I went back to Kutch in Gujarat for the third time in 2018. You may ask why do I keep going back to the same places? The answer is that I get to see only so much on one blogging trip and there is always more to explore on subsequent trips! My 2018 (and 2016) trip to the Rann Utsav was sponsored by the Gujarat Tourism Board!
This time I was staying in the Tent City at Dhordo and it was my first stay with them! The tent city is huge with a lot to do within the campus itself. When you book your stay in the tent city you can choose a 1, 2 or 3 night package. I was on the 3 night package but I did only some bits of the itinerary and customized the rest of it.
The Experience of Staying in the Tent City
The Tent City is a great place for families or large groups as everyone can be accommodated at one place and they can have a good time together. The area is divided into different clusters with the amenities located nearby. Each cluster is allocated a particular dining hall, where you can have all your meals. You will be given meal coupons at check-in, keep them safe.
There are shops and fun activities within the premises. The excursion to the Rann at sunrise and sunset are arranged. This year here were adventure activities within the premises. There are cultural programs at night.
I quote liked the shopping within the tent city premises. Kutch is another region which stirs the dominant shopper within me. I bought two shawls, dresses and stoles and narrowly missed buying a patchwork quilt!
I will add a word of caution about the charging points in the tent city, do take a good look as the charging points are temporary before you plug in your gadget. Avoid using the same socket as the room heater.
The Sunrise at White Rann
Both sunrise and sunset at White Rann are magical! At sunrise the place is less crowded though. At the sunrise I went up the watch tower to click my pictures! The camel carts also make for an interesting foreground for the pictures! It is cold in January in the mornings. So do wrap yourself well, or you would not enjoy the sunrise!
A Day Trip to Mandvi
As the part of the 3 night itinerary there is a day trip to Mandvi included in the package.
It includes a visit to Shyam ji Krishna Verma Memorial, Vijay Vilas Palace, the private beach and the lunch at the beach.
For me the highlight was the private beach at Mandavi. I had about 2 hours there with just 30 odd people at the beach. I loved to relax and catch the sunset.
To know more about this part of my journey do watch the video. The video was made for me by a team of professionals working for Gujarat Tourism Board.
Will I Go Back Again?
I wold go back running to Kutch again if I get an opportunity because I am sure there is much more to explore than what I have been able to cram in my three trips!
PS. My trip to Kutch was sponsored by Gujarat Tourism Board
Dhordo is the getaway village to the Great Rann of Kutch. It is about 80 km from Bhuj. I have now made two trips to the region. I am the kind who can stay any place without batting an eyelid, but if you like to research your options of stay here are the places that I know of. So here is a round up of places to stay in Dhordo, Kutch.
I stayed at the White Rann Resort this time. They have both Bhungas and Tents. I stayed in a deluxe tent with AC. Even in February the nights were quite chilly. My tent had two beds, clean bathroom with the usual amenities and some local snacks. I stayed in the tent for a few hours in the afternoon but I did not feel like switching the AC.
The room was clean. The food was served in the dining area, it was huge. The food was Gujarati Vegetarian. The complex hosted cultural shows in the evening. The place is quite close to the tent city. It is run by Gujarat Tourism in a public private partnership.
Airtel has very poor reception in the area. The only thing I could have asked for was a tea kettle in the room. I like to drink tea in my room and that was the only thing missing.
I did not stay in the tent city, I only visited it. It is a huge complex with 250-300 tents of various types. The place is huge, with cluster of tents having their own amenities. It is colorful and will certainly keep a visitor enthralled within its premises. The categories of the tents are the same at White Rann too. Tent City is functional during the Rann Utsav organized by Gujarat Tourism.
Once again, I only visited the Gateway to Rann Resort but I will certainly like to stay there. I fell in love with their Bhungas, the local mud huts. At the resort you can choose to stay in a traditional hut with the AC too. The Gateway to Rann is a community project run by the Dhordo Village community.
All the places mentioned above are close to the Rann of Kutch site. Vehicles are allowed only up to a point. One needs to walk about a kilometer to reach the White Rann. If you do not wish to walk you could sit on a camel buggy.
When I visited Kutch in 2014 I stayed at White Rann Camp. I certainly liked the 2016 accommodations more than my 2014 stay at White Rann Camp.
If you are looking for a place to stay at Bhuj I highly recommend Devpur Homestay. Even though it is a little out of the way from Bhuj, it is a super place.
PS. My 2016 trip to Gujarat was sponsored by Gujarat Tourism. In 2014 I visited the region on my own.
It was the winter of 2014. The month was January and I was looking forward to an International FAM. It was a wellness FAM with lots of Spa thrown in. That was the time when I used to work full time in addition to blogging. My leaves were worth in gold, maybe diamonds!
And then it happened. Due to reasons beyond the control of anyone, the trip got cancelled. It got cancelled on a Thursday when I was supposed to travel on the Sunday. And I had one week of approved leaves and no trip in sight. I was desperately in need of a last minute holiday.
That evening I sat down on my laptop and started searching high and low for the lowest airfare within the country. For the next three hours I ignored anyone and everyone in my family. And that included my small daughter too. My husband would come in between to give his expert comments, “Why don’t you go to Madagascar?” On a whim I searched for it and the country has visa on arrival for Indians! However, I could not dare to spend the kind of money it would take to travel last minute to Madagascar. Also there is always a question of yellow fever vaccine when traveling to that corner of the world.
I went on searching and the lowest I could find was a 12K INR return to Ahmedabad. I then decided to visit Rann of Kutch. The trouble was Bhuj is still 8 hours away from Ahmedabad. Luckily I got a train ticket in AC 2 tier that would take me Bhuj.
Tickets sorted, the hunt for a hotel was on. As it was a last minute holiday, I was seeing exorbitant prices. I was not even sure how good the hotels were! Then in a fit of anger I started looking for homestays. Luckily I found Devpur Homestay online. I wrote a mail to them and they responded. They were hesitant as they had guests coming in later. I cajoled and tricked them into giving me a room for two nights, the one that had the lowest rent!
Once I reached Devpur, my life became easy. The lady and the gentleman, the Jadejas, who run it were excellent hosts. They have a fabulous home! And they planned my entire Rann of Kutch itinerary. They arranged a taxi for me too.
When I was off to my first destination, Mandvi, the taxi driver Mr. Siddique asked, “Did you know that the Jadejas belong to the royal family of Kutch?”
In the end my last minute vacation turned out to be a lot of fun. But I am in no hurry to plan another one last minute again!