My first introduction to Kutch came from the movie Refugee. The dashing Abhishek Bachchan (I know many of you will contradict this) walking across the white land (what I then thought was white sand) was mesmerizing & dreamy. Since then, visiting the Rann of Kutch had been a dream. Finally, this dream came true!
My recent 7-day trip to Gujarat enriched my understanding of the Rann of Kutch. It also familiarized me with the rich culture and tradition of this region. If you like to know more about the unique art forms of Kutch, do read this article.
This article includes firsthand information and my experience of Rann Utsav 2021. This complete guide to Rann Utsav will provide you with insights into this one-of-a-kind festival.
Rann Utsav: Most awaited white desert festival of Kutch, Gujarat
Rann Utsav is hard to describe in words. It is something you need to experience and feel. It is a photographer’s paradise and a traveler’s dream!
Have you been to a carnival? A grand festive celebration? Well, Rann Utsav is the grandest carnival of all! A Cultural buffet like no other. The most awaited white dessert festival, celebrating the vibrant culture, art, music, and the unparallel beauty of the white desert. Spend a single day in this magical world and you would dream if your whole life could be like that! Utsav serves as one of the most desired tourism events in the country.
Where is Rann Utsav celebrated?
The Rann Utsav takes place every year at Dhordo, a village near Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Rann of Kutch is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The Rann Utsav, organized by TCGL (Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited), hosts thousands of domestic and international tourists across the globe.
For this spectacular 100-day event, a whole new campus called Tent City is created which serves as the hub for cultural and culinary experiences. With its 400 luxury tents and many other amenities, the tent city is one of the largest temporary setups in India.
What is the duration of Rann Utsav?
Rann Utsav was brought to life in 2005, as a three-day event, but as it boomed and became a major tourism drive in Gujarat, it has become a whooping 100-day event. This year, Rann Utsav started on 1 st Nov 2021 and will go on till 20th Feb 2022.
Best time to visit Rann Utsav
Although you can visit the Rann Utsav anytime from October to February. But the Rann of Kutch appears all the more beautiful on full moon/ Poornima night. During this time, special events are organized, including the special late-night trips to the White Rann.
How many days are enough to experience Rann Utsav?
3-4 days would be sufficient to experience the highlights of the Rann Utsav. What makes your visit more memorable is that it feels like you have explored the whole of Gujarat. From Gujarati cuisine to souvenirs and cultural performances, you can witness everything about Gujarat in these three to four days.
However, apart from experiencing the Rann Utsav, Kutch has
much more to explore. If you wish to visit other heritage sites and cities of Kutch, you need a minimum of 7-8 days.
How to reach Rann Utsav?
While a mode of transport depends on individual choice and budget, its always good to have more options to choose from. To reach the Rann of Kutch, you can opt for either of the given options below: –
The Tent City at Dhordo is around 400 km from Ahmedabad and 80 km from Bhuj. It takes 8-10 hours from Ahmedabad and 1-2 hours from Bhuj by Road. During our travel, we drove from Ahmedabad. The roads were in pretty good condition.
If the train is your preferred mode, you can board one at Bhuj Railway station.
The closest Airport is Bhuj so you can get down there and travel via road till Kutch.
Do you need a Permit to visit Rann of Kutch?
Given its proximity to the Pakistan border, you need a permit to visit the salt dessert. One can obtain this permit from the Bhirandiyara village checkpoint located about 55 kilometers from Bhuj. The Permit costs INR 100 for adults, INR 50 for children aged six to 12 years. Do carry a copy and original id card. Indian citizens can now get permits online here.
Where to stay in Rann of Kutch
The tent city in Dhordo village is set up every year during the winter season to host the Rann Utsav. This enormous campus is laid out in a 5,00,000 sq. mt area and houses 400 premium luxury tents along with other amenities like a dining area, spa, adventure zone, cultural activities area to name a few. Its best to spend few days here for the most magical experience.
Depending on your preference, you can choose from Non-Ac, Deluxe-AC, and Premium tent options. Every year this temporary accommodation is recreated for the period of the Utsav and dissembled after that. The aerial view of it, especially during the nights is mesmerizing.
If you wish to explore other stay options, Kutch has many resorts to cater to different budget ranges.
Here are some of the accommodation options for you: –
a. Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort
b. Rann Home Stay
c. Rann Bhoomi Resort
d. Rann Visamo Village Stay
e. Rann Village Resort
f. Kutch Resort
g. Toran Resort
h. Rann Kandhi Resort
You can find many more accommodations around the time of the Utsav. If you are planning to visit Kutch for an extended period, it is recommended to book your stay in advance. You can visit some of the beautiful places in the surrounding. I have some suggestions of activities for you to do and places to visit, let see!
Things to do in Rann Utsav
By now, you might have grasped the overall idea of what the Rann Utsav is all about. But wait, surprises are not over yet. There are many activities that you could do here, along with witnessing and enjoying the greats of Gujarat! Let me not keep you waiting!
