Rann of Kutch - Road Trip

13th Dec 2019
Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip by Hemanshu Joshi

Places Visited: Sabarmati River Front, Kalo Dungar, India Bridge, Rann of Kutch, Statue of Unity

A road trip to Gujarat was a dream that I always wanted to live but had to postpone due to work commitments. Come December and me along with my 4 friends decided that it was time that we do it
We decided to experience the Rann Utsav and explore Gujarat through roads. I drove my Car (Suzuki Celerio) while 2 of my friends decided to take their motorcycles (KTM Duke 390 & Bajaj Dominor 400). Fast forward to 13th December and it was day to start the trip. Gujarat has one of the best Roads where you can unleash the driver/rider within you and consistently clock 120+ KMPH without any hassle

Day 1: Mumbai to Ahmedabad

We started our day early and left at 5 am to avoid traffic near Ghodbunder Road and Fountain Hotel. It is advised that you should start early if you are taking Mumbai-Ahmedabad route else you will get stuck for hours in truck traffic. The drive for today was 530 KM and estimated drive time was 9 hours

Since we started early morning we didn't have our breakfast. We decided to meet at Hotel Ahura. Its 36 KM from Manor and serves one of the best Kima Paav, Omlette Paav, Bun Maska and Chai. After breakfast we were ready to move. Our next meeting point was Bharuch

I reached Bharuch by car at around 1 PM. My biker friends were already there waiting for us. As we were travelling by car we were getting stuck in Toll Plazas while the bikers just zoomed past us. The only perk we had was that we were sitting comfortably in our AC Car

We reached Vadodara at around 5 PM and stopped at a roadside stall for a quick tea break. This short tea break got extended to a half an hour break as we posted some Instagram stories, spoke to our families and checked our tyres

Vadodara to Ahmedabad is just 2 hours drive. We entered Ahmedabad at around 7 PM but since it was evening time the traffic was heavy. We decided not to check in into the hotel but to explore the Sabarmati Riverfront as it was on the way to our hotel at Ellis Bridge

At night we decided to go to Bhatiyar Galli to try some local delicacies. We stayed at Oyo Collection O hotel at Ellis Bridge

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 1/11 by Hemanshu Joshi
Sabarmati River front

Day 2: Ahmedabad to Bhuj

We started our Day at 10 AM (Though we wanted to start at 8 AM). For breakfast we visited New Khaman House which served one of the best Sandwich Dhoklas. After this we headed for Bhuj

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 2/11 by Hemanshu Joshi

The road to Bhuj is one of the smoothest roads you will come across with minimum traffic. Just be careful as a lot of Cows and Dogs cross street so you need to be alert all the time. We stopped for lunch at 1 PM at Isckon Food Mall which is in Kacholiya, 250 KM before Bhuj. Its a peaceful place with less crowd, ample parking space, clean washrooms and a pleasing ambience. We tried Kathiawadi Thali and the taste was satisfying

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 3/11 by Hemanshu Joshi

We were cruising at 90-100 KMPH before we stopped at Surajbari bridge. It was around 5 in the evening and the view from here was breath taking. The road has a lot of Windmills along the way which will tempt the photographer within you to stop and click lots and lots of pictures. After clicking some pics we moved on with our journey

We witnessed sunset near Bachhau and continued our journey to Bhuj. Thanks to Google Aunty we got lost for some 20 minutes before connecting back to the actual road. We reached Bhuj at around 8 pm. We stayed at Hotel Royal Palace which is 5 KM away from main City. The Hotel Manager Mr. Chaudhary is a gem of a person. He welcomed us with a big smile and helped us plan our next day properly

Pro Tip:If you are a budget traveller who wants to just visit Rann of Kutch and dont want to stay in expensive tents then book a hotel in Bhuj and take a transport to the desert

