The white desert is located in the western part of India in Kachchh district of Gujarat state. It is a salt marsh in the Thar Desert, spread over an area of about 30,000 sq. Km. It is one of the largest salt desert in the world. It comprises of three different regions, the first is great Rann of Kachchh, about 7500 sq. Km, famous for it’s landscapes, another is little Rann of Kachchh, famous for salt farming and wildlife and last but not the least is Banni grassland. Kachchh is also the home for flamingos, wild asses, etc. The natural beauty of the region is unique and one of it’s kind.
It is the most important event of the region and it plays a vital role in the economy of the region. Every year since 2005 for the tenure of 3 months during winter Rann Utsav is celebrated here, in Dhordo village in the middle of the white desert, which is about 80 kms from Bhuj. During this time Dhordo village shines as a prominent spot in the tourist map of India. This year it was celebrated from 28th October 2019 to 12th March 2020. A complete city of about 350 tents had been constructed to provide all kinds of facility to the tourists visiting during this period. It offers 3 different types of tents .i.e. Premium tents, deluxe AC swiss tents, Non- AC swiss tents. It not only showcases the beauty of the region but also offers a lot of other things in the package. The packages offered covers pick up and drop facility, stay in luxury tents, local cuisine, transportation for sightseeing in Kalo Dungar (black hill), Bhuj, local music, folk dance and carnival.
In addition to this, it also offers different entertainment activities i.e. adventure zone, para mounting, rifle shooting, kid’s zone, star gazing, archery, chessboard, bicycles, spa center, meditation hall, stalls of fast food, stalls to buy traditional items and many more. It redefines the term luxury. The booking can be done online through the website of Gujarat tourism or Rann Utsav website.
Sites Seeing in Rann of Kachchh
To explore the natural beauty of the region completely, the visit to the watchtower is not enough, a drive on the desolate roads while climbing up and down the hills while passing through the traditional Gujarati villages and having a cup of tea on some random dhaba is an adventure in itself which adds to your unforgettable experience in Rann.
Bhirandiara is a traditional Gujarati village, there are many dhabas, you can relax here for a while and can enjoy a cup of tea or food. It also serves as the entry point for the region. The office of Gujarat tourism located here issues the required tourist permit to visit the white desert. To obtain the tourist permit original ID proofs are required. About 20 Kms towards Kalo Dungar is Khavda village which is one of the prominent human settlements in the region. It has a small market that offers you everything you need to relax while travelling. Kalo Dungar is about 18 km from this point. Dhrobana is another traditional village on the way, the elevation towards Kalo Dungar starts after it. On the way, about 3 Kms ahead of the village zero gravity point appears on the road. The anti-gravity can be experienced here, if the vehicle is kept free it moves towards the higher point of the slope. Then comes the main point i.e. Kalo Dungar, it is the highest point of the region and facilitates the bird’s eye view of the region. Dhordo is about 50 km from this point where Rann Utsav is held in the middle of White Desert. The tent city is located at a distance of about 7 Kms from the Watch Tower.
If you find tent city a bit expensive, Hodka village about 11 km away from Dhordo provides multiple options to stay including resorts with traditional huts with all the modern facilities. The city of Bhuj is just about 80 km away and will take about 1.5 Hrs to reach there. One can enjoy white desert and return back to Bhuj on the same day. Bike rides are not recommended after sunset. Taxi is a much safer option to travel during the night in the region.
As already discussed, I started my journey from Bhuj, obtained the permit on the way, and visited Kalo Dungar first, it is the highest point here that offers magnificent bird’s eye view of the region which is a treat to one’s eye. It took me another 1 Hr to reach the site of the Rann Utsav. I reached the entry point of the White desert. Here the permit was checked by BSF officers. When I entered the White desert I was mesmerized by the sight of the White Desert. I climbed up the Watch Tower and the sight it offered was breathtaking. It was all white and nothing else “India is Incredible” was thought that came to my mind. Truly I had never seen such a beauty.
How to reach:-
By air:- The Bhuj domestic airport is the nearest one. But if you are travelling from Delhi or Mumbai, Ahemdabad is another economical option. It is connected to Bhuj through roads and railways.
By railways:- Bhuj is the station of Gujarat which is well connected to Ahemdabad and all the other parts of the country through Gandhi Dham Junction.
By road:- Bhuj is the well connected with all the major cities of the region, Ahemadabad is about 330 km away (about 6 Hrs drive). Once you reach Bhuj the only way to reach Dhordo is by magnificent road.
The gateway to the White Desert is Dhordo village about 80 Kms (about 1.5 Hrs) away from Bhuj. On the way village Bhirandiara appears which is the entry point of the region and is about 50 Kms (about 1 Hr) from Bhuj. It is a T point where one road leads directly to Dhordo via Hodka, about 27 Kms (about 30 Min.) which is the starting point of the White Desert. Another road leads to Kalo Dungar about 38 Kms (about 1Hr.) away from this point. Kalo Dungar is about 50 Kms (1 Hr.) from Dhordo. Bike on rent and Tourist Taxi are the best options to explore the region.
Places to visit in Dhordo:- Rann Utsav.
Palaces to visit outside or nearby:- Kalo Dungar, Bhuj city Tour.
Minimum Duration of visit:- To explore the region completely, 1 night and 2 days stay either in Bhuj or Hodka is enough.