Rann of Kutch is inspiring many travelers from not only India but from around the world due to its unique landscape and natural phenomenon i.e White desert. Many people come here chasing beautiful sunsets and illuminated landscape on full-moon nights.
The area was devastated by the 2001 earthquake. In the effort to rebuild the area, kick start the commercial and tourist activities Runn Utsav was planned. Rann Utsav showcase Kutch’s geographical and cultural distinctions through hi-end marketing which is promoted by State tourism department & supported by the Head of state. Rann Utsav is all about supporting the local communities and preserving the local crafts and traditions along with exploring the vast flatland, The white desert.
When we reach Bhuj our first day trip we planned was to visit the Rann Utsav and white desert. When I reached Bhuj railway station I found a big temporary tent erected outside of the station which serve as a waiting room for the peoples who have booked their stay in the tent city at white desert. We have booked our hotel, Click Hotel, next to the station which was very convenient if anyone coming to Bhuj by train. After check in our plan was to immediately left to the white desert for which we have already hired taxi and it was waiting in the hotel premises. Since thing were already planned and kids were also excited, we left for Dhordo. On the way to the white desert we stopped just before the Bhirandiyara check point for a tea break as suggested by our driver. Not only the tea was very refreshing but also, they are selling sweet Mawa which was very delicious. While returning we again stopped there for tea break and purchased a lot of Mava. On reaching the destination the first thing visible was the tent city and traffic chaos outside. We stop there for the picture with the Rann Utsav tag and left for the second main attraction, handicraft market area before going to the white desert.
For me it was an enjoyable trip not only because of watching the white desert with my kids and a beautiful sunset but also because of a lot of shopping I have done there.
If you are planning a trip to White Desert read this post completely. Other than planning your accommodation and transportation you should also know about the permit requirement for visiting the White Rann and the Kala Dungar area. Everything else depends on individual preferences and budget.
Where to stay
Whenever you are planning a trip the first thing comes in mind is where to stay? If you are coming for a multi-day trip for visiting in and around Bhuj then making Bhuj your base will be the best option.
Hotels in Bhuj City
This is the most preferred and economical option for most travelers. Plenty of hotels are available for every budget. While staying in Bhuj you can explore white desert as a day trip with city and surrounding later without wasting your half days for transfers. If you are coming from other parts of the country and your sole destination is white rann, then you can also check out tent city near the white desert.
A huge tent city is set up at the location by Gujarat tourism inside a secured compound where visitors are not allowed (you are allowed only if you have a reservation there). Staying in a tent city is itself a complete package and they will keep you entertained and engaged with many neatly staged cultural experiences along with an organized tour to the white desert. All this comes at a high price tag (Family of 4 stay cost Approx. ₹ 24000 for basic non-AC tent). We haven’t stayed there not only due to high price tag but also to avoid the hassle of changing the hotel every day because of multi day trip we have planned in the Kutch. We stayed in Bhuj for 4 days in the same hotel and hired a car for our day trips.
Hotels around Dhordo and Hodka
There are many hotel and resort around Dhordo and Hodka. Most of them are tent accommodation and many are in the traditional Kutch bhunga style accommodation. Other than this you can find people offering home stays in many villages.
How to get from Bhuj to White desert
Once you are in Bhuj, you are one step closer to the White Rann of Kutch. The distance between Bhuj and White Rann is approximately 90 kilometers. If you arrived Bhuj in your own vehicle the whole road trip up to White Rann of Kutch will be convenient and save you a lot of money. Road from Bhuj to White Rann of Kutch is smooth and some places it is four lanes. You can make your own plan for visiting the area at the time convenient to you and can change your itinerary as and when required. If you don’t have your own vehicle, here are a few ways in which you can go to the Great Rann of Kutch from Bhuj.
Hire a Private Taxi
If you don’t have your own vehicle and you are travelling in a group, this is the best and most expensive option. All the private taxis are operating on a minimum kilometer par day fare, irrespective of how much distance you cover, after that there is a per KM fare in addition to the minimum fare. We hired our cab, Indica Vista, from Bhuj which cost ₹ 2500 per day for 300 kilometers. This is the starting price for renting a car, the price will increase for vehicle type and number of peoples. For a Solo Traveler or couples, this is the most convenient but also most costly option.
Rent a Bike/Scooter
If you are solo traveler or couple and have a driving license you can consider renting a bike or Scooter from Bhuj. It will take around 2.5 hours to reach White desert from Bhuj. Bike rental start from ₹ 800 and go up to ₹ 1200 depending on the season and the place where you hire. You can get different type of bikes from Royal Enfield to Honda Activa.
The area outside Bhuj is a flat land and mostly windy, carry appropriate layers of clothing with you while riding in evening or night time during winter months. If you are a foreign national check the validity of your driving license if you don’t have international driving permit. For renting bike, you can check with
Bike On Rent: +91 98791 94944
MK Auto : +91 9898983999
There are other bike rentals also available in the city. Check at least two or three shops, their rentals and bike condition before closing the deal.
