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Travel guide to Rann Utsav 2019: Kutch

If you are planning a visit to India anytime in the months of November – February, one of the brightest idea to experience a culturally rich event would be to attend the Rann Utsav. While the event itself takes place in a huge tent city at the White Rann or better known as Little Rann of Kutch, there is plenty to see and do in the Kutch region that will keep you busy!

We visited the Rann Utsav last year with our lovely friends at Stargazing Mumbai and spent 4 days exploring the riches of the Kutch.

rann of kutch white desert
You cannot be all sane at this insane place!

To give you a little context to the images you see next, here’s a few things you may need to know:

  1. The Great Rann of Kutch is one of the biggest salt flats in the world, spanning over 30000 square kilometres between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of Indus river in Pakistan.
rann of kutchh moonchasers
There is no other place like a salt flat! Clearly!
  1. It comprises of three distinct parts, the Great Rann, the Little Ranna dn the Banni grasslands
  2. Nearest city with an airport is Bhuj, 80 Kms from the tent city
  3. The Rann Utsav is closest to the village Dhordo, however stay options can be explored depending on what you want to see more and conveyance available
  4. Kalo Dungar (Black Hills) and Dholavira (ancient village excavated from the Harappan civilisation) are easily accessible from Bhuj/Dhordo
kalo dungar india bridge view
We simply couldn’t get over the fact that we were looking at Pakistan, somewhere beyond the misty Rann

6. Kutchhi food is a must try, however you can expect to find non-vegetarian food in Bhuj.

kathiyavar thaali kutchhi food
Kathiyavar Thali at Anjar town

7. Visit the Agariya at work at a salt farm, stay in a Bhunga (earthquake resistant circular huts) and wear the Kutchhi traditional dress for an epic photoshoot.

8. Local communities are rich in handicraft and artworks. More on this later in the post!

Check out our video from Rann Utsav here for a better visual of what to expect!

How To Reach?

Rann of Kutch is accessible by road from Mumbai or Ahmedabad. Super smooth roads and red dust makes it a visually enjoyable and comfortable drive. After reaching Bhuj by air, you can book a taxi to reach Kutch. Alternatively you can self-drive from Mumbai or hire a chaffeur driven car from Avis India at great prices!

Where to stay?

We found the Tent City to be opposed to our choice of stay for the high prices. However you get access to the white desert in the early or late hours if you are staying here. There are activities like paramotoring and night jeep drives along the salt flats if you stay at the venue. However, we chose to stay at a friend’s farmhouse which also doubles up as a homestay for peaceful travellers. Located close to Bhuj in the town of Anjar, Ganesh Baug is a quaint Kutchi residence with the right amount of stillness in its bounty of orchards. The host is a warm, elderly gentleman who is not only a great human being, but also is the most knowledgeable person to ask about the region and culture. The home can accommodate families/big groups in its spacious rooms. Rates are reasonable at Rs.1500 per person per day. You can book it on AirBnb by clicking on the property name.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0031.JPG
Aerial view of Ganesh Baugh
Orchard
Fruit -full orchard

What to see around?

Bhuj – You have to dedicate two full days to explore everything worth seeing around Bhuj. Plan accordingly if you are interested in history, art and handicraft! To start with, the ancient Prag Mahal and Aaina Mahal (lined with European style mirrors) at Bhuj are standing even after the major earthquake that hit this town in 2002. Spend 2 hours to explore the fort area. You can then head to Sujan – a handicraft centre (be ready to shop!) . We did a short detour to Ajrakhpur – the original home of Azrakh silks! The development of this remote region is largely dependent on NGOs forming communities and infrastruture for the local artisans. From textile to metal work, leather goods making to salt farming, there are incredible gems all scattered around Kutch.

Ganesh Baugh helps you plan your itinerary and recommends the places below as top 10 visits around Kutch:

– Visit the Mandvi beach and the old shipping yard of Kutch.

– Heritage walks through the palaces in Bhuj.

– Visiting the Banni Grasslands.

– Walk through Nirona Village, a village famous for Rogan art.

– Narayan Sarovar

– Hill Garden

– Bauter Jinalai Temple

– Jesal-Toral Samadhi, a sacred tomb where the mortal remains of Jesal and Sati Toral were buried.

– Kala Dungar (For an epic sunset and drive to India Bridge)

– Handloom sites: Shrujan, Khamir, Kala Raksha Museum, Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur.

ganesh baugh orhard
Use the orchard at Ganesh Baugh to click sunrises or star trails like Wandering Stargazer did!
kalo dungar sunset moonchasers
The magical sunset colours are best enjoyed from the view point at Kala Dungar

So what are you waiting for? Plan a trip to the Great Rann of Kutchh and experience sights you have never seen before!

A bonus tip for a completely offbeat item on the list. Read on!

lyari rock formation flickr
Lyari River Rock Formation. Image Source: Flickr

Is that a lion about to pounce ? Deep inside the Kutch region of Gujarat, India, you’ll find a dried river bed in winter months. The river is called Layari and it dries up completely in winter months only leaving white salt sediments, making a large area of amazing rock formations accessible to humans. Hardly anybody goes there. The local villagers are blissfully unaware of this amazing attraction. Millennia of water, wind and sand had sculpted spectacular shapes here. A landscape of mineral rich rocks sculpted by the monsoon fed Lyari River, Kutch. The river originates in the Banni Grasslands – a vast oasis for wildlife on the southern edge of the salt-flats of the Great Rann of Kutch. If you are there just after sunrise then it’s a surreal experience. The colours look so soft that you feel your fingers will go through the rocks. It’s indeed hard to believe that People from India go to antelope canyon but never visit this place.

Disclaimer: The Moonchasers were hosted by Ganesh Baug however we only write what we experience.

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