It is bliss to traverse the deserts and this time it is Kutch Calling. A long weekend of January was fully utilized for the Kutch Festival. The combination of train journey, the road trip and the walk in the white desert; all done in one go.
It was the Thursday night we all geared up for the train journey from Mumbai. The windy early morning at Ahmedabad Station was a great start of the day. In no time, we reached to shop where we were going to hire a self-drive car. We rented a Ritz, but the stunning Thar Jeep parked nearby made us awestruck. As it was going to be a long journey, so we satisfied ourselves with Ritz only. The Ritz was all set for the Trip. In the meanwhile, how a bike lover can keep an eye away from the Royal Enfield Bullet Classic standing there. And when two riders all eager for the bullet ride, it has to be executed. And we did. Time has come to get lost all again on the roads. We dropped the gear & Disappear!
With the vast landscapes, and the zero ditches roads, we were all set to experience Gujarat. I must say that the roads are beautifully well maintained by the Gujarat government. And I really feel that this is one of the most important things for encouraging tourism. With a usual countryside photography & tummy top ups at regular interval, we enjoyed Gujarat.
The thrilling part was that I rode Bullet for around 150 kms, the very first time for such a long stretch. And the feeling of handling this Giant Machine was worth magnificent.
By evening we reached Bhuj. With quick refreshment, we left to explore the Bhuj. But by 7, Bhuj was all set to shut down. So we decided to go for a movie; the movie based on Gujarati criminal Raees was worth watching in the Gujarati crowd. The typical theatre with the front seat!
The morning was all set for the Rannutsav. We booked the tents earlier itself and they had provided us bus services from Bhuj to tent city in Dhordo village, but we opted for taking our own car to enjoy the views. And it was more worthy decision than bus! On the way we encountered the Tropic of Cancer which made all of us to go back to school days in our Geography class to find out its significance. Some were guessing, some don’t remember and finally Google came to our rescue. How depended have we become on Google! The Tropic of Cancer is the circle marking the latitude 23.5 degrees north, where the sun is directly overhead at noon on June 21, the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. And the serious discussion went on…
With a warm welcome at the Rannutsav, we found out that it was conglomeration of various tents organizers making it a tent city. The tent city amidst of vast lands. Rann Utsav gives visitors not only a chance to experience full moon on salt deserts but also get a taste of the local culture, cuisine and hospitality. Specially built tents are also used to house tourists to give them a taste of local traditions.
Shops selling the traditional stuffs found expensive and not worthy too. One who would really want to explore the traditional things may visit the interiors of some villages. Some people told us to visit in Bhuj market but because of time constraint we could not. We expected a Kathiyawadi cuisine in Rannutsav but it led to disappointment. With some rest & lunch, we once again up for the visit to most awaited view of White desert.
Double decker open bus took us there in the mesmerizing White desert. The view was amazing! The flat desert of salty clay and mudflats with horizons looks beautiful. One can get lost within selves with the beauty and tranquility of the desert. The bus return time was just after two hours; we decided to skip it and spent more time at the desert. And to come back, we took a walk from white desert to our tents of about 4 kms which was full of enjoyment. When we reached the check post, the army officers were very benevolent and talking with us about Rann of Kutch.
The evening was filled with various cultural events. Gazing the stars in chilling night with irrelevant nonsense gapshaps is happiness. The early morning Cycling all the way in the mid of white desert made our day. The ever beautiful shades of orange are worth visiting!
With the breakfast, we bid adieu the tent city to explore the other Kathiyawadi regions of Gujarat. We are all up again to visit Kala Dungar – the Black mountains. It is at the highest altitude in the Kutch region. It gives you the serene view of White desert, Indo-Pakistan border.
While returning we came back to Bhuj to visit Bhuj’s famous Aina Mahal. It is made up of marble walls adorned with gold lace and glass. Though full efforts have been taken by the government officials to preserve the same, it still has no charm. We visited the Swami Narayan temple in Bhuj.
The evening at the Mandvi beach with the kattha mitha chats was soothing and refreshing. The sunset reflecting golden rays on the water was energizing and again we were all set to board for back journey to Ahmedabad. We got late to start our return journey which consequently resulted into the hurry to reach Ahmedabad. And the icing on the cake was 2 hours traffic at one of the Toll naka surrounded by all heavy vehicles. Consequently, we could not able to take a break otherwise we could have lost the train. We rushed to reach Ahmedabad in the chilling night. Once we reached Ahmedabad, after giving back the car & bike, we all five hopped into the single rickshaw with our luggage and requested rickshaw driver to take us to Railway Station in 10 minutes. With the adventurous rickshaw ride, we somehow managed to reach just before 5 minutes of departure of our train. We were about to board the wrong train which was going to Jaipur coming from Mumbai. But luckily we came to know about this and started to run. The remaining time was just 2 minutes in which we have to change the platform & board the train. The adrenaline rush was at peak, we ran and we boarded the train at last where we got sukun ki saas!
With so much adventure, train started and we fell asleep with all night adventure, our journey came to an end at Bandra Terminus.
We enjoyed and came back, we enjoyed the beautiful period of Kutch, We enjoyed being a part of tent city, the Rannutsav, but what about when it becomes all silent with season off. Hats off to the army who is there 24 × 7 protecting our borders in such adverse conditions. I salute to our army!
Places to visits – Bhuj, Aina Mahal, Swami Narayan Temple, White Dessert, Kala Dungar, Mandvi beach
Best time – Winter Season (Oct – Jan)
How to Travel – Bhuj is the entry point for beautiful white desert. You can travel through various means as per the comfort, thrill, etc.
By Road – Roads are pretty good. You can travel through roads from all the way from Mumbai to Bhuj.
By Air – Flight are available from Mumbai to Bhuj but the frequency is very less and fares are too expensive. One can opt for mix journey like, by Air from Mumbai to Ahmedabad – train from Ahmedabad to Bhuj.
By Train – Trains are available from Mumbai which are comfortable and one of the economical means for transport.