Rann Utsav guide is meant for all the travelers who have never been to Kutch but are eagerly wanting to do so in the near future. Your travel experience in the sparkling white marshland will prove to be a memory for all times to come.
The annual festival at Kutch is not a budget event but an expensive affair. However, that does not mean that you can’t cut down on the cost and travel on a budget. In my current blog, I will try to provide you with the ideal Rann Utsav guide that will help you in minimizing your cost.
The Kutch festival or the Rann Utsav more or less is a journey that depicts the real culture of the Indian state of Gujarat and in my current Rann Utsav guide, I would like to showcase to you just the same. The extravaganza of the Rann Utsav creates an enchanting travel memory that lives in you for a long time. The spectacular boundless white desert is complimented by the uniqueness of the festival.
The Indian travelers must have seen the advertisement of Gujarat Tourism featuring Amitabh Bachchan (the Bollywood superstar who is the official ambassador of the Indian state of Gujarat) saying Kutch nahi dekha toh kuch nahi dekha”(if you haven’t seen Kutch then you haven’t seen anything). His advertisement surely makes viewers think a lot about the Kutch region and how to plan a visit there!
As a traveler, if you’re having questions like – What is Rann Utsav? Why is the Kutch linked with Rann Utsav?? How to plan a trip to Rann of Kutch, so and so forth, my current Rann Utsav Guide will assist you in visiting this wonderful region and attending the cultural event.
Rann Utsav Guide for Travelers
If you’re a traveller who is visiting the Kutch region for the first time, it is essential that you not only stay aware of the intricacies of this very different region but also connect well with the festival.
In order for you to enjoy more as a traveler, I am mentioning the most important aspects that you should know in advance as a visitor to the Rann Utsav.
|What is the Rann Utsav?
The word Rann implies a salty marshland and the word Utsav in Hindi means festival. Hence the Rann Utsav together denotes a festival of the salty marsh (in the Kutch region of Gujarat).
As their official website quotes, “Rann Utsav is an awesome festival of Kutch, Gujarat, India. It is a Carnival of Music, Dance, nature beauty of White Rann and much more than that when visit under the full Moon.” The Rann Utsav is organized by the Tourism Department of the west Indian state of Gujarat.
It is an interesting tourism idea that showcases the rebuilt desert region of Kutch after the 2001 Earthquake by creating a travel story linking Kutch’s geographical and cultural distinctions.
From premium tents at Dhordo village, camel rides and daily trips to the Great Rann and to nearby villages rich in craft and folk traditions, old temples and historical landmarks, the Rann Utsav promises a treat for all.
|When is the Rann Utsav Celebrated?
The Rann Utsav is organised in the months of November to February every year. The four-month-long festivities at the world’s largest seasonal salt marshland allures travelers from all across.
The announced dates for the current festival are from November 1st 2018 to February 20th, 2019.
|What is the best time to visit Rann of Kutch?
The best time to visit the Rann of Kutch for the festival is on full moon days that fall during this period.
|How to Reach Rann of Kutch?
The nearest airport and railway station is Bhuj and you can reach the Rann of Kutch by road from there. Fir reaching Bhuj, you will either have to take a flight or train from the city you’re traveling.
|How is the overall climate in Kutch for travelers ?
The months of November to starting February are the optimum ones for visiting the Kutch region. It is for this reason that the Rann Utsav is organized during these months. The full moon nights add to the glimmer on the white sand during this time of the year.
If I speak of the climate for the rest of the year, it’s quite warm. The climate of the region is extreme with May being the hottest month.
The average temperature during this time is around 31°C. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 11°C. During the monsoon, the whole region becomes flooded with rainwater.
|What to expect at the Rann Utsav ?
The festival proudly showcases the myriad arts and crafts of Gujarat, its folk songs and dance and the Rann’s natural beauty.
Local handicrafts such as embroidery, terracotta, block printing and wood carving are on display.
Kutchi folk songs and dances are performed and an array of mouth-watering delicacies are offered to the visitors.
