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Rann Utsav – Cultural Fiesta of the White Salt Desert

Rann Utsav Cover Image

Behind the dry and arid region of the desert, stands a place with rich history of arts, culture and heritage. The eerie silence of the barren lands is enough to give you goosebumps, but add to beauty of the place. I never knew deserts can be beautiful until I visited the magnificent desert of Kutch. That’s the unique charm of the place, which makes you wonder about the miracles of nature. 

Rann Utsav Tent city front image

Rann of Kutch is around 50 km from Bhuj city, hence if you visit there you must experience stay at tent city in Rann Utsav. Been there, done that, here is an account of magical experience at Rann Utsav.

The Arrival

Image of People welcoming with music at Runn Utsav
A Musical Welcome

The tent city is located at Dhordo village, which is located around 50 km from Bhuj city. The pick-up facility is provided by the Rann Utsav team, arranging pick-ups from railway station and airport. After a good 1.5 hour ride, as you step down from the vehicle, you are welcomed on the sounds of the dhol accompanied by folk dance. The energy of the beats wears off your fatigue. Above all, it livens up the atmosphere.

Tent City Experience

After checking in the tent city, you are at your leisure to explore the place. Spread across an area of 5000 sq.meters, tent city houses 500 tents and cottages, 2 dining halls, a shopping area, some photo points and one activity area. But, the good part is the availability of golf carts to ferry you around the place. 

For the shopaholic souls, there’s a dedicated area to let out the inner shopping monster. There’s a plethora of items on sale, for instance, bandhni duppattas, hand-woven shawls, metal artefacts etc. You can also try your hand at various crafts like pottery and clay modelling at nominal charges and make your stay worth. The dining experience is one not to be missed. An excellent spread of Gujarati cuisine is on offer, not once or twice, but four times a day. Enough to leave you with foodgasm. 

Magical & Mystical White Rann

As the evening nears up, you grab your camera and head towards the mystical white rann to witness the beauty of the desert. A barren salt flat that extends over an area of 17000 sq. km and stretches across International Border to Pakistan. Once upon a time this area was a seashore. But owing to tectonic movements, a part of ocean dried up in the region leaving behind the huge flat salt plain. 

White Lands and Purple Skies
Lit under Moonlight

In an honest opinion, the place is worth all the hype. The white backdrop appears so beautiful that you just cannot take your eyes off them. And it becomes even more beautiful when the full moon shines at night. As long as your sight reach, everything is shining and sparkling under the beautifully lit moon. It is one experience you must have in your lifetime. It’s just like a fairy tale ending to an eventful day.

If the moonlit desert wasn’t enough to enthral you, a captivating sunrise definitely will complete the formalities. As you notice the changing shades of the skies from black to pink to orange to blue, from the horizon, emerges an orange ball with a Midas touch, turning everything to gold. 

Captivating Kalo Dungar

Still being hungover from the magnificent views of the white desert, after a sumptuous breakfast, you head towards Kalo Dungar. Standing at an elevation of 300 m above sea level, Kalo Dungar is the highest peak of Kutch and was used as a compass in olden days while travelling. 

Sunset at Kalo Dungar

It takes around one hour ride from Tent City to reach Kalo Dungar. The peak is situated around 500 m from the parking spot and you can either walk or enjoy the camel-back ride to the top. Once at the peak, you have a panoramic view of the desert and the back-waters of Khari River. On a clear day, you can even see Indo-Pak border through binoculars. 

There is an interesting legend associated with the place. Over 4 centuries ago, there lived a saint named Pachmai Peer on the hills. One day a pack of wild jackals appeared in his ashram and stood expectantly in front of him. Looking into their eyes, he realized that they were famished. All that he could offer them was a spartan meal of rice and dal. And offer he did, and the jackals went back with their tummies full. 

Jackal of Kalo Dungar

The ritual of feeding continued for months till one day when there was no food in the ashram.  Realizing that his guests will have to go back hungry, the Peer, in a gesture of unimaginable generosity, chopped off his hand and offered it to the jackals, saying ‘lo ang’, which meant ‘here, eat my hand’. The jackals, as on every other day, went back satiated. But from that day onwards, the inmates of the ashram have made sure that the jackals of Kalo Dungar are fed, not once but twice a day. And they haven’t missed it even once in the last 400 years.

