I took a few steps away from the crowds and started walking – towards “nothing”, I soon realised. There were no mountains or lakes, not even flickering lights dotting the horizon. Just a blanket of white merging into another blanket of white.
The mind games had begun on the very first morning of our visit to the White Rann of Kutch.
My mind now started pulling out past instances where I’ve felt this vastness before. On a boat surrounded by water and only water all around. Next are scenes from a long haul flight – when clouds are all that you see.
On the water or in the sky, this feeling of an unending landscape had made sense. But right then, my feet were firmly rooted to the ground. Yet, if I stood up it looked like I was surrounded by water. If I bent low everything looked like clouds. What exactly was happening here?
Delusions at the White Rann of Kutch start at its formation
The delusions didn’t end with our visit to White Rann of Kutch. The story of the formation of this desert of salt was even more fascinating. Post-summer as the monsoon arrives, the waters of the Gulf of Kutch flood into this desert, making the White Rann look like a massive sea. On windless days, perfect mirror reflections of the sky are seen on these “desert waters”. From around July till late October-November, this part of the desert of the Great Rann of Kutch essentially resembles a sea!
As the monsoon ends, this water starts receding and evaporating. The saline water then leaves a thick layer of salt, making the desert the White Rann of Kutch.
Even without the water, the salt flats act like a mirror, reflecting the colours of the sky. On a crisp morning, they reflect the pink-orange-golden hues of the sunrise. On a hazy, cloudy morning, they look dull and forlorn. What stays constant is their larger than life expanse.
These delusions on the salt flats weren’t new for us
The visit to the White Rann of Kutch wasn’t our first time witnessing the wonder of salt flats. In Bolivia, the salt flats of Uyuni, the biggest salt flats on earth had left us speechless. So the feeling of seeing salt spread out till the eyes could see wasn’t new.
What wasn’t familiar was going through several BSF (Border Security Force) barriers to reach the salt flats. The White Rann of Kutch isn’t a place you can just walk up to. You need to acquire permission from the BSF. The timings of the visit to the White Rann is also decided by the BSF. Sunrise and sunset is the only time civilians get to enter the White Rann of Kutch. On a couple of nights before and after the full moon are also permitted by the BSF.
All these permissions and restrictions sure added to the excitement. That, and the sense of ownership we felt when we were told that somewhere close beyond this sea of salt was the “border”!
This closeness to the international border suddenly made the White Rann of Kutch “our salt flats”!
Delusions in the photography at the White Rann of Kutch
The vast salt flat with an empty horizon lends itself to a unique kind of photographic fun. Without any structure – manmade or natural to give any sense of scale you can make any object look as big or small as you choose to. We explored this forced perspective photography on our visit to the White Rann of Kutch.
Combine a visit to the White Rann of Kutch with a visit to the neighbouring villages
Glamping during the visit to the White Rann of Kutch
Glamping is now easily possible during your visit to the White Rann of Kutch. We had been invited by the Gujarat Tourism and stayed in the luxurious tents at the White Rann Resort. The tent had all that’s needed for a comfortable life- solid wooden furniture including a large bed, air conditioning (heater during the winter), a geyser and running water! Yes, we did feel like we were cheating – living in comforts despite being in the desert.
Useful tips to visit the White Rann of Kutch
- Dhordo village is the closest village to the White Rann of Kutch.
- How to get to the White Rann of Kutch? Bhuj is the main connecting head to visit Kutch and the White Rann. There’s limited but functional connectivity rail connectivity. The airport at Bhuj is controlled by the military. Direct flights to Mumbai and connecting flights to all major cities are available. Alternately, get to Ahmedabad and take an overnight bus to Bhuj.
- Pick up and drop to Bhuj is organised by the White Rann Resort if you’re staying there. A comfortable resting lounge is organised by the White Rann Resort, right outside the Bhuj railway station.
- The locals of the villages around the White Rann of Kutch also run homestays. To get a more local experience (please be open-minded about the lack of comforts), you can also choose to stay in these villages with the locals.
- Kutch is the largest district in the state of Gujarat. While the Rann of Kutch has, in recent times become its most popular destination, there’s a lot more to Kutch. If you are planning to explore Kutch beyond the Rann of Kutch, we would recommend spending 8-10 days. Places might look near on the map, but because of the desert of the huge Lake of Kutch, the road is sometimes a bit of a loop. Just choose a few villages and stay in each for a couple of days.
- Spare a night (at least a day – book your return tickets for the night) in Bhuj. Click Hotel is the most convenient place to stay in Bhuj – right outside the railway station.
- The best time to visit the White Rann of Kutch is just after the festival of Makar Sankranti. The weather is still pleasant and the year-end crowds have receded.
- Full moon nights are the most popular time to visit the White Rann of Kutch. In case you don’t get bookings for that night, plan a visit a day or two before or after. You’ll enjoy the same experience.
- If you have more days during your visit to the Rann of Kutch then you can visit more of Kutch and its many villages like Sumresar and Lakhpat for a more local interaction.
- You can visit the Kalo Dungar on one of the evenings at the White Rann itself.
- Dholavira, the biggest excation site of the Indus Valley Civilisation, in India can be visited as a day trip from the White Rann of Kutch.
- A visit to the White Rann can be self planned and economical.
Map to visit the White Rann of Kutch from Bhuj
Have you visited the White Rann of Kutch? Let us know in the Comments.
Other travel stories from Gujarat