Complete Guide to White Rann (Rann of Kutch)

What is white rann?

The Rann of Kutch is a large area of salt marshes located mostly in the Kutch district and the southern tip of Sindh, Pakistan. It is divided into two main parts: Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch. The marsh covers an area of around 10,000 square miles and is positioned between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River in southern Pakistan.

Rann of Kutch
Rann Of Kutch: Salt marshes

The fact that the area has desert on one side and the sea on the other provides the Rann of Kutch with a variety of ecosystems, including mangroves and desert vegetation.

Is it worth a visit?

Amitabh Bachchan in his promotions for Gujarat Tourism titled Khushboo Gujarat Ki has extensively shot in the Rann of Kutch. Several scenes in Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize-winning novel Midnight’s Children take place in the Rann of Kutch, including a scene where the protagonist faints from heat stroke in the Rann’s brutal climate.

Some scenes or song sequences in Indian films like Magadheera, D-Day, R… Rajkumar, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Lagaan, The Good Road, Dookudu, Sarvam and Sarrainodu were shot in the area. J. P. Dutta’s Bollywood film Refugee was shot in the Great Rann of Kutch along with other locations in the Kachchh district.

Kutch, located in the State of Gujarat, is blessed with one of the most ecologically and culturally abundant landforms. The brimming profusion of nature’s beauty, culture & tradition, the superfluity of colors and celebration, cornucopia of joy and beauty, all together reflect the magnificence of the kaleidoscopic Kutch.

Particularly, the spectacular sight of the boundless white desert under the moonlight present the stunning creation of nature, unique to this world.

Cool Breeze & flashlight of full moon welcomes the tourist to live the lifetime memorable experience. Many adventure clubs and travel clubs organize expeditions here.

When to visit?

Rann Utsav is a Family holiday destination to explore fun moments and store in cameras for a lifetime. The Government of Gujarat hosts an annual 3-month long festival during winter called the Rann Utsav where tourists can see the various sights of the Rann.

The Festival starts every year in November onwards at Kutch, Gujarat & marks this celebration till Holi.

The tourist season runs until March, and the above-mentioned accommodations close at the end of March. If you want to avoid the crowds and have a more peaceful experience, go at the end of the tourist season in March. You can still visit the salt desert in April and May though, on a day trip from Bhuj. However, it’s very hot during the day. Plus, there’s an absence of basic facilities for tourists (food, water, and toilets).

It’s best to head out into the desert only in the early morning or evening, otherwise, the salt can be blinding. You can take a moonlight camel safari into the desert. The full moon is the most magical time of the month to experience it

Climate:

The climate of the region is extreme with May being the hottest month. The average temperature during this time is around 35°C. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 10°C. During the monsoon, the whole region becomes flooded with rainwater.

How to reach?

Rann Utsav is celebrated in the Dhordo village of Kutch which is 85 km from Bhuj.

You can say that Bhuj is the main place to reach first to visit Rann Utsav. You can check if there is any train available directly from your near by railway station to Bhuj or you can take the train to Ahmedabad and then from Ahmedabad you can take Car, Train or Bus to reach Bhuj.

Flights to Bhuj are also available from Mumbai but its very expensive (around 5-6k on average).

Buses to Bhuj are available from many places in and around Gujarat, and the road is in good condition.

From Bhuj to Rann Utsav, There are two transport modes available. First is Govt/Private Buses. Second is hire a taxi. If you want to do the Great Rann on a day trip from Bhuj, you can hire a cab or motorbike. Alternatively, small group tour packages are available.

The cheapest way to reach The Great Rann of Kutch from Ahmedabad is to take a train till Bhuj. Then a shared minibus from Bhuj till Hodka and from there, a shared auto to Dhordo.

Dhordo is on the edge of the salt desert. It’s more convenient to stay there, or nearby Hodka (17 km from Dhordo). To have a hassle-free visit to the Great Rann of Kutch, you can opt for a taxi from Bhuj.

Where to stay?

The most popular choice is the Gateway to Rann Resort at Dhordo. It’s made up of characterful Kutchi bhungas (mud huts), traditionally crafted and decorated with handicrafts. Rates start from 4,800 rupees for an air-conditioned double, per night, with all meals included.

Rann Utsav Tents

This most difficult part when you try to start planning for Rann Utsav. If you book package from Rann Utsav official site, They provide you with a stay.  If you want to enjoy the festivity in its true sense, you must consider staying at the Tent City in Dhordo. It is a place where all the action takes place and you will get to witness the entire celebration right in front of your eyes. The tents are spacious and luxuriously designed so as to provide complete comfort to the guests.

