Rann of Kutch is inarguably one of the most beautiful destinations in India. One of the largest salt deserts in the world, Rann of Kutch is not just famous for its natural splendor, but also for the cultural extravaganza that takes place every year between the months of November/December and Feb/March in the form of Rann Utsav. Rann Utsav is an underrated carnival BUT BELIEVE US when we say that it is one of the best festivals that you will ever be able to attend in India.
Let me help break it down to you!
If camel safaris on full moon nights, camping in luxurious tents, bonfires, good folk music and sampling the local cuisine sounds like the ideal idea to wrap your year, then this is where you should be.
Rann of Kutch dates for 2019
Organized by the Tourism Department of Gujarat, Rann Mahotsav is a grand winter carnival. It takes place when the air in the desert is chilly and the moon shines the brightest. The Kutch Rann Utsav 2019 dates are from Oct 28th, 2019 to Feb 23rd, 2020.
The coolest venue
The grand celebration begins in Bhuj. The finale of the festival is organized at Rann Utsav tent city, a city made of more than 400 AC and non-AC tents. It is set up near a small village called Dhordo, easily accessible from the Bhuj airport.
What happens at the festival?
Right from the folk dances (Garba, Hallisaka and Tippani) to the folk drama (Bhavai), right from the sumptuous Gujrati cuisine to moonlit camel safari; everything is going to make your Rann experience unforgettable. The Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited ensures a lifetime of experience and memories to cherish. You can camp at Dhordo or you can also arrange a homestay for yourself. Since Rann of Kutch is famous across the world, a lot of tourists from outside India attend the festival. This gives you a great opportunity to meet and interact with people from different countries and cultures.
Things to do at Rann of Kutch
There is a lot one can do while at one of the greatest desert festivals in Asia.
1. Spend time at the desert watching moon
White expanse of serene sand under the full bloom of the moon, it does not get better than this. The best time to witness the white desert is during the full moon. You can check out the full moon dates during the festival on their website and make your bookings accordingly.
2. Enjoy the richness of culture
Attending cultural fiesta is one of the most important things to do at Rann of Kutch festival. The festival hosts folk artists from all corners of Gujarat and their performances will leave you awestruck no matter which corner of Kutch you go to. You can actually enjoy a bonfire on the desert while you dance to the tunes of true folk music.
3. Local sightseeing and adventure sports
While the festival will give you an experience of a lifetime, there is still so much more this festival has to offer. One can go for a solo ride on the desert on a DPV (Desert Patrol Vehicle). Desert safari is another exhilarating activity to look out for. You can go on a camel ride, spend time star gazing at the desert and also give other activities such as ziplining and paintball a shot.
4. Hot air balloon for a birds-eye view of the white sparkling desert
Take a hot air balloon ride and we bet you would take months to get over it! The experience is mind-boggling. The view of the vibrant hues of the salt-sand from the top is sure to stay with you for months on end.
5. Some beach time in Mandavi
Spend some time at the beach where the blue melts into the horizon. Hop on a camel and take a ride on the beach. Nothing like it! How often do you get to ride on a camel? And that too on a beach! Do visit the nearby villages of Bhirandiyra, Khavda, and Gandhi-Nigam as they arrange workshops for amazing handcrafted textiles and fabrics that are quite fascinating for city dwellers like us. The art and craft industry is sure to amaze you with their incredibly beautiful items. You can buy –
- Copper bells
- Silver junk jewelry
- Bandhini sarees or dupattas
- Rogan Art: Oil-based painting
- Ajrakh block printing shawls
6. Hogg on food as much as you want
All the amazing food options available here are just what you need to make your experience extra special. Two magnanimous dining halls serve scrumptious authentic Kutchi cuisine. Besides, there are food corners that cater to hunger calls at the odd hours of the night.
Things to keep in mind
You will need permission to enter the Salt Desert as it is reckoned a sensitive area due to its proximity to the Pakistani border. Written permission is required, which can be obtained on the way at the Bhirandiyara village (famous for mawa, a sweet made from milk) checkpoint, around 55 kilometers from Bhuj. The cost of the permit is 100 rupees per person and 50 rupees for a car. One has to submit a photocopy of the ID and has to show the original as well. Permission can also be obtained from the Gujarat Police DSP office in Bhuj near Jubilee Ground (it’s closed Sundays, and every second and fourth Saturday).
How to reach
The nearest airport to Kutch is in the city of Bhuj, which is around 80 km from the Rann desert. Bhuj airport is well connected to cities all over India. Flights run from and to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata etc.
The city does not have a dedicated railway station of its own. However, the Bhuj city has a railway station with trains coming from many major cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad etc. You will have to arrange a vehicle or book a cab to reach Kutch from Bhuj.
This is the only actual option to reach Kutch. You can take your own vehicle or hire a cab from Bhuj to reach Kutch. You can also hire a cab and take a roadtrip from Ahmedabad (400 km) or Rajkot (300km).
So go, see Kutch kyunki …
Kutch Nahi Dekha Toh Kuchh Nahi Dekha!
While enjoying your time at the Rann festival should be on top of your list, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Kala Dungar (Black Hill), which offers a panoramic view from 458 meters above sea level. One can also see all the way across the Pakistani border. Apart from this, visit Hodka Artist Village, Ludia Village, where the rural people and tribes specialize in block printing, beadwork, Banni embroidery, leatherwork and weaving, or take a spiritual break at Dwarka.
So when in Kutch, make the most of your time.