Diwali On The White Rann

Diwali morning on the White Rann

Imagine Diwali this year, you are walking on a great expanse of stark white salt plains laid out like a magical carpet spread far into the horizon, the mystical night sky is illuminated by a luminous moon and the earth is shimmering with diamonds wafting up from the ground. Is it a fantasy, a dream or a mirage? You can’t be sure as you walk on the white salt earth, the air aglow with seemingly billions of fireflies under the dark canopy of the constellations of effervescent stars. You would be forgiven for imagining you are the proverbial Alice in Wonderland, although your GPS will show Dhorodo in the Great Rann of Kutch, just 85 km from Bhuj in Gujrat.

The Rann of Kutch is one of the world’s largest seasonal salt marshes that stretches for about 30,000 square km in the Thar desert in Kutch, India and in Sindh, Pakistan. This area was once under the Arabian Sea till a geological uplift closed off the connection of the sea, leaving behind a vast lake which turns into a salt desert in the dry months and gets filled with water, standing at an average 15 m above sea level, in the monsoon months.

As a salt encrusted desert, the White Rann makes a crackling sound when you walk on it but is wet to the touch when you feel it. Simply put – it is hard salt and soft mud. And the best place to experience its mystique is at the Rann Utsav in Dhorodo. Started in 2009, the festival is held from November to March every year at a makeshift site where a tent city is created expressly for this period.

Left: Touristy commute on the Great Rann of Kutch Right: Dusk sets on the White Rann

The locals believe that the Rann changes its moods with the changing hour of the day. In bright daylight it looks like a white desert, transforming into an orange crimson vista as the sun sets over its salty horizon. On full moon nights, it is at its resplendent best as it unfolds into a soft blue shimmery vision. I know because I was there and no amount of pictures can prepare you for the real thing. The only way to truly understand it is by being there.

I arrived at the Bhuj Airport on the eve of a full moon night, a little surprised to see the small and quaint airport teeming with people. Ok, so the baritone of Amitabh Bachchan was working, I thought, as I saw his picture on the billboard proclaiming “Rann nahi dekha toh kuch nahi dekha”. I got into the cab headed for Dhorodo and started making small talk with the driver, something I always do to understand the people and their land as the miles went by on a straight road cutting through the dusk of Kutch.

On arrival, the cab stopped at the entrance of the Tent City from where the battery operated cart whisked me into the Reception and onto my place of stay, a beautifully done up Swiss tent. I quickly got ready to leave for the White Rann as 8.30 pm was the start of the viewing of the full moon. We were driven about two kilometres away to the BSF check post, where we got off the vehicles and walked onto a road made like a promenade on the White Rann.

Rann Utsav Tent City, at Dhorodo

The night sky was lit up by the enormous orb glowing fiercely in the sky as I started walking on the kilometre long tarmac flanked by the White Rann. It was about 10 minutes before the full impact of my surroundings hit me. Was I imagining it? I wondered as I got off the tarmac strip and started walking onto the salty earth. It was like walking on a sea of shimmering diamonds wafting above the White Rann as far as my eyes could see. There was no sense of distance or space or time as I felt suspended in the timelessness of this stark land. The sense of peace was all encompassing and all pervasive as it soaked into the very depths of my being.

On the White Rann

I have no recollection how long I was there or how far my mind wandered off, but at some point I turned around to where the vehicles were lined up to head back. The tent city was twinkling with inviting lights and the strains of folk music in the Kachhi night. It was back to life and living as the many charms of the mystical land waited to be discovered on an unforgettable Diwali on the White Rann.

As I remembered a fragment of a William Wordsworth poem, “The silence that is in the starry sky,” I understood the moment I was living. This was my Bodhi tree and it would stay with me for the rest of my life.

Pic 1: Bird’s-eye view of the Great Rann of Kutch Pic 2: At a B.S.F. check post Pic 3: Salt plains of the Great Rann

Read more by Rashmi B. Nayar


Picture Credit : Rashmi B. Nayar

Picture Credit : Kavitha Kanarparthi & Globeracers

32 thoughts on “Diwali On The White Rann”

  1. Reading your write up has made me add another destination to my Bucket List. I loved the way you played around with your words in describing the beauty of The Rann.
    Wishing more power to your pen Rashmi. 👏👏👏

    1. Thank you so much for writing in Col Bawa. Honestly, words aren’t enough to do justice to Kutch, but I’m so glad this has made you want you to go there to see it for yourself. Thank you again.

    1. Thanks a lot for writing in Preeti. I would definitely recommend doing this with the RPR group…it will truly be epic, I assure you 🙂 Thank you so much again for your feedback.

