Kutch: The White Desert | A Complete Travel Guide

kutch-travel-guide

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About Kutch

Kutch in India is a district in Gujarat, with its headquarters in the city of Bhuj. It is the largest district of India and covers an area of 45674 sq. km and is distinguished by the expansive salt flats and marshlands, also known as the Rann of Kutch

The district is surrounded by the Gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea on the south and west, and the Rann of Kutch on the north and east. The northern part of Kutch also borders Pakistan along Sir Creek. This makes Kutch virtually an island, and it often confuses people about which state Kutch is in. The Rann is divided as the Great Rann of Kutch and the Little Rann of Kutch

Every year, the water from the adjacent gulf rises and covers the area and once they dry up, it turns snowy white. Hence it is also recognized as the white desert of Kutch.

The district of Kutch is also ecologically significant for its the Banni grasslands on the outer belt of the Rann of Kutch, which also houses some wildlife. The Kutch area has gone through multiple tectonic movements, especially the Anjar earthquake in 1956 and the Bhuj earthquake in 2001. And the result is the current landscape that we see today.

Everything-about-kutch

What is Kutch famous for?

This district is home to the Kutchi people who speak the Kutchi language. Although a part of Gujarat, their art and culture are quite distinctive from the rest of the state. Kutch embroidery and Kutch handicrafts are quite popular both locally and internationally. But the Rann of Kutch festival is what this place is famous for. Among other tourist places in Kutch, Bhuj festival is the one that attracts people from all over the world. 

What is Rann of Kutch Festival?

Rann-of-Kutch-Festival

The Rann of Kutch is famous for hosting the annual Kutch Festival or the Kutch Rann Utsav. An integral part of Kutch tourism, the Festival is an annual cultural extravaganza that turns the white Rann of Kutch into a colourful canvas. 

Organized and conducted by the tourism of Gujarat, the winter event is usually held between November and February. The idea is to celebrate the folk culture of Kutch and experience the natural marvel of the white desert of Kutch. The three-four months of gala showcases folk dances, work of art, sightseeing, adventure activities, music, and other exciting events

The festival spans the entire district, starting at Bhuj, and ending at the Rann Utsav tent city, built on the salt flats. There are 400 tents built near a small village called Dhordo, close to the Bhuj airport. The dates for the 2021 Kutch Festival are from November 12, 2021, to February 28, 2022

History of Kutch

kutch-tourism

The history of this city goes long back, to prehistoric times. There is archaeological evidence on several sites on the Rann of Kutch from the Indus Valley civilization, as well as mentions in Hindu mythology. There are also mentions of the Kutch region in Greek writing from the time of Alexander when he conquered the Hindu-Kush region.

In the medieval era, the region’s domination changed many hands, from the Greco-Bactrian rulers to Indo-Scythians, the Guptas, Mauryas, Sakas, Vaghelas, Jadejas, and the Sultanate. During the British East India Company, the Kutch region accepted the sovereignty of the Empire. After independence in 1947, it became a part of the dominion of India and was defined as an independent commissionaire.

Kutch was made into a state in 1950 and after the earthquake in 1956, it was merged with Bombay state. Finally, in 1960, when Bombay state was divided into two linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Kutch was joined to Gujarat as a district. 

[Also Read: Daman and Diu: The Lotus of Marshlands – Travel guide]

Hidden Facts you might not know about Kutch

Dholavira-temple
Dholavira temple

There are a few interesting facts about this unique locale that is not known to many. 

The Rann of Kutch is the world’s largest white sand desert and is the most significant of all famous places in Kutch.

The village of Dholavira, about 250KM from Bhuj, has ruins of one of the five most prosperous cities of Harappa. The place is believed to have been inhabited from 2650BC to 2100BC

The locally sacred Dattareyi Temple has jackals that are fed by the priest every day at noon. 

About 50KM from the Kala Dungar is a flamingo breeding ground, the largest and the only breeding ground in India. Hence the place is also called Flamingo City

At an hour and a half’s drive from Bhuj is the port city of Mandvi, home to its 400-year-old shipbuilding industry. 

The region is also home to Asia’s first Wind Mills Project, founded in 1983.

[Also Read: Sabarmati Ashram – Sowing the seeds of Indian Independence]

Places to Visit in Kutch During Rann of Kutch 

The Rann Festival is an integral part of Rann of Kutch tourism. 

