The Rann of Kutch: Beautiful, adventurous and magical ocean of salt

The Rann of KutchKutch region has an impression of being a distinctive land. It is a region that differs in celebrating prosperity on an exceptional parameter. Divided into two sub-regions, Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch; this fine-looking destination can be ideal for holidaying in India. Visiting here would mean to transport oneself to altogether in a new world, where a wide ocean of salt surrounds one and not so high Aravallis create a mesmerizing backdrop. Kutch is a treasure trove of culture that has branches of exquisite handicraft and melodious folk songs and foot-tapping folk dance. The delicacy at Kutch is such that has a long lasting impression on gastronomists. The flavors of Kutch are one of those that leave an indelible mark in one’s memory.

Tourist attractions:

White Salt Desert: Sprawling in an area of 7000 sq km, White Salt Desert in Great Rann of Kutch is a magical place. One can enjoy camel ride here or else a long walk is enough to get one all excited. Watching the sun go down is probably the best thing to do here; the evening shots are simply worth capturing.

Kala Dungar: Also known as the Black Hill, it is the highest point of the Kutch region and it offers a panoramic view of the desert. Atop the hill is a Hindu temple known as Dattatreya that dates back to 400 years old. The top of the hill makes wonderful vantage point to get the picture of the Great white desert, which by the way looks like an ocean from this point.

Kutch Museum: This is the oldest museum in Gujarat. It has the largest collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions that date back to 1st century AD. Also, one can witness extinct Kutchi script and an attention-grabbing collection of coins. A small section of the museum is also devoted to tribal cultures, embroidery, paintings, arms, musical instruments, sculpture and precious metalwork.

Prag Mahal and Aina Mahal: Maintaining its royal look, these palaces are done in Indo-European style of architecture. The Aina Mahal as the name suggests has a hall that is replete with number of giant size mirrors, each done exquisitely whereas, Prag Mahal is known for its Bell Tower and an incredible view of the surrounding from the top. Both the palaces are open for public viewing and has numerous items and photographs that suggests a lavish life of the then ruling family.Vijay Vilas Palace

Vijay Vilas Palace: Palace is the highlight of the Mandavi town and this has also earned it the benefit of being the film shoot location for many Bollywood movies; the most prominent being Lagaan, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and recent movie R Rajkumar. The palace is a two story building along with Chhatri of Vijayaraji.

Narayan Sarovar: It is a wildlife sanctuary situated in the village Narayansar. The place is most noted for being a holy Hindu ground and is in close proximity to an ancient temple called Koteshwar. It is also the home of 112 species of residential birds whereas 38 species of migrant birds can also be spotted here along with 14 species of mammals.

Dholavira: This site is considered as the slice of the Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan Civilization. The ruins throw light on the culture of Harappa and reveal their excellent knowledge of planning and constructing a sound infrastructure of harvesting system, network of tanks and sewage system.

Handicraft Village: Known as Dhordo and Hodka, these villages are the face of Kutch handicraft. Dhordo is known for Mutua embroidery, which includes chain stitches inset with small mirrors, leather embroidery and silver jewelery. In Hodka village, the skills of the local Rabari, Meghwal and Maldhari communities can be seen. Apart from the embroidery, Bhungas (huts) can are decorated by the village craftsmen.

Indian Wild Ass SanctuaryIndian Wild Ass Sanctuary: It is the only place where the Indian Wild Ass or Ghudkar still inhabit. The sanctuary is also the home of 32 mammal species and is an important breeding site for birds.

Fairs and festivals: Kutch is known to the world for hosting the exuberant Rann Utsav, a cultural extravaganza organized every year. Activities like folk dance, musical performances, shopping malls, camel safari, bird watching safari and horse ride are hosted during the event. “Mota Yaksh, Hajipir, Dada Mekan Fair, Shitla Saptami, Jesal-Toral, Naagpanchmi, Mamaidev, Matia Pir and Mai Bhambhi are some tribal festivals celebrated in the region.

Best time to visit: Being in the arid area of the country, the climate of the region is extreme. Summer is rather severe in the entire state of Gujarat. As winters are comparatively bearable and pleasant, the best time to visit this place would be between November and March.

How to reach:

Air: Bhuj, the main town has daily flights from Bombay, which take about 40 minutes to reach.

Rail: Kutch Express is available from Bombay via Ahmedabad up to Gandhinagar. From here, one can reach this destination by road.

Road: State transport buses are available from Ahmedabad.