Sunset with camels

The Great Rann of Kutch – A Complete Visitor’s Guide

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Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself. We found ourselves at the Great Rann of Kutch. It was a surreal experience gazing into the distance as the sun drips into the infinite horizon and the full moon emerges ever so slowly. Those few moments are still vivid in our memory even today.

The Incredible White Rann of Kutch

Spanning across a whopping 7,500 Sq. Km, Rann of Kutch is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The word Rann means “salt marsh” and Kutch refers to the Kutch district. It is predominantly a part of the Thar desert in India with a tiny part of it in Sindh, Pakistan. It is one of the most unique destinations where you can find a lake, a mountain, and a white desert, all in one place. There’s nothing but a vast land of serene emptiness. You can walk away from the crowd to take some creative and interesting photographs but don’t get lost wandering.

Twins in Rann of Kutch

Kutch, being the cultural district of Gujarat is known for its art and music. Dhordo, a small village in this district is home to an annual 3-month festival called the “Rann Utsav”. Hand embroidery, mirror work, traditional ornaments, and wall painting are some exquisite forms of art practiced by the locals. During this festival, you can enjoy the daily cultural performances, get yourself souvenirs, Gujarati attires from the colorful mela, and much more.

How To Get A Permit?

You have to get permission from the Border Security Force (BSF) before entering the Rann area, because of its proximity to the Pakistan border. Tickets can be booked online (only for Indian nationals) or directly by approaching the Bhirandiyara check post. The check post is easy to spot. There will be an intersection from where you can either turn left to reach the white Rann or go straight to Kalo Dungar. All you need to do is provide/upload the ID proof for verification.

Note: The check post closes by 5:30 PM and opens by 11 AM. The ticket is valid for 24 hours.

Entry Fee

  • Up to 5 years – Free
  • Between 6 to 12 years – Rs. 50 per child
  • Above 12 years – Rs. 100 per adult
  • Additional charge – Rs. 25 for two-wheelers and Rs. 50 for four-wheelers

You can also meet the famous swimming Kharai Camel and enjoy camel rides at an additional cost that you’ll have to pay at the main entrance.

Best Time To Visit The Great Rann of Kutch

Entrance for Rann Utsav

The Rann Utsav, celebrated every year between November and February is the perfect time to visit this place since the water dries up then. If you want to catch the full moon rising from the horizon, plan your travel accordingly to the fortnight cycle. Carry enough winter clothing with you as the place is prone to extreme temperatures, which might drop to 0 °C late at night.

Network Availability

In the white desert, the signal strength of BSNL and VI is better when compared to other networks. When you go far into the desert, the network is quite weak or completely unavailable.

How To Reach?

By Air

The closest airport to Kutch is the Bhuj Airport (78 Km, Airport code: BHJ) which takes about 90 minutes to reach Kutch via NH341. Bhuj Airport is a domestic airport and has direct flights only to Bhavnagar. Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport (343 Km, Airport code: AMD) is the closest international airport that is connected to major Indian cities. You can easily get a taxi outside the airport.

By Train

Bhuj railway station (78 Km, Station code: BHUJ) is the nearest railway station to Kutch. This station has direct trains to several major cities including Ahmedabad, Pune, Jaipur, and Delhi. Hire a taxi or board a bus from Bhuj.

By Road

Many government and private buses take passengers daily to and from Bhuj. You can also take a direct bus from Ahmedabad, Surat, or Vadodara. No taxi or auto is available in the Kutch region.

Other Options

If you want a relaxing yet fulfilling trip, you can choose standard travel packages based on your budget. These will mostly include food, stay, and permit costs. Some also offer complimentary sightseeing to Bhuj.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly travel experience, then we recommend you hire a vehicle at Bhuj and explore the vast desert at your own pace.

Where To Stay?

Staying near the Great Rann is quite expensive but is worth the luxury only during the Rann Utsav. Few affordable homestays and camping options are also available in the area. If you don’t want to break the bank, staying at Bhuj is ideally the best option.

 

Where To Eat?

Since most of the Kutchi people practice Hinduism, Jainism, or Sikhism, the food is mostly vegetarian. Small food vendors and eateries are available at the Kutch entrance. And if you’re someone who wants to have authentic local cuisine, the Gujarati thali at the Rann festival might just satisfy your taste buds.

Kalo Dungar

Kalo Dungar panaromic view
Panoramic View From Kalo Dungar

At 1,516 feet (462 m), Kalo Dungar is the highest point in Kutch where you can watch the sunset. From here, you can endlessly gaze at the panoramic view of Kutch and the Dholavira Lake. The word Kalo Dungar means black hill in Kutchi. Kalo Dungar Magnetic Hill or Kalo Dungar Anti Gravity Slope is popularly known for the optical illusion it creates. Here a vehicle might seem like it defies gravity and rolls up the slope.

Kalo Dungar is also famous for a 400-year-old Dattatreya temple. If you’ve got a good pair of binoculars, you can even catch a glimpse of the India-Pakistan border.

Okay, still wondering where the salt comes from. In summer, the seawater moves onto the land and covers it up completely, while during the winters the waters recede leaving behind stretches of white sheets that look like snow, except it isn’t snow buttons and tons of salt left behind by the sea waters.

We hope we don’t have to persuade you to go to this place anymore! Hurry up, pack your bags, and most importantly, have a safe journey.

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