Rann Of Kutch On A Full Moon Night:A Detailed Travelogue1:17 PM
Dad and mom enjoying the 'exchanging of roles'
I stand in the middle of snowy milky white expanse of salt with fading red reflections of a beautiful sunset on one side and coming up moon rise on another;both simultaneously crisp,clear and round as if they had exchanged roles just now!Today was the full moon night and I was excited.This video in short takes you to what I felt just hours before the epic moment walking on salt,enjoying every bit of white rann.
In 2014-2015, Rann Utsav was held between 1st Dec-2014 and will continue till 1st March-2015 and the 3 full moon nights are 6th December 2014, 5th January 2015 & 3rd February 2015.
Moonlit and Beautiful
With the moon we pose
In love with the sun that goes
Pic by Gaurav
If only we could catch one
Pic by Gaurav
Eternal as it looks like..
Pic By Gaurav
For previous posts on Rann Of Kutch click below
Plug in Google Map and the Journey from Bhuj to Dhordo passing through Loriya,Bhiradiyara would be a breeze.The road is smooth,very well maintained with barely no hiccups,with signboards of Gujarat Tourism Rann Utsav from time to time.But know that there isn’t much to eat along the way except Mawa(Dried Milk) at Bhirandiyara.So eat at Bhuj before heading out to Rann.
White Rann Of Kutch,Dhordo:Permits
Just after the BSF Checkpoint is this road
The permits need to taken for White Rann Of Kutch
Since Dhordo is at close proximity to Pakistan(35 km),Rann of Kutch requires a permit to be obtained for visit which is a very simple process.
While driving from Bhuj - Dhordo you get the first diversion at your right with border police check as signboards,avoid that and move further.I am telling you this because we got confused at this point.It’s a long way like around 55 km from Bhuj to Bhirandiyara where you would first see shops selling Mawa by grams which is speciality of the place.Do taste them,it tastes like Peda,although sweeter and we felt that 100 gram for each of us was a little more than we could have taken,but we were hungry…
Just half a km ahead is where you get permits for Rann of Kutch.The Bhungas where you get permit is on your right,while the road to rann goes on your left and the road straight goes to Kalo Dunger which is another 40 kms.
There are two ways to get permits ,the most convenient is the first one:
1)You need to have photocopy of one id per vehicle plus you have to show your original id.However do carry photocopies of everyone’s id,just in case they need it.You need to fill up a form and would be given an entry slip in 10-15 minutes depending on how many people are there in queue.The permit cost is 100 Rs,car permit cost is Rs 50 and bike permit cost is Rs 25.As per the locals,the last permit issued is at 6pm.
2)Alternatively you can also obtain prior permits from DSP office in Bhuj near Jubilee Ground.But since it is closed on sundays,we had no other choice than option 1.DSP office is closed on Sundays and every second and fourth Saturday.For permission to Indo-Pak bridge which is further ahead to Kalo Dungar,try your luck at BSF HQ at Bhuj.
White Rann of Kutch:Dhordo,Misconceptions
I would say,sometimes I do get submerged in internet so much that finding facts out of fantasy becomes like a challenge.Reading a couple of blogs and photo logs,I got a fair idea that Rann is a marsh land(dal dal in hindi) and is advisable to either take an SUV,or rent one,or hire a taxi.For this reason,I had a little fight with my brother in the morning who was reluctant to let go of his Maruti 800,and wanted to self drive all the way to white rann.
Reaching There,I Realised..
White Rann of Kutch has nothing to do with magnanimity or cars or wheels
We even saw a Sumo getting stuck
And being dragged By A Tractor
But Do Not Get Frightened,You Can Easily Take Your Car or Bike
If you drive on the path that has tyre marks,and park where the rest have parked,there is no need to worry absolutely.It’s only when in desire to park into the white rann,which is barely a few feet away,people tend to drive hard into the spongy terrain below,they may have a bad luck on getting stuck.Even where we parked our car,we could feel the sponginess below.While camping for a few hours,he deliberately moved his car a few feet back at night,as the rest of cars,as during night it is more cold and that makes the surface below more spongier.
