‘White Desert’- Kutch,Gujarat

In the evening of early November, as step on the salt marsh, all I can see is a vast expanse of snow white landscape stretching miles and miles, crossing countries- a land pure white. Factually, arid land like this extends itself from Kutch district of India to Pakistan’s Sindh covering an area of 30,000 sq. Km and forms world’s largest salt marsh.Interestingly, Kutch’s map forms the shape of a tortoise hence derived the name. In sanskrit, Kutch means tortoise. During monsoon, water accumulates in the arid region of Kutch and dries during rest of the year. After evaporation it hardens and forms a white blanket usually after October.

The government of Gujarat organise ‘Rann Utsav’ a four month long festival extending from November to February every year. White Rann is easily approachable by Bhuj- a major city of Kutch district. It is at 90Kms from Bhuj equipped with good road connectivity. Bhuj is connected to major cities like Ahmedabad and Mumbai by road,train and flight connectivity- however air connectivity is poor.

My cab driver drove me from Bhuj to Rann, where 8Kms from Rann was our excellent stay at Kutch Resort where I checked in and was amazed by their hospitality. It took me a while to have breakfast and freshen up after which I departed to ‘Kado Dungar’ . Kutch is famous for its handicraft like kutchi embroidery, mirror work,  rogan work and  hand woven fabrics. To witness heard exemplary art of local artisans on the way to ‘Kado Dungar’, I visited a handicraft centre known as ‘Gandhi nu Gaam’. The detailing of the place caught my attention. It was well maintained, women selling their handcrafted pieces in a traditional Kutchi attire and the homes of artisans made of mud, popularly known as Bhungas beautifully decorated and hand painted . Rann Utsav is indeed a mode of survival for local tribes in Kutch. Promotion of tourism has benefited them the most . Many villages near White Rann offer home stays and make their living. I was amazed by the art work which tempted me to buy hand crafted things at a very reasonable price. My recommendation is to directly buy from them. This really empowers the community.

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Gandhi nu Gaam

 

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The beautiful handpainted houses
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Hand crafted Kutchi Toran usually hung at the main entrance of the house

After visiting ‘Gandhi Nu Gaam’, I departed to ‘Kado Dungar’ . It is a tiny little place apparently having highest altitude in Kutch offering  excellent view of White Rann during morning and dusk.  The place is well maintained and you may prefer a camel ride to reach at the view points. It was already afternoon by then and the driver drove another 40 odd kilometers and took me to ‘India Bridge’- a bridge that is the last point for civilians to access. Beyond this, you need a permit from BSF head quarters, Bhuj as there is  Indo-Pak border. I was not allowed to click pictures of the  point, but I did have an opportunity to interact with BSF Jawan who was kind enough to offer me a bottle. I had few conversations with him in which he proudly proclaimed it to be a region of Peace with no tensions between both the sides. Later that afternoon, I reached Kutch Resort for lunch and afternoon siesta.

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View from ‘Kado dungar’-458 meters above the White Rann

That evening was the most awaited part of the day as I drove to the ‘White Rann’ which is just 8 KMs from Kutch Resort . The orange arrays emanating from infinite sky falling upon the White Rann and coalescence of orange rays on white was a bliss to watch. The rest of the evening was spent just gazing at the infinite horizon. The full moon nights at the White Rann are the most beautiful. The White Rann shines like a pearl when moon lit. A mesmerising glow of white in wintry nights. On return, I enjoyed the festivities of the festival. The stalls and exhibition idea is designed to showcase culture and places of historical significance of Gujarat with stalls all around to shop.The local cultural music event is also organised. The entire area is well decorated and illuminated with bright colours which is bound to give festive feel to the visitors.

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The never ending White Rann during sunset
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A soothing perfect evening
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Illumination adding a glitter to 4 month long festival

 

Kutch is a classic example for the nation to follow. It is a testimony of all the hardwork and efforts that it takes from people, social groups and government to accelerate life back to normalcy after a devastating earth quake of 2001 and empowerment, livelihood, glory and economy with sustainable tourism.

Footnotes:

  1. Prefer going in the month of November, February and Early March to avoid mad rush.
  2. Tent city is a hyped option for stay. There are several other tent/cottage accommodation options like Kutch Resort for affordable stay and tour packages.
  3. Alternately, you may stay in Bhuj and spend an entire day as per the blog for budget travel.
  4. Carry water bottles since days are sunny to maintain proper hydration.
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