The Great Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh situated in the heart of the Thar Desert in the Kutch district of Gujarat on one side and Pakistan’s Sind province on the other. It spans about 7,505.22 square kilometres in size and is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The Great Rann of Kutch, along with the Little Rann of Kutch and the Banni grasslands on its southern edge, is situated in the district of Kutch and comprises some 30,000 square kilometres between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River in southern Pakistan. The area was a vast shallow of the Arabian Sea until continuing geological uplift closed off the connection with the sea.
Rann Utsav is a cultural extravaganza organized by Gujarat Tourism set against the cultural backdrop of the region with vast expanse of white desert. It’s organised for three months from December onwards and the region brims with hospitality, vigour, magic and mythical flavour of Rann. On full moon night during Rann Utsav, the region wakes to an endless cycle of dance, music, food, art, and craft in a celebration. Tourists from across the world visit the fair. An exquisite variety of crafts, embroidery, wood carving and metal crafts emerges from the terrain on the backdrop of this extraordinary fair.
By far this was the most dramatic, adventurous, and exciting road trip that we had done so far. We started two hours late from our schedule plan and left at 3 p.m. from Panvel. Our original plan was to cover the distance till Ahmedabad and overnight stay with early departure so that we can reach Rann of Kutch on time. We started with a thought of covering as much as possible but fate had something else in store for us. We were cruising along the highway and were expecting to reach Ahmedabad by 1:00 a.m. but suddenly everything came to a halt with a heavy traffic jam just before Bharuch. It took four hours to come out of the traffic jam and our entire plan went for a toss. We still targeted Ahmedabad and continued our journey. We crossed Vadodara around 2:30 a.m. and continued towards Ahmedabad via expressway. We took a break on the expressway at a food court for some snacks at around 4:00 a.m. and took a small nap in the car. Since our target was to reach Rann of Kutch on time so we decided to continue our journey. Still 400 Km away the target was challenging but we managed to cover the distance and reached Dhordo Tent City at Rann of Kutch as per our schedule time i.e. at 1:00 p.m. thereby covering a total distance of 1025 KM.
The Dhordo tent city was spectacular and magnanimous.The environment was ecstatic and vibrant. We were greeted at beautiful reception lounge where we completed the formalities and marched towards our tent on battery operated vehicles. There were around 9 – 10 tent clusters built in a round shape with an activity area in the middle surrounded by open space that gave an awesome feel to the environment. After ending an epic as well as long journey at Dhordo city we were very hungry and after getting refreshed we went to the dining area for lunch. They served the regional food and had lots of option. The food was mouth watering and superb…We enjoyed the pure vegetarian food in totality. Once done with the lunch we took some rest and played football for some time. Now, the most important part of the day was to visit the White Rann and we started our journey towards the same which was just 5 minutes away from the city. After enjoying a beautiful evening and sunset at the white desert we headed back to the tent city. Since it has became dark it was hard to navigate through the desert but slowly and steadily we reached our car. It just came through our mind that how beautiful the white desert will look on a full moon night. We were back into the city to enjoy the evening. The city came to life in the evening and we enjoyed every bit of it. Next day we left from Dhordo Tent city for Kalo Dungar the highest point in Rann of Kutch which was 60 KM away. From Kalo Dungar one can gauge the vastness of white desert and will realise why it is known as The Great Rann of Kutch.
The cultural extravaganza of Rann Utsav was an enjoyable experience. The variety that emerges from the enchanting terrain provides a perfect backdrop to this extra ordinary fair. The white desert, tent city, cultural activities, delicious food, and craftsmanship provide an ideal platform for a memorable experience. The landscape is so white and ochre that even a hint of colour adds a fascinating element to the rustic life of Rann. We highly recommend a visit to Rann during winters to enjoy every moment of it.
This travelogue was first published on Cloud9miles.