Rann of Kutch Lake

Rann-of-Kutch-Lake
  • How to Reach – The lake area is located at 80KM from Bhachau Railway Station. From the station you have to book a car to reach the lake area.
  • Timings – 6AM to 8PM
  • Entry Fee – INR 100 per person, INR 50 for car
  • Time Required – 2-3 hours
  • Tips – Take a camel ride or a hot air balloon ride during the festival for bird’s eye view of the region.

Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary 

Kutch-Desert-Wildlife-Sanctuary
  • How to Reach – The sanctuary is located at 260KM from the city. You have to book a cab or rent a local car to travel and return.
  • Timings – 6AM to 6PM
  • Entry Fee – INR 250 (Weekdays), INR 280 (Weekends), INR 50 (camera)
  • Time Required – 3-4 hours
  • Tips – Visit the 5000-year-old Harappan civilization site in Dholavira

Kutch Museum 

  • How to Reach – The museum is located within 1KM of Bhuj city. You can take a local bus, taxi, or car to reach.
  • Timings- 10AM-1PM, 2.30PM-5.30PM (closed on Wednesdays and public holidays)
  • Entry Fee- INR 5, INR 100 for camera
  • Time Required- 1-2 hours
  • Tips- Visit the Hamirsar Lake nearby.

Things/ Activities to do in Rann of Kutch

Kala Dungar
Kala Dungar

Apart from sightseeing of other Kutch tourist places, you can engage in these interesting activities – 

  • Take a walk on the moonlit beaches in Kutch. Visit during a full moon for the best experience, when the white sands complement the silvery shine of the moon and create a fantasy-like atmosphere. 
  • Visit the local villages and explore their art, craft, and textile industry. You can also buy from the local communities at reasonable prices. Shop for Rogan artwork, copper and lacquer goods, hand-embroidered garments and textiles with mirror-work, silver jewellery, tie-and-dye fabrics, Ajrakh block-printed shawls, and more.
  • Visit the Kala Dungar or the Black Mountain, covered in black sands. The site offers stunning views of the Greater Rann during sunset. 

Best time to visit Kutch

Being a desert and on the coast, Kutch weather is very harsh. Summers are extremely hot and dry with occasional heat waves. Hence, it is best to avoid this season for traveling to Kutch. Winters, on the other hand, are chilly but pleasant, when the temperature in is comfortable enough to explore. Also, the winter months from November to February is when the Rann Festival is held. This is the best time to experience the region’s nature and culture to the fullest. 

Credits: Gujarat Tourism Youtube Channel

Best Kutch Hotels & Resorts

The best Kutch hotels are located near the Rann of Kutch, driven towards the festival visitors. Check out some of these popular resorts in Kutch – 

  • Rann Resort Dholavira 
  • White Rann Resort 
  • Rann Utsav – The Tent City
  • Dharani Village Resort 
  • Rann Bhumi Homestay 
  • Gateway to Rann Resort 

Famous food in Kutch

Kutchi food is an important part of the regional culture. Foods like dabeli, khichadi kadhi, pakwan, gulab-pak, odho, mehsuk, and the Kutchi thali are unique to this region. Try the local flavors at some of these best restaurants in Kutch – 

  • Noorani Restaurant
  • Annapurna Restaurant
  • Toran Restaurant 
  • Mamu da Dhaba 
  • Lucky Restaurant 

How to reach Kutch

How-to-reach-Kutch

By Train

There is no train connectivity in Kutch. The nearest railway station is in Bhuj city, about 70KM away. Bhuj is well-connected to all major cities and towns of India. You can take a train from Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata etc. to Bhuj. From there, you can book a cab or rent a private car to travel to Kutch. 

By Road

Being mostly covered in desert, the only and best way to reach Kutch from Ahmedabad is by road. You can either drive down from other cities in Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Gandhidham, Rajkot, Jamnagar etc. You can take a train or fly to any of these cities from other parts of India and hire a car to reach Kutch.

By Flight

There are no airports in the city. The nearest is at Bhuj Airport, about 53 KM from Kutch and 80KM from the Rann of Kutch. Bhuj airport is well-networked with rest of India. There are daily flights from Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai, among other cities. From there, you can book an airport taxi or rent a local car to travel. 

Download our Savaari car rental app for a smooth and pleasant journey. 

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Kutch: The White Desert- A Complete Travel Guide
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Kutch: The White Desert- A Complete Travel Guide
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Kutch in India is a district in Gujarat, with its headquarters in the city of Bhuj. It is the largest district of India and covers an area of 45674 sq. km and is distinguished by the expansive salt flats and marshlands, also known as the Rann of Kutch.
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Reading between lines - the ones that rhyme, on a journey with no stop sign.

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