    1. Thank you so much Rajni. Wow…there’s no higher compliment than being matched with the dreamy baritone of Mr Bachchan! Thank you for that…you made my year❤️

  2. Awesome! Makes it top of my TO Do List !!! Deserts are always magical on full moon nights…. Can’t even begin to imagine the salt desert…. 🤩

    1. Thank you so much for writing in Bandna. Knowing your love for deserts – cold and hot both- I am very sure I’ll be looking at Kutch in your artwork when you see it for yourself. P.S. If you need company, let me know :)) Thank you again for your feedback.

    1. Thank you so much for writing in Shonu. Seriously, let’s do this – even if it’s too “dry” for the boys – the girls should go. Thank you again for your feedback.

  3. Rann of Kutch is on my bucket list. In fact had bought air tickets made other arrangements, then got snowed in.
    Thanks for letting me see it thru your camera and write up.
    Well written

    1. Thank you so much Himani. The traveller in you will love its stark expanse and getting to explore a completely different landscape and the people. Must do this. Thank you again for your feedback.

  4. Rashmi….the Rann of Kutch,Dhorodo has always been magical….your excellent narrative has substantiated that beyond words….I love the way you pen your thoughts ….as Lady Wordsworth you have established your credentials beyond doubt….keep them coming

    1. Thank you so much for the hugest compliment Gen Chetinder :)) I will have to give the credit to the effect of the moonlit Rann. I’m completely enamored by the Rann of Kutch, and have written about another fascinating place – the Gurudwara at Lakhpat. After reliving it’s memories with this write-up, I hope I can go there soon. Thank you again for the wonderful feedback.

    1. Thank you so much Kajal. I’m certain that once you’ve seen the Rann, you’ll want to capture its beauty through your beautiful paintings. Thank you writing.

  5. Rashmi your description has made it seem so magical. I think a visit is a must to experience what you have penned. Loved going through your article.

    1. Thank you so much for writing Aunty Lorraine. The beauty of the Rann is so unique and spectacular that it should definitely be a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you again for your encouragement.

  6. Beautifully written Mrs Nayar!I need to visit it Asap…..loved the way u have described the beauty of The Rann….luvd ur article.

    1. Thanks so much Aditi. I’m so glad I was able to bring the beauty of the Rann to you. To be honest, it’s difficult for words to do complete justice to its spectacular beauty, it definitely should be on your bucket list. Thank you again for writing.

    1. Thanks so much for writing Preeti. It truly is a magical land, though somewhat harsh in its stark expanse, the rawness calls out to you. Thanks again for your feedback.

  7. Fantasy , dream , mirage ! Wooooo , stealing your words to feel the wonder land. What a great lifetime experience that would have been. You are a pucca story teller. Such vivid description is rare to come by . Loved your narration. You scripted it well to entice me and its on my list for sure.

    Well done Rashmi. Looking fwd to more of your travel tales.

    1. Thank you so much for the amazing words of appreciation and encouragement Maj Datta. I am absolutely certain that you will love the Rann knowing your love for the great outdoors. Somehow, staying in the tent city captures the vibe better, maybe because it rekindles the memories of ‘tambu’ days, except that these are way more comfortable and fancy of course…though the lantern hanging outside was the exact same as I remembered from good ol days :)) Thank you again for writing.

  8. You have skilfully woven a magical narrative of the Rann …so bewitching, so enticing…can’t wait to visit.
    Thank-you for sharing with us, Missy !

    1. Thank you so much for the appreciation Priya. You will surely love the Rann knowing your spirit of adventure. It should definitely be on your bucket list for the unique and spectacular experience it is. Thank you again for writing.

  9. I’ve literally walked on shimmering diamonds under the star spangled moonlit sky and revelled at the vast expanse of white salt sand. Your writing ability is par excellence Rashmi B Nayyar. I’m completely sold on the Rann.

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement Tinky. You will fall in love with the Rann’s stark beauty I am very sure. Its rawness calls out and leaves its echo in the soul. Thank you again for writing.

  10. Absolutely lovely article. And loved the photographs too. Added this place to my bucket list Cos you have brought it to life and made it a must visit place. Keep sharing stories of more such offbeat places.

    1. Thank you so much Amol. I’m glad I was able to do justice to the spectacular and raw beauty of the Rann. It should definitely be on your bucket list as a road trip with your love for adventure. Thank you again for the appreciation.

    1. Thank you so much Dipali. It is all that and more – serene and peaceful. You will love it. Thank you again for writing.

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