Sunday, December 18, 2016

QUIT Day 10

Today’s plan was to visit Rann Utsav. This was the second major objective of our tour. Rann Utsav is promoted by Gujarat Tourism in a big way. Water generally recedes for four months (November – February) making the Salt marshes (Rann) visible. Gujarat Tourism organizes a festival in these 4 months tent city at Dhordo, 80 km from Bhuj, at the entrance of the Rann.

Map showing Rann of Kutch, Pic from wikipedia

We drove from Bhuj to Dhordo by NH 341. It is a 2 lane NH without any median. Dry barren land stretches on both sides as far as eye can see. Thorny bushes and shrubs are the only greenery. And lots of buffaloes. So many buffaloes cross the road that the NHAI has put up boards with buffalo symbol, warning the drivers of these bovine road users.

The entire stretch was dotted with Rann Utsav banners welcoming tourists. Advance booking is needed for Rann Utsav tent city stay. We had booked for a one night stay. The organization by Gujarat tourism was highly professional. From collection of baggage at the entrance to checking into the tent was a seamless experience. We were provided with food coupons on the way.

The tent city was agog with tourists. They have Premium, AC and Economy tents. We of course had booked in the cheapest – the Economy tent. After all the purpose is the visit to the Rann and not the stay, right? It was a comfortable tent with twin beds and an attached bathroom. A pedestal fan kept the tent cool.

Tent City at Night

Our tent
 We were taken by bus to the Rann (5 km away from the tent city) and then in a camel cart for the last kilometer. It is a completely new experience to walk on the salt marsh. You can walk only a few hundred meters before the marsh starts getting really soggy and dangerous. The guides stop you well before that.

Our ride to the Rann

Walking on the Rann

Musicians arranged by the tourism board played Gujarati dance music to which the adventurous people danced on the marsh. As for me, I can’t dance even if my life depended on it. We waited to see the sunset on the marsh and then were taken back to the tent city.

Sunset at the Rann
They had a craft bazaar in the tent city with shops selling Gujarati handicrafts. It was highly attractive, but only a few shops accepted cards or e-payment. The only ATM in the tent city was shuttered down. Like any resort worth its name, the tent city also had many photo op spots for the tourists.
Craft Bazaar

Colourful footwear
Lunch, dinner and next day's breakfast are part of the package. All meals had two options. Vegetarian or Jain food. There was a cultural program after dinner and dancing went on till 1 AM. A blocked nose and middle agedness meant that I went to sleep right after dinner at 8.30 PM.

It is a well organized program, but somehow I felt it was a little too perfect. I can’t explain it exactly. It is like the difference between driving in a highway and a village road. The highway is perfect, no pot holes, everything is as it should be. On the other hand a village road has many surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, that make it more thrilling.

 Total Distance so far : 3557 kilometers.

1 comment:

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