The black hills where jackals are served meals: Kalo Dungar, Gujarat
Kalo Dungar also known as the black hills of Kutch is the highest point in the district. The hills are situated at an altitude of around 1516 feet above sea-level (462 metres). Kandva village is the closest inhabited village which is located around 25 kilometres from Kalo Dungar and there is a dense forests cover that lies between the two.
The best options to reach Kalo Dungar is to hire a private vehicle from Bhuj which is around 75 km from the hills. Public transportation is only good during the Kutch Utsav when there are daily buses from Bhuj. For the rest of the year, relying on public transportation is a bad option.
The main attraction at Kalo Dungar is the 400-year-old temple of Datatreya which is located at the top of the hill. Lord Datatreya is considered to be an incarnation of the Hindu holy trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
Local legend has is that when Lord Datatreya walked on earth he rested on these black hills where he encountered a bunch of hungry jackals to whom he offered his body as food. As these jackals started feeding on the him, his body kept regenerating. To mark this phenomenon a temple was built honouring the sacrifice of Lord Dattatreya.
In order to continue this practice, the temple priests over the last four centuries have been feeding the jackals every day at noon. To mark the start of the feeding session, the priests intimate the jackals by banging on a plate with a huge spoon.
To this date, there has never been a single recorded incident of these wild jackals harming any human near the temple area. Plenty of travellers visit the Kalo Dungar every noon to witness this unnatural event.
Another famous attraction on the way to Kalo Dungar is the magnetic field where one can stop their vehicle at a specified spot and witness the vehicle moving against the gravitational force, up the slope at a speed of 20 km/hr.
There is only one dharamshala at the top of the hill for accommodation. Travellers who wish to spend a night can opt to take a room or a bed in the dorm. Staying at Kalo Dungar is not worth the time, since there is absolutely nothing to do there other than look at the never ending Great Rann of Kutch.
From here, the entire northern horizon vanishes into the Great Rann. The desert and sky often becoming indistinguishable. It is one of the few non-coastal locations where one feels like they are at the edge of the earth, on the brink of massive and undistinguishable vastness that fades off towards infinity.
Since this is one of the places where a civilian can get closest to the Pakistan border, there is an Army post at the top. Beyond here only military personnel are allowed. Avoid going to explore beyond, but there are many nice hikes around the hills that one can go on. But make sure that water and food is carried along as nothing is available on the way.
Food options are limited to very basic food which includes rice, roti, dal and whatever vegetable has been cooked for the day. There are a couple of shops which sell biscuits, chips and cold drinks at the top.
The best time to visit Kalo Dungar is during the winter months from November to February. A day trip from Bhuj to Kalo Dungar is more than sufficient to explore around the hills.
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