The Tent city has many activities ranging from thrilling adventures to colorful dances to keep you busy the whole day. The activities include:
1. Visit the Craft Bazaar and shop for traditional handicrafts
2. Relish the Kutchi Cuisine
3. Witness the mesmerizing Sunset at the White Rann salt dessert (you can also witness the
breathtaking sunrise, if you are a morning person)
4. Get an adrenaline rush at Skyzilla, the adventure tower at tent city. It includes thrilling
activities like Rock climbing, Rappelling, Giant Swing, and Zipline
5. Rejuvenate yourself at the Spa
6. Enjoy cycling or trikke at the tent city
7. Witness the colorful traditional folk dance and music
8. Experience the thrill of ATV driving and paramotoring
9. Have fun with your friends and family at Paint Ball and other games like carrom, pool, chess, etc.
10. Enjoy a unique Star Gazing experience, especially on the no moon day
11. You can also visit nearby villages and places for more authentic experience. The list is shared in the next section.
These activities are the most popular ones in and around Kutch. There is a lot more, but I compiled this list considering your stay for 3-4 days. Maybe by the time you prepare your second visit, I could give you some more. So, stay tuned!
Places to visit in Kutch
If the Utsav has not filled your satisfaction belly yet, Gujarat has more things for you. When you are in Gujarat, enough isn’t enough and, nothing is too much!
You can visit various other places in and around Kutch, to make your trip even more memorable. You can have a holistic experience here with numerous destinations around kutch.
Let me help you by listing a few of them.
- Kalo Dungar: At 462 meters, Kalo Dungar or black hill is the highest point in Kutch and the only place from where you can enjoy the aerial view of the Great Rann of Kutch. Kalo Dungar is also famous for the 400-year-old Dattatreya Temple.
- Gandhi Nu Gam: A handicraft village near Khavda is home to vibrant kutcha handicrafts, including bags, clothing, puppets, and much more. An interesting fact about this place is that the original (Ludiya) village was destroyed in the 2001 earthquake, post which a special project was carried out with community participation to restore the village. You can buy colorful handicrafts from here and sneak them into beautifully decorated Bhungas (traditional Kutch houses)
- Nirona village: This small village finds its place on the world map for being the only village practicing centuries-old Rogan Art. Apart from being home to Padmashree award winner, Abdul Gafur Khatri (chief Rogan painting artist), this village also has families practicing the unique Copper bells and Lacquer art. Read more about it here.
- Dholavira: Witness the ruins of an ancient Indus valley civilization at Dholavira. Situated on the Tropic of Cancer, Dholavira is one of the five largest Harrapan sites and one of the grandest cities of its times.
- Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary: Situated in the Great Rann of Kutch, the Kutch Desert wildlife sanctuary is the largest in India in terms of Area. This saline wetland turns into a desert during winters once the water dries up. This Sanctuary is a famous nesting ground for greater flamingos. It is world-famous as the flamingo city.
- Vijaya Vilas Palace: Located near Mandvi beach, the Vijay Vilas Palace is the famous summer palace of Jadeja Maharao.
- Kutch Museum: Founded in 1877, Kutch Museum is the oldest museum in Gujarat situated on the bank of hamirsar lake. The museum has the largest existing collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, dating to the 1st century.
- Mandvi Beach: Popular beach situated on the southern tip of Gujarat.
- Aina Mahal: 18th-century palace situated in Bhuj. The palace showcases European décor using glass, mirrors, and tiles. The building has been converted into a museum. It houses a “europeanerie” collection including clocks, wares, mechanical toys, paintings, and pictures.
- Bhujodi: A small town situated 8 km away from Bhuj. Bhujodi is the hub of Kutchi art and handicraft. Vankar community, the residents of this town are specialists in different art forms including, weaving, tie & dye, and other embroidery work.
- Narayan Sarovar: An ancient koteshwar temple is situated 4 km away from Narayan Sarovar village.
- Roha Fort: An ancient fort situated on the periphery of Roha village in Nakhatrana, Kutch. The fort is known for 120 Rajput princesses who took asylum in this fort and later sacrificed their lives here.
These places encore the history and natural beauty of Gujarat. Although this list is not inclusive and Kutch has much more to witness and explore, depending upon your interest and the time available. My next blog will cover the same in detail.
Tips for visiting Rann Utsav
1. The mobile network in this region is not great, especially if you have an airtel connection (this year due to some issues it’s not working at all) BSNL & Geo networks work perfectly well.
2. WIFI service is available at the tent city
3. Do carry your power bank and extra battery
4. Kutch has beautiful photographic locations, don’t forget to carry some traditional clothes for clicking some lovely ethnic pictures.
5. Do carry warm clothes with you, the dessert gets cold during the night.
6. Do carry cash currency with you, in case your phone network is not working (the issue I faced while traveling)
7. Interact with locals, to know about the place, artforms, and other stories.
8. Given its proximity to the Pakistan border, the use of drones for photography and video shoots is not allowed until you take prior permission.
The Rann Utsav drives you to Gujarat and, once you are in Gujarat, you end up with a whole another bucket list of things you want to do and places you want to visit. If you wish to explore more attractions in Gujarat, Click here.
This trip was a part of #allindiainfluencersmeet2021 organised by Gujarat tourism & Ministry of tourism, India.
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