The Great Rann of Kutch is a vast expanse of salt marsh covered with silvery white sand and salt. As you stare into the far off horizon before you, what catches your eyes are the endless stretches of pure white landscapes somewhat resembling the appearance shimmering, snowy expanses. The area turns out to be a seasonal salt flatland that gets totally water logged during the monsoon season and dries up once the monsoons have ended. The Rann is actually a combination of 4950 sq kms of Little Rann and 7850 sq kms of the Great Rann. Both put together makes the famous Rann of Kutch, the largest thriving land for exotic wildlife. The Banni grasslands are also a part of the Great Rann of Kutch. ‘Rann’ word is actually a Hindi word meaning ‘desert’. Though popularly recognized as an arid desert land, the Rann is much more than a mere desert for the connoisseurs of art and cultural. The life on Rann showcases the purest form of cultural excellence. The traditions observed by the denizens speak a tenfold about the glorious past. Their way of life not only preserves the essence of a rich, old culture but celebrate it too. The villages around the Rann are inhabited by people who are experts in craft-making. The Kutchchi crafts show an astonishing accuracy to details and are famous worldwide. At the Rann Utsav you may be able to see varied forms of splendid Kutchchi art forms. If you wish to explore the Great Rann of Kutch, this informative write-up will prove useful to you. Read on to learn more.
The Rann is positioned northward of Tropic of Cancer and falls within Gujarat’s Kutch district. One can easily enter the great Rann via Bhuj. Gujarat’s tourism department intends to make another city Dhordo lying on the brink or border of the Rann, the gateway to Rann and developmental works in this direction have already been started. Dhordo is 1.5hrs of journey from the city of Bhuj.
The climate of Rann shows extremes of temperature. In summers, temperatures may shoot up to as much as 50 degree C while in the winters temperatures may dip to 0 degree or even below that. With the onset of the rains in the Monsoon season, the entire Rann gets flooded. The nearby rivers such as Indus, Rupen, and Luni overflow their banks during rains and flood the Rann of Kutch.
Rann of Kutch is an important tourist attraction of Gujarat. It’s beautiful and surreal. It’s culturally rich and unparalleled in terms of art & craft. Also, the ecological diversity of the region makes it a congenial habitat for rich wildlife. The Rann of Kutch is home to two significant wildlife sanctuaries like Kutch desert wildlife sanctuary, Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. When it comes to tourism, this place is a great place for tourists passionate about exploring cultures and crafts, passionate about wildlife photography and even for the nature enthusiasts who love to get lost in the silvery beauty of the white Rann. Spectacles like sunsets and moon rises are never-to-miss visual treats for any tourist who visits the Rann. Such sights are worth cherishing all through one’s life.
To promote tourism in the Rann, Gujarat Tourism Department has launched the Rann Utsav. It is celebrated each year between months December and February. Several cultural programs are held all across the Rann during this time. Also, several stalls are set up, selling Kutchchi handicrafts and authentic local delicacies of the region such as Chaats, snacks and even the typical Gujarati Thalis. The gigantic Rann becomes dotted with colorful tents during the festive times. Tourists from every nook and corner of the country and globe make a bee line to Kutch during that time to enjoy the carnival and participate in it. The Rann Utsav is in fact an attempt made by the Gujarat tourism department to let the locals earn some income from the visitors who visit the Rann during the festive times.
Places to Visit
The top places to visit in and around the Rann of Kutch are as follows: –
Kala Dungar is a conical dune that looks almost like a hillock. The hillock has a blackish hue, hence the name ‘Kala Dungar’. Kala Dungar, the highest location in the Kutch region, offers a panoramic and mind blowing view of the Rann of Kutch below. It is a must-visit sightseeing location for visitors to the Rann. Kala Dungar is about 95kms away from the Bhuj city of Gujarat. The Kala Dungar has a sunset point where tourists gather in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the Rann below. If the sky is clear, the views of Rann from the dune top would simply take your breath away. Tourists reaching up to the dune’s summit can catch sight of some matchless views along sand ridge and such views could invariably keep your camera busy all the time. The Dattatreya temple atop dune is a holy temple that serves all visitors with free lunch.
Shri Swaminarayan Temple
This splendid temple is an architectural masterpiece. Made out of white marble, this temple looks truly mesmerizing in terms of beauty. The earthquake of 2001 had caused much damage to the temple. Devotees from across the globe contributed to help in rebuilding of the temple. The temple stands on the same road that has Alfred High School and Ramkund step well as well. Down that same road is this magnificent Swaminarayan temple. As per tales, the temple is located just on the site where Lord Swaminarayan sat along with other local sages and holy men to discuss religious topics. This He did while he was traveling through Bhuj. A visit to the temple is indeed a fulfilling experience. You can experience true divinity and presence of the Supreme Being at Sri Swaminarayan temple.
