In a land as diverse as India, there is a fair amount of buzz and activity everywhere all year long. Adding to the revelry, every winter, the beautiful landscape of Kutch in Gujarat, turns into a riot of colours
Words: Chhavi Nagpal
Gujarat is a land full of wonder that never fails to amaze you. The Rann Utsav, organised by the State Tourism Department, is an attempt to promote the image of Kutch as a celebratory land of art, crafts, music and dance. The grandest, larger-than-life celebration, the Tent City starts at Bhuj and eventually expands to take up a huge mass of the White Desert near Dhordo village. Be it with family or friends, the Rann Utsav is a festivity of local traditions that you absolutely must not miss. The spectacular sight of the full moon beaming down at the expanse of the desert is a serene sight that will leave a lasting impression on you. The sunrises are equally majestic and this is one holiday where you won’t mind getting up early.
the grand Setup
The Rann Utsav houses approximately 400 tents, arranged in several C-shaped clusters including accommodation, two separate dining halls, a conference hall for large gatherings, a club house for indoor sports, a café and a rejuvenation centre for recreation. The accommodation spans across categories of Rajwadi Suite, Premium Tents, Deluxe AC Swiss Cottages and Non-AC Swiss Cottages to suit all kinds of budgets. Sprawling across 5,00,000 sq. mt., Rann Utsav is a perfect blend of rustic charm and the luxury of urban amenities along with plush interiors and tasteful décor,
The elegant guesthouses here are mud structures decorated with mirror work and traditional paintings that give the artisans a platform to earn what they deserve while showcasing their skilled craftsmanship.
The star attractions of the festival are the vast varieties of handicrafts on display and the exquisite cultural performances put up by local groups. People flock to Rann Utsav to soak in the culture of Gujarat and splurge on the rare items that you won’t find anywhere else. Decorated in lively colours, with soft white lights and ample space to move around, half of the tents at the festival have been allocated to individual crafts for the artisans to put their products on sale.
Embroidery works, wood carvings, hand-block printed materials, mud-wall paintings, silver works, iron bells with copper coating and seashell toys are the most prominent finds here. Buy yourself a beautiful block-printed bedspread, splurge on wooden showpieces or take back seashell souvenirs for friends!
After you have exhausted all your budget limits, kick back and soak in culture from around the world with musical and dance performances. The 2017-18 edition of Rann Utsav saw performances of Kirtidan Gadhvi Garba, Krishna Avatar Dance, Gujarati Folk Music, Kuchhi Folk Dance, African Tribal Dance and more scattered across the months. The 2018-19 edition promises more power-packed performances.
Recreation for Rejuvenation
Apart from the grand display of handicrafts, take your choice from the numerous recreational activities offered by the festival for your leisure. You can beat your buddies at a session of paintball or laze around the pool table, you can indulge in some brain-exercise with chess games at the Leisure Club or head to the Recreation Centre to just mingle with other visitors. Head out in the middle of the night, walking in the white expanse, to look up at the beautiful blanket of stars and let the amateur astronomer in you spot some constellations too. Rann Utsav also has facilities of a Club House, a Meditation Hall and an Art Gallery.
For those looking to find their thrill pill in the middle of the White Desert, the prominent Skyzilla is definitely the answer. Standing tall at a staggering 60 ft. the Skyzilla adventure tower is a heart-pumping centre of aerial sports. Face your fears and test your courage with a variety of spaces like the Zipline Tower, the Sky Fall, Rock Climbing, Pendulum Swing and 18 different Rope Courses and a Rappelling Wall. You can also rent an ATV and speed across the white expanse. Trikke Rides are a bit of a trend at the festival, where you can ride a three-wheeled scooter-like contraption that will make heads turn. If the skies are calling you and you must go, take to paramotoring, a powered version of paragliding to take in scenic aerial views of the festival ground. Rann Utsav offers slow-paced rides on camel carts too!
The region of Kutch is a good ground for cultural exploration. If you are looking to expand your travel ground outside the festival site, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat also offers sightseeing tours, accommodation and food included, where you can explore sites of Kutch and visit Diu, Daman, Somnath, Dwarka, the beach, famous lakes, Ahmedabad, etc. The tourists are also given tours of popular cultural sights like the handicraft village Ludia and the eco-friendly Hodko village. The tours are really the perfect opportunity for a traveller to experience Gujarati zeal and culture with a heavy dosage of their hospitality.