Monday 21 June 2021

Travelogue:-Bhuj to Great Rann of Kutch “The White Desert of Salt”--- Katch Nahin Dekha? To kuch Nahin Dekha”

The White Desert of Kutch is one of such dreamlike places. You must have seen the most amazing pictures, heard the best stories, but nothing ever would get you close to seeing it yourself.

Great Rann Of Katch-White Desert of Salt

The full moon experience at the desert is a lifetime experience. Soon after the sunset, the color of the sand and the sky looked exactly the same and there was no horizon. As far as I saw it was white and only white.

Full Moon in White Desert of Sand--Katch

What is the Rann of Kutch?

Rann means barren land. The Rann of Kutch is a geographical marvel located in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Kutch was a part of the Arabian Sea, but a massive earthquake in 1809 separated it from the sea.


The exposed sea bed was transformed into a vast barren land that remains dry with white salt and sand during summer/winter and looks like a massive sea during the rainy season.

location of Rann Of Katch

The extensive mudflat and salt clay of the marsh, which now lies about 15 meters above sea level, gets submerged by the high tides rising from the Arabian Sea in May-June.


As the monsoon ends, the seawater slowly evaporates and recedes from the shallow wetland, leaving behind an enormous stretch of crunchy snowy white salt. It is believed that in the center of these salt fields is the site of Dholavira, which was part of the Indus Valley civilization (Harappan civilization).


The Rann of Kutch can be divided into two separate regions, each offering different experiences – the Great Rann of Kutch covers an area of 18,000 square km and the Little Rann of Kutch is spread over 5000 square km.

Making of Salt--great Rann of Kutch--The WHITE  DESERT


The Little Rann of Kutch is known for its wildlife reserves, mesmerizing fauna, salt farming, and cracked brown-grey patches. There is a distance of more than 130 km between the two regions of Rann.


Today we are going to talk about the Great Rann of Kutch.


The best way to reach the salt marsh is from Bhuj, which is around 85 km from Dhordo – a small town that has been developed by the government as the Gateway to the Great Rann of Kutch.

Film Refugee was picturized in Rann of Katch-The White Desert

J. P. Dutta's Bollywood film Refugee was shot in the Great Rann of Kutch along with other locations in the Kachchh district. It is said to have been inspired by the story by Keki N. Daruwalla based around the Great Rann of Kutch titled “Love across the Salt Desert”.


On way to Rann of Kath

Some scenes or song sequences in Indian films like Magadheera, D-Day, R... Rajkumar, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Lagaan, The Good Road, Dookudu, Sarvam, Sarrainodu and Roberrt were shot in the area. 

We started from Bhuj to Rann of Kutch by 07.30 AM, BY a hired Taxi. The Distance between Bhuj to Kutch by road is 82KM. There was very little traffic on the road but our driver kept a slow pace. All the drivers here drive at a slow pace even if there is no traffic.


After leaving Bhuj some kilometers behind, the car crosses the line of Tropic of Cancer. A cemented signboard alongside the road testifies to the fact. The first stop is at the small village of Bhirandiyara.


There are no big restaurants on the way to Rann of Kutch; we stopped by a small tea stall that has some local things for breakfast.

Tropic of Cancer was passing  from here-on way from Bhuj to Rann of Katch

This place is famous for a dessert called Mitho Maavo, which is sweetened milk reduced to fudge like consistency and eaten fresh. I find it at a tea shop. This rich milk-based sweet is common throughout the country but being fresh it tastes good.


After breakfast we headed to Dhordo village with a pit stop at Bhirandiyara check post to get our permits to visit Rann, Kalo Dongar & India Bridge as these places are quiet close to border.


After a short distance, there is a check post where permits are issued for proceeding towards the White Rann (or White Desert), which is on the road to the left. The Rann’s proximity to the Pakistan border makes it a high security region so entry is allowed only on presenting the permit.


For this I have to fill a form, provide a passport-size photo and ID proof and make a payment of 250 rupees (Rs 100 per person + vehicle cost Rs 50). I find myself standing in a queue waiting for my turn at the counter. It takes 25-30 minutes. On making the payment, I immediately receive a sms on my mobile phone.


On the way to Dhordo, the land on either sides of the road was barren with desert but also few vegetation could be seen here and there. But it was still beautiful in its own way. The village houses would sprung out of nowhere in the middle of the desert and would just add to its beauty.


White Desert of Sand of salt on both side of road --from Bhuj to Rann of Katch


We reached our resort- Gateway to Rann-near Dhordo village by afternoon. Adjoining this resort, sharing its boundaries were series of tents and a stage at the Centre with some focus and show lights on it. It sure looked liked the Tent City.


We get the unique experience of staying in lovely white tents in the white desert. Roam in the whiteness and watch the beautiful sunset, Sun rise and  Full Moon by night, enjoy folk songs and dances, camel shows and rides in camel carts; buy exquisite handicrafts and relish Kutchi food.


The tent city area is accessible only to people staying there. For day-trippers, there is an elaborate set-up of food and handicraft stalls just outside the tourist tent city. Shortly afterwards, the car stops at the White Rann check post where I submit my permit.


