Balancing A Regular Life with Extreme WANDERLUST
Every year, Gujarat Tourism organizes the resplendent Rann Utsav at the salt pans of Kutch. The Rann Utsav is a carnival of lights, sounds and colours put together by some of the most skilled people of the region. The government has created an impressive network of airports, roads and rail links to support the annual fest. I chose to fly into Ahmedabad and drive my way to the Tent City – a 400km drive that takes about 6 hours. You could also fly to Bhuj and drive down. Here is the complete guide to the Rann Utsav :
Several species of birds call Kutch their home
Seemingly endless salt pans
The salt pans of Kutch left me speechless to say the least. Witnessing a landscape devoid of colour yet rich with grandeur amazed me. Since the landscape is absolutely flat like a sheet of paper, in the afternoons with bright sunshine a shimmering mirage forms which is like an illusionary lake that fills the dry Rann till the eye can see.
Get set for a food induced coma with a Gujarati Thali!
If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you can also spend time bird watching. Several species of herons and storks are common sight. If you are lucky, you may even spot the Great Indian Bustard!
The unique landscape offers amazing backdrops for photography
Ship of the desert
The Rann of Kutch is a salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India and is about 7,500 square kilometres in size. It is believed to be one of the largest salt deserts in the world and has been inhabited by the Kutchi people for hundreds of years. The name "Rann" comes from the Hindi word ran (रण) meaning "desert". The Rann of Kutch is a salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India and is about 7,500 square kilometres in size. It is believed to be one of the largest salt deserts in the world and has been inhabited by the Kutchi people for hundreds of years. The name "Rann" comes from the Hindi word ran (रण) meaning "desert".
What amazed me the most about the Rann Utsav was how the carnival was executed with such artistry, set against one of the most harsh backdrops found anywhere in the world. So much so that over the last few years, it has become an event with one of the highest attendance in the country. But I guess if Big B himself invites you to these lands, you have to pay heed!
Local Kutchi musicians playing folk music
Within the tent city is a vibrant shopping area where you will find traditional goods from all across Gujarat. Embroidered garments, hand-block paintings, ornate silver jewelry flood the shops but make sure you cut a good deal for yourself or you would end up paying a ‘tourists’ price’!
Gujarati cuisine is famous the world over for the wide array of flavours it offers and the restaurants set up within the Tent City offer exactly that! Gujarati thali generally includes chaas, aam ras, sweet dal, dhokla, kadhi among other dishes and you must absolutely give it a shot.
1) Most shops within the tent city accept only cash payments so make sure you have enough on hand
2) You must bring your camera. The white Rann offers a rare set up!
3) Heads up – non vegetarian food & alcohol is not easily available
4) Carry sunglasses – the bright landscape can hurt your eyes!
5) The desert gets chilly at night, carry a warm jacket
Sunset Point, Kala Dungar
There are multiple options for you in case you want to get away from the Rann Utsav for a bit. One of my favorites was to visit the sunset point at Kala Dungar – the highest point in all of Kutch at 458 mt. The panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch is definitely worth a visit.