The Gujarat government has also set up tourist accommodations, the Toran Rann Resort, opposite the army checkpoint near the entrance to the salt desert.

Another recommended option is the Shaam-e-Sarhad (Sunset at the Border) Village Resort in Hodka. The resort is owned and managed by the local residents.

The locals of the villages around the White Rann of Kutch also run homestays. To get a more local experience (please be open-minded about the lack of comforts), you can also choose to stay in these villages with the locals.

Though these hotels get filled up very fast in festival season and prices are doubled. You can also book a hotel in Bhuj and can leave for Rann Utsav in the early morning and come back at late night (if you have booked a taxi or have your own vehicle).

What to carry:

Carry following things:

  • Water
  • Identity Card
  • Permit

The climate of the region is very dry so we highly advice you to carry water bottle with you. So always carry your identity card when you visit Rann of Kutch

The Rann of Kutch is a sensitive area, due to its proximity to the Pakistani border.

Therefore, written permission is required to visit the salt desert. This can be obtained on the way at the Bhirandiyara village (famous for mawa, a sweet made from milk) checkpoint, about 55 kilometers from Bhuj.

The cost is 100 rupees per person, 25 rupees for a motorbike and 50 rupees for a car. You’ll need to submit a photocopy of your ID, plus show the original. You must present the written permission to the officers at the army checkpoint at the entry to the salt desert about 45 minutes further on.

Once your transportation is sorted, you need not worry about anything else. Previously, getting a permit for the Great Rann of Kutch required some effort but now it is a simple and easy process.

Places nearby:

There are also other places to visit during Rann Utsav like Historical sites, Wild Life Sanctuary (famous for Wild Ass), Great White Rann of Kutch, Museums, Palaces, Forts, etc. If you have time and budget then you can discover many other tourist places in Kutch. There are many places but we have only mentioned limited places which are worth a visit.

Some of these locations are as below:

  • Dholavira:
    • A must place if you have traveled from outside of Gujarat to Visit Kutch. Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture, dating back to 4500 years ago. While the other site, Lothal, is more exhaustively educated and easier to reach, a visit to Lothal only complements, rather than replaces, a visit to Dholavira. What this site offers you, in the intense environment that comes with being surrounded by the Great Rann of Kutch, is a unique insight into the pioneering Harappan mind, with one of the world’s earliest and best planned water conservation systems and what might be the world’s first signboards, written in ancient Indus script.
    • Also, You will find another white rann in your way while you are visiting this place.
  • Kala Dungar (Black Hill):
    • If you want to see the Rann of Kutch from a different perspective, Kala Dungar (Black Hill) offers a panoramic view from 458 meters above sea level. You can see all the way across to the Pakistani border.
  • Prag Mahal Palace:
    • This is a palace commissioned by King Pragmalji in the 1860s, designed by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins in the Italian Gothic style and built in the middle of Bhuj next to the Aina Mahal. 
  • Aina Mahal Palace:
    • The Aina Mahal palace, or “Hall of Mirrors” was built during the flamboyant rule of Lakhpatji in the middle of the 18th century.
  • Vijay Vilas Palace:
    • Built-in 1929 by Rao Vijayrajji, this palace is very well-maintained, and often the scene of filming for Bollywood productions. It was built of red sandstone in the Rajput style, with a main central dome, Bengal domes at the sides, bastions at the corner, and colored glass windows.
  • Mandvi Beach:
    • Mandvi is a port city in the Western Part of India in the Kutch, Gujarat region. It is famous for its beaches and centuries-old shipbuilding yard. Once upon a time walled city, the ruins of the walls can be seen while driving around.
  • Matanamadh Desh Devi Maa Ashapura:
    • A Divine place of goddess Ashapura. Different energy flows in the temple. It brings inner peace to be there.
  • Narayan Sarovar:
    • According to Hindu theology, there are five sacred lakes; collectively called Panch-Sarovar; Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar, and Pushkar Sarovar. They are also mentioned in Shrimad Bhagavata Purana. As per legends, one of the holy rivers of India, Sarasvati River had an outlet into the sea near present-day Narayan Sarovar and waters of the lake was filled with holy waters of River Saraswati, that is why this place was and is still considered as one of the five holy lakes by Hindus.
  • Chhari Dhandh:
    • Chhari means salt affected and Dhandh means Shallow wet-lands. This places is a paradise for bird watchers and ornithologists, having around 370 bird species and is particularly rich in raports, water fly, waders and larks.

