Our Country is a wonderful mix of myriad forms of Nature. Snow capped mountains, Flat topped Plateaus, blooming plains, exuberant sea beaches, mysterious hot and cold deserts; we have something of everything! Today, I have plans to take you with me to the desert atypical to the subcontinent: The White desert.
White Desert: The location
More commonly known as Rann of Kutch, this white patch of land is part of Gujarat state adjacent to the border with Pakistan. It is 7500 sq km area wise and is said to one of the largest salt deserts of world.
White Desert: The place
The white desert is not a desert in real sense because it is not made up of sand but white salt! The sea water enters this part of the state in rainy season. The water evaporates leaving the white residues back forming the White desert or the White Rann Of Kutch which we see.
Why To Visit White Desert
Every year for three months (November-Feb), a festival is organized in white Rann known as Rann Utsav. It attracts thousands of visitors to this otherwise sparsely inhabited place. A special tent city is prepared with all the modern amenities to cater to large number of the tourists in the Rann Utsav season.
The festival serves as a platform to showcase the culture, cuisines, arts and crafts of Kutch region, and most importantly, the magical white desert! The visits on full moon are most recommended to experience the out-of-the-world feeling!
White desert: When we met
We stayed at Bhuj town because exploring it was also in our schedule (Read about our Bhuj Trip here). A taxi was hired from there to go to the White desert. Before White Rann, we paid a visit to Kalo Dungar (The Black Hill) which has the highest point of Rann of Kutch. This point offers a far and wide view of the Rann (only if the weather permits). The road to Kalo Dungar diverges from the one to White Rann very early but you don’t have to come back all the way; there is another route from that side.
Permit is required is enter White desert because it is considered as a sensitive ecosystem. Ismail, our driver made it a point we know every Kutchy thing that is necessary to know. It seemed he, however knew that there is nothing much to see in the place but at the same time didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the contribution of this three month extravaganza in developing the Kutch Region. He said no one knew or visited White Rann before; it is the gift of Narender Modi to Kutch and its people. He came up with idea and contacted Amitabh Bachchan to endorse the Gujarat Tourism, which worked well for the region. The silky smooth roads in the ‘what looks a barren land’, testified his statement.
Around 4 pm we reached the tent city. Since we were not staying inside it, our entry was a strictly prohibited which was absolutely ok with us. Buses were taking people from the tent city gate to the actual White desert. We also followed the trail and voila! Soon we found ourselves amid a white wonderland. It was white as far as we could see. People appeared like ants!
There was a platform made for viewing the sunset. We did walk up to that and stayed there as long as the sun kept us company. It was pretty high and windy. The temperature of the White desert was falling with every passing second. As the content visitors wrapped themselves in woolens, we bade farewell to the white beauty.
I hope you remember the story “Love across the Salt desert”. Inspired from this, the Bollywood Movie Refugee, was shot in White desert; The Rann of Kutch.
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Read the previous Oriental Afterglow Travel Tale here: Chronicles of Vaishno Devi