Hmm.. so you have set your heart on visiting the Rann of Kutch this time. This time, as this precise time is actually the time for the very famous Rann Utsav 2017-2018. Starting November 1, 2017 the Rann Utsav will be stretching till February 20, 2018.
Other than the very earthy appeal of the Rann Utsav, there is a lot to see around the Rann of Kutch that you should not miss. While I was planning my visit to the Rann of Kutch last year, I found an acute dearth of reliable information and facts on planning the trip.
Thus, making it easier for you, here, in this post that has everything that you need to know for visiting the Rann of Kutch.
- The closest airport and railway station to reach the Rann of Kutch lie at Bhuj.
- While you can book a stay in the fair grounds or Bhuj, my pick is Devpur. At an hour’s distance from Bhuj, Devpur is a typical Gujarat village. Its highlight being the haveli like Devpur Homestay. One of the best homestays I’ve been to.
- Take out a day to visit Mandvi (for its beach and the Vijaya Vilas Palace). Ask around and you’ll find a museum cum shop, where you have a treasure trove of miniature ships (built to scale), navigational compasses (straight from London!) and more such curios. Quite a treat it was. Other than that, you’ll come across ship-building sites at Mandvi.
- While a lot of people vouch for a visit to Kalo Dungar (or the Black Mountain), the highest point in Kutch, I found it unlike what I expected. Perhaps, the only good thing that came out of it was the stunning view of the Rann salt land, which looked like a sea sprawling across the desert! Not one of the must-visits around here. Still, if you wish, you can visit it the same day when you visit the White Rann.
- Ah.. now comes the highlight, visiting the very famous White Rann, also known as the Great Rann of Kutch. This is where the Rann Utsav takes place. The Rann Utsav came across as dismal to me (or perhaps, I had great expectations out of it!). Here, you’ll find around 30 shops, selling handicrafts, curios, bandhini sarees and more.
- More than the Rann Utsav, you’ll enjoy this visit for the fact that the Great Rann is apparently world’s biggest salt desert. While you set foot on the white land, feeling the salt crystals go crunch under your shoes, with nothing other than miles and miles of salt sprawled all across. The feeling, in one world, is surreal. Stay around the salt land till sunset and you’ll have one of the most fascinating sunsets of your life. This is quite doable from Devpur, thus I would suggest you to refrain from staying at one of the exorbitantly priced resorts at the Rann.
- On your way to the Rann of Kutch from Devpur/Bhuj, don’t forget to visit Village Nirona. Here is your chance for an unforgettable experience to interact with the artisans who are the masters of Gujarati arts of lacquer work, copper bells, embroidery, leather work and more. Almost every lane in Village Nirona has a workshop-cum-house where you can see the artisans working. A pretty good place to buy souvenirs as well. But yes, bargaining is the key here. Though I bought a lot of stuff from Nirona, I found people selling wares at almost 60% less prices elsewhere :/
- If you think that a visit to the White Rann is all that there is to the region, here’s some dope. Some must-dos are Lakhpat (a ghost town that deserves a visit for the Lakhpat Fort), Narayan Sarovar and Koteshwar Temple (two of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites) and Mata na Madh (another sacred sites). While I couldn’t visit these for the lack of time, do not skip visiting these to get the best out of your Kutch trip.
- Oops, now comes a blooper. That, if you wish to visit Dholavira, one of the most prized reminders of the Indus Valley Civilization. A fascinating place, Dholavira requires a night stay and the only facility is the government-run Toran Resort, a very shady, badly kept place, it made me skip Dholavira :/
- You can also visit the Little Rann for a great experience. A major bird-watching site, the Little Rann is also quite known for the India Wild Ass Sanctuary. Devjibhai’s Kooba‘s are your best bet to stay at the Little Rann.
- A special note to my foreigner friends – don’t forget to carry a photostat copy of your passport as you would need it to gain an entry to the Rann of Kutch. The police check post at the Great Rann keeps a tab on the tourists visiting the area, owing to its proximity to the international border. Submit a photostat copy of your passport’s front page at the office. In case you forget that, there’s a photostat shop in one of the villages, at around 10 minutes from the police check post.
- For the Indians, wishing to wish the Great Rann, it’s mandatory to carry an Identity Card (Passport, Voters’ ID Card or a Driver’s License). It’ll be thoroughly checked at the police check post.
You can hire a cab from Devpur or Bhuj to visit the Rann of Kutch and the other attractions at around INR 2500 a day. If you still have a query about planning a trip to the Rann of Kutch, leave a comment below or write an email to me at email@example.com
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PS: Owing to a lot of queries on the Rann Utsav; I’ve made a Rann Utsav travel advisory and itinerary . Don’t forget to check.