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.

“Sunrise

The further I walked, the further nowhere I was reaching. All I heard now was the sound of the wind and a crackle under my feet – of my shoes rubbing against salt, hard crystalline salt. This salt stretched for miles and endless miles all around.

“Sunrise

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?

“Sunrise

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!

“Sunrise

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.

“White

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.

“Road

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”!

“Sunrise

Evenings are when these salt flats feel especially Indian. If a visit to the White Rann of Kutch in the morning is a whitewash, in the evening it’s loaded with colours of not just the setting sun. The tourist activity at the White Rann, especially during the Rann Utsav is a major source of income for the people from the neighbouring villages.

“Sunset

There are folk music, beaded jewellery and the most iconic – camel rides. The salt flats might be nature’s creation, but the vigour that you get to see on your visit to the White Rann of Kutch is characteristically Indian.

“Camel

“Camel

There’s a watch tower at the far end of the path that leads to the White Rann of Kutch. The top of this tower is from where you truly come to terms with what the vastness of the White Rann of Kutch is all about. For a small radius, you see the people, their cameras and the camel carts. There’s movement here. As you look further ahead, the groups of people start thinning out until finally there’s nobody and nothing.

“Watch

“White

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.

“Peeking

“Forced
Enthusiastic participation by worthashott and Piyush.

On the second day of our visit to the White Rann, we packed our bags with props to have some perspective fun. Blogger and photographer Ajay Sood literally got on the ground (salt flats) to create these forced perspective shots (he’s written some useful tips).

“Forced

“Forced

“Sunset

Combine a visit to the White Rann of Kutch with a visit to the neighbouring villages

“Bhunga

It needs to be stressed that the White Rann is part of the Great Rann of Kutch. We are in the middle of the desert here. And desert life is synonymous with harsh and difficult. Probably as an antidote to the extreme weather that’s part of life here, a wide range of arts have flourished here.

“Bhunga

“Handmade” is the keyword here – for everything from beaded jewellery, patched quilts, or embroidered dresses with motifs and design inherent to the culture of Kutch.

“Girls

“Traditional

The villages we visited, the people were friendly but matter-of-fact. They were the artists, creators. And we – visitors with cameras, were their target market. “Buy something and then take as many pictures”, was a mantra followed by everyone. We appreciated this sense of business they had developed here and respected their rules.

“A

A peculiar art form called Rogan art practised in only the village of Nirona. Delicate patterns mainly centred around the “Tree of Life” are made with colours derived from – surprise, surprise – castor oil! Castor is one the few plants that grow in the desert here. Local and unique to this region, this art form has received accolades globally.

“A

“Pieces

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.

“White

“Bhunga

But then again, nature doesn’t create everyone equally. And urban life saps us out of the resilience needed to live a desert life. Glamping is then the option everyone can exercise to experience the desert minus the hardships, and contribute to the local economy.

“White

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Visit to the White Rann of Kutch

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

    Things to do in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

    Champaner: A day trip from Ahmedabad

    Makar Sankranti - Kite flying festival Gujarat

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

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21 Comments

  1. Well written with lovely pictures!!

  2. Beautifully presented with excellent photographs. Will it be wise to visit white rann in the middle of November?

  3. Ruchika Pandey

    Hey Sandeepa, any recommendations on the places to stay while in Kutch? Economical options?

    • White Rann is 14thousand kms Area and covers Dhorado, Kandhavandha, Ekal nu Rann ( Bharudia), Khadir Amaraper- Jannan Villages.
      Ekal nu Rann and White Rann near Amraper- Janan Area( Khadir ) is much more better. Due to heavy traffics Dhorado Rann have much more distributed area and covered with a sand- unless & until you will go inside.

  4. Hi, Your last line in the article talks about self planned economical trip to Rann but the link that opens up doesn’t ‘really’ talk about planning economical trip. Can you please share some ideas on how we can plan an economical trip from Bhuj if we really don’t want to pay huge amount for staying in tent city inside Rann Utsav?

  5. Awesome article n pictures. Specially your thoughtful. I love it?

  6. wow… photos are most beautiful and describing the beauty of this place…

  7. Danyeal Stain

    Awesome pictures! I had been to Rann of Kutch in the last November but unfortunately at that time, the salted marshlands were wet due to the monsoons. So, I didn’t get the view of white deserts, moreover it was looking like a like. Later, I realized I made my trip to Gujarat at wrong time. I was suppose to visit it after the month of December.

  8. The landscape is unimaginably beautiful, isn’t it? Did you see the flamingos too?

    • No, didn’t see the flamingoes here. Do they come to this part of the Rann of Kutch? Have seen pictures from another location. We did see some ducks but only from a distance. They were extremely shy birds. Apparently, they get on the White Rann to protect themselves from the jackals.

  9. Nomadic Thunker

    “This closeness to the international border suddenly made the White Rann of Kutch “our salt flats”!” — I smiled when I read this line. This post brought back so many memories from when I had been to Kutch

  10. Awesome photos. Loved to read the post.

  11. Absolutely loved your pictures and so keen to travel to Rann of Kutch now. The write up is information packed and makes one think about this destination. Thank you for sharing. Those trick photos were so cool 🙂

  12. Interesting that a vast salt flat can make you feel like it belongs to you, and can stir up patriotic feelings within you 🙂 And damn, those artisans are awesome: “buy something and then take pictures.” Preach!!

    Great article, it gives a really good idea of the vastness and desolateness of the White Rann. And super informative too. Lovely pictures, as always.

    • Those people meant business when it came to business but were a delight when it came to conversations – which was just so heartwarming! I guess the combination of the Indian Army and the word border stirs up those feelings of belonging.

  13. Beautiful captures.

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