Come full moon time in December and over 2 lakh tourists from all over the world make their way to Kutch. Kutch, located in northwest of Gujarat and the Western coast of India is comprised of the greater Rann of Kutch and the smaller one. It can appear desolate but the desert region of Kutch teems with life. There are human settlements large and small, nomads living in small groups by the roadside, villages, towns and cities. In December the Banni takes on a festive air as the Government of Gujarat has been organizing the Kutch desert festival since 2006 to promote tourism in this region. For 2023-24 the festival dates are from 1st November 2023 to 20th February 2024. The extended period encompasses several festivals like Diwali, Makar Sankranti, New Year and Vasant Panchmi.
The Rann Utsav is centered on Bhuj but the place to be is the Tent City located near Dhordo village, about 85 km away. The site is known for its white sand. It is a huge complex with accommodation of various types, dining halls, reception area, and conference hall, clubhouse for indoor recreation, café, rejuvenation center, handicraftz bazar and platforms for public performances of local folk cultural arts such as dance and music shows. There are over 350 tents across 9 clusters.
One can fly in to Bhuj or to Ahmedabad and take a train or travel 446 km by road. Transport facilities are available to reach the Dhorda site from Bhuj and the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat also arranges guides, food and sightseeing excursions to places of interest in the region such as dholavira, Narayan Sarovar, Kera, Tundavad, Chari dhandh, to Bhuj, Kala Dungar, Mandvi Beach and others. Within the complex one can get from one place to another on golf carts.
Tented accommodation is on offer and guests can take their pick from deluxe Darbari suite, Rajwadi suite, premium tents with plus interiors and Deluxe AC and non-AC Swiss tent cottages at the Dhorda festival site. You can just as well stay in any hotel in Bhuj and travel to Dhordo to enjoy the festival.
This is one of the longer landscape official festivals in Kutch. Depending on when you arrive and how long you stay you can enjoy a host of cultural activities like puppet shows, dances and folk music besides sight-seeing activities. For instance, one of the best times to visit is when there is a full moon bathing the white desert landscope in an iridescent soft glow and enjoys open air shows and dances. Uttarayan is when kite flying festival gets underway, a day of excitement and fun. You can just as well arrive on December 31 for the New Year celebrations.
Regardless, there are various activities always available such as ATV rides, Para motoring, trike rides, paintball, net cricket, trampoline, pool, chess, camel cart rides and star gazing. One can take part in games, enjoy a spa treatment or undertake some meditation. There are officially arranged programs such as the Dholi Nritya, African tribal dance by the local Sidi community and more.
There is shopping available in stalls that showcase Kutchchi handicrafts and embroidered arments, famous among which is the extremely heavy Ghaghara with hundreds of mirrors contained in the embroidery. Food is a defining factor of Kutchi lifestyle and culture and there are innumerable delights on offer such as Bajra rotla, Kher sangli, Khari Bhat, Gulab Pak and more in various stalls that remain open till late at night.
Some corporates take the opportunity to organize a MICE tour while some couples find it a perfect venue to wed. Visit the festival for a day or two or stay for a week and enjoy a truly immersive experience of Kutchi lifestyle. You can spend time in excursions to explore the palaces in Bhuj, ancient site of Dholavira, Nirona village for handicrafts, Koteshwar near Narayan Sarovar, which is also a chance to view migratory birds and may be a visit to the Indo Pak Border.
The great festival of Kutch in the great desert is truly marvellous and eye openers about the culture of Kutch where people from all over have settled and showcase traditional styles that have been in existence since ages. It is a visit you will cherish.
Rann Utsav of Kutch Festival 2023-2024 Dates
|3-4-5 Full Moon Package, Weekend
|2-3-4 Full Moon Package, Weekend
|14 Children’s Day
|1-2-3 New Year, Full Moon Package
|1 Full Moon Package
|14 Valentine’s Day
|30-31 Full Moon Package