As much as we adorn the beauty of beaches and sand dunes, a vivid terrain of salt marsh lies in the Thar Desert of Kutch District, Gujarat, India. Spreading across 7.505 sq km, the Rann of Kutch is reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world. The word ‘Rann’ means desert in Hindi. This snow white land mass turns out to be an avid spot for those who wish to explore an artistic travel experience. With layers of purity in every step you take here, Rann of Kutch offers a delightful experience with serenity.
The region remains wet during a significant time of the year which brings the Banni Grasslands to light. These are located on the outer belt of Rann of Kutch.
With the Arabian Sea encompassing here, and prominent locations like Gulf of Kutch in the South, Rann of Kutch in the North and the Little Rann of Kutch in the East, this place is an apt destination for those starry sky winters.
Over 70 percent of the Salt in the country is produced in Kutch, home of 48,000 Salt Pan workers, locally called Agariyas, who belong to denotified tribals.
The dynamic colours of Gujarat are something you are bound to witness here. With a generous dose of history and a dynamic range of animal species, Kutch is a pleasant, picturesque spot, waiting for you to explore.
In order to reach Kutch you can take flights to Bhuj from any major city. Rail route is the best option, since you can take trains which go directly to Bhuj.
Great Rann of Kutch
The entire Rann of Kutch is divided into Little Rann which spreads across 4,950 sq km and is a Wild Ass Sanctuary. The other half is the Greater Rann, a wildlife sanctuary. Together they team up to become a largest adjoining wildlife territory in India. The animal species here include nilgai, chinkara, wild boar, porcupines, fox, wolf, jackal and wild ass. Tourists across the globe head over to encounter the amazing wildlife. The best time to visit the sanctuaries is from October to March.
Little Rann of Kutch
The main highlight of this place is the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. Locally known as ghudkar or khur, the Indian wild ass is a subspecies of the onager. It was established in the year 1972 and came under the Wildlife Protection Act a year later. Apart from wild ass, the sanctuary is also home to animals like chinkara, hedgehog, fox, desert cats, jackal, jungle cats, wolf, blue bulls etc. Over 12 species of snakes and crocodiles can also be spotted in the sanctuary. It has three entry points, Bajana, Aadeshwar and Jinjhwada.
Marine National Park
The place is a haven for Marine lovers. With great diversity of habitat, coral reefs and mangroves, the Marine National Park has the distinction of being the first one in India. The park covers 163 sq km and spreads across 42 tropical islands. It was declared a National Park in 1982. Marine animals like Gangetic Dolphins, Giant Crabs, Balooga whales and Giant Leather Back Turtles can also be found here. The place is also home to many bird and animal species who flock around here.
The name means Lake of Narayan which is another name for Lord Vishnu. Ideally there are five sacred lakes located here. The main temple complex is situated on one of these lakes and serves to be a sacred pilgrimage site.
In addition, Rann of Kutch has a popular annual festival called ‘Rann Utsav’. It is an amalgamation of varied hues, intricate design and a mosaic of exquisiteness. The festival is an identity to Kutch and is a 3 day festival during the full moon night of winter; however it is stretched to indulge in some amazing experiences for a longer period. The festival is slated from 18th November 2015 to 23rd February 2016.
Although the marsh lands of Kutch come under protected areas, it is vulnerable to cattle grazing, firewood collection and salt extraction operations, all of which may involve transportation that disturbs wildlife. Free Press Journal requests its readers to take an initiative and preserve such bountiful places.