The White Desert of India – Rann of Kutch is known for its vast expanse of stark white salt pans that spreads for miles on the India-Pakistan border in the state of Gujarat. Not only is Kutch famous for its one-of-a-kind landscape, but is also famous for its local cultural heritage. The “White Desert Festival'', or Rann Utsav is one of the most famous festivals in India. People from all across the globe come to witness the colorful blend of culture and tradition that unfolds in the span of 3 winter months. Starting from around the month of November, this festival is celebrated till February and sometimes also lingers around till Holi. This festival contributes a great deal towards the upliftment of the local artisan community.
Here's a guide to all the things that you must not miss out on during your trip to the Rann Utsav:
- Camp Under the Stars
Dhordo, a village situated at a distance of 80 km from Bhuj is popular for its ‘tent city’. With about 400 tents, equipped with modern facilities, tourists can get an immersive cultural experience while enjoying a luxurious and comfortable stay. The tent city helps travellers feel closer to nature and the community at the Utsav. It is a great place to meet new people, learn about the local cultures and share memorable experiences.
- Visit Craft Bazaars
Craft bazaars attract the most buzz during the Rann Utsav. They act as a platform for local artists to come together to showcase and sell their work. The craft bazaar is often the favorite highlight for international tourists at the festival. Hand-crafted, colorful and unique items fill the stalls of the market, reflecting the diversity of the arts and crafts of the place.
- Rent Terrain Vehicles
For all adventure sports lovers, you should not miss the experience of riding an ATV through the white dunes and flat salt pans. These bikes are available for tourists on rent to have an experience of a lifetime. The salt pans offer a stunning view and hence, the ATVs are one of the most in-demand vehicles in Kutch.
- Chomp on a Traditional Thaali
What’s a fest experience without tasting authentic food? Gujarat is well known for its unique cuisines and authentic flavors. The local food tastes as good as it looks and is a must-try while attending the Rann Fest. Gujarati thalis and Kutchi food are the most popular among all. The food is made with only the best ingredients and desi ghee plays an important role in adding to the flavor. Various options for local food joints, stalls, and restaurants are available for tourists.
- Don't Miss Out Rann Purnima
If you’re lucky, you might get a chance to witness one of the most beautiful natural phenomenas in the world! Rann Purnima occurs when a full moon reflects over the vast white salt pans of Kutch. It is a special occurrence and tourists prefer to organize their dates to the Rann Utsav to be able to marvel over this unreal view.
- Experience a Village Stay
Bhuj and the village near the ground of Rann Utsav are an authentic combination of local art, culture, and businesses. Hodko and Nirona are traditional villages that are homes to close-knit communities of artists and craftsmen. The livelihood of these villages comes a lot from being a part of this festival, which has created a huge platform for traditional artists in a digital world. You should definitely think about a day-long excursion or an overnight stay to one of these villages and experience the local hospitality.
- Enjoy Live Music
Indigenous artists from all over the state of Gujarat come to be a part of this cultural festival. Folk songs and dances are a rarity these days but you can witness the beauty of it all at the Rann Utsav. The people of Kutch have their own folk music. You will see an array of local instruments used by the Kutchis like Nagara, Murli, Janjhra, Nagfani, Bhorrindo, Flute, Dholak, Damru and many more that produce a unique style of music. The music adds to the lively vibe of the festival and one can enjoy it with a bonfire a view of the white dunes.
- Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hot air balloon rides are not that common in India. But here, at Kutch, you can experience the aerial view of the vast stretch of the white salt pan in a beautiful, floating hot air balloon. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and also allows for jaw-dropping photos for the ones who love documenting the details.
- Adventure Sports (And Camel Rides!)
The best parts about the Rann Utsav Festival – the many options of activities and adventure sports to do with friends and family. From offbeat trekking to a slow sunset camel ride or even an adventurous fast-paced sport. It doesn’t matter if you are a couch potato at home, you can definitely find an outdoor adventure that you enjoy here. Camel rides and desert safaris are among the most popular activities enjoyed by tourists.
- Get Your Own Desert Art
Kutch is home to many indigenous arts and crafts. Among them is Rogan, a stunning art form created using a special paste obtained from the castor. Today, this art is practiced only by one family, namely the Abdul Gafur Khatri family. Lippan Kaam is another craft from the region which is done on bhungas, or the circular mud huts where the locals live. For those enthusiastic about art history and culture, this is a perfect way to spend an afternoon in Kutch and buy your own momentos of unique artworks from the desert.
The Rann Utsav is all about colors, culture, and creativity. The next time you make a plan to Kutch, be sure you have at least 3 days to cover everything on your bucket list!
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By MeMeraki Collaborator