Vijay Vilas Palace
No tourist to the Rann of Kutch should miss the magnificent Vijay Vilas Palace, an amazing piece of rare fusion architectural beauty. This palace was setup by Rao Vijayraj Ji in the year 1929. Fusion of Bengal, Rajasthani and the local Kutchchi architectural patterns led to the emergence of a splendid architectural masterpiece. The palace made out of high quality, red sandstone stands amid a sprawling 450 acres of lush green meadow. A gorgeous interior with Rajputana royal touch, an impressive, huge dome, beautiful stained glass windows, and last but not the least, a private beach stretching up to 2kms are some of the many attributes of this palace that add to its awe-inspiring opulence.
This picturesque and serene beach adorns the long coastline of about 1666kms. This beach has a distance of 1km from Arabian Sea and is a sprawling sandy expanse on the banks of River Rukmavati. The beach is positioned on the Gulf of Kutch and is differently referred to as Kashi-Vishwanath beach as it has the Kashi-Vishwanath temple located in vicinity to the beach. Mandvi beach is an ideal place for enjoying family vacation, for honeymooning and much more. Lazing in the golden, sun-kissed sand, beach strolling, dipping feet in the surf, enjoying the cool breeze, bird watching, taking a thrilling camel ride are some of the activities you could undertake at Mandvi beach. This is an ideal gateway for those looking for a short weekend trip.
If you have visited the Rann of Kutch, the Kutch Museum is one place you should never miss. This is one of the ancient museums of Gujarat and came into being around 1877. The founder of this museum was Maharao Khengarji. The museum exhibits a massive collection of the very old and rare Kshatrapa inscriptions from as early as 1st century AD. By visiting the Kutch museum, you can get an insight into the folk and tribal culture as well as history of the region.
Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial
This memorial has been built in honor of the much celebrated and respectable personality Shyamji Krishna Varma. Varma was born in Mandvi on the 4th of October, 1857. He was a learned person with notable scholarly attributes. Sanskrit was his area of specialization though he was knowledgeable enough in many other Indian languages too. He was a great freedom fighter and prolific writer. His journal, ‘The Indian Sociologist’ contains promotional writing upholding the cause of Indian Independence. The state decided to pay its tribute to this famous personality by building a memorial in his name. Today this memorial has opened for tourists and visitors.
Gandhi Nu Gam
The Gujarat earthquake of 2001 had devastated many villages and had rendered millions of people homeless. After taking stock of the damage caused the Gujarat government came to the conclusion that houses built in a traditional style were more earthquake proof when compared to modern brick-mortar, concrete houses with roofs. The village of Gandhi Na Gam is a model village that was renovated and built a new post-earthquake as per governmental plan. Houses in this village were all built in a traditional way with thatched conical roofs and walls made of adobe bricks. Also these houses were circular in shape and adorned with mirror relief work and clay. The houses here make a wonderful platform for selling local handicrafts. This in fact is an attempt made by the government to bring about economic upliftment of the place.
How to Reach
In order to reach the Rann, you first need to reach Bhuj. Buses or Taxis for Bhuj from any city of Gujarat are easily available. You could also reach Bhuj by train. Trains to Bhuj are easily available from Mumbai. Those who wish to travel by flight can fly to Bhuj from Mumbai. Jeeps, Camel pulled Tongas are the major modes of local transportation to convey you to the salt desert.
Best Time to Visit
After the water logging of the Rann in the monsoons, the Rann remains wet for a long time. Towards the month of October, the Rann starts drying up. This makes the Rann a white salt desert of surreal beauty. The best time to visit the Rann is between months November and February. These months mark the winter months. Though it is freezing cold in the nighttime, the daytime may be pleasant enough. The summer season; i.e. April and May months are totally unfit for travel as average diurnal temperatures range between 45 degree C to 50 degree C. The high temperatures are quite intolerable and the scorching heat of the sun may cause fatal sun burns and even heat strokes. Therefore, it is an unwise decision to visit the Rann during the summer months. Even Monsoons are unsuitable as the flatland is under waters during that time. Hence, winters are the best time to visit the Rann. If you wish to experience the vibrant and bustling Rann, its best for you to visit the Rann during the Rann Utsav; i.e. between months December and February.
There are some wonderful resorts in vicinity to the Rann. Gateway to Rann Resort is one such resort. It is located at the Dhordo village and consists in traditional, well decorated, Kutchi Bhunga or mud huts for tourists to put up. Toran Rann Resort run by Gujarat government is another accommodation option for tourists. It is located just to the opposite of army check post and falls closest to Rann. Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort located in Hodka is another accommodation option that offers tourists with stay options like traditional Bhungas or eco-friendly tents made out of mud.
Typical Kutchchi cuisine, Gujarati Thalis and snacks are the food items you could sample at the Rann of Kutch. The local flavors of Kutch consist in a preponderance of dairy products like milk, curd, wheat and bajra. Chakrada Pakwan, Kacchi Dabeli, Kharibat are some of the yummiest local foods you shouldn’t miss at all. Use of sour pickles is a trademark of Kuchchi Cuisine. While at the Rann of Kutch, don’t forget to mingle with the locals and don’t forget to grab a delicious treat of authentic local food from your new friends of Kutch.