Day 3: Bhuj - Kalo Dungar - India Bridge - Rann of Kutch

Everyone was excited about today and we started our day early. As advised by the hotel manager we left in the morning at 5 AM to witness Sunrise from Kalo Dungar. The name literally translates to Black hill, is the highest point in Kutch and probably the only point from where panaromic view of the Great Rann of Kutch is possible. We all decided to travel by car today and give bike some rest

It was race against time as we were told that Sunrise will happen at 6.56 AM and we were running late. I somehow managed to drive fast and reach the spot at 6.50 AM. Luckily for us the sunrise happened only after 7 AM

The view from here was breathtaking. Covered with mountain on 3 sides and the panoramic view of Great Rann of Kutch in front this place was a treat to the eye

It was 12 degrees but the wind at the top was so heavy that it felt like it was easily below 5 degrees. We witnessed Sunrise as well as the Great Rann of Kutch and spent close to 1 hour clicking photos and enjoying the view

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 4/11 by Hemanshu Joshi
View of Rann of Kutch from Kalo Dungar
Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 5/11 by Hemanshu Joshi

The place also has a 400 years old Lord Dattatreya Temple which has a legend attached to it. The priest at the temple feeds cooked rice to the jackals after the evening aarti. We wanted to witness this but had limited time

Just 17 KM away from Kalo Dungar is India Bridge. It is maintained and protected by the BSF. We were not allowed beyond a certain point but since the place was untouched by civilians we got some awesome photos along the way. The BSF person was kind enough to inform us spot were clicking pics was allowed

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 6/11 by Hemanshu Joshi
Near India Bridge

It was time to head back to the hotel and take a 2 hour rest before heading to Rann Utsav

After taking rest and finishing our lunch we started for Rann at 4 PM. Its at a distance of 90 KM (1.5 hours drive) from Bhuj. There is a checkpost 37 KM before Rann where you have to register yourself to visit the Rann Utsav and pay Rs 100 per head. Be sure you have your anyone (Driving Licence/Adhaar card/Passport) identification proof which needs to be produced at the check post

The road to Rann is a two lane road which is well maintained. We reached our destination at around 5.45 PM

You can walk towards the desert which is 2.5 KM from the Parking spot or take a camel ride (Rs 50 per head for one way). We took a camel ride as it was getting dark and we wanted to reach as soon as possible. The Rann is a vast white salt marsh which gives you a full view of the horizon. The beautiful sunset over the dazzling white desert gave it a golden glow which was a visual treat for all of us. My camera did not do justice to the view but what we had just witnessed was absolutely stunning. You have to go there and witness it to believe it. To our surprise the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Vice President of India were present at the Rann Utsav that day. We got a glimpse of both. I must say the authority did a fantastic job as we were not asked to wait or follow some special checking/instructions because of VIP visiting the area. The tourist were free to explore the desert without any hassle

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 7/11 by Hemanshu Joshi
Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 8/11 by Hemanshu Joshi
Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 9/11 by Hemanshu Joshi

After we were done with exploring the white desert and taking pictures we strolled through the Tent City, checked on some shops, enjoyed local music and dance and had our dinner. We headed back from Rann Utsav to our hotel at 10.30 PM

This was the most memorable drive I had in my life. The roads were completely empty, temperature outside was cold, it was pitch dark outside. The howling of dogs from a distant village, moon above us and cold wind gave us the perfect set up for a late night drive. The night was playing with our eyes by giving us optical illusions. What we thought was a reflector on road turned out to be a street light, a car would suddenly appear out of nowhere and zoom past us. On our way we saw something shining. We thought that it was a dog or cat trying to cross the road. But to our surprise it was a Jackal that had come out to take a stroll. Twice we encountered Jackal on this road (So it is advised that in case you are planning to come back late at night from Rann Utsav, avoid going on a 2 wheeler). We also encountered the Great Indian Bustard (Yes, at night time) on our way back home. We reached hotel at around 12 midnight with fun filled memories and experience

