There are so many naturally beautiful places in India, but none of them are more different and surreal than the Great Rann of Kutch. The barren beauty of these marshlands will utterly stupefy you. Thousands of years ago, this was a vast shallow of the Arabian Sea which due to some internal changes of our mother earth got blocked from the sea and then become a lake which has now dried up over the years and is one of the largest salt deserts in the world, reportedly.
But these are the facts.
The magic is palpable when you step back and see the thousands of years worth of slow changes coming alive in the form of this vast white salt desert. Its almost as if you stepped back into the history of our planet and perceiving how our incredible world is taking shape slowly over the millennia. Every summer, these flatlands will come alive during the monsoons when the rains bring with them life forms of various kinds.
There are various wildlife sanctuaries and wetland conservation reserves situated near the Rann in the Kutch District on the western borders of India. For all the people who love wildlife and watching those excellent discovery channel wildlife documentaries, you will dig this place. This place has got a wild vibe like which will soon start to grow on you.
One mystery of the region is the unexplained light phenomenon that occurs here at nighttime. Its locally called Chir Batti, meaning Ghost Lights! This doesn’t happen every night, so don’t get your hopes high that you would step out at night, and you will be able to witness it. If you want to see it, then you would need to research more about the phenomena, things like what time of the year its more probable to occur and what time of the night it will be observable.
The Rann of Kutch falls in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India. It borders with Pakistan on the western side and goes into the Sindh province. There is a Rann Utsav organized every year here with lots of tents and tourists around by the government of Gujarat. Try to avoid the region during these times for a more trippy experience.
Rann of Kutch is around 6 hours drive from Ahmedabad. Flights and trains come to Ahmedabad from all significant places in India. If you are driving from Ahmedabad, then take the NH 15 and hit Mehsana, then keep going on toward Radhanpur and then head to Balasar, which is quite near to the Rann of kutch. Ask the locals whenever you feel you are not heading in the right direction. As you’d move nearer to the Rann, the land will become flat, and sometimes you will see windmills all around you, workers toiling away on the side of the road and wildlife on both sides of the way and up in the sky above you.
One thing I forgot to tell you, there are no hotels as such near the Rann as it is a border area, so you might have to either pitch your tent or ask some locals in the nearby village to host you. We had camped with the BSF soldiers on duty as we had no permissions and not much money either. This was in 2012. I am not sure what the scene is like now. If you have to go beyond the BSF border post, then you’d have to get some official permissions to go ahead. This is the India- Pakistan border area, so one has to get approvals from the relevant authorities. Better arrange for them as soon as you hit the village just near to the BSF chowki. Alternatively, one can stay in Bhuj as well as it has better and cheaper hotels and eating places. Rann is very near to Bhuj, and one can make a day trip to Rann from Bhuj and come back in the evening.