Along the Indo-Pak border on the western front of the Indian state Gujarat, Kutch is ideally a haven for explorers.
‘Kutch’ literally translates to something which intermittently becomes wet and dry. Surrounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, the Gulf of Kutch in the south and Rann of Kutch in the north, Kutch is virtually an island.
Kutch’s history traces back to prehistoric times. Several sites related to the Indus Valley civilization are found in the region. It also has mentions in the Hindu mythology and Greek writings during Alexander’s reign. Kutch is a ecologically rich and diverse, with wildlife thriving in the shallow, flat grasslands of the region.
Great Rann of Katch
Kutch is synonymous with the Great Rann of Kutch. A shallow salt marsh spread over a wide area of nearly 7000 sq.kms, it remains mostly underwater during the monsoon season. Rest of the year, the Rann of Kutch transforms to a salt-white desert, stretching all the way till the horizon. A full moon night exposes the true beauty of this magical white desert, as it sparkles to the tune of the moonlight. Many Indian movies and song sequences have scenes from the area. Refugee, R…Rajkumar, Lagaan, Goliyon ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, beautifully showcases the region’s charismatic appeal. Nights in the desert gets lively and enchanting. Put white desert camping to your list and be ready to hear enchanting tales the desert has to narrate.
Citing security reasons due to its proximity to the border, permits are required to visit the Rann. Make sure to obtain it on the way from Bhuj.
Little Rann of Kutch
A part of the Greater Rann, the Little Rann of Kutch is rich in biodiversity and home to various wildlife species. It is a paradise for wildlife fanatics and photographers. Little Rann of Kutch is the last and only refuge to the endangered ‘Indian wild Ass’, locally known as ‘Khur’. Several local and migratory birds, like cranes, ducks, flamingos flock to the place, despite the harsh and bleak landscape. One can witness these species in their natural habitat, thanks to the efforts of the government.
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Bammi Grassland Reserves are some must-visit biosphere reserves.
The Dholavira Archaeological Museum exhibits antiquities and information related to the site; including semi-precious stones, artifacts made of gold, copper and other terracotta items.
Sit back relaxed and watch the sun go down the horizon, as the evening sky turns reddish. Or take a stroll along with the salty seawater at the beach. The Mandvi beach is a great place to spend time in solace, as it remains quite often.
Camel rides, horse rides, and water scooter rides keep one engaged. Small vendors selling spicy ‘Paanipuri’ line up all along the beach.
At a little distance from the Mandvi beach is the Vijay Vilas Palace, where prominent Bollywood movies were shot. The view from the palace terrace is amazingly beautiful.
At a height of 462m, Kalo Dungar or Black hills is the highest point in Kutch. From the hilltop, one can admire the whole of Greater Rann of Kutch. Sparkling all white, the desert often disguises as if it were an ocean at times. The 400 years old, highly revered Dattatreya temple is situated atop the hill. As per the local beliefs, Lord Dattatreya — an incarnation of the Hindu holy trinity — Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, walked on the hills when he encountered a pack of hungry jackals to whom he offered his body as food. As the jackals fed on his body, it kept regenerating. To mark and honor the lord’s sacrifice, the temple was built.
Rann Utsav, a carnival of music, dance, art, and culture, is a three months long annual festival hosted by Gujarat Tourism. It usually begins in the winter months of November and lasts till February. A whole tent city with hundreds of luxurious tents is set near to Dhordo village, to accommodate the tourists arriving to experience the enchanting beauty of the Kutch.
Visitors get a taste of the local culture, cuisine, and hospitability in specially built local houses. Camel cart excursion, paramotoring, meditation, yoga, art exhibition, cultural shows are some of the events hosted in this awe-inspiring celebration.