Like every traveler, visiting the Great Rann of Kutch had been on our bucket list for a while. So as soon as the year’s holiday calendar was out, we picked the first long weekend around republic day and planned our trip to Kutch. While ideally we would have loved to spend a week or 10 days and cover Kutch and beyond, we decided to just visit the Rann Utsav and make the most of the long weekend.
Sharing here our experience at the Rann Utsav so you get an idea of what to expect. If you want to know how we went about planning and budgeting the trip, you can read more about it in the previous post.
Arrival in Bhuj
We arrived at the Bhuj station by around 7 AM. There is a waiting area set up there by the Rann Utsav guys where you can freshen up. Tea/coffee too gets served. The bus to transport us to the tent city arrived by about 8AM and it takes 1.5 hours to reach the tent city in Dhordo. It was a pretty comfortable drive and we mostly slept through it. They do have 3 more pick ups at 10.30AM, 2.30PM and 3.30 PM. In case you miss the transport, you can arrange for a taxi from the station.
The Grand welcome
We were given a traditional welcome with ‘teeka’ and some local music at the reception. Those interested can join the musicians and break into a step or two. Once we registered at the reception we were asked to wait for an hour or two till our tents were ready. We were famished by the time we reached and decided to head straight to breakfast, but with so many photo ops on the way it took as an hour to reach the breakfast place which was about to shut. However the staff were really sweet and took pity on us hungry souls and served us breakfast on the table though the buffet was closed. They didn’t even charge us for the breakfast though it was not part of the package on day 1. And what can get better than beginning your trip with free food! 🙂
The Tent City
By the time our tents got ready we did a quick tour of the tent city and were amazed by the entire set up. The place is a riot of colours everywhere you look. Colorful life-size puppets, art installations and walls adorned with beautiful paintings everywhere you look. My favorite part about the tent city is the in-house transport that they have to ferry you around – auto rickshaws, mopeds, golf karts, vans each of it more colorfully jazzed up than the other.
So when we had booked our tents, we had in mind a basic camp like tent with mattress on the floor and a small make shift bathroom. But we were in for a pleasant surprise. Spacious tents with double bed, fan, table, chair and a luggage stand. And the best part – a big and clean beautifully bathroom. The tents provide you all the basic things like blankets, sheets, morning kit, towels,etc, and all good usable kinds. So you can accordingly pack lighter.
After leisurely freshening up, we headed straight to lunch. The spread is mainly Gujarati (obviously!) and outstanding. Delicious would be an understatement. All the meals are buffet spread. Dhokla, Thepla, khandvi, Fafda – you name it we ate it. In the 3 breakfast, 2 lunches and 2 dinners we had there, we possible tasted every Gujarati cuisine. Shereen and I are both hardcore carnivores, but we didn’t miss our meat one bit.
Not just the food, the service staff also need a mention. The quality of service was at par with any star hotel but what made it more special was the warmth and smile with which they serve you.
- *Pro tip – One of the evenings just walk out to the craft market right outside the tent city to try the Gujarati street food. The dabeli was to die for and we went back again the next day despite aching feet.
Things to do
As part of the package, your itinerary is pretty much charted. So sharing below our experience and some tips on how you can make the best of it.
Day 1 –
Sunset at the Rann of Kutch – This for me was the highlight of the trip. The transport is at 4.30 PM through bus/camel cart rides. We were glad we chose the camel carts because the weather was pleasant and we had an enjoyable ride.As we got off our carts and walked towards the desert, we saw a little trace of white crystals here and there with the density of whiteness increasing as we walked further inside. After a few steps we reached a point where we were completely mesmerized by what we saw – seemingly unending spread of white as far as we could see. Nothing like we had ever seen before.
For the first half hour or so we went crazy clicking pictures trying to capture the beauty that is Rann of Kutch. After we were done with all the pictures we just sat there soaking in the beauty and admiring it. And then we saw the sun descending slowly like a big orange ball being soaked in by the desert. The grandeur of the sunset into the gorgeous desert is something you have to witness yourself because no camera can ever do justice to that.
- If you plan to take the camel ride, que up by 3.45 and come prepared to while away 30-40 mins in the line.
- Wear sneakers or full covered shoes. If it had rained anytime recently, the desert will be marshy and impossible to walk with sandals or any open footwear
- Don’t follow the crowd, find your own uncrowded spot so you can experience the sunset in peace
Shopping at the craft market and within tent
On our way back from the desert we got down at the craft market right outside the tent city. Of all the places we tried to shop, this seemed the best in terms of both price and the range of products. There is also a small shopping area within the tent city. The exhibitors keep changing there and if you are lucky you may find some unique picks at reasonable price. Do check out our post on ‘What to shop from Kutch’.
Cultural show –
There is a cultural show arranged every night and you could choose to go watch it both the nights. We weren’t too kicked about the cultural event, probably because we were expecting a ‘dholi taro’ kind of immersive dance extravaganza. The performances keep varying, but they do have a good mix lined up for most of the nights.
Day 2 –
Sunrise at the Rann of Kutch – The late risers that we are, we contemplated if we should skip the sunrise. But it would have been a pity if we did. The bus took us to the desert early around 6.30AM. The sun decided to make us wait and came up only by about 7.30 AM. And when he finally arrived it was totally worth the wait. The reflection of the sun rays on the salt made it seem so surreal and painting like.
2. Para motoring / In house activities – The first half of the 2nd day is free. There are a lot of in-house activities within the tent city like carom, cycling, Segway, etc. Most of these are paid activities and you can enquire and book at the reception. We chose Para motoring. The experience was thrilling and clubbed with views of clear blue skies, colorful canopies and the mind-boggling white desert as far as the eyes could see.
*Pro tip –Go in as early as you can because the slots fill up soon and the waiting keeps increasing.
Costed us Rs.2500. So, recommended it only if you haven’t tried Para motoring before
Gandhi nu gam – On your way to kala Dungar, there is a 45 minute stop at Gandhi-nu-dham, a tiny little handicrafts village. The handicrafts are similar to what you’ll find all over Gujarat. But what’s amazing is the lil peek they give into their houses and lives. They warmly invite you into their homes adorned with glass and mud work, each an individual piece of art.
Kala Dungar – Kala Dungar is the highest point in Kutch that offers a great arieal view of the Rann. It is also a splendid sunset point. You can take a camel ride from where the bus drops you up until a certain point from where it’s a very short walk uphill. There are benches for you to sit and view the sunset or you could get a little adventurous and walk down the rocks to find your own secluded spot to perch yourself and enjoy the magnificent sunset.
It was indeed a great view with earthy brown hills merging into different shades of blue and stretching into the white canvas of the salt desert.
Day 3 –
On day 3 post the breakfast and check out which is at about 9.30 AM, you can plan your day depending on your departure timings. Since our train was late in the evening we chose to go watch all the complimentary sightseeing offered as part of the package and then explore a little more of Bhuj on our own. You can read more about it in our post- ‘a day in Bhuj’.
So that was our short, super fun and memorable trip to Kutch. Do drop in a comment if you have any questions about the Rann Utsav and we ll be happy to help.
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