It all started a few years ago, when I sat down to prioritise my travel plans. Having travelled far and wide already, I started craving visits to unique and offbeat destinations. That's when I landed on the idea of visiting Rann of Kutch. At that point all I knew was there was an ongoing popular advertisement on Gujarat tourism by veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan wherein he said, "Aapne Kutch nahi dekha toh kuch nahi dekha". A year later though, my interest piqued even more when I came across the Rann Utsav annual festival on the internet.
Although it took another couple of years for my plans to fully materialise, it remains to be one of my most culturally enriching trips yet.
About the Rann of Kutch a.k.a White Desert -
'Rann' comes from the Hindi word signifying 'desert'. The White desert is a salt marsh located on the Thar Desert of Kutch district of Gujarat. It has the reputation of being the largest salt desert in the world and has an area of 7,505 square kilometres. The northern boundary of Greater Rann of Kutch forms an international border between India and Pakistan.
About Rann Utsav -
In 2005, Narendra Modi (the then Chief Minister of Gujarat) decided to host a festival known as 'Rann Utsav' annually in the winter months, which was to be a carnival of folk music, dance, art, handicrafts and the natural beauty of the White Rann.
It's said that some 25-30 years ago, Narendra Modi visited this area as a RSS Pracharak. At the time, the locals avoided venturing out into the white desert especially during the night for the fear of getting lost in the wilderness. But Modi ventured out into the white dessert on a full moon night wherein he discovered the grandeur of Rann - the salt crystals that sparkled like diamonds under the light of the full moon. He spent a few solitary hours on the desert and the experience left a deep impact on him. Thus when he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he chose to promote the tourism of Kutch.