Marvelous Mandvi

After witnessing the generosity of the saint, we return to base and have a lavish lunch at the Tent City. After an hour of leisure time, we set off for Mandvi Beach. If anyone asks me about my favourite beach destination of Gujarat, Mandvi beach wins hands down. 

The pristine blue waters of the sea are a treat to sore eyes. The huge windmills set at the shore add to the beauty of the shores. And the flocking sea-gulls become an icing on the cake. 

A couple of kilometre towards the north of the beach stands the magnanimous Vijay Vilas Palace. The central high dome on the pillars, the Bengal domes on the sides, the windows with coloured glass, carved stone ‘Jalis’, domed bastions at the corners, extended porch and other exquisitely stone-carved elements, make the palace worth visiting.  

The palace is hosts a private beach and is home to the Royal Family of Kutch. A closer look and you can recognize the shooting spots from the movies Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan.  The topmost point offers an unobstructed view of the sun slowly setting into the Arabian Sea, ending a day full of events.

Cultural Events at Tent City

You return from Mandvi around and have a gourmet dinner ready for you, but the fun isn’t over yet. You move towards the activity area where you will get up close and personal with the colours and flavours of Gujarati folk performances. 

The stand-out performance of the night is the Siddi Dhamal. The Siddis are the descendants of the indigenous Bantu tribes of East Africa, who migrated to the subcontinent during the Colonial Era. Bringing the African touch of Zumba and Haka, Siddi Dhamal is one refreshing act performed on the beats of the Bongos. It is another experience that livens up your mood and incites the inner aboriginal in you.

As the music plays in long into the night, you enjoy every moment of it and reminisce the wonderful moments spent in the magical, mystical and beautiful desert of Kutch.  

Ziro Festival of Music- A heavenly abode for Music Lovers

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Your love for music can never be defined, if not visited Ziro Festival of Music. Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, being calm all through the year, boosts up by hosting an outdoor music festival every year. It is the whole new world of music in India. The most suitable event to fill up the thirst of your music. Thus, Ziro Festival of Music is the heavenly abode for Music Lovers.

Artists performing at Ziro Festival of Music

About Ziro Festival of Music

Founded in Arunachal Pradesh, it showcases the scenes of independent musicians in India. Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty started celebrating music in Ziro Valley in 2012, which now turned out to be the greatest outdoor music festival in India. Spread over four days in the month of September-October, it is a delight to your musical soul. The festival is hosted by the Apatani tribal community residing there. It features the eminent musicians from all over the world with their wonders of creations of music. 

Gathering at the Festival

Formalities of Ziro Festival of Music

Ziro Music Festival has entry passes which are easily available on the site of the festival and other online booking sites. Also, you can directly buy them there en route but, only if you reach early enough.

Also, there are government entry permits required to visit Ziro Valley. These permits can be obtained from state offices in Delhi, Guwahati and Tezpur. Be prepared for all such stuff.

Campsites at Ziro Valley

About Ziro Valley

Ziro Valley is the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arunachal Pradesh. A picturesque valley is not easy to reach. But all the efforts to Ziro Valley is a beauty in itself. There is no direct airport or railway station connecting to Ziro Valley. You need to take a road trip to Ziro Valley through the nearest railway station Naharlagun. Guwahati, nearest to Ziro, has easy air or train connections from all over the country. The journey to Ziro Valley is adventurous. It is a trip to remember for your lifetime. 

The options to stay in Ziro Valley during the festival are homestays or tents. You can also carry your own tents to the place. The stay options might get expensive during the festival.

Paddy fields of Ziro 

Apart from the booze of music, Ziro awaits for you with the local touch of experiences in its golden paddy fields. Guzzle up in music with the bamboo mug of rice beer and local delicacies of cuisine.

When you are filled with all the music, you might also look for other things to do here. Ziro is filled with numerous excitement to make it your best days. It is the perfect destination for the nature lovers. Trek to the Dong Village to take the most beautiful view of sunrise. It is the place to receive the first sun rays in India. Go for cycling trips in hilly regions. Learn fish farming with the locals. 

Stall at the Festival

When its the stargazing cold nights in Ziro with rains, its the warmth of music which holds you back. Live up the best moment at Ziro Valley with the Music Festival. Keep slaying in the musical breeze of Ziro Valley.

Also look for the places to visit for your exciting trips with your bachelor buddies.

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