Winters is the best time to visit Great Rann of Kutch as water starts receding from September onwards. I planned my much-awaited Kutch trip just before the full moon of Rann Festival. There are two simple reasons for the timing. i.e. One, I don’t want to visit Kutch when it is too crowded and secondly I wanted to avoid the peak season tariff.
We traveled from Delhi to Ahmadabad by an early morning flight and went to Little Rann of Kutch. There we went to a rustic resort and did a Jeep safari to see Wild Ass and watering holes of migratory birds.
Read a detailed account of Little Rann of Kutch.
We returned to Ahmadabad by night and from there we traveled to Bhuj by overnight Bdts Bhuj Express train. I prefer to travel on overnight trains because it saves the cost of the hotel and a day, which can be used to explore some other places.
Our train reached Bhuj at 07.30 AM and we started looking for a taxi. We negotiated with a guy and hired him for 5 days as we planned to explore many places around Bhuj in Kutch.
Read more about our day trips to Land’s end Koteshwar, Lakhpat, Narayan Sarovar & Mata No Madh and A Day Trip to Mandvi.
Travel from Bhuj to Rann of Kutch
We started from Bhuj to Rann of Kutch by 08.30 AM. There was very little traffic on the road but our driver kept a slow pace. After spending a few days in Kutch, I came to know that all the drivers here drive at a slow pace even if there is no traffic. We asked the driver to stop on the way for breakfast as we were super hungry after traveling all night. There are no big restaurants on the way to Rann of Kutch, we stopped by a small tea stall who has some local things for breakfast.
As we were waiting for our breakfast, the driver came and asked us if we have photocopies of identity proofs. I was carrying my ID proof but I didn’t have any copies of them neither my friend has a copy of IDs. As we were having this conversation the tea stall owner and a couple of other people surrounded me & my friend. I said we have researched and it is written everywhere to carry ID proof. After discussion with local people, we came to know that in this remote area sometimes electricity cut is for hours.
If there is no electricity at permit issuing check post then without keeping the copy of ID proof they won’t let us go further. We decided why to take chance and asked the driver if we can get the photocopy done here. He said yes but the same problem of an electric cut and without it, photocopy machine won’t work. They informed that electricity is expected in half an hour. We had breakfast and decided to wait for some more time.
It can be annoying that we need a permit to visit some parts of our country but then it is for our safety also. This Rann of Kutch is very close to India Pakistan border and very sparsely populated. While waiting we discovered how to make a Charpoy and how they burn the wooden fire for cooking.
Thankfully electricity came after half an hour and we proceeded for our Resort Shaam E Sarhad in Hodka after getting the Photocopies.
We reached the check post for Great Rann of Kutch. The process for obtaining a permit is very simple as they require very basic information on a one-page form. The staff was helpful and we completed the process in 10 minutes.
I have booked the resort in advance and we got our Bunga hut after 30 minutes wait. We made the Shaam E Sarhad resort our base and visited the nearby areas in Great Rann of Kutch.
Hodka Village in Kutch
Our resort was on the outskirts of Hodka village and we decided to visit the village to explore the local culture. The villages in this region of Kutch are very small and sometimes only a few families consist of a village. The Rann is a dry salt marsh, in summers temperature goes up to 49-degree centigrade.
In Rann of Kutch mostly nomadic communities live with minimum facilities. Though these days these communities have made permanent homes and made small settlements.
We went to a small settlement of few houses in Hodka village. The people in this village make handicrafts and sell them for a living. They received us enthusiastically and showed us around. All of the women were dressed in colorful traditional attire. All the houses in the village were making similar products. We went to a house and saw various handmade items. We bought a few items from them for decoration and souvenirs. The prices of products are not cheaper here and I found prices almost similar to Ahmadabad but it is better to buy directly from the maker.
After exploring the village we return to our resort. We had lunch in our resort and went out to explore the border areas.
Kavda Village in Kutch
This village is on the way to Kalo Dungar and India Bridge of Kutch. This is the only place on this road where we found some shops selling snacks, packed items, and bottled water. The huts inside the village are mostly a combination of mud, bricks and thatched Roof. The Mud and thatched roof keep the temperature low inside the house during the hot summer months.
There is no segregation of area between Muslim and Hindu population living in this village. But in terms of work they have segregation, local people told us that Hindu’s are wood carvers and Muslim do leather work. However, the women folks of both religion do local Kuchi embroidery, mirror work, puppets, dolls and make other handicraft items. They manage a cooperative handicraft shop, where they sell all products made in the village. It’s a good initiative but we have already bought enough stuff from Hodka. Do keep this option in mind while buying souvenirs.
From Kavda, we thought of going to the lake near Jamkundaliya. According to our internet research, it is the biggest colony of migratory birds especially flamingos. We have been informed by locals that this year there are very few birds visited this lake due to the scarcity of water and many birds died due to the electric current in high tension wires. After getting this information we skipped the idea of going to the lake. After the return, we found the same information on the internet.
If you wanted to go, check with the people in the village market. They will give you exact situation, which is not available on the internet. If birds are there then hire a camel because it’s the only way to go there.
