Some experiences leave us happy, some sad, some in awe and some are a lesson in humility. A chance visit to Kutch Fossil Park and meeting the man behind it not only left me humbled but in deep thought whether I am doing justice to this life that I have been gifted. The story of Mohansinh Sodha the Fossil Man is one of grit and determination but above all single minded dedication.
We were driving down from Devpar to the Great Rann when our home stay owner very kindly told us to go via this small village enroute and visit the Fossil Park. I am no paleontologist but I decided to follow his advise lest I regret later. Kutch region in the extreme west part of India was identified as a fossil rich region back in the 19th century by British researchers and surveyors. Subsequent research by Indian and foreign scientists placed this region on the world geology map.
What is a Fossil?
A Fossil is a relic of our planet’s past the study of which enables paleontologists to decipher the evolution of life and nature of the earth. Typically a fossil is formed after years when the body part of a living being or a living thing is deeply buried away from the influence of factors that cause decomposition and develops into a durable rock like form.
Genesis of the Kutch Fossil Park
Mohansinh Sodha crossed over to India from Pakistan during the 1971 war as a temporary recruit and offered his services. He lived in this Kutch region and was like any other young man until he chanced upon a fossil called Ammonite which changed the course of his life and thinking. He has been collecting different kinds of fossils since then ranging from plants, fruits, gem stones, animals, reptiles which are on display in a modest 2 room show case area. This place was set up in 2002 with his own funds, some assistance from well wishers and minimal aid from the government. Recently, he found a collection of fossils which were reconstructed and identified as a sea cow along with the research team of Roorkee Institute of Technology. This species has now been officially named Dommingia Sodhae in his honour.
Around the Kutch Fossil Park
The gateway to the modest park is decorated with Fossils of a tree and other beings and inside it is nice and charming as a picnic spot with good views of the area around. It may take about an hour to go around if you really want to see, feel and know and Mr Sodha is more than happy to explain. The most interesting one is of the Dinosaur and its egg. The parts of the Dinosaur has been collected over an extended period of time and then reconstructed. The tail has been put together very well and is a treat to watch. No!! It will not lash back, so you can really get close and click to your hearts content.
Mohan Sinh Sodha is most disappointed when visitors do not show interest or do not turn up at the park while passing by. If you are in the area, do make a visit and it might just ignite the hidden paleontologist in you like it did for me. Earlier I used to pick up rocks, throw them aside without a look, but now I do….who knows it may be a fossil that the world is looking for !!!
How to Reach:
About 70 kms from Bhuj and 20 kms from Nakhtarana. Hire a car from Bhuj to go to Fossil Park and the Craft Villages around the Rann or take a detour if you are going to Narayan Sagar, Koteshwar and Mata nu Madh.