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Rann of Kutch

Mostly a part of Kutch district in the state of Gujarat, Rann of Kutch is an expansive area of salt marshes. A small chunk of this area also occupies the southern tip of Pakistan’s Sindh province. It is separated into two distinct parts, namely the Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch.


The Great Rann of Kutch spans about 7505.22 sq km and is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. As summers here are blazingly hot, the best time to visit it is from October to February.


The history of Kutch depicts that the inhabitants of the region belonged to various groups and communities that settled here after migrating from the surrounding regions of western Rajasthan, Sindh and Afghanistan. The distinct culture of Kutch is therefore the outcome of interactions between these communities. This uniqueness in terms of culture and topographical features of the region allures many travellers.


Rann of Kutch is globally famous for Rann Utsav (Festival of Rann), which is hosted by the state government of Gujarat to promote tourism in the region. The festival, held for about three months during winters, offers ample opportunities to learn about the local culture, traditions and cuisine.


Apart from its enticing folk dance and music, Kutch is renowned for its intricate art and crafts. Garment embroidery, hand block printing, wood carving, seashell toys, hand wall painting, silver jewellery, pottery and copper bells are few of the things, for which the natives are admired. The local villages of Nirona, Khavda, Ajrakhpur and Dhordo are perfect places to witness and buy these products.


In and around the region are a number of sites that are worth a visit. The magnificent Aina Mahal and Vijay Vilas Palace showcase the unique architectural style of Kutch. Kala Dungar, the highest point in the region, offers panoramic views of the Great Rann. The archaeological site of Dholavira is an evidence of early human settlements in the region, dating back to about 5000 years ago.


Situated in the Little Rann of Kutch, Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary is home to the endangered species of Indian Wild Ass. Moreover, 32 other species of mammals, which include chinkara, desert fox, caracals and striped hyenas, are found in the sanctuary, spread over an area of around 5000 sq km.


The cuisine of Kutch is typical of Gujarat, but has its own distinct flavours. A Kutch meal includes a variety of flavoursome curries, pulses and chapattis that are mostly served with spiced chillies and pickles. Jalebi, a sweet quite popular in the whole of North India, is also an integral part of the local cuisine.


The Kutch region traces its history back to prehistoric times, and over 150 dinosaur fossils have been discovered here. Excavations at the archaeological site of Dholavira show that humans settled in the region during the Early Harappan Period. Situated on Khadir Island in northern Kutch and locally known as Kotada Timba, this site is believed to have been inhabited between 2900 BC and 1500 BC. After a short period of abandonment, the region was re-occupied by villagers, somewhere around 1450 BC.


The region also finds its mention in ancient Hindu texts as Kachchha or the tortoise or coast land. After Alexander the Great visited parts of the region, which was then a great lake, in 325 BC, several Greek writers also described it in their chronicles. From 142 BC to 124 BC, Menander I ruled the region. Kutch later became part of the kingdom of the Indo-Scythians or Saka and was further occupied by the Gupta king, Chandragupta II. In the 1st century AD, Indo-Parthians are believed to have taken control over the region.


By the end of 5th century AD, Kutch was occupied by the Maitrakas of Vallabhi, and in around 7th century AD it became a part of the province of Sindh. From the 8th century onward, the Kutch region was captured by numerous dynasties, such as the Charans, Chavdas and Solankis until the arrival of the Vaghela dynasty in the 13th century.


After the 13th century, Samma Rajputs or Jadejas maintained their rule over the region, and their kingdoms were later called Cutch state. The Jadejas were also known to maintain healthy relationships with Gujarat Sultanate and the Mughals. This state eventually came under British suzerainty after its defeat in 1819.


After the Indian Independence in 1947, the Princely State of Cutch was given to India, and a port was established in Kandla. At the same time, the province of Sindh was given to Pakistan. Cutch state later became a centrally governed state, named Kutch, in 1948. In the year 1956, Kutch state was merged with the Bombay state, becoming its eponymous district. This district was then included in the newly formed state of Gujarat after the division of the Bombay state into Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960.


In the mid-1960s, an international tribunal was set up when a dispute arose over the Kutch region with Pakistan. The tribunal awarded about 910 sq km to Pakistan and the rest, measuring approximately 8190 sq km, to India.


Rann of Kutch is a large area of seasonal salt marshes, with the major chunk, lying in the Kutch district of Gujarat and partly covering areas of Pakistan’s Sindh province. It is divided into two parts, called the Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch.


In geographic terms, it falls in the bio-geographic area of the Thar Desert. Spreading over an area of about 25900 sq km, the marsh is situated between the mouth of the Indus River and Gulf of Kutch. The region can be accessed from the village of Kharaghoda in Surendranagar district of Gujarat.


During the monsoon months, the mudflats and salty clay of the marsh that lie just about 15 metres above sea level, completely submerge under water. When heavy rainfall occurs for a long period, the wetland extends to the Gulf of Cambay.


The marshy area was once a shallow part of the Arabian Sea, but sustained geographical uplift resulted in the closing of its connection with the sea. Subsequently, a lake was formed in the region. The Ghaggar River was then thought to drain its water into the Rann of Kutch, which currently empties into the Thar Desert.


With the capturing of Ghaggar’s tributaries by the Indus and Ganga Rivers, the lower reaches of the river became dry, thousands of years ago. The Luni River, which has its source in Rajasthan, flows through the north-eastern part of Rann of Kutch, ultimately draining into the Arabian Sea. The marsh is also fed by two other rivers, viz. the West Banas River and Rupen River.


A variety of ecosystems like mangroves and desert vegetation exist here as the region has a desert on one side and coastal belt on the other. The northern territory of the Great Rann of Kutch creates the international border between India and Pakistan.


Considered as one of the hottest regions in India, the Rann of Kutch exhibits extreme climatic conditions with very hot summers and minimal rainfall. The winter season is relatively pleasant and considered ideal for a visit.


The summer season lasts from February to June, during which the temperature reaches as high as 48 degree Celsius. This region observes an average rainfall of around 14 inches every year, which is responsible for lowering the summer temperature, and helps in sustaining agriculture in the region to some extent.


The average temperature ranges between 12 degree Celsius and 25 degree Celsius in winters. The weather remains cool and pleasant during the winter months of October to January. Often, the temperature drops to around 2 degree Celsius in winters.

How to reach

Bhuj Airport is the only airport in the Kutch region, and regular flights from Mumbai are easily available to it. It is about 86 km from the village of Dhordo, which is considered as the gateway to the Rann of Kutch.


Similarly, Bhuj has the nearest railway station to Great Rann of Kutch that is well connected to major towns and cities like Ahmadabad, Delhi and Mumbai.


Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat, is linked to Bhuj by National Highways 8A and 947. All-weather motorable roads link Bhuj to nearby towns and cities like Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar in Gujarat, and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. State-owned transport and private service providers operate standard as well as luxury buses between major towns and cities in Gujarat, including Bhuj.

Getting Around

Personal vehicles and taxis are the two means of transport to travel across the region as public transport is less popular in this area. To see the regional wildlife or the marshes, a Jeep or camel safari can be taken.

Where to go


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