Perched on the Western edge of Gujarat and bordered by Pakistan, the region of Kutch is fascinating not only for its rich culture and vibrant arts, but also for its stark and incomparable landscape and fauna. With a cool breeze in the air and the attractions at their best, winter is the perfect time to explore the region. Here’s what to see in Kutch.
The Great Rann
No visit to Kutch is complete without setting eyes on the Great Rann. The world’s second largest salt flat (the first is in Bolivia), it’s easy to be mistaken into thinking that you’re walking on ice when you set foot on the blinding white salt plains. After the monsoon rains have dried away, the white crystals welcome you to kick of your shoes and feel the coarse salty grains against your bare feet.
It’s a surreal experience up close, but even more spectacular from a distance. Head to the highest point in Kutch, Kalo Dungar (or Black Hill), and watch the sun set over the stark terrain as eagles fly gracefully past. It’s a mesmerizing sight.
Explore the crafts
The region is well known for its crafts, but what makes Kutch such a joy to visit is the diversity of talent that is dotted across the villages. Best done by car, each town has its own unique specialty. For exquisite weaving, head to Bhujodi where you can see artists honing their craft and haggle for a bargain. In Chavda, traditional clay pots are moulded from clay that is ceremoniously carried by camel, and then decorated by hand before your eyes.
Lac-wood turning is the specialty of Nirona, where everything from bangles to rolling sticks are transformed into vibrantly colored works of art. The town is also famous for Rogan painting, where the brush never actually touches the canvas. Nearby in Sumrasar Sheikh you can experience traditional Rabari embroidery, created by local women for centuries and now being celebrated at Kala Raksha, that serves as both a museum and a production facility. And for some fabulous houses, stop past Bhiryandari.
The Little Rann
While it doesn’t have the desolate but majestic views of the Great Rann, don’t be misled by it’s name. The Little Rann is certainly not short on adventure, but rather than the desert, it’s the flora and fauna that’s the major drawcard here. The Wild Ass Sanctuary is best seen on a morning safari when its namesake, the wild ass, are frolicking in the sun. In the evening, the birds take over the the dusk skyline, in the wetlands are flamingos, storks and ibises, while the drylands are filled with larks, plovers and warblers.
From December through to February, the Rann Utsav festival is held near the Great Rann. Spend the night in a tent on the Great Rann and enjoy cultural shows and information sessions about the region.
Kutch is a truly unique part of India, one that is often overlooked for the more popular Rajasthan. But given its proximity to the desert state, it’s well within reach even if you have only a short time to visit the region.