Rann of Kutch, also known as White Rann or Great Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh located in the Thar desert in Gujarat and partly in the Sindh province of Pakistan. This vast expanse of salt crust is formed because the rate of evaporation of water is lesser than the rate of precipitation. It is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The White Rann covers almost 7500 square km of the area. The name ‘Rann’ comes from the word “Viraan” which means deserted wasteland. It’s a treat to the eyes to see white salt marsh for as far as your eyes go.
History of Rann of Kutch:
Originally, this area of Kutch was part of the Arabian Sea. Over a period of time (millions of years), tectonic shifts happened and the land began to rise. The area gets flooded during monsoons because of the tidal upsurge of the Arabian Sea. The area dries after the monsoon, leaving behind vast featureless plain covered in salt and marsh. It is believed that in the centre of these salt fields is the site of Dholavira, which was part of the Indus Valley civilisation (Harappan civilisation).
Is Rann of Kutch truly a desert?
Rann of Kutch is a salt desert and not the traditional sand desert. There are no sand dunes, dust storms or cactus plants to be seen. The entire stretch is only pure white salt.
How to reach Rann of Kutch?
The closest city to Rann of Kutch is Bhuj. Bhuj is well connected from Bombay and other cities in Gujarat.
By Air: Jet Airways operates flights from Mumbai to Bhuj.
By Train: Bhuj is well connected by train from Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, Jaipur etc.
By Bus: Bhuj has bus connectivity from cities in Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Vadodara etc.
Because of its strategic location (India-Pakistan border is only 80km from Rann of Kutch); Border Security Force is present in large numbers in the area. Dhordo is the closest hamlet, which is where the Rann Utsav is held.
Do we need a permit to go to Rann of Kutch?
Yes, everyone needs a permit to visit Rann of Kutch. It is open for tourists between early morning to around 7 pm. However, getting permission is very simple and one can obtain it at the BSF checkpoint in Bhirandiyara village on the way to Rann. You need to have:
Valid ID proof: Indians need to carry a PAN Card/ driving licence/ Aadhar card or Passport. Foreign tourists need to have their passport. It’s best to carry a photocopy in case you are required to submit one.
Vehicle permit: The driver needs to get his licence and car documents verified at the check post.
Entering fee: Rs.200 per person
Gujarat tourism Rann Utsav package includes permit to visit the White Rann.
When is the best time to visit Rann of Kutch?
Winter season, between the month of October to February is the best time to visit Rann of Kutch. In my opinion, October – November are the best months when the landscape is unspoilt. The part of desert which is frequented by most of the tourists was quite dirty and brown when we visited in February.
October and February: Temperature is pleasant during the day. Night temperatures go down to single digit during Dec-Jan, but this is a perfect time for seeing the White Rann in its full splendour.
March to June: This is summer and the weather is extremely hot and humid. Temperature rise as high as 50 degrees Celcius and the heat can be unbearable. One can visit during this time also to see the shiny white rann; though there are no facilities available at that time, no resorts, restaurants, proper toilets (there is a basic one near the parking) etc.
July to September: Monsoon brings rain to the region and the white desert is flooded with sea water. There is no point in going at this time.
White Rann is open on full moon nights during Rann Utsav. This offers an extraordinarily rare experience when the bright glow of the full moon merges with the infinite white landscape.
What is Rann Utsav?
Rann Utsav is a 3-month long festival organised by Gujarat tourism to encourage tourists to visit Rann of Kutch. It is organised between November and February. Rann Utsav tent city has more than 350 tents built in the village of Dhordo to accommodate the guests. Gujarat tourism organizes various activities as part of the Rann Utsav. The Rann Utsav package includes sightseeing trips to surrounding attractions. Activities include camel cart rides, ATV rides, paramotoring, rifle shooting, kids’ entertainment zone, spa treatments, and cultural shows. Guests can stay in other resorts too which welcome guests during this time. Many tourists prefer to stay in Bhuj and visit White Rann from Bhuj. We stayed in the tent city and you can read a detailed review of it this blog post.
Where to stay when visiting Rann of Kutch?
There are many resorts on the way from Bhuj to White Rann. White Rann Tent city by Gujarat tourism is the most popular package preferred by tourists. I would recommend it too. Other popular resorts are:
- Toran Rann Resort: It is resort right outside the army check post in White Rann.
- Gateway to Rann resort
One can stay in Bhuj and drive to White Rann; which is 86 km from Bhuj.
What are other attractions near Rann of Kutch?
Kutch has a very diverse landscape and it boasts of 4 distinct ecosystems (desert, grassland, sea coast and upland) within a span on 100 km. Other attractions close to White Rann are:
- Kala Dungar
- Banni Grassland reserve
- Mandvi beach