Rann Utsav 2019-2020 – India’s Biggest White Desert Festival
Rann Utsav is an exotic desert festival, which provides a peek to the cultural and natural beauty of the land. This festival is a fusion of religion, music, dance, craft, and hospitality on the salty white desert land. Tourists stay in the desert in small tents to enjoy wonderful activities and take part in other local celebrations.
This festival is also called as the White Desert Festival. This celebration is a combination of every element of entertainment and beauty, which are exotic to Gujarat. Every year, more than 500 thousand visitors from more than 20 different countries visit Gujarat for this festival.
History Of Rann Utsav
Although the cultural elements signified by the festival are very ancient, this desert festival was inaugurated in 2006 by Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. This festival was conducted to attract global tourists to Gujarat and to showcase the almost-extinct culture of the land. It started as a three-day celebration but, eventually, due to the increased demand and tourist visits, it evolved into a 100-days celebration.
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When Is Rann Utsav Celebrated?
1st November 2019 to 28th February 2020
Every day is celebrated with numerous activities. However, the best time to visit is during the full moon night, a night before and after the full moon night. During this time, you can find more cultural fiesta, celebrations, performance activities and so on. Special dates for visiting the desert during the festival are:
31st Dec and 1st Jan – New Year Celebration
14th January – kite flying festival
26th January – Republic day celebration
14th February – Valentine ’s Day (gala dinner and romantic activities)
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Where Is Rann Utsav Celebrated?
Rann Utsav is celebrated in Rann of Kutch desert region. Rann of Kutch is an incredible exotic salt desert region in Gujarat. This is the world’s largest salt desert covering more than 3,800 square miles. Rann of Kutch is located a little north to Tropic of Cancer in the Kutch district. This forms the official border between neighboring countries, India and Pakistan. During monsoon season, the desert will fall underwater. Thus, it is best to visit the place during winter, summer, and spring (October to March).
The main attractions and activities during the festival take part in the tent city. This is a temporary city created in the middle of the desert with accommodations, markets, shops, and other facilities.
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Top Places to Visit during Rann Utsav Celebration
Kutch is a lot more diverse than just the salt desert. If you are visiting during Rann of Kutch, do not restrict yourself to the desert alone. Visit other sightseeing spots in and around Kutch like
- Narayan Sarovar
- Kera Shiv Temple
- Black Mountain
- Mandavi Beach
- Kutch Museum
- Swaminarayan temple
- Vijay Vilas Palace
Things To Do During Rann Utsav
1. Cultural Performance Acts
The first interesting element of this festival is the colorful cultural elements. The entire festival is lightened with dance and music. You can find many shows with local folk experts showcasing their dance and music talents. Folk and Sufi music are very common. However, you can find music and dance performances of different kinds here. Local dance forms of the region are Tippani, Garba, Hallisaka, and others.
The cuisine of the land is very unique. The local cuisine was relished by British rulers for its delicate flavors and delightful taste. Black millets, rice, and pulses are the staple items here. Top dishes to try during the festival are bajro no rotlo, khichdi, desserts made with camel milk and others.
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3. Adventure and Romantic Activities
Starting from desert safari to rock climbing, you can find numerous adventure activities here. It is best to choose packages from service providers to enjoy all the adventure activities in the desert. The best of all is the full moon night dinner under the moon. Interesting adventure activities to enjoy here are camel safari, desert patrol ride, hot air balloon riding, kids’ joy ride, and others. Most of the activities take place in and around the temporary tent city.
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You can find many traditional styled shops in the desert region. However, the areas around the desert will be filled with a lot more shops selling handicraft items and souvenirs. The rate of the souvenirs will be cheap during peak tourism season to attract the large crowd of buyers. Top souvenirs to buy from the tent city, Kutch and other regions of Gujarat are leather articles, silver articles, Bandini sari, handicraft items, and others.
5. Tent Stay
Tourists usually stay back in the desert in small tents, create a bonfire and enjoy cultural activities like music, dance and others. You can also find live open-air concerts and other recreational activities in the desert. Every year, temporary tent cities are erected inside the desert.
