Come winter and the hot and humid state Gujarat is all set for the famous Rann Utsav. It is held in the Kutch district predominantly known for its extensive area of salt marsh (which is a part of the Thar Desert) known as the Great Rann of Kutch. This is also one of the largest salt deserts in the world.
Every year, Gujarat Tourism hosts the grand fiesta that is the Rann Utsav to showcase the rich and varied traditions of Gujarat an exciting experience of arts, handicrafts, culture, cuisine and more.
When Does The Rann Utsav Take Place?
The festival takes place throughout the winter. In the 2020-2021 season, it started on 12th November 2020 and will go on to 28th February 2021. However, the main events (and the best time to visit) is between 25 Jan to 25 Jan 2021.
Where to stay in Rann of Kutch
Located at the heart of the festival ground is the famous Dhordo Tent City; it has more than 400 AC and non-AC tents, as well as dining halls, stages for live performances, exhibitions, and recreation areas. The tents are of various sizes and styles and are arranged in semi-circles.
However, in my opinion, the accommodations at the Tent City are very expensive. You can also find plenty of other resorts and hotels in Dhordo and Bhuj for more reasonable prices if you book well in advance. Personally, I recommend that you stay at Bhuj and then hire a cab to the Rann of Kutch and the Utsav.
How To Get There
The nearest airport (and railway station) is at Bhuj, from which Dhordo – the tent city – is about 86 km. Road connectivity is not an issue, as most major cities in Gujarat are well-connected by bus.
As Kutch is very close to the border with Pakistan, a government pass may be required for you to visit. These are easily available from the check post at Bhirandirya, all you need is a valid photo identification card.
My Top Tips For Visiting
- The best time of the day to visit the festival is in the afternoon. At this time, the temperatures will slowly get lower and lower, letting you have a relaxed exploration of the place.
- Since the Rann Utsav happens during the winter, I would recommend that you carry some warm clothes
- Remember that you’re visiting a desert, so carry enough food and water
- Please don’t forget to carry an identity card, as you will be asked for them at the checkpoints.
- Wearing flats or sneakers is advisable as walking around Rann of Kutch needs a lot of legwork.
Here Are Some Of The Top Things To Do At Rann Utsav This Year
1. Take a camel ride to the White Rann of Kutch
Elegantly decorated camels with earrings and tassels are there to take you on a ride of the Rann. It was a wonderful experience to discover the vast plains of Kutch while the giant animals amble along. I carried a small pair of binoculars, and I was also able to spot the Indo-Pak border as well. There, I spotted a steel watchtower at the mid-plain that resembles that of a salt structure. Though climbing the tower is prohibited, you can always enjoy a photoshoot with the white land.
2. Take part in any of the activities at the ground
The festival arena hosts a variety of outdoor activities. ATV rides and parasailing are the two main activities here, along with hot air balloon rides. Apart from them, there are also magic shows, fun games and rides for the children.
3. Pamper your taste buds with delicious Gujarati food
The festival ground also hosts a large number of food stalls. I took the opportunity to try authentic Gujarati thalis, and authentic Kutchi cuisine. One of the must-try dishes is bajara na rotla with curd and buttermilk. However, you will also find Italian, Chinese, North Indian, and South Indian food, all are only a call away from you. There are also a few restaurants within the premises, where you can tuck in for lunch or dinner.
4. Enjoy the cultural performances
At the Rann Utsav, folk artists from all corners of Gujarat attend. At any given moment, someone will be performing. Folk dancers and musicians from across India come here to give regular live shows.
5. Witness the changing colours of the sky as the sun sets over the horizon
They say a flaming sunset and a full-moon night is a lifetime experience in Kutch, and they’re absolutely right. The sunsets in an explosion of colours that flicker and change as it moves closer and closer to the horizon. However, more sublime than this is experiencing the white desert at the full moon. If you’re at the festival during the full moon, see how the white expanse of the desert glows under the moon.
Just remember that while the temperatures during the day can be searing hot, they drop down to quite low at night.
6. Click a lot of Instagram-able photos at the Rann of kutch festival ground
The fiesta ground hosts tons of souks and pavilions. The majority of them uphold the rich and timeless traditions of Gujarat through their displays. Traditional Gujarati Chaniya-Cholis, junk accessories, embroidered bags and exclusive wall hangings are only a few items that are available at the sprees. Small stages are also built amidst the binges where cultural programs are held during the evening.
7. Check out the excellent handicrafts available
Kutch handicraft villages are something you definitely must not miss. I met the Khatri family at Nirona village who have been preserving the 400-year-old Rogan Art to date. I also visited a copper bell-makers house at Jura village and saw a variety of handmade copper items. Apart from these the lacquer’s village, Hodka village and Sumrasar village are some of the other places to visit in Kutch.
Even if you don’t have time to visit these places check out the handcrafted stalls selling everything from leather articles to splendid silver jewellery, intricate Kutchi embroidery, and beautifully crafted ornaments.
8. Other places nearby you can visit
Nearby attractions also include magnetic hills of Kala Dungar, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Mandvi Sea beach, and Vijay Vilas Palace.