There are a host of activities during the festival – from camel safaris and camel cart rides to ATV rides and stargazing. At the Rann Utsav, there surely is something for everyone.
Daily sightseeing tours are also organized.
|How are the arrangements during the Rann Utsav?
The Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd. has impeccable arrangements for accommodation, transportation, sightseeing and food during the Rann of Kutch Festival.
A lot of private players also make good arrangements for visitors.
This is me at the Rann Utsav. Picture credits: Chitraangi Sharma
An introduction to the Rann Utsav will be incomplete without getting to know the Rann of Kutch well. So let me throw some light here for all my fellow travelers.
The Great Rann of Kutch: The White Marshland
Located at the far Western edge of Gujarat, Kutch is not part of the usual tourist trail. Whilst many pass through Rajasthan for a view of the desert, fewer venture to the other side of the Thar desert to explore this spectacular region.
This idyllic geographical marvel with its 7,505 square miles in the Thar Desert is a sensational salt marsh with a sparkling panorama of white sands across the horizon. It stays hibernated underwater till the festival preparations start. Seems like nature preserves the beauty only to celebrate this great infusion of life and its diverse forms.
Breathtaking White Beauty and Splendour of the Rann of Kutch
The White Rann is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, with miles of white salt flats as far as the eye can see. A full moon night is the best time of the month to take in the splendours of the region. The marshy salt desert is spread out as far as your eyes can see.
The Rann Utsav organises arrangements to visit the Rann at night during a full moon. The picturesque Rann of Kutch has been the backdrop of many regional and Bollywood films.
How to Be a Budget Traveler at the Rann Utsav ?
If you are a budget traveler, don’t think that you will not be able to attend the Rann Utsav. It’s just that you will have to plan a tad bit more and stay outside Tent City for most of your time.
A Special Note for Travelers Not Staying in Tent City
It is important to clarify what you want to see in Rann Utsav. If you just want to do just the sightseeing, you can definitely stay outside Tent City. Without staying at Tent City, you can surely visit a few shops and eateries.
The tent city has its own events and functions exclusive to people staying in a tent city. There are not open to people outside.
|If you do not book accommodation in Dhordo, you cannot access the premises of the tent city, where the Rann Utsav takes place. But that doesn’t stop you from going to the White Rann and checking out the local marketplace located in Dhordo and the rest of the region as such.
You can choose to stay inside Tent City for just 1 day and then you can take off on your own (trust me the offbeat places nearby are way better than this region).
While not staying in the Tent City, you will have to get a permit to visit the Rann of Kutch. The hotel you are staying at can help you with that.
What are the Offbeat Places to Visit for Travelers not Staying in Tent City?
A better alternative to the much-hyped white Rann is the ‘Ekal ka Rann.’ This place is located around a hundred kilometres from Bhuj. The Ekal ka Rann is way more serene and beautiful than the white Rann.
Ekal ka Rann is an offbeat but more serene destination that the white Rann. Picture credits: Sravanthi Edara
Rann Utsav Guide for Travelers Staying in Tent City
For those of you who feel that despite the higher cost, you’d still like to stay in Tent City, here’s some basic travel information that will be of use to you.
What is the Tent City
The Tent City is the place where the Rann Utsav takes place. It is located at Dhordo and has been walled by the Tourism Department of Gujarat. The reason is that they obviously don’t want to enter without paying.
Now, this is disappointing for a lot of travelers. But in their defence, they need revenue each year to promote tourism in their ‘not so visited’ state.
Is the Accommodation at Tent City good?
Well, I would definitely say the tent city is the best place to get the full experience of the Rann of Kutch festival (that is why you pay for it). Staying in the Tent City is quite expensive as we all know, but the money is worth it.
It has round the clock supply of warm water, room heaters & air-conditioners to combat the extreme temperatures, a marketplace and two dining halls. Hence you would find the tent city very comfortable and convenient.
Will you be treated well?
If you have less time to plan the whole trip and have extra bucks to spend, definitely go for this. Your whole trip is planned perfectly right from pick up from the airport to the drop. The staff is super courteous and the tents are amazing.