The desert will be covered with temporary tents and structures. Usually, the structures will be built with pink and green combination. You can find food stalls, markets and other attractions in this infrastructure. Many traditional structures will be built as a reminder of the architectural beauty of the land.
The best part about the festival is the sunset view from the desert. Photographers flock the desert during the sunset to watch the sunset into the salt dunes of the desert. This is followed by the moon rise. Usually, tourists tent out in the desert during the full-moon night to watch the moon glow over the salt desert. This is one of the most romantic activities to enjoy in Gujarat. The place will be filled with locals during Valentine’s Day.
Weather of Rann of Kutch
This is the region with extreme climatic conditions. During winter, the temperature can go below the freezing point. During summer, the temperature can reach 50 degrees C. Summer starts in March and ends in June. Monsoon starts in July and ends in September. The place receives heavy rainfall during monsoon and it sometimes gets underwater due to heavy rainfall. It is the worst time to visit the desert. Winter is the peak tourism season and the time of Rann Utsav. Winter starts in October and ends in March.
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How to Reach Rann Of Kutch
The best way to reach the salt desert is via Bhuj. Dhordo is 90 minutes of car drive away from Bhuj and will soon become the major gateway to the desert. Dhordo is located on the edge of the desert. As of now, Bhuj is the major city closest to the desert region.
If you are choosing air travel, the nearest airport to the salt desert is located in Bhuj. You can find daily flights from Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and other destinations to Bhuj. The frequency of flights to Bhuj will be higher during peak tourism season.
Travel time between Mumbai and Bhuj – 1 hour
Travel time between Ahmedabad and Bhuj – 3 hours
Travel time between New Delhi and Bhuj – 3 hours
The best way to reach Bhuj is to take a train from Ahmedabad. From Bhuj, you can find buses to Hodka and from Hodka, you can find autos and other road transportation to Dhordo.
Travel time between Mumbai and Bhuj – 14 hour
Travel time between Ahmedabad and Bhuj – 5 hours
Travel time between New Delhi and Bhuj – 22 hours
You can find trains from many parts of the country to Gujarat, every day. The demand for train tickets would be higher during the peak tourism season. If you are looking for a luxurious way to explore the Rann of Kutch and enjoy the festival, you ought to choose the Deccan Odyssey luxury train. The Hidden Treasures of Gujarat itinerary of the train covers many important destinations of Gujarat along with Little Rann of Kutch.
For more details about the itinerary : Hidden Treasures of Gujarat
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Cabs, buses and other road transportation can be found from any major parts of the country to the desert. The frequency and cost of the travel would vary with service providers and season.
Travel time between Mumbai and Kutch – 16 hour
Travel time between Ahmedabad and Kutch – 9 hours
Travel time between New Delhi and Kutch – 24 hours
Cheapest Way to Reach Rann Of Kutch
The cheapest way to reach the desert region is to take train up toBhuj and road transportation from Bhuj to the desert.
Fastest Way to Reach Rann of Kutch
The fastest way to reach Rann of Kutch is by flying to Bhuj and finding private road transportation to reach the desert.
Nearest Station for Rann Of Kutch
The nearest train station to Rann of Kutch is located in Bhuj. The most common trains to Bhuj Railway Station are Ala Hazrat Express, Be Bhuj Express and others. If you are visiting from Mumbai, the nearest railway station is located in Ratnal Railway Station.
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Permits for Visiting Rann Of Kutch
As mentioned before, this is one of the borders between India and Pakistan and thus, it is a very sensitive destination. On the other hand, it is one of the exotic destinations famous for its colorful culture, exotic natural beauty, and serene ambiance. Thus, the government of India has imposed many permits and requirements to reach this desert. These permits can be got from Bhirandiyara Village, which is on the way to the desert. This village is around 55 km away from Bhuj.
Cost of Permit for an Adult – INR 100
Cost of Permit per Child – INR 50
Cost of permit for a kid below the age of 5 – nil
Children above the age of 12 are considered adults.
Permit Of Motorbike – INR 25
Permit Of Car – INR 50
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For obtaining a permit, you need to present original ID proof and proof of registrations for the vehicle along with your driving license. The checkpoint for permit will open only by 11 am. It will be closed during the off-season. If you are an Indian, you can receive online permits too.