I must say, this has been one of my most beautiful JOURNEY.
The wild safari through the Little Rann - spotting the Flamingos, wild ass (found only in Gujarat throughout the globe) and feeling the glittering white sand (crystallized salt spread across 7505.22 sq. k.m) under my feet while treating my eyes with a never seen beautiful horizon on the earth.
To celebrate the New Year's Eve, I and my husband chose a rather dry state ;) Gujarat, but the moments which we experienced were enough to take us high :) By booking the car for self drive, stay at Little Rann (Rann Riders, Dasada, Gujarat) and Greater Rann (Rann Visamo, Hodka, Kutch), we started our journey with train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Reaching Ahmedabad, we picked up our travel vehicle (car) and headed straight to our 1st destination - Little Rann.
Now comes the surprise! Assuming that the route we chose would be cluttered with villages and hence not so great roads, we were amused to experience well-built pot free roads with a mix of some refreshing green pastures of cotton fields along sides, passing through the tiny villages, dry desert, huge wind mills, vast salt pans, innumerable cow, sheep, dogs & camel along with a great variety of birds!
And yes, this continued throughout our 400 km road trail from Ahmedabad to Kutch.
Thus, needless I say - why this road journey was so memorable!
Just about 2 hours from Ahmedabad, we reached our 1st destination - Little Rann. We chose Rann Riders for 3 reasons - Surrounded by wetlands, it is an eco-friendly resort, the owner is a lover of animals (as the place had some healthiest & much pampered birds & animals such as horses, camels, sheep, and more) and the accommodations are in cottages, resembling the kooba houses of the Bajania community of Dasada and the bhunga houses of the Rabaris of Kutch, decorated with mirrors, mud-plaster work and embroideries. To add, they do have jeep safari, camel safari to take you to the Rann and this is exactly what we did next.
We took an afternoon jeep safari to the Little Rann to witness some local and migratory waterbirds like cranes, ducks, pelicans, flamingos and land birds like sandgrouse, francolins and the Indian bustards. The star of the safari is ofcourse, the wild ass and the salt pans placed exactly at the middle of the dry land.
Next day morning we hit the road for a journey towards the beautiful Rann of Kutch. We ditched the tent city and chose to stay at Rann Visamo in Hodka which is around 20 km from the tent city (Dhordo) to live the authentic feel of the place. The food, feel and stay was simple, homely and completely traditional Kutch. The traditional Kutchi food which we survived on (rather yummy) included of rotla, khichdi, alu-baingan sabji, kadhi, mirchi, lasoon chatni, chaas and papad. The beauty of the bhungas is that it stays cold during day from inside and it stays extremely warm during nights, reason - cause it is made of cow-dung! But, no smell at all, infact when the temperature dropped to 5 degrees in the night, it was freaking hot inside!
That day, we decided to experience the sun-set at the white desert, finally I was about to witness one of my most-desired places in the world. And there we were after driving for roughly half an hour, right on time when the sun was just ready to set on the beautiful, shinning salt crystals. The landscape looked mesmerizing, with cold breeze and witnessing just pure white right till the horizon.
Next day was the last day of 2014, we planned to go around the place and especially the Indo-Pak border. First we went to the much talked about kala-dungar (although nothing was black), it is famous for the panoramic view of the entire white desert and the Indo-Pak border. After spending few minutes and a short camel ride, we headed towards the India Bridge which is the last point for Indian civilians, beyond that is an army controlled area. With high hopes and no permission to go upto the main border which is around 3 hours from the check-point we requested the authority to grant the permission. After much discussion and request, finally we made it...! We had to deposit our cameras and phones at the check-point, hence no photos. The entire road journey from the check-point to the border is just mind-blowing, with almost no humans in-sight, just the nilgai, wild ass, spotted-deer freely running across the vast white & brown dried desert along-side the rocky road. Although inching towards the border, yet we could feel the free air and freedom from the hustling-bustling city life. It was serene and peaceful!
After the long drive, we had to rest for a while, so back in our bhunga. It was time to bid goodbye to the eventful 2014 and welcome the fresh year 2015 and what better place than the white desert. Hence in the night (no street-lights, only vast dry desert alongside, no GPS working, no humans to ask for directions - still we managed to reach somehow) we headed towards the Great White Rann to celebrate the new year's eve in the moon-light, cold breeze and sparkling land. The feeling amplifies when the day turned into night, with clear sky and the crystallized salt sparkling in the bright moon-light. At the stroke of 12, it was a perfect dream come true moment!
A perfect end of the memorable year and the mesmerizing trip! Next day morning we headed back to Ahmedabad, handed over the car and boarded the train for coming back to Mumbai with a bagful of sparkling memories!
To unwind the memorable year 2014 and to create some beautiful memories for the year 2015, we ditched the usual city parties & city life.. and chose to live close to nature n our culture....! Starting our journey from Ahmedabad to Little Rann to White Rann n back to Ahmedabad.... we chose to breathe-in some fresh air and observe the small-village life by embarking on a road trip..I must say, even though being a Gujarati / Kutchchi, I never cud see this beautiful side of Gujarat - lush green farms, varied beautiful bird-life, amazing wildlife, the village-dwellers so connected to their roots n traditions and the breathtaking White Rann.... Loved every bit of this trip....The temperature as low as 5 degrees, yet the cold breeze cudnt win against the traditional bhungas, where we chose to stay... we cud witness the lush green as well as the dry, very dry desert along side our travel path, icing on the cake was being able to reach the much-secured BSF area and the Indo-Pak border..the scenic beauty is just worth it.....! Eating simple, Living simple...best new year eve ever of our life...! Truely 'the journey was as beautiful as the destination'!