Scenes from the Salt Desert: Great Rann of Kutch, India

The Great Rann of Kutch extending across India and Pakistan is a near infinitum (7500 sq kms) stretch of white salt desert across Western Gujarat. During monsoon, this entire salty clay area of 7500 sq kms is filled with water which largely dries out leaving behind a layer of white salt on clay. Thousands of years ago, rivers Indus and its tributaries passed through the area filling it with water until the rivers changed course due to geological changes. The pristine white virgin land has stirred and inspired many a imaginative soul and I was no exception, being ever so keen to visit the Rann after briefly reading “Love across the Salt Desert” by K N Daruwalla.

When we reached there on a cool December evening, it was a carnival of sorts with hundreds of people enjoying their piece of Rann. We started walking ahead to merge into the endless stretch of white, seeing, feeling, smiling and wondering at this magnificent natural beauty. The spring in the step of the old couple who were mesmerised by the Rann, the camels and camel cart rides adding colour to the white, the odd horse ride, colourful kites floating in the wind or the game of national addiction (cricket) being played around were all a part of the Rann experience.

In the midst of all the excitement, we had to be cautious at every step lest our feet get stuck in the shallow salt marsh. My train of emotion was touched by the cheese moments, family picnics, the moments of quietude or the shy display of togetherness briefly interrupted by a loud mobile conversation. After some time the area came alive with a bus load of young girls who matched steps, giggling, laughing and singing peppy tunes with love in their eyes.

The best time to be there is in the evening to watch the sun set and the moon rise. The atmosphere is near magical and as the crowd disperses, sit around and soak in the moonlight and enjoy the quietude just like I did. You may be just lucky and get to hear the soul stirring haunting desert folk melodies from a local troupe.

My only request to every visitor is to keep the Rann clean and not throw around garbage carelessly. Inspired by my friend Arundhati, I followed her to carry plastic bottles and used plates to the nearest bin, the size and number of which was far too inadequate to cater to tourist rush.

Best Time to Visit: 
  • The best way to spend a day or two in the Rann is to drive down 60-70 kms from Bhuj and stay at the Sham e Sarhad, Toran Government Resort or in the panchayat resort in Dhordo.
  • Being a sensitive border area, all visitors irrespective of nationality require a permit to enter the Rann which is issued on the way from Bhuj after submitting photographs, identification documents and the requisite fee.
  • It is extremely hot in summer and ideally visited between October and March preferably on a full moon night. If possible plan a trip in December-January when the Rann Utsav is held in the desert. T
  • he Gujarat Government organizes special packages during the Rann Utsav the details of which can be found in their website.

The villages around the area are very rich in Handicrafts and plan to spend some time watching the  making of hand made bells, mud mirror work and the Rogan Artist at work. There are quite a few sanctuaries around like Narayan Sarovar, Chaari Dand which continue to attract migratory birds year on year.

In 2017-2018, Rann Utsav will be held between Ist November 2017 and 20th February 2018. The 5 full moon nights are 4th November 2017; 3rd December 2017,  2nd January 2018 & 31st January 2018, 2nd March, 2018

Also Read
  1. Full Moon Night in Rann of Kutch
  2. Fossil Park in Kutch
  3. Rogan Art
  4. Mud Mirror Art
  5. Making Hand Made Bells

38 thoughts on “Scenes from the Salt Desert: Great Rann of Kutch, India

    1. Sangeeta Post author

      How late is late evening? It does not matter full moon or not, it is a border area so BSF pretty much decide how long they want people to hang around. I dont think it will be pleasant hanging around in the dark.

  1. Saurabh

    Hi Sangeeta, I’m planning to take my American friends for Rann Utsav. They have kids aged 4 and 7. They eat only western food – pizza, pasta etc. Are there enough eating options? Also, they are a bit finicky about the bathrooms. Do the luxury tents have decent bathrooms? Look forward to your response. Thanks!

    1. Sangeeta Post author

      I would advise Shaam e Sarhad rather than the Rann Utsav Tents. Shaam e Sarhad has Western Toilets and is extremely clean and tidy. The toilets are basically with mud flooring but there areas for a bucket shower and wash basins. Shaam e Sarhad serves Kacchi Food but Rann Utsav Food court has lots of options. I dont recall seeing Pasta and Pizza but then I was not particularly looking for them. I am sure it must be available but the taste may not be up to their liking.
      Alternatively, stay in Bhuj in a star property and do the day trip to Rann Utsav. It will take about an hour and a half each way.

  2. Shubhangi

    Dear Sangeeta,
    Your post has answered so many of my questions. My friend and I are planning to visit the GRK in December and plan to stay at Shaam – e – Sarhad. We will be reaching Bhuj via train in the morning and plan to spend 2 days and 1 night. How do you propose we manage the travelling from railway station to Shaam-e-Sarhad and White Rann and back? Is it necessary to book a cab or are there local transport facilities available to cover these large distances? Also, please advice on the itinerary that we should follow. Your insights would be very helpful as we are travelling on a budget.

    1. Sangeeta Post author

      I did not see any public transport about 4 years ago. I would suggest that you hire a car. Shaam e Sarhad is 64 kms and GRK is another 15 kms away. If you want to go around seeing handicrafts then it will also be of use to see the villages.

      Day 1. Head straight to Shaam e Sarhad. Freshen up and leave for Handicraft Village Tour. Be in GRK for Sunset and evening and walk around Rann Utsav
      Day 2. Spend the morning around GRK, India Bridge etc and spend Half Day in Bhuj Sightseeing based on your train timing. Check out my blog post on Bhuj.

      Hope this helps.

  3. amberrapti

    I was at the Rann Utsav last year and this post brought back so many memories! It was my first solo trip and this place will always hold a special place in my heart!
    Found your post via Affimity and I’m glad I did! 🙂

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  5. Binal Joshi

    Hi there! I loved your blog. I am planning to visit Kutch with my 3.5 year old in November. Can you help me with the itinerary for 4-5 nights? Is kutch very touristy during the festival in December?

    1. Sangeeta Post author

      Hi Binal, Thank You for visiting my blog. Kutch will be quite touristy but manageable. We visited in Dec as well. I will send you a mail with itinerary shortly.

      Warm Regards,

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  18. aamjunta

    Perfect… The pictures and the associated write-up shows how focussed your article is! Great. Keep it up!

  19. aleafinspringtime

    Dear Sangeeta,
    I had to come back to leave you this note as these images from this faraway place stayed with me today. This is the first time I am learning about the Great Desert of Kutch and the pictures and people are mesmerising. Thank you for taking us there and showing the beautiful people and culture that exist in this desert. Sharon

    1. Sangeeta Post author

      Dear Sharon,
      Thank you for liking each of my posts and I cannot express how much it means to me, I am touched. I keep visiting your page lest I miss one of your post and just love the thoughts on the first page. The world is an amazing place and we can enjoy each moment only if awareness remains with us. Hope you get to see India and its people and feel everything in person.

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