Any tips on saving money while wanting to stay in Tent City?
Book for November or February full moon dates as the prices are less. It is highest in the last 10 days of December due to Christmas and New Year.
A tent for visitors to bunk in at Tent City. Picture credits: Charu Ganesan
Official Permission for Entering the Salt Desert of Kutch
You need permission to enter the Salt Desert as it is reckoned to be a sensitive area due to its proximity to the Pakistani border.
Written permission is required, which can be obtained on the way at the Bhirandiyara village (famous for mawa, a sweet made from milk) checkpoint, around 55 kilometres from Bhuj.
The cost of the permit is 100 INR per person and 50 INR for a car. One has to submit a photocopy of the ID proof and has to show the original as well. Permission can also be obtained from the Gujarat Police DSP office in Bhuj near Jubilee Ground (it’s closed Sundays, and every second and fourth Saturday).
Rann Utsav Guide for the Activities to Pursue
A lot of interesting activities can be pursued at the festival as per my experience and hence, Rann Utsav guide. Let me share them with you –
Fly high in the sky like a bird to enjoy wonderful city views.
|Ride an ATV
As you ride across the Kutch desert, enjoy the brush of air past your face.
As you sit on the white sands, admire the star-lit night sky.
Play a game of Pool, Chess and Tennis with your loved ones at the leisure club.
|Pamper yourself at the spa
Rejuvenate yourself at the Spa Center with massages and therapies.
|Buy at the Stalls
The Kutchi artefacts like Wall paintings, Bandhani dresses and sarees, embroidered materials and attires, and jewellery are shopper’s delight. Shop them at the stalls. Very famous, Iron bells (any antique lovers’ delight) are also there.
Rann Utsav Guide for Food and Cultural Events within Tent City
The two gigantic dining halls in the tent city serve Gujarati cuisine. It is a must-have culinary experience at the Rann Utsav. They also have other cuisines.
The Rann Utsav is a centre stage of cultural activities. Folk artists from various parts of Gujarat enthral the audiences with their performances.
A creatively decorated car at Rann Utsav. Picture credits: Sriram Padmanabhan
Rann Utsav Guide for Sightseeing
Interesting sightseeing opportunities are organised at the Rann Utsav in Bhuj, Kutch and Mandvi. You can select from the package that best suits you.
To name a few – Vijay Vilas Palace and Shyamji Krishna Memorial in Mandvi. Handicraft Village, Gandhi Nu Gaam on the way to Kala Dungar, Shri Swami Narayan Temple and Kutch Museum in Bhuj.
The Rann Utsav Itinerary for Travelers Staying at Tent City
Now that my Rann Utsav guide has tried to help you understand the region and the festival well, it’s time I share my itinerary with you.
|Day 1: Arrival, Checking, Sunset in White Rann, Cultural Event
Pickup and Checking
You will be picked up from the airport/railway station. Their stop is right at the Bhuj Railway Station. From there, you will be transferred to Tent City. The arrangement is just amazing.
Sunset in the White Rann
You can go to the Camel Carts from the Tent City and enjoy the ride. Over the infinite salt pan, a hot mass of vermilion orange sunset over, the view is just splendid.
|Day 2: A day at Mandvi
Shyamji Krishna Memorial
One of the forgotten heroes of the Indian Freedom Struggle Movement, Shyamji Krishna Varma in his own way played a pioneering role in the fight against British rule. His memorial needs to be visited.
Located around 7 km from Mandvi town, set in an isolated area, with no other structure in sight, gives Shyamji Krishna Memorial a striking appearance.
The exhibition hall also containing his ashes, the replica of India House (originally in London) and the 15-minute documentary, all are a sight to behold.
A food court is also established on the site. One can feel the strong winds gushing in the open courtyard.
Before his demise in 1930 he had made arrangements for his ashes to be preserved which were ultimately brought to India by the Indian Prime Minister in 2002.
