Little Rann of Kutch a.k.a. LRK

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Little Rann of Kutch. Unique. Insane. Surreal. Stunning. What word does justice to it? Maybe all, maybe none. Spread over a staggering 5000 square kilometres, it is rivalled only by its big brother, the Great Rann of Kutch. While the word Rann implies a salt marsh, the word Kutch is used in local parlance to describe something which gets wet or dry very quickly. The name is apt given the Rann remains submerged under water during the rainy season and arid and dry during summers. Interestingly, Kutch is also the Sanskrit word for a tortoise, with the region shaped like one.
So, here are a few must dos when you get there!

1. Chase the relentless mirages on the horizon of the unending, unyielding expanse. It is recommended you explore Rann of Kutch with an experienced guide or local, otherwise once in the desert, there are absolutely no landmarks for you to navigate your way through and back.The best time to visit is indeed sunrise or sunset when the stretch as far as the eye can see is covered in a golden hue. The sights leave you spellbound, invoking a deep sense of introspection on how small and insignificant we are in this cosmic universe.

Run of Kutch
Run of Kutch

2. Spot the pans with crystallized mounds of salt painstakingly ploughed by the locals. This is the only area in the world where underground water (and not sea water) reacts with the mineral rich soil to produce salt of the highest (96%) purity. Salt production sustains the livelihood of many locals, with the activity going back 600 years in time. It gained much prominence during British rule as salt was used to fund military expenditure of the British government (connect the dots to Dandi March!).

Ploughing the salt
Ploughing the salt

3. Capture the elusive wild ass, desert fox, hyenas and jackals on camera as they are easily spotted in the area devoid of trees and shrubs. The Little Rann of Kutch is as famous for its landscape wonders as it is for the diverse and unique wildlife it supports. A visit to the wild ass sanctuary is a must for enthusiasts. Migratory birds, especially flamingos, pelicans, cranes et al visit the region every winter to breed.

4. Have a dekko at the Chakkdo (or hitch a ride if you are brave enough) – an eclectic contraption of a Royal Enfield bike and a vividly coloured bullock cart used by locals as a common mode of transport. The only thing more colourful than the Chakkdo itself are the bright hues of clothes worn by the locals, a welcome contrast to the dry shades of brown that abound.

Aboard a Chakkdo
Aboard a Chakkdo
The bright colors of Kutch
The bright colors of Kutch

5. Get a glimpse of the lives of native Rabadi tribes and admire their exquisite Rabari Bharat embroidery work. Women indulge in the embroidery as a pastime, whenever they get some time to spare from their daily chores. The designs typically have an array of bright solid colours, with mirrors stitched in to ward off evil or bad luck.

Rabadi Bharat embroidery
Rabadi Bharat embroidery
Inside a Rabadi's house
Inside a Rabadi’s house

How to get there? – The villages of Dasada and Patdi in the Surendranagar district are well known access points to the Little Rann of Kutch – about ninety kilometres away from Ahmedabad by road.

Where to stay? – Rann Riders and Bhavna Farms & Resorts are good options. The latter is perhaps the only pure vegetarian restaurant in the area.

Best time to visit – October to March
Ruins at the end of the last settlement before entering Little Rann of Kutch
Ruins at the end of the last settlement before the Little Rann of Kutch