White Rann Of Kutch:Dhordo,Drive,Tents
Once you have crossed the permit point at Bhirandiyara,you would see signboards of Rann Utsav frequenting every few metres.You would be crossing lines of Bhungas(Mud Huts),Tents and Resorts and then would come the BSF Checkpoint where you need to give the entry slip.Then there is a drive with flags on both sides,and a little further off road is a parking space.There is another road just ahead of civilian parking space that goes straight but is only accessible for military personal,dignitaries and people with prior permit.This road takes you half a km ahead into the rann.If you do not belong to these,you can pleasantly walk on it till the end or you could take a camel.This stretch has rann on both sides.
White Rann of Kutch:The Experience
Camping in Rann
Lying under the canopy of stars,listening to songs from the movie Swades ‘Ye jo desh hai mera,yuhi chala chal” in full volume and finally ending up with pointing to stars and listening to “Ye tara wo tara har tara”,camping was never in our mind.It just happened in a spur of a moment,when my brother spotted another tent in the middle of Rann and excitedly said shall I take out my tent and can we relax.It was a long long day,and we happily said yes.
My brother,Gaurav plays hide and seek
You may like it or you may not,Rann of Kutch is a phenomena,something you wouldn’t have seen before.It doesn’t feel as soft as snow,but just similar to walking on a surface with salt all around.It’s also similar to purity spread across,as there is no construction,no obstruction,no nothing is this vast white piece of land.That is why the pictures come so perfect.You can choose to walk as much as you can,you would still after a while see some more white salt.I wished I had a long full day to walk till the end ,but I pinched myself to believe that 30,000 sq m walk would be impossible.That I reminded myself that even if I walked till my eyes could see “The horizon would continue”.Flying at the entry of white rann were few kites,may be in excitement of the upcoming kite festival.
The Fun we had,captured by Gaurav
The last road to the Rann
I walked as I could,until I saw that my dad was following me in his slow steps,looking a little tired of my stubbornness,that is when I turned back and joined him for another half a km.We sometimes walked on dry salt,sometimes spell of little wet salt.Just then out of child like curiosity, I picked up chutki bhar salt from below and tasted.
It tasted like salt.
My parents warned me for my outrageous behaviour of tasting the salt which would be harmful as the salt we taste otherwise is processed.I later realised it may not be harmful,rather dirty and hence harmful.Whatever it was,nothing bad happened to me.
We do not know if camping at Rann was allowed or not,as soon as the sun gave its way to moon,it started getting dark.I thought it would be blue looking salt as shown in the commercials of Gujarat Tourism,but even though it was full moon,it was pitch dark with a few stars.I later thought and figured out,that it could be a shot of early dawn when the moon is still there but it starts getting brighter,or the magic of ISO’s on cameras.We didn’t find anywhere written that camping was prohibited,so as soon as we spotted one,we pitched our tent at around 6:30pm on just the other side nearer to our car and to white rann both.
White Rann Of Kutch:Full Moon/End Time
I thought it would turn blue
But turned a slight pink instead
Going in full moon didn’t make much of a difference,I felt.You can go anytime of the year accessible(Dec - Mar),and will be surprised.However,later I realised I was blessed to be on full moon night,imagine being there on a no-moon night!
Just in case if you get tired,see the kites in the sky and horses to take you around!
We do not know if there was a closing time to Rann,as it wasn't mentioned anywhere on site,except on internet which says 10 pm, we knew for sure the permit is valid for one day.But what surprised us was the declining crowd by around 9-9:30pm.
People returning back where more than amused to see our tent pitched in darkness and would randomly peek in.It was then,we decided to look around,and we saw barely 1 or 2 people there were none on rann,and counting one car ,it was our car.That was the only factor that triggered us to leave as we didn’t know how safe/unsafe/legal was to stay in the area overnight.It’s said that earlier Rann never used to get so much crowd,but due to commercialisation every year more and more people come in.
