It’s 2016: The winter sunlight is falling straight onto the pages of a travel magazine which talks in length about the renowned Rann Utsav and why it’s worth attending. The photographs of the white expanse are beautiful enough to make me spell-bound. I cannot help but sigh in admiration.
Cut to the same evening. I receive a phone call from a friend and as filmy as this sounds, I am told to catch the late night bus for Bhuj and figure out a way to reach Dhordo which is 80 kms away from Bhuj and home to Rann Utsav.
I find myself sitting in a 11 pm bus realizing the unique purpose which every journey has. The next morning I get down at Bhuj and rush towards a small stall preparing hot gathiyas and jalebis, something which is widely famous in this part of Gujarat. After inquiring, the locals tell me to catch a 7 am state transport bus that would drop me to a nearby village and I would then have to take a local jeep for Dhordo.
Sitting in a not-so-modern jeep with other school kids, everything seems beautiful. The chill in the winter air, barren land on either sides, the isolated Madarsa that waits for these kids, the Kutchi music, the journey-every little detail seems scripted and special.
Finally, I find myself where I had to be on 24th February 2016- The Great Rann of Kutch. While I wait for my friend to take me to his tent, there is a certain liveliness around which is not so prevalent rest of the year. Huge tents, handicraft stores, artificially set up museums, BSF check posts are some of the many things that catch my attention.
The tent city has more than 300 tents and tourists from various countries come to experience the Rann Utsav. For me, next couple of days in Kutch was all about chasing sunsets, visiting the Magnetic Hill, playing football in the White Desert, attending concerts and conversations under the moon.Here is what you can expect at the much talked about Rann Utsav :
All the shopaholics are going to find several stalls selling handcrafted local articles, handcrafted ornaments, Kutchi embroidery, silverware and alot of other things which would tempt you to take back some souvenir for your family and friends.
Treat your taste buds with a range of Gujarati delicacies while you are here. If you are not in the mood to have anything Gujarati then you can head down to many stalls serving North Indian, South Indian and Chinese cuisines. However, you should not miss out on the experience of having authentic Kutchi cuisine inside the magnanimous dining hall.
Sunrise, Sunset and the Magic of Full Moon
The sunrise and sunset at the Rann of Kutch is not at all ordinary. The beauty of the sun rising from the White Desert and setting into the desert attracts everyone. On full moon days, the moon rises in a bright red colour and several cultural performances grace the occasion.
There are a number of cultural performances which you can experience during Rann Utsav. Right from folk dance to folk music, the artists present the tourists with a true reflection of the local culture through their art.
Visit Kalo Dungar
Kalo Dungar is very near to the Indo-Pak Border and is the highest point in Kutch giving you panoramic views of the Great Rann of Kutch. On your way from Dhordo to Kalo Dungar, there comes a stretch where the earth’s magnetic field is zero.
Adventure Tours like Desert Safari, Hot Air Balloon, para motoring and star gazing are going to make your experience at Rann Utsav nothing less than a royal affair.
This year the Rann Utsav is happening from 1st November to 20th February.
As I am writing this, the beauty of Kutch and the rich experience of Kutch Festival re-embraces me with it’s series of pre-dictated events.
P.S – I travelled all the way to Kutch from Ahmedabad because a very close friend of mine had misplaced the keys of his car and I had to come down with a duplicate key.