India is so rich in culture, heritage and nature and so vast with every state letting you enjoy a distinctive experience. Every year, we try to take off to a new place in my home country India. Earlier this year, we visited Kutch in Gujarat for the Rann Utsav or the White Desert Festival.
Gujarat Tourism organizes the Kutch festival every year starting from November to February. This festival offers you an all-inclusive package that includes your pick-up, accommodation, transportation, meals, tour around the desert and in the city alongwith a trip to the the highest peak of Kutch. They also have a cultural programme arranged every night at the resort itself to give you an authentic experience.
The booking process is quite simple. You can log on to the official website or on the White Rann Resort website and make a booking. They have a helpline number as well to guide you through the process. The package includes everything from your pick up & drop, to your meals and sightseeing. You can choose from a 1 night, 2 night or a 3 night package, we would recommend the 2 night package atleast if you want to cover everything that the city has to offer.
Kutch is about a 90 minutes drive from Bhuj airport or Bhuj station. There is a pick up arranged from the station and airport to the Tent City, where the festival takes place, so you don’t need to worry about it. You just need to share your flight/train details at the time of booking for the transfers to be arranged.
Resort and Rooms
There are two properties at the Tent City and we were staying at the White Rann Resort. At the White Rann Resort, there are two types of rooms – the tents or the bhunga.
Now the tents are not your regular camping tents, these are luxury tents which are just like a hotel room only look like a tent from the outside. The bhunga, which we chose to stay in, are craftily-designed circular huts, again not like the regular huts, but they give you the feel of the traditional Kutch homes, the outer walls make it look like they are made out of mud letting you enjoy the desert life! On the inside however, they were your regular rooms with all your basic amenities.
The property is huge, with one area dedicated to the tents and the other for the Bhungas. There is an amphitheatre in the centre of the tented area, a dining area close to the entrance and a recreation zone for other activities like indoor games, table tennis, library, etc.
The food at the property is great, there is a buffet for every meal and they have a tie up with Courtyard by Marriott. You get to enjoy authentic Gujarati food alongwith some refreshing beverages like Chaas (buttermilk). Don’t forget to save space for dessert as they serve some delicious Indian sweets like Gajar Ka Halwa, Moong Dal Halwa, Jalebis and Coconut Barfi.
The Great White Rann of Kutch
Coming to the whole purpose of this trip, the visit to the Great Rann Of Kutch, one of the largest salt deserts in the world! It is supposed to be one of the hottest areas in the summers with the temperatures going up to 50 degree celsius, hence, this festival only happens in the winters.
The tour has fixed timings for a visit to the Rann of Kutch, one before sunrise and once before sunset. The double decker bus picks you up from your resort and takes you to the White Rann, you have lots of time to walk around, take pictures, pose, take a camel ride and basically just admire the beauty of kilometres of white salt and the beautiful sunset.
Here are some pictures we clicked on our visit. Unbelievable right?
Kalo Dungar or Black Hill
On the second day of the tour, you have an option of going to Kalo Dungar, the highest peak of Kutch located about 45 kms from the resort. Located close to the Pakistan border, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Rann of Kutch from here. There is a lot happening once you reach the peak; cultural music, street food, shopping and temples.
Other Things on the Itinerary
Other than this, the package includes a trip to the handicrafts village where you can shop for local handicrafts, shoes, bags, sarees, souvenirs, etc. Also, every night at the amphitheatre, there is a cultural musical programme that happens. It’s wonderful to see the performances by local artists. This is followed by a game of housie where everyone can participate and can win some fun prizes too!
Overall, if you’re planning a short getaway with your family, this culturally rich experience is something you should consider. And don’t forget to carry your DSLRs to capture some amazing memories.
Where: The White Rann Festival or RannUtsav
When: November – February
Price: Rs.25,000 + Tax (Approximately) For Two (As per 2018)