Rann of kutch is the world’s largest salt desert which is spread across 7500 square kms. It is located at the far western part of India which shares its border with Pakistan.
Reason of the Visit
This time it was my choice to visit the Great Rann of kutch. I somewhere read in a newspaper about the Rann of kutch festival(Nov to feb), it was just a spark. It was always on my wishlist to visit the place since I saw the hindi movie Refugee. Bhuj was another place which I wished to visit after the 26 Jan 2001 disastrous earthquake.
Before the Travel
The nearest Airport to Rann of kutch is Bhuj. There are flights from Mumbai to Bhuj and from there it is hour and half drive to Dhordo village where you can find good accommodation options. Since we were flying from Pune we booked tickets to Ahmadabad.
On the Day of Travel (5/01/2017)
We took off at 11:45 pm and we landed in Ahmadabad at 1 am. The whole airport was decorated with colorful kites and the place looked so vibrant even at 1 AM . Since it was late night we booked a hotel room for the night in Ahmadabad.We stayed at Le Grande Residency Behind Gujrat college. The rooms were very clean and good. The breakfast was complimentary. They both had south Indian and also Gujrati food items.
Next day we started from Ahmadabad at 10 am and pushed towards Dhordo Village.We stopped on the way for lunch at Sugar and spice around 2pm. The place was clean and we could see how Modiji has been doing a good job.
Throughout the highway we saw so many salt pans and windmills.We reached the Dhordo check post exactly at 5 pm and from their the road divides in to two. One leads to Dhordo village and another to Kala Dungar(black hill). We decided to head towards Kala Dungar to see the sunset. Kala Dungar is the highest point of kutch and from there one can get a aerial view of Rann of kutch. From the check post its 40 kms. At the checkpoint one can get permission enter the Rann of kutch in their own vehicle . But we didn’t stop there as the place we were staying was supposed to take us inside which was included in the package. So we went straight to kala Dungar.
The silver line you see is the bank of Rann of kutch and behind its the vast salt desert.It was hazy so we couldn’t get the whole view of the desert but it sure was breathtaking.
After that we headed to our resort in Dhordo village. We Checked in at Toran Resort which claims to be the nearest resort to the Rann of Kutch, which is actually true because its just opposite to the visitor center.The place was very clean and we stayed in a Bhunga.
They provide food all 3 times. Just that it gets over soon so make sure you go early. We checked in at 7:30 Pm and we had some time before the dinner time.So we decided to take a walk to the market. On the way we got a lift in a camel cart.People are very friendly.The cart man didnt charge us for the ride and when we offered money he politely declined .First time in a tourist spot I witnessed something like this.The market had variety of stuffs. Bags, Bandhini, cotton fabrics with natural dye print, ready made dresses, camel leather bags and shoes, all very colorful and rates being very nominal.That day I just took a stroll around the market didn’t buy much.
The next day morning we got up to find out that there was power outage and no hot water. But somehow managed to get ready and by the time I went for breakfast it was closed by 10 am. So asked them make bread butter for my kid and then checked out. They provide hot water in a bucket when demanded.
After we checking out went to the visitor center where we got permission and ticket to enter the Rann of kutch. Per person it is Rs 100 and do not forget take a Id proof.The buses keeps going inside so you can board any bus after you give the permission form at the check point. The white Rann is 4 kms from the point of entrance and the bus dropped us at the gate. From there one can choose to walk to the viewing tower or take a camel or horse cart. Its just Rs 100 per person and it is worth the money. They drop you at the the viewing tower. Did I mention that Rs 100 also includes return fare?
You can enjoy the view from the tower or choose to walk on the salt desert, beware of water in some spots. The landscape is amazing and the vast spread of the salt is spectacular. Its altogether is a different experience.From this place Pakistan border is just 80 Kms.
After spending few hours inside the desert we headed towards tent city Dhordo. We stayed at Lallooji and sons tent city. We booked through official RannUtsav website. They had one day and two day packages as per the traveler’s requirement which also included local sightseeing, pickup and drop to Bhuj railway station or Bhuj Airport. Inside it is not allowed without a booking. There were many activities for all ages. The kids will be well entertained here.Food was also provided all 3 times as complimentary and they had very good spread of food items which mainly included Gujrati delicacies.
