A place where the clear blue sky meets one of the worlds biggest salt desert at the horizon is a home to India’s famous/renowned unconventional festival popularly known as “The Desert Festival ” or “ Rann Utsav ” – Celebrations Amidst The White Desert.
The Great Rann Of Kutch.
Located at a far western edge of Gujarat, the Rann of Kutch welcomes people in its three -month carnival Rann Utsav – The Desert Festival. World’s largest saltwater desert, the Great Rann of Kutch is a seasonal wetland, which remains submerged under water during monsoons and wonderfully turns into a salt-infused flat land in the winter months. At this time, with its dazzling packs of white salt especially on a full-moon night, the Rann landscape takes the eloquence of nature’s beauty and shines bright, only to be known as the “White Desert.”
People from all across the world flung into the wonderful saltwater desert, between November and March, only to witness the unique charm and vibrancy of the wilderness. The Rann Utsav showcases India’s diverse culture, traditions, and heritage while taking the tourists to experience an Arabian lifestyle by living in tents. It also throws light on the cultural traits and hospitality of Kutchhis, inhabitants of Kutch.
A City Within A City
With the onset of winters, the Gujarat government takes the initiative to develop tents in Dhordo, to serve accommodation to the tourists. Several tents in a row make a smaller city. Rann Utsav is therefore celebrated in a city, within a larger city. The temporary city is home to all the fun, fiesta and celebrations of Kutch Rann Utsav. It is the very place where cultural programs, musicals, and dance shows find massive prominence and limelight while expressing India’s talent in front of a global audience.
Fun, Food and Fiesta at THE DESERT FESTIVAL
Day activities are tied up with camel safaris, spa services, yoga, and meditation. While taking pleasure rides on camels, visitors can also view the breeding grounds of flamingos. Photographers and nature lovers can book their tours to the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary and the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, both homes to rare fauna species. If tourist are lucky, they might also spot a Wild Ass in the festive landscape.
Evenings at the Rann fair are fun-filled with live concerts, folk dances and local cuisine. To enhance the spirit, there are handicrafts from the Kutch artisans, embroidered clothing such as Ahir, Rabari, Mutwa, Banni, Ari and Soof traditional artistic works like mirror or bead inlay and ethnic jewellery. Seashell toys, silver craft-work, carved wooden furniture and paintings also add enthusiasm to the festive mood. While touring around the Kutch desert, tourists can also taste the flavour of delicious Gujarati delicacies namely Dabelis and the world-renowned Gujarati buffets. Local cuisine of Kutch is worth mouth-watering.
In and Around
Kalo Dungar: A panoramic view of the entire Rann area can be experienced at Kalo Dungar. It is the highest peak of Rann and a picture-perfect spot for scenic beauty. The place is also significant for the ancient Dattatreya Temple, with lots of folklore attached to it.
Bhuj: Another interesting place is the Bhuj – the Gateway to Kutch. With well decorated and brightly lit localities, Bhuj throws open the gates to the tourists to enjoy the desert carnival.
Aina Mahal, Parag Mahal, Lakhpat port, Mandvi beach, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Mata no Madh and Dholavira are some of the interesting places to visit in and around Bhuj. From Gujarat’s handicrafts to ethnic dresses and cuisine, the city of Bhuj has space for everything.
Apart from the rich ecology and legendary places nearby, Rann is also the base for the Indian army, with officials patrolling day and night. Owing to its close proximity to Pakistan, tourists can see the Indo – Pak border.
Ideal Location for Lights Camera and action
Since past couple of years, The Rann of Kutch has become one of the most preferred locations for fashion photography, TV commercials and movie shooting. It is one of the ideal location and a paradise for all photographers and filmmakers.
A very recent fashion shoot done by an e-commerce brand at Rann of Kutch.
When and How to visit
Rann Utsav is celebrated from December to March. January is the best time recommended to visit and experience the desert festival.
Kutch is well connected with all the major cities and states by road. Nearest railway station and airport is Bhuj.
Stay In Rann of Kutch
On my visit to Rann, I mostly stay at Toran Rann Resort which is just 100 meters away from Rann entrance. This resort also gives you the experience of beautiful early morning sunrise. From village like stay to authentic mouth smacking food and from beautiful decorated Bhonga to the spectacular view, there is everything for everyone.
With such grand celebrations and gala events, the Greater Rann of Kutch, along with its tent city throws back to an unlimited enjoyment and galore. It delivers a unique experience of staying in sparkling White Sand and looking at the different facets of Indian art and culture, through historic places, regional products and folk performances.