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Travel tales

Beautiful White Dessert

It’s the time of the year, when an avid nature looks forward to the annual Rann Utsav at the world famous White Rann in Kutch District in Gujarat. It’s an annual ritual for me to visit Rann for my birthday in December, but the pandemic COVID-19 which has made year 2000 to be one of the worst years for the Travel and Hospitality industry has cast a shadow on Rann Utsav too. And I am not sure if I will be able to make it to the Rann this year. So…

Here is an attempt to showcase the beauty of The White Rann.

Kutch is famous for the miles long enormous expanse of salt, i.e. Rann, the white desert near Village Dhordo. Soaking oneself at the White Chadar (Sheet) of Salt at Rann is a dream for every traveler since Rann Utsav began in 2005. The Rann Utsav began as a result of relentless efforts of PM Modi to put this desert on the tourism map of the world. The Rann Utsav is organised to celebrate love, life and culture over a period of two months by the state government every year to attract tourists.

Village Dhordo can be reached either by driving from Ahmadabad or from Bhuj, the nearest airport. Celebrations begin the moment you reach the Tent City at Dhordo, around 80kms from Bhuj. Overwhelming colours of the Kutchi attire and also the colourful jewellery adorning the women folk will leave you mesmerised.    

The picturesque “White Desert” isthe largest salt desert in the world and is crudely earthy, charming and accommodating. Deep inside the Kutch region of Gujarat, it is actually a dried river bed in winter months, almost 40km in length. The river, Layari which originates in the Banni Grasslands dries up completely in winter months leaving white salt sediments in form of amazing rock formations. Layari River, in fact is a vast oasis for bird life during the summer months when it is full of water.

The Rann literally meaning salt marsh is a white, cracked and barren land with sparse, usually thorny vegetation. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth you can ever visit. 

The Rann changes its moods as per the time of the day and it really is a visual treat for eyes. During a full moon night Rann turns into shining crystals; it’s just magical.

The sunsets on the white salt are dreamy experiences and so is the experience of star gazing during nights when the sky turns into a painter’s canvas and the rhythmic patterns burst out into a panorama of colours.

Even though the sunrise, sunsets and moonlit nights at the Rann are the most colourful presentations that make one ecstatic at the arid desert of Kutch, Kutch’s gifted artisans amaze the tourists as well.   

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Colorful handicrafts

Kutch is at the westernmost part of India, with Pakistan on one side and Rajasthan on the other, and has always faced nature’s fury with its arid climate and marshy land in most part. It has made the life of its residents more tough and agriculture difficult. This adverse atmosphere led its residents to evolve arts and crafts for survival.

The villages around Bhuj, homes of pastoral nomadic, semi-nomadic tribes, specialize in different forms of arts and a visit to the artisan villages is a must to complete a visit to the Rann.

The artifacts of Kutch are now seen all over the country and also in the overseas market. The main handicrafts of the district are Copper Bells, Rogan art, Seashell toys and dolls, ethnic embroidery, patchwork, terracotta, etc.

The houses in the Banni area are living museums of beautiful paintings. Rabari and Harijan women are traditionally experts in depicting their dreams in painting made with clay mixed with camel dung and kept for a few days. Designs of mor (peacock), popat (parrot), anghadi (fingers),and vinjno (fan) are the most popular.

Celebrations of life

Rann Utsav is a celebration of life, festivities and culture of Kutch and Gujarat. A riot of colour sprinkled on the barren lands, the festival offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience the diverse traditions and the generosity and hospitality of Kutchi people.

Where to stay: A grand Tent City of approximately 400 tents, both air- conditioned and non-air-conditioned, have been set up on the outskirts of bordering village of Dhordo in the Rann, offering packages of two nights and three days at around Rs 15,000 for a couple.  

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