The Vijay Vilas Palace
Remember the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Indian movie) palace. Yes, that’s the one. This is also a summer palace of Jadeja Maharao of Kutch located on the sea beach of Mandvi.
The Mandvi Beach
A private beach is exclusively booked which is only for the Tent City guests. Check out the beautiful sunset at Mandvi Beach. Food and Tea are also served at the beach.
|Day 3: Sunrise in White Rann, Kala Dungar and Gandhi Nu Gaam
Sunrise in the White Rann
You will get another chance to visit the grand White Rann, this will be for sunrise this time.
Don’t be late and enjoy the sunrise in the white vast land.
Gandhi Nu Gaam
From patchwork to nutcrackers, the vibrant handicrafts of Kutch are widely celebrated not just nationally but also overseas. You can get embroidery items for gifts and souvenirs, unique hand-blocked printed paintings and engraved silver jewellery makes for another great personal pick/gift item.
Kala Dungar (Black Hill), Kutch
To get a bird’s eye view of the whitewashed desert, go to the highest point of Kutch – Kalo Dungar (Black Mountain). The Kala Dungar is covered with grassland, scrubland, rocks and ponds that support faunal populations.
The hill is a treat for the bird-lovers as many typical birds of the scrubby and barren habitats are found here. It basically looks black amidst the far-spread White Rann.
Watching the sunset atop Kutch is truly a mesmerizing experience. If lucky, you might also spot a reflection of the sun in the white marshland. It offers a panoramic view from 458 meters above sea level. One can also see all the way across the Pakistani border.
Tip: Don’t get the kids binoculars on rent, they don’t work.
There is also a 400 years old Dattatreya Temple which holds an age-old belief. It is said, that when Lord Dattatreya walked the Earth, he stopped at Kalo Dungar and met with a band of hungry jackals.
Seeing their plight, he offered his body for them to feast on. There on, his body regenerated and fed the jackals daily. For four centuries now, the temple officials leave food out for the jackals, which is prepared with a lot of reverence, and the tradition is kept alive.
|Day 4: Checkout and Bhuj Day
You will be checked out from the Tent City after Breakfast. They will try to make the Bhuj Sightseeing a surprise for you.
Shri Swami Narayan Temple
The temple is made of complete marble and the entrance is huge. You will be in awe of how clean the temple is. The only thing is, it has boards that women are not allowed to closer to temple premises.
The Kutch Museum in Bhuj is the oldest museum in Gujarat. Worth a visit for 15 mins. It has collections of Kutchi fabrics and ancient relics. If you are a history enthusiast, do visit.
Hiralaxmi Craft Park, Bhujodi (Handicraft Village and Craft Park)
You will not find such art and handicrafts anywhere else. Wall paintings, Bandhani dresses and sarees, embroidered materials and attires, jewellery, leather articles and other creative artefacts.
While at the Rann Utsav, enjoy the festivity in all its splendour. Picture credits: Suruchi Shrivastava
Is the Rann Utsav Safe for Women Travelers (especially the ones traveling solo)?
There is no issue with women’s safety at all. I traveled with my mother and it was all very safe and comfortable.
Both men and women live in Tent City (the place where I stayed). The management will assure you that you are safe and comfortable.
Quick Tips for Travelers Visiting Rann Utsav for the First Time
|Make your bookings at least 2 months in advance.
|Bookings in November and February will be slightly less expensive.
|It generally doesn’t matter much whether or not you have an AC tent to yourself. The nights are freezing for which you shall be provided with a heater in any case.
Besides, the tents are anyway cooler compared to the blazing heat outside in the mornings.
|Do visit the cultural shows that happen at the night.
|To enjoy the Rann Utsav to the fullest, you should definitely stay for one night in the Tent City. The rest of the trip can be planned by staying outside.
Rann Utsav is definitely a lifetime experience. It is definitely worth the money.
The white never-ending expanse of the gorgeous salt desert of Rann of Kutch is the perfect holiday destination. It is one of a kind experience that you should explore at least once in your lifetime.