Unlike any other place in the world, Gujarat offers a unique landscape, which is a geographical phenomenon. The tortoise-shaped land, spread across 7,505 square kilometers, located in the heart of the Thar Desert, is the world’s largest salt desert called White Rann Of Kutch. Apparently, the word ‘Rann’ is derived from a word called ‘Viraan’, meaning a deserted wasteland.
A land of many wonders, Rann of Kutch will surprise you with its geographical location, climate, and rich culture. It has a plethora of archaeological sites, which allures travelers from all across the world. While the seasonal island lies underwater in monsoon, the same land becomes extremely hard and crackle in Little Rann Of Kutch, and at the same time the Greater Rann of Kutch becomes a barren land of the salt sheet.
I happened to visit Rann of Kutch, this year, on an invitation by the Gujarat Tourism Board to attend the inaugural event of the famous Rann Utsav. The annual festival kick-started on 13th December and will continue till February.
This three-month-long festival will showcase the vibrant colors of the Kutch District through their rich cultural programs, handicraft exhibitions, hot air balloon rides, full moon nights, and many more. Thousands of tourists come every year to see this white splendor and soak into the cultural pot of Kutch.
My very first impression of the place was that it is nothing less than an awe-inspiring spectacle. As I stepped out of the car, I felt as if a huge flush of colors had been thrown on me. The vivacious and colorful surrounding in the entrance of the tent city was overwhelming.
The handicraft shops, the paintings depicting the lifestyle of people of Kutch, vibrant colored rickshaws for shuttle services and those idols of traditional Kutchi couple at the doorstep surely bring a great ball of energy. The festivity was in full swing.
Soon after I checked into my luxurious tent, I rushed towards the Great Rann Of Kutch to witness the color play of the sunbeams in the salt desert. The camel cart was slowly negotiating its way.
My heart started pumping aloud with joy as I headed to witness the wonder of Gujarat. Settled languidly on the camel cart, I could not hide my rising excitement when I was offered to drive the cart by myself.
It felt like time travel when people used to travel in these kind of carts from one place to another. Within a few minutes, the cart reached its destination from where the salt marsh officially starts.
As I started walking on the white blanket of salt, the very first sight of the white desert with the setting sun was breathtaking. The whole Rann appeared like a well-spread carpet of snowballs.
Watching the sun falling down slowly, leaving the last rays made the desert look like an ostentatious exhibition.
The stage was set and after a while the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani officially inaugurated the Rann Utsav, followed by a cultural show.
After attending the inauguration, I decided to head back to the tent city to soak into the festivities, especially to explore the handicraft market by the locals.
Those intricate, detailed work of thread and mirror, the variety of clothing with traditional embroidery, a good variety of artifacts, and jewelry lured me to indulge in shopping. More than that, what held my breath was the full moon night in the white desert.
I returned to the salt marsh. The caravan of camel carts was ready to take people to see the white wonder. As the convoy started moving in the desert at midnight, it looked like a prominent scene of a partition movie, where the entire village leaves together in search of another destination.
The sound of the bells of the camel created a rhythm in the air. I decided to lie down to soak in the magical moment. I was so lost in that aura that I did not realize when I reached the white desert.
“Kutch nehi dekha toh kuch nehi dekha”, the tagline of Gujarat tourism made absolute sense when I walked and sank in the moist land of Rann in the full moon night. It appeared like a mirage to me.
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Photo Credit : P.K Photography
The full moon looked like a hanging Crystal ball, creating a heavenly glow in the desert, which made it shine like silver. It numbed me. I stood there only to admire this natural wonder. The aura of silence, the breeze, and the unending stretch of white desert instilled a sense of gratitude in me. I was kind of lost for words. I could not believe what I saw.
I was told not to miss the magical morning in the White Rann of Kutch. To appreciate the blissful morning, I reached the sunrise point before dawn. After one point, vehicles are not allowed. One has to walk almost 4 km to reach the watchtower to have a magnificent view of the sunrise in the white desert.
To my surprise, the white desert was submerged in water, due to the full moon attraction, which I found rather amusing. Though the view of the rising sun was as expected, it surely made an amazing frame.
With a strong urge to return again, I came back with a bag full of frivolous moments from the Great Rann of Kutch.
Photo Credit : Abhirup Basu
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