Inside the resort they had many activities like cycling , paintball , cricket , club house , library and some adventure activities too. They also had a Dominos outlet , handicraft shops etc.
That day evening after having lunch and relaxing and evening high tea we boarded the bus from the resort to the white Rann. Camel carts were also available on first come and first basis.To our disappointment they took a turn before the gate dropped us well before the viewing tower.We stayed there till the sunset and sunset is something not to be missed and before getting dark they took us back to the resort but we had different plans.We again got down at the entry point and took a bus back to the gate. we wanted to witness the white Rann in the moon light. I had read and heard how the salt reflects the moon light and it is a treat to the eyes. But it was much more than that.. The whole place was lit like somebody had switched on a giant tube light. The gate closes at 8 PM and buses goes inside till 7:30 PM. So dont miss going inside during the night. If it is a no moon day you can see the sky full of stars.
This picture doesn’t do justice to the real beauty of White Rann in the moonlight.A open space and uninterrupted view of the vast landscape something not to be missed.It is best viewed on a full moon day.
After dinner spent sometime around the tent city and I did a full fledged shopping for hand bags and fabrics.
Again In the morning around 6 AM went inside White Rann to witness the sunrise and this time own vehicles are allowed inside.
After returning had breakfast and we checked out of the tent city and drove back to Bhuj where we visited Aina Mahal and Prag Mahal which are side by side and also visited the swaminarayan temple and I highly recommend this places where you will get to see unique collections of antiques and marble carvings. Bhuj has so much history.
And our next stop was at a handicraft Village known as Bhujodi which is not very far from the Bhuj Ahmadabad highway. If you have missed anything to buy at The Rann festival you can catch up here.
Many small small outlets where you can shop for handicraft items.
After satisfying my shopping cravings we headed to restaurant to satisfy our hunger cravings. Stopped at a hotel just after exiting from Bhujodi on the highway. Ordered a Gujrati Thali and it was one of the best meals we had on that trip.
Then our next stop for the day was Wildass Sanctuary which is also known as Little Rann. It is famous for the Wildass which are not found anywhere else in the world.Also it is the largest wildlife Sanctuary in India spread over 4954 km sq. We reached our accommodation in little Rann little after the sunset and as soon as we entered we spotted a Nilgai and couple of Wildass. We stayed at the Eco Camp. For more details about the stay and safari booking you can check here.
The next day morning the Safari was arranged of us from the Eco camp in a Jeep. The landscape is something which I have never witnessed for a wildlife sanctuary. A plain horizon till your eyes can reach absolutely no hindrance. We saw many salt pans around the sanctuary. We were told that the density of salt in the ground water was about 13% whereas in seawater it is 6%. Saw many migrated birds. The highlight of the safari was we spotted the Shaheen Falcon. It is adapted to taking prey in the air and can achieve a speed of 240 kmh in level flight; when diving after prey it can exceed speeds of 320 kmh (200 mph). Very rarely we can see the bird as it will be always on flight to hunt for its prey.
Few Pictures taken around the sanctuary .
The one thing I like to mention is the wind playing music.. When the jeep was moving we kept hearing a flute sound with so much rhythm initially we thought it is being played in some temples around but there were few holes in the back frame of the jeep which was actual source of the sound.
After the Safari the food was ready at the camp. We got refreshed and had lunch and then headed towards to Ahmadabad to catch flight to Pune.
Ahmadabad we reached around 5pm and we had enough time to visit the Kite show and flower show. Reached the airport around 8 pm. This vacation sure was very unique in its own way not like any another we have taken so far.And more than any place I really enjoyed shopping here.
Picture Credit : Mohammed Siddique
If you have some more time, there are other places around kutch which you can visit
=> Naroli : Its a handicraft village between Bhuj and Dhordo village. It is about 14 kms from the main road
=> Mandvi Beach and Vijay Vilas Palace
=> Indian Bustard Sanctuary