If you want to witness the drama of nature, you must once visit the White Desert in Kutch. Some miracles have no logic and neither does this place, each person you meet has a different story to tell and logic to apply, but no point wasting time in understanding the logic, rather just visit it and breathe in the magnificence that is this place.
The White Desert is truly a breathtaking place to be in, but the route that leads up to the desert is also a treat for photographers, wild and aired expanse of land, which is hotter in the day but gets cooler by the night. A perfect route for adventure riders.
I would truly accolade the efforts of Gujarat Tourism and several others who work hard every year to provide tourists with this never forgetting experience of White Rann of Kutch. All the roads are aptly marked with signages making it easy for travelers to follow the route. Once in the Dhordo Village, where this White Desert is situated, the security is good with checkpoints and BSF officers guarding and patrolling the area. Due to the tent city set up near the desert, it is usually crowded and sprawling with people especially during peak seasons. The roads are quite wide and provide a smooth ride and easy access to Desert.
Many of us might go with the perception that you can drive through the Desert or at least drive to the closest access point, but well that is surely not happening. As you enter the White Desert road, you will first be required to get a permit (on payment) to get access to the Rann. Usually, it is not too crowded at the Permit Booth, you will have to fill out a simple form with basic details of your vehicle and number of people traveling with you. Once you have the permit, you can proceed towards the Rann after clearing the BSF checkpoint. Few meters inside will be an area for you to park your vehicles. From there onwards it's you and your feet. After clearing another BSF secured gate you will finally the desert, and up until here, it's not white. The White Desert starts nearly 2 km from this checkpoint. You have various options and means of transport to get till the Watchtower point. A few kilometers into the Desert, a tall Watch Tower has been constructed which gives you a good 360-degree view of the Desert. You can choose to either walk up to this tower or take a horse cart, camel cart or a mini train, however, the train is supremely crowded and hopping on it would require some serious crowd management skills. We hired a camel cart for Rs. 1200/-, since we were already six people and we didn't want more people we paid a little extra but got a camel cart for our self. This is a good option, but make sure to bargain and negotiate with the camel cart driver. The view of the desert from the camel cart is amazing, as you ride through the dusty sand road up to the tower, white desert runs along with you and all you see is the endless whiteness slowly merging into the sky.
A nice patio style area is created at the bottom of the watchtower where you would find musicians playing, small cycle mounted ice-cream sellers, and lots of camel carts and horse carts shuttling passengers from the gate to the watchtower and back. Climbing the tower is not too tiresome, it is not too tall but at an apt height providing a view that you surely will never forget. Once atop the tower just take a slow turn around and soak in the beauty of this mesmerizing White Rann of Kutch.
We visited the Rann in the evening, and as the sun began its descent, the orange rays gently folding into the white horizon. Somewhere in that horizon you see the curve of the earth and for a second experience the round earth. The White in the desert comes from the salt, although known as the White Desert, one can also call it a Salt Desert. It is the dried up salt accumulated on the land that gives you this white illusion. Wear clothes you are not worried about and give your self the true taste of the desert by lying down in the desert and gazing the sky, it has its own tranquility. The best way to take in the serenity of the desert is in silence. No photograph will ever do justice to the beauty of this nature's miracle.
They say that during a full moon, the white desert has a view to offer, in the darkness of the night the brightness of the moonlight enlightens the entire desert and the crystal properties of the salt, makes the desert shine in this light. It is a sight to behold. However, you have to plan your trip well in advance to experience this. On routine days the access to the desert closes by 9:00 PM, however, two days of the full moon, the access of the desert is open till 12:00 in the night.
IMPORTANT TIP: If you want to experience the Desert by the day and the night, the best thing to do is plan your trip around the full moon, the night access is only available on the day of the full moon and the following day, you might want to catch the sunrise to witness the Desert by the day and then come back to the desert by 10:00 to experience it by the night.
This is one thing I did not get to experience this time around, but that only gives me one more reason to visit the White Rann of Kutch again!