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Kutch Tourism – Virtually an island that resembles the shape of a tortoise, Kutch is an erstwhile princely state of India holding onto its grandeur nature from the past. Kutch is probably one of the most beautiful, yet surreal places in India with the vast expanses of the white salt desert. The place comes to life during the winters when the Rann Festival is held during December-February everywhere in which there are huge camp settlements with cultural programs, functions and adventure activities like hot-air ballooning.
Kutch is also among the largest district of India with a terribly low population density. Also, Kutch lies on the India-Pakistan border and you can see parts of Pakistan from Kutch. Kutch is also famous for crafts and embroidery works, Flamingo Sanctuary and Wild Ass Sanctuary. Bhuj is an ideal starting point to visit the Rann of Kutch. Beautiful beaches of Mandvi near Bhuj are also totally worth visiting during your trip to Kutch. Don’t miss to see the ancient town of Dholavira.
Permits for Visiting the Rann of Kutch
The Rann of Kutch is a sensitive area, due to its proximity to the Pakistani border. Therefore, a permit is required to visit the salt desert. This can be obtained on the way at the Bhirandiyara village (famous for mawa, a sweet made from milk) checkpoint, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Bhuj. The cost is 100 rupees for an adult, 50 rupees for a child aged six to 12 years, 25 rupees for a motor bike and 50 rupees for a car. You’ll need to submit a photocopy of your ID, plus show the original. Do note that the checkpoint may not open until late morning (around 11 a.m.) and is not open at all during the off-season. Alternatively, Indian citizens can now get permits online here.
The Rann of Kutch, also known as the Great Rann of Kutch (there’s a Little Rann of Kutch as well), is a remarkable place to visit in Gujarat. Much of it consists of the world’s largest salt desert, measuring about 10,000 square kilometers (3,800 square miles). What makes it even more amazing is that the salt desert is underwater during the main monsoon season in India. For the remaining eight months of the year, it’s an enormous stretch of packed white salt. Here’s all the information you need to visit it.
The vast and arid expanse that is the Great Rann of Kutch lies to the north of the Tropic of Cancer (you’ll pass through it and see the sign), at the top of the Kutch district. The northern boundary forms the border between India and Pakistan.
The Great Rann is best approached via Bhuj. Dhordo, approximately an hour and a half north of Bhuj, is being developed by the Gujarat government as the Gateway to the Rann. Dhordo is on the edge of the salt desert.
When to Go
The Rann begins to dry up in October every year, steadily transforming into the desolate and surreal salt desert. The tourist season runs until March. Nearby accommodations close at the end of March and don’t reopen until November. If you want to avoid the crowds and have a more peaceful experience, go towards the end of the tourist season in March. You can still visit the salt desert in April and May though, on a day trip from Bhuj. However, it’s very hot during the day. Plus, there’s an absence of basic facilities for tourists (food, water and toilets).
You’ll pretty much have the salt desert to yourself though!
It’s best to head out into the desert only in the early morning or evening, otherwise the salt can be blinding. You can take a moonlight camel safari into the desert. The full moon is the most magical time of month to experience it.
Resorts in the area will arrange transport for you from Bhuj. There are a couple of ways of getting to Bhuj.
If taking a train, it’s most convenient from Mumbai (15 hours).
Bhuj has a domestic airport. Air India flies there non-stop from Mumbai.
Buses to Bhuj are available from many places in and around Gujarat, and the road is in good condition.
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