India Bridge of Kutch
From Kavda we drove to the border post toward India Pakistan. On the way, our permit was checked twice by BSF (Border Security Force of India) and finally, we reached India Bridge of Kutch. The security people there asked us to give a photocopy of the permit but we have only original and no photocopy. They verified it and checked our ID cards before allowing us to go further. They didn’t allow us to take our camera and mobile phones beyond the security post. So we deposited all those with them and went across the bridge. The road beyond the bridge was empty. We have checked with BSF, what else we can see further. They informed us that there is practically nothing much to see, everything is barren and no one living there. We can see the actual border and “Zero” point of India Pakistan.
We decided to return and visit the Kalo Dungar.
Kalo Dungar is the Highest Point in Kutch
It is the highest point in Kutch at 462 meters. We took a turn on the straight road going towards Bhuj as Kalo Dungar is in a different direction. There were shrubs on both sides with some Babul trees. There is no population in this area, our driver showed some abandoned house at some distance on a small hill.
The road towards Kalo Dungar has curves at many places and it is hilly. We were going slowly but suddenly the car started making strange noises. Our driver informed us that there is some issue and the car is getting heated while we are climbing. We stopped at one place for few minutes he opened the bonnet so that engine can cool down. It was a very uncomfortable feeling thinking if the car will break down here. Anyhow, we reached Kalo Dungar.
There were already a few vehicle and people at the hill waiting for the sunset.
There is a 400-year-old Dattatreya temple on the top of the hill, we went to the temple to pay our respect and then we went to the hill point to see the sunset. The hill provides a panoramic view of Rann of Kutch and it’s vast salty grounds.
There is an army post near the temple and beyond that only security personnel are allowed.
We started for Hodka just after the sunset as our car was giving trouble. The driver assured us that since it is all downhill journey the car will not heat up again but we were very nervous. The area is totally uninhabited and we didn’t see a single human being or any vehicle coming or crossing us for 5-7 Kms. One odd vehicle crossed us after few Kms. It was a good drive as the road conditions are good but at the same time, I was anxious if in case our car broke.
We reached the Kavda market area, the driver showed the car to a mechanic and he fixed something in 20 minutes. We reached our resort without any further incident.
Night Stay at Sham E Sarhad Resort
Our resort has arranged a small music program for the night, which we enjoyed sitting in the open area. The evenings and night in pleasant in this area of Kutch.
Read my Review of Shaam E Sarhad.
Next morning we started the day a little late and went for a nature walk in the surrounding area. There were some small buses and Babul trees, otherwise, the whole area was desert.
A Visit to White Desert of Kutch
Finally, we drove to our much-anticipated destination the “White Desert of Great Rann of Kutch”. After 20 minutes drive, we reached Dhordo, which is the last big village before the White desert of Kutch. There are resorts just before the Dhorodo village. The Rann Utsav tent city is 1.5 Km after it.
The Rann Utsav tent city is managed by Gujarat Tourism department and it is approximately 4 Km before the White Desert. The tent city is well maintained and conducts lots of activities for the tourists. The booking for Rann Utsav can be done online and they have packages based on a number of days.
We passed the tent city and reached the checkpoint for the White Desert of Kutch. The security person opened the barricade after checking our permit.
How the soil of White desert of Rann of Kutch became white?
The White desert was a shallow part of the Arabian sea but geological uplift hundreds of years ago created a shallow lake as it closed the connection with the sea. This area gets filled with monsoon water in the rainy season and by winter this water evaporates leaving behind white salt flats. The Rann of Kutch was sea earlier so there is so much salt in the soil, which comes up after water drys.
These white flats are the main attraction of this area. The spectacular sight of the vast white desert left me awestruck because all I can see was the vast white landscape beyond my eye can see.
There are camel rides, camel cart rides, Ballon rides, and even helicopter rides are available to see the beautiful white desert.
Later on that day we returned back to Bhuj, which become our base for the next few days.
Best time to Visit Rann of Kutch
The salt desert of Great Rann of Kutch remains underwater during monsoon months. Water starts receding from the month of September. The best time to visit Rann of Kutch is from end October to end March. The temperature remains pleasant between 12 to 25 degrees centigrade. The Rann festival is celebrated from November to February and the White desert looks spectacular during full moon nights.
Travel Tips for Rann of Kutch
* There are no direct buses to Rann of Kutch from Bhuj. Hire a cab for the whole trip.
* This is a restricted area and you need a permit. Take the permit from SP office in Bhuj or keep few copies of your ID proof and take the permit on the way to the White Desert.
* The cost of permit per person is 100 INR and 50 INR for the car.
* Keep the permit handy because it is required at the different check post in the area.
* There are not many shops selling food and bottled water, keep some snacks & bottled water with you when traveling from one place to another.
* Most resorts in the area offer stay with all-inclusive food, make sure all your meals are included because there are no restaurants in the area.
* It gets a bit cold at night so keep a light cardigan or shawl.
* If you plan to visit White Rann at night then travel around full moon night.
* Tents and resorts in Rann of Kutch remain full during Rann Utsav months, make an advance booking to avoid any inconvenience.