Organised annually by Gujarat Tourism, between November and February, the Rann Utsav of Kutch has been gaining popularity among Indian and foreign travellers since the previous few years.
Though it’s surely an interesting effort by Gujarat Tourism allowing people to revisit the desert region of Kutch – which was left devastated by the 2001 earthquake – by creating a travel story linking to Kutch’s geographical and cultural distinctions, the value for money the Rann Utsav offers is, unfortunately, pretty discouraging.
To own a tent (a Premium Tent, or a Rajwadi Bhunga, as named) that comes with complimentary meals and a one night/two days package, it costs nearly 6 thousand Rupees per person (excluding 18% taxes). For every extra person, in the tent, you pay an additional 4 thousand (and more taxes). This means a family of three can end up paying over 15 thousand Rupees for one night in Rann Utsav.
Note: Check Gujarat Tourism or Rann Utsav website for the updated price!
Rann Utsav: What To Expect
To be honest… a massive tented city, a bit of chaos and the many neatly staged cultural experiences!
The tent city of Dhordo, where Rann Utsav takes place, is moreover walled because the tourism department wants to keep those, who are not paying them any money, away from the show. A total turn off!
I feel that due to lack of information available online, about the entire Kutch region and its amazing natural White deserts, the organisers of Rann Utsav see it as a burgeoning commercial opportunity to make money. Sorry for a bad tone, but I personally find it that way.
Moreover, given the facts that the White Desert around Dhordo was perhaps the most crowded and dirtiest as compared to other White Desert locations I have visited, a visit to White desert from the tent city happens in buses instead of camel carts as otherwise advertised – it would not be wrong to say that the Rann Utsav is a total rip off.
Getting The Big Picture
The major reason for anyone visiting Kutch is to explore its two natural landscapes: 1) Great Rann of Kutch for the White Desert and 2) Little Rann of Kutch for the barren crack-land & salt-mashing.
During my 25 days of backpacking across Gujarat, out of which a fair share was spent in exploring the Great and Little Rann of Kutch, I found a few impressive and offbeat sites that were far better than the Great Rann of Kutch located near the tent city of Dhordo (where the Rann Utsav takes place). The White Rann near Dhordo, as I found out, was crowded and has been turned partially brown (from white) due to its overexposure to tourists that bring pollution to the area. It was moreover impossible to hear the silence here and enjoy the moment on your own, as I apparently did in the more isolated and comparatively offbeat corners of White Rann.
Crowds Start Appearing In Big Numbers, At the White Desert Around Dhordo Before Sunset
So What To Do, If Not Visit The Rann Utsav?
In one sentence… plan your own itinerary! Particularly if you’re alone, and are more or less interested in exploring the natural landscapes of Gujarat, over a crowded can-be-experienced-anywhere-in-the-world sort of fair.
A better alternative to the White Rann around the Dhordo Rann Utsav is the offbeat location of ‘Ekal Ka Rann’ located around 100 kilometres east of Bhuj (almost the same distance as Bhuj-Dhordo). I would particularly recommend Ekal Ka Rann to those who are looking for something more romantic, due to its isolated location.
Romantic sunset at Ekal Ka Rann
To get the best experience of driving on the White Desert, however, head straight to Dholavira. This is where you’ll come across a 7-kilometre straight road that passes through the White Desert on its either side.
Road To Dholavira
Still, if you think that The White Rann near Dhordo is something you would at least want to explore, thanks to all the hype it has gathered during the years, you can always make a day tour from Bhuj. And it takes just a little over 4 hours for a round trip to Dhordo (from Bhuj). If you do not book accommodation in Dhordo, you cannot access the premises of the tent city, where the Rann Utsav takes place, but that doesn’t stop you from going to the White Rann and checking out the nitty-gritty of a local marketplace located in Dhordo.
Moreover, make sure you’ve your own transport, as the state transport buses do not go all the way to Dhordo and leave you somewhere in the middle of Bhuj-Dhordo. To rent a bike, you’ll find only one shop inside the city of Bhuj, or you can make a deal with a local and rent theirs for a day – just the way I did!