Seeing your parents become kids again – Priceless!
Rann of Kucth is The Great Indian Salt Desert which is spread mostly in Kutch district of Gujarat and small portion of Sindh area in Pakistan. The Great Indian Salt Desert is located at a village named Dhordo, which is submerged under water for half of the year and is a vast salt desert for the rest. Without any other resources, the villagers were mostly unemployed and were facing difficulty in leading everyday life. Thus, Gujarat Tourism started to organize Gujarati cultural fest – Rann Utsav – in the Village as an initiative to provide employment to villagers. Tourism board built a large tent city which houses tourists from across the globe during Rann Utsav and hosts various cultural activities to keep everyone entertained. Rann utsav is organized in winter months when water has receded and the White Rann is at its best. It looks the best in full moon when the desert glows under moonlight.
Where to Crash
Always book much more in advance if you are planning your trip to Rann Utsav. When I booked for January in November, Tent City and all good resorts and cottages were booked. So we booked a home-stay in Bhuj from airbnb.If you stay in tent city or a nearby resort, you can spend a lot more time with White Rann. Else Bhuj is a good option, also a lot cheaper. Its just 1-1.5hours drive from Rann Utsav.
Now that you know why it is a must visit place in India, I will come back to my stories. I booked this trip with my parents and sister for January end about 3 months in advance. But as they say, Life is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans – our train tickets did not get confirmed till the last day. My dad had been in favour of doing it as a road trip from day I started planning, I guess god answered his prayers. I don’t want to brag (oh yes! I want to), but my father drove the entire 2500Km (Return Journey from Mumbai) in just 5 days. I came back from office just when I reached there (thanks to my super supporting organization), and off we went on the road to one of the best family trips we had.
We broke our journey at Vadodara while going and also while coming back. We reached Bhuj in the evening around 6-7pm on Day 2 and thought that we will just go out for quick dinner and sleep as our parents might be tired. To our surprise, they said they want to go see at-least Swaminarayan Temple before we go for dinner. Believe it or not, it looked like as if me and my sister were tired, not them.
Things to Do in Rann of Kutch Definitely
Pay a visit to Indo-Pak border, the drive might be secluded but worth every minute of it. You are required to deposit your phones and cameras about 60Km before the border. Other places include Swaminarayan Temple in Bhuj, Mandvi Beach, and Off-course the highlight of the Trip the Great Indian Salt Desert.
Next morning we left to visit the Rann of Kutch, after taking all required permissions. Our first detour came when we visited Indo-Pak border which was atleast 60km deep in the dry desert. When we reached the place where our soldiers camp, it was such a proud patriotic moment which cannot be described in words. Not only did soldiers greet us well, they also told us their stories of how they face the weather and daily life in such a secluded place. We thanked our soldiers (and we cannot thank them enough) for keeping us safe all the year round. It was definitely a humbling experience.
Our next stop was Rann Utsav where we experienced firsthand the Great Indian Salt Desert which we only heard about till now. It truly was great – vast sheet of salt spreading across the horizon. I could never have imagined that such dry and dull sounding place – it’s just salt after all – can be so beautiful. Daddy dear was so elated to see it that it was difficult to keep pace with him. Our parents were busy running around while we were busy capturing them and the Rann in our cameras – something which we know they have done with us too…lot of old pictures are a proof.
Our second detour to Mandvi was the best decision we made on this trip. Next day we bid adieu to our airbnb hosts a day in advance and took off to Mandvi – which our research showed to be one of the cleanest beaches in India. It was an impromptu decision and hence no stay was booked in advance. We looked up some of the places online on the way but when we reached those places, they were quite a disaster. One last place left was Serena Beach Resort – with fingers crossed we headed towards it. Though the service levels were just ok, the resort and the location were just perfect. Mandvi indeed was the cleanest beach I have ever been to in India and sunrise and sunset was picture perfect.
In addition to your documents, pack a super effective sunscreen, a bottle of moisture riser, and a large bottle of water when you are moving out. Sun is quite effective and salt makes the weather dry.
While me and my sister were busy negotiating the best villa with the resort staff, our parents yet again slipped into the childhood mode. They were busy clicking each other’s pictures in the resort and poking us on when will we be done booking so that they can hit the beach. That’s where it hit us, the roles have changed – we used to do the same when they took us on trips when we were kids. And this feeling right there was priceless. Watching them become kids again was priceless! We are planning yet another family trip this year end, I will keep you updated about it – so looking forward to it.
We had an amazing stay at Gujarat and we recommend this itinerary to everyone who is planning to explore the White Rann and Mandvi.
Photo Credits: TravelShots