Located at the far Western edge of Gujarat, Kutch is not part of the usual tourist trail. Whilst many traipse through Rajasthan for a view of the desert, fewer venture to the other side of the Thar desert to explore this spectacular region. This makes it the perfect place to really feel how our ancestors must have felt when there was nothing before them but oceans of elusive sand. On a recent visit to the region, I was able to experience the Rann Utsav, a spectacle that left me awe-inspired..
Run to Rann
Kutch isn’t just a desert, but a cultural celebration, something that the Gujarat Government has now tried to bottle in its annual festival of Rann Utsav. Visitors stay in tents that border the great White Rann. There are over 400 tents available of varying capacity and facilities, so you are sure to find something that suits your budget and needs. That alone is an experience of a lifetime, spending the night on the startling white landscape that stretches into the horizon as far as the eye can see. So close to Pakistan, you can almost touch it!
The Magic of Gujarat
This festival of Kutch celebrates the colour of the region, providing an arena for the arts and crafts of Gujarat to be displayed and purchased. I spent hours just walking through the stalls looking at the detailed embroidery on bed linen and brightly coloured leather work that had been intricately carved into decorations. For the more inquisitive souls, you can also visit some of the local villages and NGOs to see local artisans practice traditional Indian arts including rabari emroidery, rogan art and the distinctive mirror work that Kutch is known for. My favourite would have to be seeing how the colourful kitchen items are made using the lac-turned wood method in the tiny village of Nirona. With a steady hand, a plain piece of wood is quickly transformed into a vibrant work of art before our eyes.
The Fringe Benefits
Kutch is a vast region, and visiting it during the Rann Utsav can certainly make it easier to traverse. With organized tours to some of the local sightseeing spots including religious sites in Kutch such as Narayan Sarovar or the Kera Shiv Temple that is over a thousand years old, you can explore a lot more of the region and meet fellow travellers as well. You could also head a bit further into Gujarat and see the Sun Temple of Modhera, which is just as stunning as the more famous Sun Temple of Konark.
Call of the Wild
For nature lovers, there is plenty of interesting wildlife species to see including flamingoes, Indian wild asses and foxes. The wildlife sanctuaries of Kutch are most famous for the many species of birds that visit the marshlands. Even if you don’t make it a wildlife sanctuary, you will no doubt hear the melodic chirping of birds at dusk.
Just Sit Back and Relax
In the evening, sit back and enjoy some traditional music of Gujarat and folk dancing with the Greater Rann of Kutch as your backdrop. Shows that demonstrate the diversity of the region are set up within the Rann Utsav complex and also on the White Rann for an experience that can’t be matched anywhere in the world.
So next time you’re planning to quick trip to the great outdoors, catch a flight to Ahmedabad for a mesmerizing vacation.