Rann Utsav is held annually at Kutch, Gujarat. A temporary but magnificent tent city comes up in close proximity to the beautiful white desert at Dhordo. I have been lucky to stay at the tent city twice. This year the festival ends by March 12. I was invited to visit the festival by the Gujarat Tourism Board in December 2019.
If you love walking like me, tent city in itself is huge with the reception and the shopping complex at the hub of it. Kutch is rich in handicrafts and the shopping complex is a microcosm of it!
Every corner of the tent city has something that will make you pause. If you are a social media fan, there are so many Instagram worthy nooks and corners. I loved the blue chhakda parked near the clock tower!
Music, dances, cultural performances are the heart and soul of the Rann Utsav. There are cultural performances every night at the tent city as well as at the White Rann!
What is a trip without some good food? Try local food along the route while you explore Kutch! Don’t forget to drink the buttermilk.
After enjoying the tent city set out to explore the craft villages of Kutch. You could go to the nearby Hodka Village but if you have time I would highly recommend Nirona and Ajrakhpur. In Nirona plan for a longer stay as you will love the Rogan Art, Copper Bells and the Lacquer Work. It was my second visit to Nirona and I am glad to say people remembered me and I course loved meeting them again! If you are into fashion you can go to the birthplace of the Ajrakh print and see the process. You can buy handicrafts directly from the artisans.
It doesn’t take long to go from the beauty of the white desert to the beach town of Mandvi. Other than the beautiful beach, do visit the Vijay Vilas Palace and stop by one of the huge boats (dhows) being constructed!
This brings me to my last stop Bhuj. Bhuj is the major hub in Kutch with an airport and a railway station. I have explored the usual places like Aaina Mahal, Prag Mahal etc many times. I was on a lookout for new things and I loved visiting the Ramkund Stepwell because I am partial to them. As of now it is a sleepy little place with hardly anyone around.
The other unusual spot I discovered are the Chhatedis or the royal cenotaphs. It is a perfect place to go around sunset. It is close to the Swaminarayan Temple, so both the spots could be combined.
I love going back to Gujarat for very simple reasons, the blogging trips are well organized and the road travel is good. And then the state never ceases to amaze me with something new!
PS. I was invited on this trip by the 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!