Rann of Kutch Tour Packages
There are many tour operators in the Bhuj City which operate daily tours to white desert and Kala Dungar. Tour operators organize tour through buses or shared taxi. So, if you are travelling solo, consider this option also then renting a bike or car. Contact your hotel or hostel for more information.
Self-Drive Car rental
Self-driving car rental is not available in Bhuj till now. You can hire a car in Bhuj City only with a driver.
How to Get the Permit for White Rann and Kalo Dungar
Once you have decided how you are going to the white desert then there is only thing left between you and the white desert, entry permit. White Rann and Kalo Dungar fall into notified areas by district collectorate Bhuj and require permits to visit them. Getting a permit for the White Desert and Kalo Dungar is a simple and easy process. The cost of a single permit for an Adult is ₹ 100 and for child (Between 6 to 12 Years) is ₹ 50 per day. You must pay additional charges for the vehicles. For two wheeler it is ₹ 25 and for four wheeler it is ₹ 100 per day.
If you are travelling by your own vehicle getting is permit is very easy and you can apply it any time before your actual travel date through the Rann of Kutch permit website.
This facility is available only for Indian national. Go to the website, fill your details along with other group members detail, vehicle detail and upload any one of the four-photo identification card (Aadhar card, driving license, Voter card, Passport) of any one member of the group and make payment. After payment permit is generated. Printout of this permit is required at checkpoint.
The second option is the Bhirandiyara check post the which is on the way between Bhuj and Dhordo. You cannot miss this checkpoint as you will see the police barricading on the road going straight towards Kalo Dungar and this is the place where you have to take left turn towards Dhordo for white desert. The permit offices in the right side of the road in a Bhunga style office. Carry a copy of any one photo identification card (Aadhar card, driving license, Voter card, Passport) of any one member of the group along with the cash for payment. Fill out the permit form with the details of all persons travelling with you along with the vehicle number and type. After payment, they will hand over the print out of the permit and you can move on. The whole process takes around 30 minutes. Do remember that the checkpoint opens at 10 AM.
Bhirandiyara permit office google coordinates 23.668894, 69.710056.
If Kalo Dungar is not on your mind then there is one more option for getting the permit. You can go straight up to the Dhordo village near the white desert entrance which is next to the tent city.
You will find another permit office here before BSF check point, from where you can get your permit to visit the white Rann. I recommend to use the permit office at the Bhirandiyara check point, since most people don’t stop at the checkpoint on the way expecting to get the permit at the entrance of the white Rann. This place is more crowded than the Bhirandiyara check point. The procedure for the permit is same and the permit office accepts cash and Cards both.
After getting the permit, show it at the BSF checkpoint and from there you can go up to the viewing gallery by your own vehicle. Before no vehicles were allowed on this stretch, you have to use only the camel cart or walk to reach up to the viewing gallery. Camel carts are still available for a joy ride.
Google coordinates for the Permit office at the entrance of the White desert area 23.807061, 69.510747
Note: If your Rann Mahotsav stay package is from the tent City or the White Rann Resort, you don’t need a permit. Your permit will be arranged by your tour organizer.
What to expect at Runn Utsav
As I told before Rann Utsav is all about the promotion of the local art & crafts which is visible in the fair setup outside before the white desert entrance. The shops in this fair is given to the local craftsman where they sell their traditional dresses, ornaments, leather shoes and home decor items. I have done shopping from here to my heart’s content. Lot of shopping I have done for myself and bought some gifts for family and friends. There are many eating joints, ATM and tourist information Center also there. Only public toilet available was next the stalls which was in very bad condition. After shopping is done it’s time to explore the white desert.
A BSF checkpoint is located before entering the white desert where you have to show your permit. After that there is a straight road with white desert on both sides. The road will end after a few kilometers with a parking facility and an observation tower. The observation tower is almost three stories high and will give a panoramic view of the area. The time we reach there it was overcrowded and we skipped it and went straight into the white desert. Mind your way while venturing inside the salt desert since many parts are not dry till January. During holiday season you may wish to go far inside the salt desert to leave the crowd behind and have the place for yourself. Wait till the sunset time to enjoy the lovely views of the sunset. If you are visiting the place near the full moon time, then stay there after sunset and enjoy the illuminated desert in white moon light.
If this white desert road from the entrance up to the viewing gallery doesn’t impress you, head straight to Dholavira. This is where you’ll come across a 7-kilometre straight road that passes through the White Desert on its either side and you will get the best driving experience through the White Desert.
Best Time to Visit White desert and Kutch Runn Utsav
The best time to visit white rann is on a Full Moon or at least up to two days before when the moon rise is a little early in the evening. The white desert shining in the moonlight is certainly one of the most beautiful and magnificent sight you have seen ever.
From November to the next monsoon the whole area is dry and you can visit anytime. Gujarat Tourism is organizing Rann Mahotsav every year from November till end of February and this is the best time for visiting the white desert since the climate is cool in these months. You can visit white desert after that also but the climate will be harsh and not enjoyable. Also, the tent city, handicraft fair and food stalls will not be available after the Rann Mahotsav.