White Rann of Kutch
The Great Rann of Kutch is a huge salt desert spread across 7500 sq km starting in the Kutch region of Gujarat and extending to the Sindh province of Pakistan. Great Rann of Kutch is acclaimed to be one of the largest salt desert in the world.
Salt and salt everywhere… Not a pinch to cook
The word ‘Rann’ is the hindi equivalent for desert, and the White Rann of Kutch refers to the western region of the Rann of Kutch which primarily is the huge salt marshy land. The eastern part of the Rann is called ‘Little Rann of Kutch’ which is a dry desert with huge salt water underground. Some part of the Little Rann of Kutch comprises of Wild Ass Sanctuary and is home to a huge number of endangered Wild Ass. Together, both the Ranns is spread across 30000 sq km!
The spectacular sight of the White desert is sure going to leave you awestruck. Imagine yourself in the middle of a desert, and all you can see is the vast white landscape that extends as much as your eye can see! With such a vast salty land, it is really very difficult to spot where in the horizon does the white land ends, and the light blue sky begins!
A watch tower under construction
It is a long walk from the parking place to reach the white salty desert. The landscape slowly changes from a dry barren land to brownish-white due to the beginning of the salty desert, and finally you reach a place where you can see only one color, and that’s white. There is a clean and wide walkway where you can walk towards the white desert. It is quite a long walk but the landscape will leave you so excited that you will not realize the distance you are walking. However, if it is too much of a walk, you can opt for horse or pony rides, or camel safari. The people owning the horses or camels would even take you to the middle of the desert. However, please do negotiate the price well in advance if you are taking the ride into the desert.
Entrance to the white desert
Beginning of the salt desert!
Due to the vast barren land filled with salt, the region experiences extreme weather, both during summer as well as during winter. The summer can be as harsh as 50C/120F, and the bright sun reflecting its light on the white land would make you keep your eyes closed more than open. If you plan to visit this place during summer, do keep goggles/sunglasses handy! During monsoon, the salt desert has a thin layer of water due to the scanty rains as well as its close proximity to various rivers (Luni, Rupen and Indus).
Winters are the best time to visit Great Rann of Kutch. The water from the monsoon would have evaporated, leaving the saline desert with the signature white color! By late December, the region is at its best with the unending white horizon. Due to this excellent time to visit the desert, Government of Gujarat organizes ‘Rann Utsav’ that extends to 3 to 4 months during this period. A large number of tents are arranged at the desert for visitors to stay, and a large number of stalls are setup where the locals sell the handicrafts. The locals of Kutch are highly skilled in their craftsmanship, and weave/block-print/patch some exclusive ethnic styles of embroidery, pottery, wood-carving, and metal-crafts. Some cultural programs are also organized when the tourist inflow is high!
Wow! Can we stay in this tent?
Apart from these attractions, if you are inclined towards adventure sports, then you have various options. You can enjoy activities like paragliding on the white desert, to helicopter rides, all terrain vehicle rides, para-motoring and so on.
The best way to experience the white desert is by staying at the tents during the Rann Utsav. You can interact with the locals, learn their culture, understand their tough way of living, and so on. Staying around a full moon night would be icing on the cake. A walk on the white desert with the view of the same under the moonlight is an unforgettable moment! The view of the salt crystals shining and glittering due to the moonlight is very soothing to the eyes and mind!
Spectacular Salt Desert!
During the times when there is no Rann Utsav, there are very limited options to stay at the desert. You may have to stay at Bhuj, which is about 85 km from the desert and has a lot of options for staying. Due to the desert’s close proximity to international border, all visitors, irrespective of nationality, should produce identity proof, and fill a form giving the details of the visit and stay.
Who said animals can’t be trendy? Camel with a tattoo 🙂
During the non-Utsav time, you can also explore staying in the mud tents in the handicraft villages like Dhordo within a short driving distance from the desert. You can interact with the locals and get to know the process of weaving/preparing the handicrafts. The people of Kutch live a very simple life and yet produce some awesome handicrafts. Visitors buying the handicrafts is their main source of income and during the non peak season, they take the handicrafts to nearby locations to sell them.
Dhordo Shopping Village
Every House is into handicraft in this village!
Handmade carpets hung outside a house
Clean and beautiful village
White Rann of Kutch is one such places that leaves an ever lasting impression! A place where words are not enough to describe the beauty, or the feeling! The whole atmosphere is so magical. You can see every visitor admiring the natural beauty. Towards the evening, visitors patiently wait for the sun to set and observe the desert turn orange. A few minutes after the sunset, you can also watch the moon rise, and slowly the salt desert starts glittering by reflecting the moonlight! Wow, isn’t that an amazing sight? It truly is. Visit to believe!
Panoramic view of the desert
Work of the watch tower in progress (Perhaps already completed now)
I am absolutely in love with this place!
And last but not the least, please maintain cleanliness wherever you visit. Such a natural beauty does not deserve littering and spitting!
No spitting of Pan/Gutka!
No littering please!
Where to Stay?
- Mud huts at Dhordo or other nearby villages
- Few tent-resorts nearby
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