Rann Utsav, the famous desert-dune festival of Kutch essentially made famous by a television advert with a thick-baritone Amitabh Bachchan wooing you with his voice and a plethora of inspiring attractions, is on everyone’s bucket list. And why not, when the festival is a true amalgamation of colours, culture, folk music, traditional dances and night parties under the moon!
About the Festival
Unlike other sandy deserts, the sand in the Rann of Kutch is pristine white due to its high salt content. Highlighting the beauty of these white sands, that form an otherwise harsh and cruel landscape to live in; with a carnival of colours, and entertainment is truly an Einstein idea promoted by Gujarat Tourism. The festival brings in with it a complete transformation of a barren desert into a magical camp site.
In winters, days are pleasant while temperatures take a dip during night; the desert still holds its charm with a beautiful display of lights and excitement of ongoing activities. Therefore, providing its visitors a value for money and time including a good source of livelihood to various stall vendors who wait year long for the festival to begin.
The festival, scheduled from November till February not only brings in magic with its fervour but also entices photographers from around the world to capture stunning and colourful shots that counts as a priceless memory of Gujrat’s distinctive cultural and art display.
Apart from Gujarati traditional dances and music performances that bring forth various local artists from all over Gujarat, Rann Utsav has several interesting activities. Storytelling sessions delve into the region’s folklore and tales passed down to generations are known to hold people enthralled in their world of fantasy and adventure.
Desert walks and camel rides hold fun for some, while others are swayed by the magnificent handicraft displays. The traditional Gujarati handicrafts seen here are sourced from numerous, local communities across Gujarat showcasing many talents under one roof. One can witness numerous workshops that work on the customizing concept, so there you are creating your own ensemble. Isn’t that interesting? The famous hot air balloon ride gives one a lifetime experience besides a stunning view of the white sands from the sky.
Food & Shopping
A carnival isn’t complete if it doesn’t comprises of the most essential elements that is food and shopping. Rann utsav is one such carnival and draws a lot of attention for its varied food. Could it be a magic of localites preparing food on their own or the desert creating its own magic; you won’t get bored at all as you’ll experience a new display of menu each day of the festival as per your duration of stay. The shopping, despite being quite a draw, takes second place to the food here. The shopping here is truly a one of a kind experience in colours, textures, fabrics and ‘the love of tradition’. Kutch is famous for its traditional mirror and embroidery work on fabrics (rabari embroidery), just as it is for oxidised silver jewellery, wood work and block prints. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the things on offer here.
If you are more of an adrenaline junkie than someone looking for a relaxing holiday, you’d be completely wrong in thinking that this barren land would have nothing adventurous enough for you. From ATV rides across the desert, to aerial sports that let you zip line over the desert and para-motor your way over the tent city, numerous crazy adventures await you here.
.For more such adventure, one can do bird watching in the kutch wildlife sanctuary. The stunning sight of flamingos flocking around will amaze you. Don’t forget to take road trips to nearby villages like Khavda and Bhirandiya; you may just get lucky to spot some wild fox on your way that adds to the fun and adventure. Venture into Modhera Sun Tempke before you leave your heavenly tent.
The annual Rann Utsav takes place at a tent city set up in Dhordo City, most 80 kilometres north from Bhuj. Bhuj is thus the nearest railway station and airport for visitors coming in from other parts of Gujarat or elsewhere. The 80km stretch from Bhuj to Dhordo needs to be undertaken by road, either by private or hired cars, taxis and coaches. Private operators run several luxury coaches from Bhuj as well as from far off cities of Maharashtra and Gujarat and these can help you in getting to the festival in relative comfort. These private players also sell cheaper packages that combine transport and stay, which usually work out better choice.
Where to Stay
The tent accommodation or campus that hosts the Rann Festival has about 400 AC and non AC tents for guests who come to stay here. The Swiss tents come with different facilities to suit your needs and varying capacities for the size of your party. These tents are meant to suit all budgets. Tents have round the clock warm water and are equipped with heaters as nights are known to get quite chilly. Though the real fun is indeed in staying at the campsite in these tents, there are a few good resorts and hotels nearby if you wish to split your trip to get two distinctly different experiences in one vacation.
When visiting the Rann Utsav’s tent city near Dhordo village, rest assured as your comfort and luxury is already taken care of at this state of the art facility. Try to book AC tents for your stay as it does tend to get very hot in the afternoons. Shopping here is a bit expensive, as the place is quite remote and not well connected, so do carry some cash. Book your stays at least 45 days in advance as this leaves you with adequate time to get the necessary Government permits. Permits are mandatory as the camp site is just a stone’s throw away from the official India Pakistan border. That do gives some chills but awaits a lifetime experience.