Gujarat celebrates the entity of Rann of Kutch each year between the months of November/December and Feb/March in the form of Rann Utsav. This celebration displays the rich culture and diversity of the region. Also, it is the ideal time to enjoy camel safaris on full moon nights, camping in luxurious tents, bonfires, cultural performances and savor the local cuisine. Rann Utsav is an underrated carnival BUT BELIEVE US when we say that it is one of the best festivals that you will ever be able to attend in India.
Here is some useful information for you:
When is it Celebrated?
Dates for Rann Utsav 2019-20 are fixed as October 28, 2019 – February 23, 2020. It is probably one of the longest-running festivals in India.
Where is it Celebrated?
The festival is celebrated in the arid expanse of Great Rann of Kutch in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Dhordo is the nearest inhabited area and is approximately 86 kilometers from Bhuj. This small village is situated on the edge of the salt desert and it is convenient to stay here or in the nearby Hodka village.
How to Get There?
In order to reach Great Rann of Kutch, you have to get to Bhuj first, now there are a couple of ways of getting to Bhuj.
- By Train: There are direct trains from Mumbai and Delhi to Bhuj.
- By Air: There are flights from Delhi, Indore, and Mumbai.
- By Rail: Buses to Bhuj are available from many places in and around Gujarat
Where to Stay?
The most popular choice is the Gateway to Rann Resort at Dhordo. One gets an opportunity to live in mud huts that traditionally crafted and decorated with handicrafts.
The Gujarat government offers tourist accommodations at the Toran Rann Resort, which is opposite the army checkpoint near the entrance to the salt desert.
Another option is the Shaam-e-Sarhad (Sunset at the Border) Village Resort in Hodka. This resort is owned and managed by local residents. One can choose from staying in tents or traditional Bhungas here.
Permit for the Salt Desert
Yes, you need permission to enter the Salt Desert as it is reckoned 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 kilometers from Bhuj. The cost of the permit is 100 rupees per person and 50 rupees for a car. One has to submit a photocopy of the ID 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).
What to Expect?
The Rann festival has many colours of Gujarat’s culture to offer to the visitors. Right from the folk dances (Garba, Hallisaka and Tippani) to the folk drama (Bhavai), right from the sumptuous Gujrati cuisine to moonlit camel safari; everything is going to make your Rann experience unforgettable. You shall be able to camp at Dhordo or if you research well, you can arrange for yourself a homestay as well. Since, Rann Utsav has become quite popular amongst foreign travellers; one has the opportunity to interact with people from different countries and culture.
Other than enjoying the Rann festival, one has the opportunity to visit Kala Dungar (Black Hill), which offers panoramic view from 458 meters above sea level. One can also see all the way across the Pakistani border. Apart from this, one can also visit Hodka Artist Village, Ludia Village, where the rural people and tribes specialize in block printing, beadwork, Banni embroidery, leather work and weaving.