Culture:

Kutch is the cultural district of Gujarat which is famous for its Culture. The music which is influenced by Sufi & Folk songs, Instruments like- Bhorrindo, Manjira, Morchay, Jodia Pava & Rava. The language spoken in Kutch is Kutchi language. Various handicraft items &Garments Embroidery, Handwall painting, Jewellery items, Wood Carving, Wall Paintings, & many more. Many religions are found here, including Hinduism, Islam, Jainism & Sikhism. Kutch district is inhabited by various groups and communities. Many of these have reached this region after centuries of migration from neighboring regions of Marwar(Western Rajasthan), Sindh, Afghanistan and further.

Shopping:

Kutch is a famous tourist destination, and its market has a lot to offer to the shopaholics especially those who admire the precious artworks. The region is particularly famous for its arts and crafts and each village has its own signature. For example, Bhujodi village is famous for weaving, Ajrakhpur for block-printing, Hodka for patchwork and Nirona for lacquer work.

Rogan Art

This district is famous for its various cultural traditional shopping activities at Rann Utsav like – Authentic Handicraft Items, Bandini Sarees, Traditional Ornaments & many more items which give you wow experience.

A peculiar art form called Rogan art practised in only the village of Nirona. Delicate patterns mainly centred around the “Tree of Life” are made with colours derived from – surprise, surprise – castor oil! Castor is one the few plants that grow in the desert here.

You can buy the following things here:

Kutch is a less expensive place to shop in. Some of the villages which boast of quality shopping products are Bhujodi, Anjar, Hodka, etc. You can get Kutchi craft ad embroideries at these locations.

Things to eat:

The majority of the population is vegetarian. Jains, brahmins and some other caste practice strict vegetarianism.

Following are specialities of Kutch:

  • Kutchi Dabeli
    • Not indulging your craving for an authentic Kutchi Dabeli when in Gujarat is a crime. Quite easily available you can get a taste of this gorgeous pav filled with potatoes, friend masala peanuts, pomegranate, topped with sev and served with chutney if you want a little more bite to your morsel.
  • Thepla:
    • All the goodness of methi available in these small round rotis called ‘Thepla.’ A staple in most households in Gujarat, it is filling, every bite is sweet, sour and pungent at once. Tasting an authentic thepla served with pickles, and fried chillies and a bowl of curd is a must.
  • Sev Khaman
    • :Another absolutely amazing street food of Gujarat. The dhoklas are steamed, and then mixed with spices and topped with sev. And here in Bhuj, they serve interesting an variation with chaat masala.
  • Jalebi:
    • When in Gujarat, you just can’t miss jalebis. These piping hot sweet things are made little more crisper in Bhuj. It’s a must-have when you are exploring street food in Bhuj. Everyone loves it!
  • Faafda:
    • When you speak about jalebi, you can’t forget faafda. It’s an undeniably great competition. And especially in Gujarat, this combo is taken quite seriously. Just hop at any of the street food stalls and you will enjoy this amazing snack along with jalebi.
  • Chai Khaari:
    • If you want to get an amazing start to your day, then you must have that piping hot chai with some incredibly crunchy and tasty khaari from the street side stalls of Bhuj. This will surely make your morning good.

Wildlife:

There are several wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves on the Indian side in the Rann of Kutch region. From the city of Bhuj, various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch/Kachchh district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.

Wild ass

FLORA AND FAUNA – The Rann of Kutch is full of dry thorny scrub and there are no large trees. The main vegetation in the region includes many species of grasses that are widely available as the source of food for the wild Asses.

The most famous wildlife of the region includes the Indian Wild Ass, as well as the chinkara, desert fox, jackal, desert cat, caracal, nilgai, wolf, blackbuck, and striped hyena.

The grassland and deserts of the Rann of Kutch are home to forms of wildlife that have adapted to the often harsh conditions of this vast area. These include endemic and endangered animal and plant species.

Few Tips:

  • Kutch has very dry weather. Always carry a water bottle.
  • Kutch is a very safe place so you don’t need to worry.
  • Dholavira is must visit place if you are outside from Gujarat.
  • Gujarat is dry state so never carry liquor with you. If you are from outside of Gujarat, You can get it from some of the hotels from Bhuj based on liquor permit.
  • Carry an identity card when visiting Rann of Kutch.
  • Visit Rann of Kutch in early in the morning.
  • Book hotel tickets as early as possible as in season hotels are always full.
  • Book a cab from Bhuj if you want to have good with less hassle.
  • You can check government buses to Rann of Kutch (Dhordo) from Gujarat State transport website.
And in Kutchi, We say “Achija” (अचीजा) means See you again

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