It’s simply ethereal! Several hundred kilometers covered with the heavy deposits of salt crystals and shining pure white, like snow under the moonlight! And, when the sun shines brightest in the afternoons, its shimmering mirages are a sight to behold!
Divided into two parts – the Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch, the Rann of Kutch spreads over 7,505.22 sq kms and is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. It comprises the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, the Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, the Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, the Banni Grasslands
Reserve and the Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.
With the desert on one side and the sea on the other, Rann of Kutch has a variety of ecosystems, including mangroves and desert vegetation and is home to various forms of wildlife. Summer temperatures here can go up to 49.5 °C and down to below 0 °C in winters. While all the sanctuaries have their unique flora and fauna, it is the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary which a lot of tourists from all over the world come to. It is the world’s last refuge of the Indian wild ass – locally known as khur.
Do make a visit to the Kutch Bustard Sanctuary or Kachchh Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary for the endangered Great Indian Bustard. While the Lesser Florican Bustards breed here the flamboyant Macqueen’s Bustard is a winter visitor. Head for the Little Rann Of Kutch, also known as Flamingo City, and amaze at the hundreds of pink flamingos who regularly gather here every year for breeding. Here you can also get a chance to see rare and endangered animal species like the Chinkara, Desert Fox, jackal, Desert Cat, Caracal, Blackbuck, Striped Hyena, and over 350 unique bird species. If you have a night to spare, ask the locals or guides how and when you can experience Chir Batti or Ghost lights in the Banni Grasslands. On dark nights an unexplained strange dancing light phenomena, locally called Chir Batti is known to occur in the Banni grasslands, in the marshy wetlands and in the adjoining salt flats of Rann of Kutch.
The Rann of Kutch is an excellent place for children, too! Introduce them to the unique history of the area. While Dholavira nearby, an excavation site, contains the ruins of the Harappan civilization, Aina Mahal is a 250-year-old palace, blending Indian and European architectural styles. Also, the Mandvi beach is an ideal place for a dip. You will also find fossils of plants and dinosaurs, crocodiles, and whales (dating from the Tertiary period).
Not to be missed is the annual 3 month long Rann Utsav from sometime in November when you can get an experience the barren white land, the golf cart, ATV and camel cart rides, archery, giant chess, net cricket, paramotoring, meditaiton, yoga and the amazing Gujarati culture and cuisine. Tourists can also pick up some of the unique handicrafts of Kutch including clothes in beautiful mirror or bead embroidery style like Rabari, Ahir, Sindhi, Banni, Mutwa, Ari and Soofes