The trip to Kutch was like all other family trips we have. Usually 15-20 of us gather and hire a mini bus and go wherever we want! We have been to Kashmir, Manali and many other places like that!! So our short Kutch trip was in December after the Rann utsav started. Yes I am very late in writing this trip!
The Rann of Kutch, also known as the Great Rann of Kutch (there’s a Little Rann of Kutchas well), is a remarkable place to visit in Gujarat. Much of it consists of the world’s largest salt desert, measuring around 10,000 square kilometers. What makes it even more amazing is that the salt desert is underwater during the main monsoon season in India. For the remaining eight months of the year, it’s an enormous stretch of packed white salt.
It’s best approached via Bhuj. Dhordo, approximately 86 kilometers from Bhuj, is being developed by the Gujarat government as the Gateway to the Rann. Dhordo is on the edge of the salt desert. It’s most convenient to stay there, or nearby Hodka.
Best time to visit the Great Rann of Kutch: December to March
Connectivity : Bhuj is around 335km from Ahemadabad. It is well connected with rest of India by road, rail and air. Bhuj has airport, with regular flights connecting to major cities of India.
As far as visiting the nearby areas of Kutch are concerned, I’d advise you to hire a cab for the day. Approx hire charges will be around INR 2200 per day in season time. Else, GSRTC buses connect Bhuj to other places of Gujarat.
Stay: There are many hotels around Bhuj bus stand, and there are many temples with stay options in their premises where you can stay on a budget as these places are run by trustees.
There are lot of other Resorts, in and around Bhuj city, which offer luxury stay options.
During Rann Utsav, Gujarat Tourism sets up the Tent City, offering accommodation near White Rann. Most of these Resorts offer you pick-up and drop facility, to and from Bhuj station.
Places to Visit: White Desert, Mandvi beach, 72 Jinalaya, Bhuj local Market, Dholavira, Kala Dungar, Aina Mahal, Pragya Mahal
Day 1: Bhuj – Kala Dungar – Rann of Kutch – Bhuj
Day 2: Bhuj market – 72 Jinalaya Temple – Mandvi beach – night journey back home
Day 1: We started our journey at night from Bhilwara(Rajasthan) in hired mini bus and reached Bhuj in the morning around 7am. Ours was a unplanned plan so we could not get any booking in the tent city near Rann 😦 . As no bookings were done earlier, so we stayed in a Jain Guest house in Bhuj.
Non A/C: Rs. 500
A/C: Rs. 800
Deluxe A/C: Rs. 1000
We freshened up, took some rest, and left for Kala Dungar. There were huge stretches of dry barren lands on both sides of the road. There was some Telgu movie shooting going on on that land. Everyone passing by stopped to see why others are stopping! 😀 And pics followed 😉 After dancing on tunes of telgu song, we happily proceeded towards Kala Dungar.
Kala Dungar: The name, Kala Dungar or the Black Mountain is in stark contrast to the White Rann. You will get spectacular views of the Great Rann from here at Sunset Point.
But more famous than Kala Dungar is the Dattatreyi Temple for the jackals fed by the temple priest at noon every day. We could spot none :(. There is a bhojnalay too that brings people from all walks of life to eat a meal together, free of cost. Washing the utensils you eat in is the only thing asked of you here.
After enjoying here for a while we left for the Great Rann of Kutch.
Just before the left turn for Dhordo, there is a check post where we applied for entry permits at the border check post handled by Kutch police. Getting the permit is a hassle free process and includes filling up a form, showing your ID proof and paying Rs. 100 per person entry fee. And don’t throw the entry slip away. You will have to submit it at the BSF check post right before the White Desert entry. Enjoy drinking the yummy coconut water meanwhile near the checkpost! 😉
Great Rann of Kutch: So after taking the permits, we boarded the bus again and reached finally to the white desert 🙂 It was so white, so huge and whiteness all around, no end to it! There are horse rides and Camel cart rides available for those who are lazy to walk! The weather was good. Sun not so harsh. Cool air. I thought of going till the end of desert but the security guards told that there is no end to it and you will get lost. Besides, there is Pakistan border ahead and need permits to go near that area which we did not have! Sigh!
Anyways there were Gujarati folk singers entertaining the crowd. We danced to their tunes of Gujarati songs :). Yes, we leave no chance of dancing ;)! Kids did the horse ride and elders went for camel cart ride.
We decided to leave from here around sunset and visit Rann Utsav Camp. There were rows of white tents and bhungas inside the Rann Utsav area. Bhungas are circular mud huts of the Kutch region. There were so many stalls displaying Kutch-Bhuj handicrafts, clothes and lot more! There were dance performances at night. The dances of the likes of Ghumar and Kalbeliya were atypical of Gujarat, more of Rajasthani.
After these performances, I wanted to visit white desert again at night. Although could not see the moon, but so many stars 🙂 such a beautiful view 🙂 Wish my camera could capture that! There was pitch black darkness in the white desert, no people around, no sound, just the beautiful twinkling stars 🙂 Peace 🙂 We sat there for a while and did not want to leave but had no other option 😦 . So, we left for Bhuj and had dinner there and slept after a long day!
Day 2: Today we woke up late, got read, had breakfast in Jain guest house itself and those who wanted to shop went to Bhuj market.
Bhuj Market: Bhuj and villages around it are very famous for traditional handmade stuff, metal bells, gold and silver jewellery, Kutch handicrafts and embroidery, Pure shiffon sarees at very reasonable prices. The ladies in our group were uncontrollable while shopping 😀 But they did it quick. So after that we packed our bags and left for 72 Jinalay Jain temple. Did the Puja there, had yummy Gujarati food and left for Mandvi beach.
Mandvi: A one and a half hour’s drive from Bhuj gets you to Mandvi, a beach city and a prominent municipality of the Kutch region. The beautiful seashore is popular with tourists who are keen to relax and unwind. There are a few water sports as well for those who don’t want to relax 🙂 However, it is the 400-year-old ship building industry that enjoys celebrity status here. Originally started by the Kharva community, ship building can be witnessed even today. A special mention to the Wind Mills Project running on the beach that enjoys being Asia’s first, founded in 1983.
After enjoying the water sports, we changed and left for Pawapuri jain temple, where we spent the night.
If you have time and want more, then you may visit the following in and around Kutch:
Pragya Mahal, Aina Mahal
Dholavira: or Kotada timba(as it is locally known), which contains the ruins of the ancient Indus Valley civilization/Harappan City. Dholavira is around 220km from Bhuj.
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary: One Day tour to Little Rann of Kutch, which is world’s last refuge to Indian wild Ass, and the area is declared as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. This is around 230km from Bhuj well approached from Ahmedabad and Bhuj.
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