We all have had Amitabh Bachchan on our TV screens promoting Gujarat tourism and saying Kutch nahi dekha to kuch nahi dekha. After spending a weekend at the Rann of Kutch or the Little Rann, i know the truth of the statement.
Although visiting Little Rann during Rann Utsav had always been something i had on my bucket list, i never tried too hard to make it happen. So when a friend suggested to accompany her to Kutch, during the last full moon weekend of rann Utsav, i literally jumped at it.
After reaching Bhuj and sleeping through the bumpy bus ride to Rann of Kutch, i was happy at the first sight of our tent. But soon happiness changed into concern. It was getting hotter, and the tent city looked like a dilapidated city that has been abandoned by people after a major catastrophic event. Lunch came to rescue and even though the buffet was completely veg, food was delicious.
Post lunch we decided to check out the handicrafts section of the city. After the initial excitement of shopping died, we realized how hot it became by 2 pm and decided to return to our tents. Even that did not prove to be very comforting, the ac seemed feeble and the loo raged like a monster. We chained down the tent completely and lay on the ground in front of the full blown ac for an afternoon nap.
4 pm is time for high tea and with most of the day over, i was wondering if coming here was a great idea in the first place. We set out for the desert on camel carts and that is when the excitement began again. The ride was fun and when we approached the salt flats, it was a beauty i haven’t experienced in my life before. All around it was just stretches of white salt and you cannot just make out where the sky meets the land. The only colorful thing was the huge orange disc of sun which was about to set.
Tourists are allowed only in the little Rann of Kutch, the Great Rann of kutch is only accessible to the armed forces as it shares border with Pakistan.
The tent city comes alive in the evening. There are lights everywhere. People are shopping, moving around. There’s a cultural event going on.
We went back to the Rann again at midnight. The white salt flats were flooded by the light from the full moon. At night under that moonlight, it was tough to saysif it was salt or snow all around. Nature presents itself to you in such myriad forms!
We spent a good one hour there before returning to our tents.
It was a short sweet stay with friends at the tent city. Time just flew by. I would not recommend for a solo trip just based on the fact that you might have to share tent with a stranger plus most part of the day is devoid of any activity.
When to visit :
Rann Utsav typically starts by November and ends by Feb. Look up at the Gujarat Tourism site for the dates. Try to visit on a full moon weekend.
How to reach :
The most convenient and time saving way to reach Rann of Kutch is to take a flight to Bhuj. Our flight from Mumbai took only about 1.5 hours. The airport is small and not many transport options are available, so make sure you have taken care of that in advance. Since we stayed at tent city, we got a airport pick up and drop included in our package.
Where to stay
You can either stay at Bhuj city (if you have your own transport) which is about 2 hrs away from the Rann or you can stay in the resorts/tents that are located closer to Rann. i would definitely suggest the latter. So we booked our stay at the Rann Utsav tent city which is like a makeshift city built to accomodate the Rann Utsav tourists that come from all over the world. The tents can be booked through Gujarat Tourism site for Rann Utsav. They are spacious luxury tents witch attached bath and ac. There are various package options available and the one we opted for had stay, 3 meals , 2 rides to the desert and sightseeing on the second day included. It amounted to 6k per person, but given the kind of comfort, service and discipline they follow, it was totally worth the money.
What to do at the Rann
Well if you have not read or heard about it before, this seems like a valid question. Why do people visit the desert? what is Rann Utsav? What all can you do?
Well the first and foremost reason why people visit during Rann Utsav, which starts at November and ends by Feb/Mar is to the experience the beauty of the salt flats during the sunset and under a full moon sky. Since we stayed at the tent city, these trips to the desert were organised by them. You can also shop for kutch handicrafts inside the tent city or just chill with your friends in the beautiful tents.
What to pack
- Dress as colorful as you can. It photographs well against the white desert.
- Sun gears like sunscreen, sun glasses, stoles , hats etc are a must.
- A woolen stole/jacket for the night.
- Enough cash (hardly any machines or even ATMs )
- A good camera ( even if you aren’t a photographer)