White Rann in the Kutch region of Gujarat has been on my travel list ever since I saw the climax of a Telugu movie (Maghadeera) in which a battle scene was shot and I was fascinated by the widespread white desert and wondered what it looks like in real life. I kept postponing this trip as I didn’t want to travel to Gujarat just for one destination. Also, one of the reasons for the delay to visit was timing as the best time is between November to February as it’s too hot to visit Kutch at any other time and also the much spoken Kutch festival takes place around the same time.
So, I decided to visit this place as I was already in Ahmadabad and planned my visit during the first week of Jan to avoid the December crowd. Post new year would be the best time as the crowd is less and it’s cheaper as the demand comes down.
How to travel: If you are already in Ahmadabad, you can go by car/bus/train as it takes 6 to 7 hours and I chose to go by bus and it cost me 500 rupees for a sleeper bus. If you are planning to travel from other places, you can take a flight directly to Bhuj, but I suggest you take a flight/ train to Ahmedabad, explore the city and then start to Bhuj and other nearest places like Dholavira , Mandvi beach etc.
I took an early morning bus and reached Bhuj by 12 p.m , finished my lunch and started driving to Kutch by car. The roads are well maintained and it would take almost 2 hours including pit stops. Also, there is only one fuel station at the start of the route, so make sure to fuel up. You will find white Rann signboards throughout the stretch and its a peaceful drive with less traffic. I would say its a paradise for photographers for pit stop clicks in those huge barren farmlands.
Necessary permits: YYou have to get the permit before entering the Dhordo village at the BSF ( border security force) establishment and you have to show your ID cards.
Post the permit, I reached White Rann, crossed three guarded gates and took the car right till the end. My first sight of the white desert was disappointing as I could see a lot of red spit marks and mud but then I walked a little further and found this never-ending and mesmerizing white desert. The more you walk, you will discover the salty land shinning and shimmering under the sun-rays. It was around 4:30 p.m and I wore my sunglasses and I can imagine how harsh it would be in summers.
For pictures: Make sure you go there about thirty minutes or an hour before sunset as this is the best time to take pictures and enjoy the view. You have a vast space to walk around to get clear pictures without the crowd and also it is just in time for the sunset and those amber sun rays are just enough to get perfect shots. Once you sink in the experience, you can take a Camel or a Horse cart ride or just sit by and watch the sun slowly disappearing into the white desert , and yes , this place is as beautiful as it looks in pictures . It is a must visit and I absolutely loved it. There is also a viewpoint to climb to get an aerial view.
Post the sunset, I stayed there till 7 pm to see the night view as I went on a first moon night. The moonlight was just about enough to see the desert and some star gazing. You will find the crowd disappearing after sunset and that's the time to sit and feel the peaceful vibes of the place. It was a blissful experience to just sit and have conversations under the infinite stars and I still wonder how beautiful this place would be on full moon night . Maybe someday I will try to go on a full moon night :-)
Post that, I went to visit the Tent city. The entry to the Tent city is restricted unless you book a tent, but I managed to visit as my friends were staying inside. I am amused to see the way this place has been designed. It’s a well-planned landscape with different clusters of tents and entertainment areas. This place has a vegetarian dinner area, clubhouse to play indoor games, art gallery, adventure sports like paragliding, Gujarati flea market and a Gujarati cultural festival arena where you can see the folk music and dance performances. The place is pretty big to just walk, but there are free buggy rides and free cycles which are available to go around the place. More importantly, the props of photo booths are impressively decorated with graffiti and colors. In my opinion, this place is good when you visit with your family as I felt it was very touristy and I would get bored of this place in a couple of hours. But if you want a tent experience but on a budget trip, opt to stay in other tents resorts around the tent city for a much cheaper price and similar experience.
Shopping in Kutch: Well, I am not a touristy shopping person, but Kutch is known for its varieties of embroideries and handwork, the mirror work is the indigenous art form of Kutch and the Bandhani work known as tie and dye technique and the large imprints of Batik and Ajrakh prints that are widely used in all kind of cloth material from bed-sheets to suits and sarees. You will find a lot of shopping stalls in Kutch and don't forget to buy the handmade jewelry as most of them are made by the Kutch women in the family and if you further want to explore the origins of the artwork you can visit the famous art villages like Bhujodi, Dhamkada, Nirona, and Bhachau.
So, after soaking in this beautiful experience of White desert, shopping, and delicious Veg food, I left Kutch after my dinner and reached Bhuj the same night. You can very much stay back and explore Bhuj the next day, but I chose to go back the same night.So, let me know your white Rann experience and your thoughts :-)