Little Rann of Kutch
The Rann of Kutch is a huge desert that spreads across 30000 sq km. The western part of the Rann (translates to desert) is a huge salt desert, where you can find salt spread across the land. That region is famously called White Rann of Kutch, and is abundant with natural beauty. The eastern part of the Rann is a dry barren desert with a huge salt bed underground. The area cannot be used for agriculture or cultivation due to the extensive salt that is found in water beneath the ground. Occasionally, you see cotton crops growing around, but otherwise, the whole area is completely dry! This region is has several names, the more popular one is Little Rann of Kutch.
Dry Deset at Little Rann of Kutch
Little Rann of Kutch is about 100 km from Ahmedabad, and can be a quick weekend getaway. There are only a handful of resorts/hotels in this region. The resorts/hotels usually also include a desert safari as part of their hotel booking. The three hour safari over the dry desert is an absolute bliss and introduces to various things in the region.
That is the desert we are venturing out to!
The first thing you will notice is, of course, the dry desert. You can see the land covered with a very thin layer of black or brown dust. You can also see several thick cracks on the land mainly due to the dryness brought by the abundance of salt underground. Occasionally, you can see few trees here and there, but for the large part, you will be puzzled to see such a dry and barren landscape. Sometimes, even wondering if such a dry place can really exist! You can even notice few water canals that the locals may have dug up to provide water to the rarely seen plants/trees. The canals also provide water to the occasional cotton gardens that are found at the beginning of the desert.
Cracks on the land!
Is this a selfie? 🙂
Few minutes into the safari, a herd of endangered species called ‘Indian Wild Ass’ (the locals call it Ghudkhur) will welcome you. They are extremely shy animals, and tend to run away even if you are at a very safe distance. The guide said that about 4500+ Wild Asses are present in the region and they have made the dry desert their home. They also wander out of the desert to the neighboring villages, but return to the desert very soon. The guide also said that the population of Wild Asses in the recent years have been growing in a fast pace, and they have been spotted in the salt marsh of Great Rann of Kutch and some villages in neighboring state of Rajasthan as well!
As your safari bus goes deeper into the desert, you can see a sudden change in the landscape. In the dry land, the numerous Wild Asses are now replaced by a huge birdlife! Flamingos and common cranes are spotted in abundance here. If you are wondering how can you find so many migrant birds in such a dry landscape, you will get the answer as you go further in the safari vehicle. You can suddenly see a huge water body in the middle of the desert! The water is from the small river called “Okaro Kharaghoda” which terminates here by forming a huge lake. The picturesque beauty of the blue water of the river against the dark brown dry land is something that will stay in your mind for a long time! The migratory birds chirping around makes the place even more pleasant!
How many colors do you see here?
Beauty all around
Up, Up and Away (Did they sense danger from the photographer?)
As the safari bus takes you deeper into the dry land, you will be surprised to see few people who live in a small hut in the middle of nowhere! There are several huts that are built approximately 2 km apart. Apparently, these huts are built by the Government of Gujarat, and houses one family in each of the hut. The family’s job is to extract the salt out from the salt bed that is about 15 meters below the ground. You can see that the super salty water (ask someone to take a photo of your face as you taste this water 🙂 ) is pumped to the land, and is stored in a small pool/tank for water evaporation. The concentrated salty water (after evaporation) is then moved to a smaller pool/tank. The process is repeated (with different evaporation methods) until the salt is good enough to be crystallized!
Dig a well to extract water
Pump the water out
It is very exciting to know the complete process of preparing the salt (as we see in the market) from the salt water, directly from the people who do all the hard work! By the way, the hard work is not an exaggeration! Imagine living in a small hut in the middle of dry barren land! The nearest shop is nowhere in sight! Just one electric bulb in the hut, powered by the same generator used to pump the water out! The scotching heat of the sun in the summers reaching up to 45 degrees Celsius!
Salt water canal
Salt water pool
As you wind up learning about the salt extracting process, the sun slowly starts setting. You can start admiring the beauty of the sunset against the dry barren land, which otherwise is rare to witness. The safari bus takes you back to the resort, racing against the sunset, to make you reach the resort/hotel before it gets really dark!
Overall, if you are around Ahmedabad, then Little Rann of Kutch is a good one day outing that I would recommend. A day where you will see immense beauty even in a dry barren land! The herd of Wild Ass, the migratory birds, lake in the middle of barren land, salt extraction process and a beautiful sunset can keep you wanting for more!
And yes, when you are around, keep an eye on the local handmade handicrafts and jewellery too, available in the village near the beginning of the safari route.
Where to stay?
- Very few resorts/hotels in the region
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