Starting the first week of December, the salt plains of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat are lined with bedecked camels, colourful turbans and tents to accommodate the thousands who come to this three-month cultural extravaganza. The Rann Utsav is when Gujarat’s warm hospitality, excellent food and bounty of colours are easily noticeable. Here is a practical guide on how to experience the splendor that Kutch has in store for travellers.
Getting to the Rann Utsav
The Rann Utsav is organised at the gateway of the ‘white desert’, in a small village called Dhordo. The otherwise bleak topography of the village is infused with colour and excitement in the days that run up to the festival. Dhordo is best approached via Bhuj. The town has a small airport where only two carriers arrive; Jet Airways and Air India fly in from cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Bhopal and Chennai. From the airport, the distance to Dhordo is 86km. Taxis are available at the airport.
What to Expect
Expect this holiday to be flavoured with traditional dances, food, music and surreal views of the white Rann. The three-day festival is all about excitement and energy of colossal proportions. Handicraft bazaars, pottery sheds and live embroidery work are also showcased. There’s a multitude of activities to choose from – music and dance performances, spa centers, meditation pavilions, gaming zone, camel cart rides, dirt biking and parasailing. These are sure to keep one busy during the festival. After an action-packed day, enjoy the spectacular Rann with a quiet camel safari under the full moon light.
Where to Stay
Though kutchi bhungas (mud huts) is the way the local do it, you may want to opt for the more elite Swiss tents that are constructed for guests. These colonies of tents are usually closer to the performances, making it a more viable option. Permanent resorts like the Toran Rann Resort and Shaam-e-Sarhad at Hodka are options that may keep you at a pleasant distance from the bevy of tourists that descend on the salt desert. Other tented accommodations that come up temporarily are packed with air-conditioners and other modern amenities. This is the only time when the Rann offers plenty of economical and high-end options. Though the Rann usually needs an entrance permit, a package deal with any of the accommodations may help you bypass that.
Extend your trip
There are other wonders of the Rann that one can experience when there. Extend your trip to also visit the northern part of the Rann to Loriya, Bhirandiyara, Ludiya and Khavda villages. The other sights that one can visit near the Rann are the Kalo Dungar, Zero Point and the Wild Ass Sanctuary.
Go prepared for cold nights and warm days in Rann during December. Apart from woolens, be sure to carry sun hats, sunscreen and shoes meant for walking. Water is another essential item that should be on your list before you head out to for a day in the desert.
The festival is scheduled to take place between 1 December, 2014 to 5 March, 2015.