Day 4: Bhuj to Vadodara

It was time for us to say good bye to our biker friends who were heading to Udaipur via Mount Abu and we were heading to Vadodara. After breakfast we packed our bags and checked out of the hotel. The day was largely reserved for driving and reaching Vadodara as soon as possible. Bhuj to Vadodara is 440 KM which is a 7.30 Hrs drive. On your way back you will again cross the Surajbari Bridge, so in case you missed clicking any pic you can do it again

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 10/11 by Hemanshu Joshi

We decided to visit the statue of Unity which is 90KM away from Vadodara city. So instead of staying at Vadodara we searched for hotels near the Statue. Hotels near the statue are limited and mostly below standard even for a budget traveller. So we decided to stay at Oyo Hotel Sun n Shine which was again 90 KM away from the statue but on the outskirts of the city. The food here was good but the hotel staff was a bit rude which is very unlikely for Oyo. But since we had to just stay for a night we didn't create much scene about it

Day 5: Hotel to Statue of Unity to Mumbai

It was the last day of our trip and we were already filled with mixed emotions. Happy because we were heading back home with loads of memories, sad because this awesome trip was coming to an end. The last spot for us was the Statue of Unity. It was a 1.30 Hrs drive from our hotel. We started from our hotel at 8 AM. The roads are good and no tolls along the way. We reached our destination at 10 AM. The place has ample Car and Bike parking space. Parking fee for Cars is Rs 150

The Statue of Unity remains closed on Monday. Entry fee per head is - Rs 150 with which you can go till foot of the statue, Rs 380 with which you can go inside the museum and viewing gallery at the top, Rs 1080 with which you will get all the benefits along with express entry, a trip to Narmada dam and Flower Valley. We reached around 10 AM but still the Rs 380 tickets were sold out. Only Rs 150 tickets were available and we settled for taking those tickets. So it is advised that either you reach early else book tickets online.

The Statue of Unity is a massive structure and one can get a glimpse of the statue well before reaching the actual spot. The place is well maintained with gardens, dedicated sitting area, clean toilets and campus, good crowd management and a small but good food court. From here one can also get a view of the Narmada river and the Sardar Sarovar. We spent close to 1 hour here, had our breakfast and then headed back to Mumbai

Photo of Rann of Kutch - Road Trip 11/11 by Hemanshu Joshi

Thanks to Google Aunty she advised us to take a route through Rajpipala which was a state highway with not so good roads but escapes heavy truck traffic and road closures along the Vadodara - Bharuch highway. It took us 1.30 hours for covering a distance of 40 KM through internal roads but we directly reached near Ankleshwar from where we were connected back to the NH-48. From here Mumbai was 323 KM which is close to 5.30 Hrs

We ate our lunch at Navsari at around 3.30 PM and moved at 4 PM for Mumbai. We had 244 KM to cover now. The road was mostly empty but once we crossed Vapi we got a lot of Truck and Cars on the way. The traffic was moving but our speed got reduced to around 50 KMPH on an average. We managed to reach Fountain at around 7 PM. From here it took us 2 hours to reach home (Anushaktinagar) via Ghodbunder road.

I was finally able to reach home at 9.15 PM. Was really tired but also happy to do this trip. I ended the trip after covering 2389 KM, 65+ Hours of Driving, Covering 2 states, 10+ Cities and millions of memories to cherish for a lifetime

Travel Tips:

1. If you are going by a car then there are lot of Tolls along the way (I guess 22 including both ways in my case). We paid around Rs 1450 as toll in the entire trip

2. Gujarati food is a little sweet so if you are lover of spicy food then do ask them before ordering something

3. Most restaurants serve Normal Chaas (Butermilk) without Masala and Salt in it. So ask for Masala Chaas in case you want to have it

4. There are very less petrol pumps along the Bhuj-Rann of Kutch route. So be sure you fuel up before heading for the drive

5. Total Tour cost per head on Car - Rs 8300 (Rs 3400 for hotels per head, Rs 2400 for pertol per head, Rs 500 per head for Toll + Parking, Remaining for food, water & other essentials)