Tucked deep into the western most corner of the country, the fascinating white desert (rann) of Gujarat tends to be a little tough on accessibility as well the wallet. The current set of visitors to the seasonal salt marshlands appear to be mostly from within or the neighboring states, which is a terrible pity really! Watching the sunrise standing in the midst of the great white expanse, taking in the sunset along with the breathtaking views at the Kala Dunger, these are memories that will stay with you for years to come!
Having completed a very memorable vacation we planned from scratch, we’re jotting down our tips to make this ‘bucket list’ worthy destination a little easier for you to plan your next getaway.
Destination – Tent city (Dhordo)
The tent city is probably the most recommended, and justly, the best stay option in the white desert (more details on that in a later post). When we hit google for stay packages, it threw up an overwhelming number of options, with almost every possible domain and similar sounding sites! The entire tent city is however completely under the management of ‘Lallooji and sons’ and only bookings are available from different providers. The packages are the exact same, on cost as well as inclusions. If it helps wade thru, we booked the 2 night/3 day package for non AC swiss cottages through www.rannutsav.net.
Unless you’re driving down following a different route, your access to the Rann of Kutch will almost entirely be through the town of Bhuj. Approximately 85 kms from the tent city, you can reach Bhuj by flight, train, or road. The packages include a pick up from either the Bhuj airport or train station.
While significantly more expensive, with fewer options, the easiest would be for you to fly into the Bhuj airport, usually connecting at Ahmedabad. The budget traveler in us shut down that option post checking fares! 😀 We flew into Ahmedabad and took an overnight train to Bhuj instead. Given how precious few leaves I get, I prefer an overnight train/bus journey. Notably tho, this train running from Mumbai to Bhuj (approx. 1.5 days), and also return, is a good alternative if you have a little more time on your hands. Even if you’re not from Mumbai, airfare to Mumbai is usually a lot cheaper than Ahmedabad! This train route’s a very popular one, try to book your tickets as early as you possibly can. We booked 2 months prior and still didn’t have confirmed tickets right up till the chart was prepared!
On reaching Bhuj, once you walk out of the station, you will see the colorful tent with Rann Utsav signage on the left. Once registered, you have officially started your package!
Trip expense break up:
|What||How Much (INR)|
|Bangalore – Ahmedabad Airfare||10300|
|Ahmedabad – Bhuj Train (#19115; 2nd AC)||862|
|Bhuj – Ahmedabad Train (#19116; 2nd AC)||862|
|Tent city 2 night/3 day package||13080|
|Paramotoring (in the tent city)||2550|
|Hotel Navkar, Bhuj (1 Delux room, 2450/4)||613|
|Total spend on super awesome trip!*||28267|
*not including incidentals like shopping, non-package day meals, auto/cab etc.
- Bhuj stay – If you plan to travel by the same train, you will probably find yourself in Bhuj with 6-7 hrs to kill, even if you do everything listed above! Unless your planning day trip to Mandavi , or possibly the Indo-Pak border, it might be a good idea to book yourself into a hotel in Bhuj. A very good option is the Click Hotel (3.5-4k) situated just outside the railway station (www.theclickhotels.com). This 3 star property with a small pool and gym generally runs full during the festival, so as we found out the hard way, booking ahead is a good idea! We stayed at Navkar hotel (www.hotelnavkarresidency.com), simply because it was the cheapest, and a reasonably decent option in the last min. Plus, they agreed to put up the 4 of us in one room! Some other centrally located options, basis your budget, are Hotel Oasis (2.5-3.5k) and Hotel Prince (4-5.5k). We happened to have lunch and dinner at both respectively and can vouch for the location as well as food. 🙂
- Train – We leant when travelling in pairs/a group, having even 1 confirmed seat on the same booking is sufficient for you to board. We also learnt (the hard way) tho that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the TT will be able to find you spare berths for the waitlisted ones! But it still beats the alternative of running around, travelling on a last-minute bus booking.
- Ahmedabad getting around – Taxi provider Ola runs its fleet and is quite convenient. If not available at the time, auto rickshaws are aplenty. The only catch is they aren’t metered and will need a lot of haggling to ensure you aren’t being ripped off. We took an auto from the airport to railway station at a ‘Gujju’ negotiated rate of 200. Within the city ought to be way lesser! Autos are the usual mode of transport in Bhuj as well.
Work. Save. Travel. Repeat ❣