After the check in formalities, we were shown our rooms. We were surprised to see that our rooms were actually Bhungas that we saw on our way. It too had the same clay-mirror work on them which not only gave a very Indian traditional touch to it but at the same time enhanced its beauty.


The resort is maintained by the villagers of Dhordo and I believe they are doing a good job at it. We all were quiet happy with our rooms and meal arrangements which by the way had traditional Kutchi food buffet. Post lunch and after a short afternoon nap and some chai and pakoda later, we were ready to visit Rann.

Highest Point of Kutch

Just as we entered Rann, there were a set of musicians singing traditional songs which we listened to for a few moments and enjoyed.

 Then we walked beyond them to see the wide expanse of white desert for the first time.


I think my brain was trying hard to process what it was seeing, cos this was a sight I have never seen in my life. It was a white land instead of brown that we all are so used to see. The feeling of walking on it was unique too.

Kutch Desert is home of Flamingoes

From a distance you would feel that it’s a flat “solid” land and it would be same as walking on any other land surface. But once you start walking, you realize how different the surface is, the “solid land part” that your brain processed it to be, vanishes.

Kutch--A View of Rann of Kutch 

The crackling sound of salt under your shoes, the wetness you feel when you touch it, the impression of your feet on it, is a whole new experience for your senses!

Sun Set --Great Rann of Kutch-White DESERT

By 5.30pm sun had started to set in filling up the skies with its dramatic colors. By now it was fully occupied with people all coming to see the sunset. We wanted to be a little away from the crowd, so we started walking further inside.


As white land is all that we could see for miles and miles, we couldn’t judge the distance of our target area where there were very few people. Walking on the salt wasn’t easy either, legs tend to get tired pretty fast due to the friction between feet and salt, but our walk was worth the effort.


The place we were standing at, gave us an illusion that we were right at the middle of the white desert and no one else was there till the horizon. We started capturing the beauty of Rann at sunset. We took a few moments off our cameras, just to admire the beauty of the crimson color over the white desert which was simply divine!


And then, the sun disappears. After this spectacular show of nature is over, it’s time for the next one… in the opposite direction. We turn around in the direction of the eastern horizon. The beautiful full moon has begun its ascent in the clear blue winter sky.

After waiting for sometime and later being told that moon rise time was around 8.30 pm, we came back to our resort by 7.30 pm to watch the traditional folk music show organized by the resort.


At 8 pm, the tent city show starts, and these same musicians would go there and perform on the stage. Everyone whether accommodated in the tent city or not, is permitted to watch the show for free.


As we all were pretty tired with the walk on the white  desert of salt, we opted to have dinner instead. Dinner was pretty good and the best part was the jalebis- it was hot and crispy, wasn’t too sweet, tasted awesome & finally jalebi’s were served as dessert.


After Dinner, Without any further delay, we headed straight to Rann. At the entrance, we were instructed to be back by 11.30 pm by BSF personnel.


The beauty of the White Rann at moonrise just cannot be expressed in words. The color of the white desert in combination with the bright moon light gave a halo-ish soft blue shimmery color effect on the whole desert. “Is this an illusion or is this for real?” was the question crossing our minds and this feeling was making us stare at it even more.


Few moments you feel you can see the bluish effect, other moments its not there. Whatever it was, for me, this was one of the most soothing experiences.


We kept looking at the vast expanse of Rann for sometime, then started walking on it with our eyes focusing the horizon searching for the halo effect which was playing hide n seek with us.


In the massive landscape of Rann, infinity exists and can actually be seen and felt.

I trained my eye to see the edge of the earth, the point where the edge of the earth meets the horizon. The edge kept shifting ahead as I could some more of the earth and again some more with enough focus.


This game of illusions mind plays can only be felt once you are physically present on a bright moon night at Rann.


By 11pm, we had to turn around and walk back. As soon as we were approaching the entrance, we turned around for one last time and admired its beauty. After a long and tiring but eventful day, with beautiful memories of Rann permanently etched in our minds, we retired for the day.


Travel Tips for Rann of Kutch

v There are no direct buses to Rann of Kutch from Bhuj. Hire a cab for the whole trip.


v This is a restricted area and you need a permit. Take the permit from SP office in Bhuj or keep few copies of your ID proof and take the permit on the way to the White Desert.

Tent City --Great Rann of Kutch -White Desert


v The cost of permit per person is 100 INR and 50 INR for the car.


v Keep the permit handy because it is required at the different check post in the area.


v There are not many shops selling food and bottled water, keep some snacks & bottled water with you when traveling from one place to another.


v Most resorts in the area offer stay with all-inclusive food make sure all your meals are included because there are no restaurants in the area.


v It gets a bit cold at night so keep a light cardigan or shawl.


v If you plan to visit White Rann at night then travel around full moon night.


v Tents and resorts in Rann of Kutch remain full during Rann Utsav months; make an advance booking to avoid any inconvenience.


Best Time to visit Rann of Kutch

The best time to visit Rann of Kutch is from November-February when The Rann Utsav organized by the Gujarat government takes place.


During these winter months, days are pleasant but it can get freezing cold at night, especially in December and January. March also sees a few tourists, but by end of March all accommodations, eateries, and basic facilities close down. 

Rann Utsav-tent City in  Rann of Kutch-White Desert

The End

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