The Rann of Kutch has stood the testimony of time for centuries now, with ancestral heritage ruins and ancient deserts that refuse to acknowledge worldly rhythms. Barren land for miles, Rann of Kutch has an old world appeal with virgin, untouched territories spanning as far as one can see and quaint, beautiful villages that exist in oblivion. If seeking peace of mind, a conversation with the stars and introspection Rann of Kutch is the path that will lead you to it and here are a list of absolute Must Do’s in my humble opinion that must be added to your bucket list immediately!
- Lesser Rann
I have to admit I highly underestimated the Little Rann as I had no idea what to expect from this place. A potential Biosphere reserve, the Little Rann is rich in Biodiversity and considered to be the last reserve for wild asses all over the world, having a population of over 5000 wild asses, Nilgais, Foxes, wolves, etc. When in Little Rann, it is highly recommended to stay at Mr. Devijibhai Dhamecha’s Home-stay, also called the Eco Camp which is located in the sanctuary itself. The Koobas (Huts) are gorgeous, food authentic and the best part is one has the opportunity to simply walk out exploring into the sanctuary at any given point of time.
Mr. Dhamecha is a wildlife photographer himself and a conversation with him can give one great perspective about how the rest of the trip should be planned. The route to Eco camp is tricky, but worth the detours! The evening safari is an absolute must do! The jeep drives you into the depths of the desert and gives one amazing opportunities to capture wildlife at its best. Sunsets over the lesser Rann are brilliant. I would personally recommend a good camera to be carried along. Other than that one needs nothing else. For as far as one can see, there is not a soul in sight, the solitude is enchanting and it is a great time for introspection as one drives through the gruelling dry desert.The flamingo nest is a highlight here as it consists of several mounds containing eggs which may or may not have hatched yet. This view is stunning, as is the sunset over the Lesser Rann, the animals against the marshy backdrops and the incredible view of the sun and the moon over the desert in one frame!
Link to Devijibhai Dhamecha’s Homestay: http://www.littlerann.com/index.html
Dholavira, Like Mohenjo Daro and Harappa was once a city part of the Indus Valley civilization. You know you’ve got to sit up and listen when is the ancestry that talks to you. Dholavira itself is an archeological site of the Mohenjo daro and Harappan civilization and exhibits spectacular insight that our ancestors had in terms of planning and resource utilization. The site/ city ruins lies in the middle of nowhere, atop high ground with no access to water and the survival story of this city that sustained in the absence of water is an architectural marvel. The incredible detailing that is evident here with respect to water conservation, drainage, storage, reservoir planning, water filtration and recycling can only be believed when seen! the basics of the modern-day water systems lie here, and the secrets to an age that existed thousands of years ago and saw multiple cities transition into one another lie in the heart of the site -the Citadel.
Dholavira has a small village located close by, and for expert knowledge on the site one can get in touch with Mr. Jamal, the tour guide who even arranges for lunch and refreshment in the area which is a major plus as there is no civilization for miles around the site.
Mr. Jamal (Dhola Vira Tour guide: 08141461264)
Another reason to do Dholavira is the road journey to this place! for about 80 Kms all one sees on either side of the excruciatingly straight road is farms and barren land when all of a sudden, out of NOWHERE comes the salt desert! Suddenly, for a miraculous 3-4 Km stretch all one can see is white on either side of the road, the contrasting landscape changes with the equally surprising weather change and within seconds, this becomes the Best Road-trip you might have ever done in your life.
3. India Bridge and Kalo Dungar
Kala Dungar is a black stone hill located in the Rann of Kutch and is the highest point of Kutch, Gujarat offering panoramic views of the white desert. However, I would not recommend a visit to the Kalo Dungar if you’re only objective is to catch a glimpse of the view as the view is average and not very satisfying. A good eye can spot the India bridge from here but other than that, I would suggest to spend some time taking in a view of the beautifully decorated camels, eat some Gujarati style papdi bhel and kachodi, and see the 400 year old Dattareya temple that houses a statue of Lord Dattareya, who as per legend cut off parts of his body to feed hungry starving jackals once upon a time. These jackals can still be spotted here when they come to eat prasad fed to them after the 5 pm evening prayer. Another mystical fact associated with kala Dungar is the strange effect it has on cars by pulling them down the slope with uncanny strength even when the engines are off. The magnetic entities dominating this phenomenon are currently under study.
Highly recommended is a trip to the India bridge, just a few kilometers ahead of the Kala Dungar. The India bridge is the last point where the advent to the Pakistan border begins and the territory is under the control of the Border Security Force, Indian army. Photography is not permitted here but the experience is incredible. On request, the BSF may allow you to go 12 Km further up till the War Memorial where the last village of India is located 68 Km from Pakistan. The 12 Km stretch provided stunning views of the white desert, army bunkers, shooting ranges and war scenes. An absolute yes to this!
4. Great White desert
The primary reason why I wanted to visit the Rann of Kutch was to experience the solitude which is only born out of a union with nature, but I ended up getting much more. Accommodation while in Rann is primarily village housing and home-stays with a few dependable ones being the Rann Rajwadi, Toran resort, Hotel Desert Kind, etc; The white desert seems to be located at the end of all civilization where you seem to be leaving all behind as you walk deeper into the white marsh. Once part of the Arabian sea bed, this is the largest salt marsh in the world taking up 30000 Sq Km of the Thar desert. While is has several rivers draining into it carrying water from Rajasthan, the marsh is covered in water throughout the year except in the winter months of November-February when the water evaporates leaving behind salt that hardens because of the cold. This phenomenon is surreal. It is unbelievable to experience something as seemingly impossible as this, and yet as one walks deeper into the desert away from all signs of civilization you cannot help but realize that there is way too much to take in than you thought possible. The view is stunning, with white on all sides till as far as the eye can see. The skies are clear, stars are bright and close and the sun set over the Rann is magical.
5. Moon Rise over the Great White Rann
It is the first time that we ever witnessed a Moon rise, and that too over the Rann- it did not disappoint. Moon- rise occurred as expected at 7:19 PM and from the moment that it began it was difficult to take our eyes off it. Initially appearing as a faint flicker of scarlet, a blood moon slowly and steadily rose from behind the clouds and over time escalated to deliver the promised view of the silver desert in the Moonlight. The last time I have witnessed Moonlight strong enough to cast Moon shadows was in Ladakh and I dare say, the Moonlight over the Great Rann blew my mind! We spent a good 4 hours out on the desert, even helped pull out an army officer’s vehicle stuck in the desert, walked for miles into the unknown and took our time taking in the incredible expanse!
Rann of Kutch in one word is surreal. Welcome to the “Infinite”- surpassing Time, distance and everything in Between.
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