Rann Utsav - Your Ultimate Travel Guide To The White Desert Festival Of Gujarat
Imagine what would the breathtaking sight of the endless white desert under the moonlight, amidst a carnival of folk dances, music, traditional art, handicrafts and a plethora of outdoor activities feel like. This is exactly what Gujarat’s White desert festival, Rann Utsav is all about. Having attended this festival of natural marvel and traditional vigor for quite a few years now, I realize that I am left awe-inspired every time I experience the spectacle that Rann of Kutch is. Venture into the kaleidoscopic side of Thar desert- the Rann Utsav which makes for the perfect holiday destination- for solo trips, family vacations, couple’s escape or a friends trip.
When does the Rann Utsav happen?
This grand fiesta is a three-month-long celebration organized by the Tourism Department of Gujarat every year during winters when the moon is at its fullest. This time, the Rann Utsav will take place from 28th October 2019 to 12th February 2020. However, the best time to visit Rann of Kutch festival is on full moon days as the scenic views during that time are unmatched. You can also plan your visit around the 14th of January and attend the vivid Kite flying celebrations at the festival. This vast salt marsh with sparkling white sands stays hibernated under water until two months before December when the preparations for the festival begin. The Rann Utsav in Gujarat is a true marvel for sightseeing, stargazing, having local food and experiencing the area’s traditional art through ornaments, folk textiles, graceful embroidery, Bandhani sarees, and the exquisite handicrafts.
Where does the Rann Utsav take place and how to reach?
The festival starts from Bhuj and covers the entire district with a grand finale in Dhordo, a small village near the major destination of tent city. You can reach Dhordo from Bhuj which has an airport about 86 kilometers away from the finale site. The site can also be reached from Ahmedabad which is about 446 kilometers from the Rann Utsav. Local and luxury buses, and trains are available for your travel to and from Bhuj.
Where to stay?
Whenever I get a chance to attend the Rann Utsav, I prefer staying in the traditional tent city in Dhordo. These tents are well maintained, and a majority of tourists stay here as you get to experience the authentic local culture in these traditional style facilities. The tents offer luxurious accommodation to suit every budget and are loaded with every amenity you can think of. The tents are assorted into following options - the Premium tents, Deluxe AC Swiss cottages, and Non-AC Swiss cottages. The price for the same varies and is lowest during November and February. The prices surge in the month of December and January, these being the months of the primary holiday season.
The cost of stay for 1 Night/ 2 Days ranges from INR 5,500 to INR 10,000 per person depending upon the time of visit and category of tent opted for. The official website of Rann of Kutch gives a more detailed cost breakup for these tents.
Apart from these tents, numerous hotels and resorts are also available around the festival location. Some famous hotels you can opt for are Rann Riders, Rann Village Resort, and Regenta Resort Bhuj.
Cheapest way to attend the Rann Utsav
Depending upon your preferences and location, the price for getting to the Rann Utsav will vary. You can always opt for local, public modes of transport like buses to reduce the cost of traveling. If you are choosing to take a flight, it is natural that your trip price will increase. Alternatively, you can also opt for trains and shared cabs.
Since the festival is organized in winters, it will be fine if you do not stay in AC tents and rooms. You can try planning for group tours as expenses in groups distribute and the overall trip becomes cheaper.
Things to do while at the White Desert Festival
Being at the festival several times, following are the things I look forward to every year and recommend adding them to your itinerary while planning your trip to the Rann Utsav:
- Unleash your inner self and seek peace amidst the natural wonders of Kutch:
The unending serene white sand glowing under the bright moon at the Rann of Kutch is worth experiencing. I make it a point to spend a part of the night outside my tent as the glistening White Rann looks absolutely stunning with the surrounding cultural fiesta.
- Indulge in the soul-satisfying Local Culture:
The feeling of watching the local artisans singing folk songs and dancing with those traditional outfits is truly refreshing. Watch them and if you want, join them and celebrate the local culture at its best.
- Spend your precious pennies and satisfy the shopper in you:
Artisans from across Gujarat travel to the festival location to sell locally handcrafted items- stunning Kutchi embroidery, intricate ornaments, block-printed fabrics, silverware, traditional showpieces and much more. The Bandani sarees they offer are my personal favorite.
- Get yourself clicked amidst enjoying the adventurous activities at Kutch:
The vast festival area offers many adventure activities for people of all ages. From rock climbing, rappelling, zipline tower, paramotoring, and ATV rides to rifle shooting, desert safari and stargazing; the Utsav has it all. Don’t forget to take a hot-air balloon ride as the views of the area from above are mesmerizing.
- Head over to Kalo Dungar and appreciate the scenic views:
Make it a point to visit Kalo Dungar, which is the highest point in the Kutch Province. Also famous as the black hill, Kalo Dungar is located at an elevation of over 450 meters above sea level. The fascinating panorama of the Rann of Kutch I witnessed from up there was breathtaking. This one’s specifically for the photographers to capture some really good views.
- Unwind and treat your taste buds with Kutchi delicacies
I can’t stress enough on how flavourful the authentic Kutchi delicacies at the dining hall are. The two dining halls at the fest serve traditional cuisine perfect to lure non-foodies as well. Being a passionate foodie, I loved how my late night hunger calls were satisfied by the onsite food stalls that served amazing food even at odd hours.
There are plenty of other things you can do and places you can visit while in Kutch. Do not miss the Kutch carnival that takes place at night and offers vibrant colors of the local arena. You can also take a trip to Mandvi beach and experience peace amidst the calm water. If exploring how magic on fabrics in created, attend the workshops in the neighboring villages of Khavda, Bhirandiyra, Gandghi-Nugam, and Hodka. If time permits, you can visit the ancient temples including Narayan Sarovar and Kera Shiv Temple or head a little further towards the Sun Temple of Modhera. The profusion of art, culture and the lively crowd at the Rann Utsav is sure to give you memories of a lifetime.
Tips for people visiting the Rann of Kutch
- As the festival takes place during winters, the temperature can drop really low. So don’t forget to carry warm clothes.
- Carry your ID cards as you will have to present them at various checkposts in and around the festival location.
- Make sure to book tents and hotels at least 2 months in advance as the place runs out of rooms during the peak season.
- Due to the proximity of the location to the border, a government pass is required to visit Kutch. You can collect them from the various checkposts at the festival location.
The soul of Rann Utsav lies in the gracious people of Kutch who welcome every visitor with equal warmth and vigor. Their enthusiasm during these months is unmatched. The cultural abundance and the magical natural beauty the place offers takes me back to this larger than life festival almost every year. If the superfluity of colors and celebration excites you just like me, you should definitely be a part of this stunning amalgamation of nature and cultures- the Rann Utsav.
You Can Also Read :-