomes an inland sea and very dangerous for those who get trapped in it. In ancient times armies have perished there. At this time Kutch virtually becomes an island. From December to February, it becomes the nesting ground of flamingoes, sand-grouse and Imperial grouse. The important activity is the salt production and railway lines back into the Rann to facilitate the transport of it.

The Saurashtra or the Kathiawar peninsula is situated to the south of the Gulf of Kutch and between the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Cambay. It is approx. 432 kms long and 320 km wide broadly comprising a basalt platform, though flanked by sandstone in the north. It rises from the coast to a complex of low scrub covered hills at the centre, but it is rarely more than 180 m high. The two exceptions are to the east of Rajkot and in the Gir Range. It is formed of intruded igneous rocks pushed up into the surrounding Deccan lavas, the resulting plateaus have a completely radial drainage system. Over most of the Kathiawad are great sheets of Deccan lavas, cut across by dykes formed of volcanic lava. Around the ancient and holy city of Dwaraka in the west and Bhavnagar in the east are limestone and clays, separated by a 50 km belt of alluvium. Some is wind blown and at Junagadh reaches a depth of over 60 m. Spate points out that its creamy coloured soft stone is widely used as Porbandar stone. There are no major rivers and many of the watercourses are seasonal.

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