24.083° N, 70.166° E
The city straddling two continents.
The Rann Utsav, the most exuberant festival of Western India, is underway, and the white desert, the Rann of Kutch, is a spectacle to behold. #DSSCRecommends you pack your bags and tick the salt desert off your travel wish list this winter. It is at the Rann Utsav that you get to take a break from pop and jazz, and lose yourself in some soul-pleasing, good old folk music aided by traditional instruments from the region. The colourful performances add a touch of warmth to the harsh winter the region witnesses. The fiesta offers engaging activities for the kids, while adults can zip off for desert rides in Desert Patrol Vehicles for an exhilarating experience. Photographers must not miss Kalo Dungar, offering panoramic views of the Rann of Kutch. Those who have the luxury of time, can opt to visit Dinodhar hills, the site of an extinct volcano, and home to Than Monastery. And if you thought, visiting the Rann is only about salt, desert, and barren lands, a visit to Mandvi Beach in Kutch will change your perspective. Sit by the beachside and have your moment of serenity right there!
Witness Salt Harvesting
The Great Rann of Kutch stretches from Kutch in Gujarat to Sindh in Pakistan. Together with the Little Rann of Kutch, it makes for a huge salt marsh. At a distance of 100 km from the city of Bhuj, The Rann of Kutch is accessible via Dhordo, the gateway to the desert. Wherever you step foot and set your eyes, you will be surrounded with salt crystals. It is here that you can meet the salt pan workers, locally known as Agariyas and watch them in action. Get to know a thing or two about the painstaking task of harvesting the most basic dietary requirement. You can even choose to stay at bhungas or traditional huts made from mud at Shaam-e-Sarhad, an eco-tourism initiative.
#DSSCTopTip: Head out into the desert early in the morning or evening, as the wide salt surface can be blinding.
Partake Regional Delicacies
When in Kutch, eat like the locals do. Enjoy the sumptuous Gujarati thalis, or indulge in the regional snacks. Bajra rotla, lehsun ki chutney, khichdi, and undhiyo are likely to be served. Don’t forget to have at least one portion of the Kutchi Dabeli, prepared with a spicy mixture of potatoes, peanuts, chopped onions, and local spices sandwiched between a pav — a snack-on-the-go or a meal in itself, a helping is warranted. Bhirandiyara village in Bhuj is famous for maavo, a dessert made with reduced milk and sugar, a must have when visiting Kutch.
Experience The Little Rann Of Kutch
The Little Rann of Kutch, which often gets overshadowed by its greater cousin, is a haven for nature lovers with its diverse topography and wildlife. The grasslands, lakes, swamps, and salt marshes, all offer abundant wildlife sightings. Of particular interest, are the endangered Indian Wild Asses, after which the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary takes its name. Opt for jeep safaris (arranged by hotels) that lead to the desert. Birding enthusiasts can head to Nava Talao as well as the marshlands for a glimpse of the winged beings. Birders will be delighted in spotting flamingos, ducks, pelicans, cranes, sandgrouse, francolins, and the Indian bustard. Also nearby, are the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve, and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve. It is advisable to have a guide accompany you, as there are no landmarks in the vast expanse of the desert to show you the way.
Indulge In These Exclusive Activities
The white desert gets its splash of colour from its inhabitants, among whom are a number of artisans who practice the exquisite art of Banni embroidery, appliqué and leather work, pottery, and even some traditional Kutchi musical instruments that make for great collectibles. Hodka artists’ village is home to these craftspeople with whom you can interact and buy their wares. When you return to your hotel from your day trip, don’t get forget to gaze at the night sky for grandiose views of the galaxy, and feel the tiredness fade away.
#DSSCTopTip: Plan your trip to coincide with a full moon for a truly majestic view of the Rann of Kutch.