The Land of the White Salt Desert and exquisite art and craft, Kutch is a quiet haven though often overshadowed by neighbouring Rajasthan. If you are looking for lots of colour, generous doses of history, exquisite carvings, intricate art, flaming flamingos, flying cranes and different migratory birds, then Kutch, India is the ideal place for you !! The pristine beauty of nature comes alive in the warmth of the people, the delicious food of the land, colourful handicrafts and the haunting Kacchhi melodies.
The best time to visit is October to March and preferably plan the trip such that you are in the Great Rann of Kutch around the full moon. The white desert comes alive under the moonlight and the unending horizon merges into the moonlight. Rann Utsav is held every year between December and January portraying Kutch culture. In 2016-2017, Rann Utsav will be held between 25th Nov 2016 and 26th Feb 2017 and the 4 full moon nights are 29th November 2016; 29th December 2016, 28th January 2017 & 26th February 2017.
- Little Rann of Kutch is not too far from Ahmedabad (just about 2 hrs) is famous for the Wild Ass Sanctuary and the migratory birds from all over the world who arrive in droves in winter. The otherwise dull surrounding acquires a flaming red along the water bodies when the pelicans decide to flap their delicate wings. A 2 day visit to Little Rann is a precursor to the natural and man made wealth that lies ahead in the Kutch Region. Riding around the Rann, you will see the salt pans where salt is being made from the rich deposits in the soil.
- Kutch is synonymous with the Great Rann of Kutch which stretches across India and Pakistan. “Love across the Salt Desert” which inspired the Bollywood movie Refugee is a nice read for anyone intending to romance the virgin white desert that stretches towards infinity. A moonlight night on the Kutch can perhaps unlock the answer to your existence in case you are seeking one. Visit the other nearby sanctuaries specially Chari Daand at dawn to watch the birds playfully move around in water.
- Bhuj was nearly flattened by the devastating earthquake in 2001 but has bounced back beautifully. The entire area was the filming site of Oscar nominated Lagaan specially Prag Mahal. Nearby Aaina Mahal is a fading memory of one time grandeur. While most people tend to miss it, make a stop over at the Royal Tombs or the Chattris in the middle of the city which are beautifully carved with minakari work. Hamirsar Lake may not be a hot favorite any longer but the migratory birds still find it attractive.
- Walk on the beach in Mandvi, watch the birds and windmills rotating in circles above the cool water. Take a short camel ride towards the Vijay Vilas Palace and unleash the romantic in you. I dont particularly intend to hurt animals but some times these rides ensure that the animal is fed and taken care of. The weather is great through the year and is a great place to spend half a day
- Dholavira has been recently excavated and identified to be a part of Indus Valley Civilization. It is in the corner of the Great Rann on the island of Khadir Bet. A visit to Dholavira is an archaeologists dream and for lay men it is an eye opener for the town planning that existed 5000 years ago. The black tarred road to Dholavira through the milky white Rann is a journey to remember. Stop if you can and feel the whiteness permeate through your being.
- Kala Dungar is the highest point in Kutch. On a clear day, the sun set point here offers breathtaking views of the Rann. If you are here in the morning, wait until noon to watch the Jackals being served by the temple priest. Combine a trip to Kala Dungar with India Bridge the closest border with nearby Pakistan and a visit to some of the handicraft villages on the way.
- Koteshwar, Narayan Sarovar and Fossil Park are towards the extreme west. The temple on the sea in Koteshwar and the nearby lake have many a legend associated with it. Koteshwar will remind you of Kanya Kumari in the extreme south of India though a little less crowded and with heavy Naval forces presence. The Fossil Park closer to Bhuj in Nakhtarana is quite a treat to know about the fossil rich area of Kutch.
- Stay in Eco Resorts and Home Stays and atleast one night in a mud house or Bhunga as it is locally called. The Bhungas are beautifully decorated with glass and mud art and some of them also have imprints of leaves and flowers that are made with cow dung. Rann Riders, Desert Adventures in Little Rann and Shaam -e-Sarhad, Devpur Home Stay in Great Rann and Bhuj are some of the most popular ones in the area.
- Visit Handicraft Villages: A trip to Kutch is incomplete without a visit to a few handicraft villages and workshops. Some of the must visit places are Nirona (Rogan Art, Copper Bells, Lac Work), Nakhtarana (Tie and Dye), Khavda (Pottery), Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur (Block Printing), Dhordo and Hodka (Leather, Quilts, Mud Mirror). The women of the area weave magic with their fingers creating embroidery with such finesse that would put modern machines to shame. I did not know the variety and type of embroidery until I visited these places. Kala Raksha, Shrujan, Khamir are NGO’s who are specifically working in the region to revive and encourage art and craft.
- Eat Local : The cuisine of Kutch is an offshoot of Gujarati but has its own distinct flavours devoid of the overt sweetness of the traditional Gujarati dishes and overuse of tomato and onion like in the case of the other North Indian dishes. Indulge in local food specially the spiced chilly that is served with most meals and while your tongue may be on fire for a while but it will soon be tempered with the variety of curries and dals and the juicy jalebi. Try Osho in Mandvi for a first hand experience.
Travel Tips & Permit
- Start the trip in Ahmedabad or Bhuj. All the sites mentioned here will take around 10 days to complete.
- Ahmedabad to Little Rann via Patan and Modhera – Hire a Car for 2-3 days
- Bhuj – Continue with the same car until Bhuj or come back to Ahmedabad and take a train/Volvo bus from Ahmedabad to Bhuj and then hire a local car for Bhuj and surrounds
- If there are 3 or more people hire a car for the entire trip.
- Being a border area, you need a permit to enter Great Rann of Kutch. The permit is available depending on the number of days stay at the check post on the way to the Rann after filling in a simple and submitting a copy of an identification document and showing the original for verification.
Related Posts for Kutch Details:
- Bhuj Homestay
- Shaam e Sarhad Eco Resort in Great Rann of Kutch
- Wild Ass Sanctuary in Little Rann
- Scenes from Great Rann of Kutch
- Full Moon Night in the Great Rann
- Rogan Art
- Hand Made Bells from Kutch
- Embroidery is wealth
- Fossil Park in Kutch
- 5 Things to do in Mandvi
- Dholavira-Indus Valley Civilization