White Rann Of Kutch: Chir Batti / Ghost Lights
The patrol of BSF / villagers have spotted it,but this is yet to be captured by any camera.Chir Batti(Chir means Ghost and Batti means Light),also called ghost lights is occurs in Banni Grasslands and desert of Rann of Kutch.It is described as an unexplained light occurring on dark nights as bright as a mercury lamp that changes its colours to blue,red and yellow and resembles a moving ball of fire,which may move as fast as arrow and may also stop.Witnesses say that the lights at times appear to be playing hide and seek or following them.These lights come after 8 pm,are 2-10 feet above the ground,and are harmless till now.
White Rann Of Kutch:Keep It White Please
Breathing in Kutch in every way I remember
To know what I wore,click here
The close up of "Salt" at white rann of kutch
White Rann Of Kutch:Rann Utsav 2015 And Eating Out
In between the adulation for whiteness,we completely forgot to have our lunch and our dinner and the rats in our stomach were jumping hard.Even though,the locals told us to avoid Rann Utsav food due to water used,and staleness we decided to give in to our hunger pangs and had food at a langar like settlement serving Gujarati food.The food was okay,not too good not to bad.We wanted to shop,but didn’t as we were tired,we knew it was overpriced and we wanted to get back to Bhuj as early as possible.The shops are said to be open till 11pm.We also saw,people eating from their tiffin boxes on the carpets spread over Rann Utsav ground.
Rann Of Kutch:Flamingo City
If you are going to Kalo Dungar,do visit the Flamingo City located in the mud flats of the Rann,about 10 km from Nir outpost.We went through so many blogs but none of the blogs have mentioned it,so we missed it,but this a true saline desert where Thousands of greyer flamingo nest and is a great photo op.
Rann of Kutch:Kalo Dungar,Indo Pak Bridge
Now we had to skip this site as it was on diversion from permit point around 40km ahead on another road.That meant we had to come back driving 80 km to fro.Kalo Dungar or black hill is the highest point in Kutch,from where panoramic view of Great Rann Of Kutch and Indo-Pak bridge is possible.Since it is near to Pakistan(70km),there is an army post on top beyond which only military personal are allowed. As per wikipedia,there are two legends Kalo Dunger which are:
1)The Kalo Dungar is also famous for a 400 year old Dattatreya temple. Legend says that when Dattatreya walked on the earth, he stopped at the Black Hills and found a band of starving jackals. Being a god, he offered them his body to eat and as they ate, his body continually regenerated itself. Because of this, for the last four centuries, the priest at the temple has prepared a batch of prasad, cooked rice, that is fed to the jackals after the evening aarti.
2)Another, legend has it that there was once a holy man named Lakkh Guru residing at Kala Dungar and worshiping the Lord Dattatreya. He used to feed wild jackals. There came a day when he found he had no food, so cutting-off a part of his body he offered it to the jackals, saying, “Le ang!’ (Take body part). Over the centuries, this got corrupted to ‘Long’.
Because of this, for the last four centuries, the priest at the temple has prepared a batch of prasad that is fed to the jackals after the evening aarti.Reaching here by public transport is a little difficult.To know more,click here
Rann of Kutch:Villages Around Dhordo
Even though we didn’t visit any village due to lack of time, you can visit the below as researched Khavda(70 km from Bhuj,25 km from Kala Dungar) Block Printing,including Ajrakh block printing from Pakistan You can also roam around villages of Dhordo and Ludiya for handicrafts and locally made Kutchi embroidery and wooden work
Best Time To Visit
Mornings and Evenings preferred.Day very hot. Best Months to visit is between Dec - March when there are adequate arrangements and the weather is moderate. It can be accessed in April - May too but would be very very hot.
Provisions For Stay
1)Gateway To Rann Resort,Dhordo [Kutchi Bhungas(mud huts) for Rs 3500 per AC double room/night meals included] 2)Toran Rann Resort 3)Shaam - E - Sarhad,recommended,Hodka (Sunset at the border village, Rs 3200 per night for a double)
4)We stayed at Bhuj.
We also found the reasonable/budget ones(although not as budgeted as I thought them to be) in the area were Jp resort(Rs 2500) and Devpur homestay
Interesting Article Online You Must Have A Look At
Incredible India:Kutch Excursions(Recommended)
How To Visit Great Rann Of Kutch