To a novice, just the mention of RANN OF KUTCH means rugged & cracked land with salt plains and colorful tribes around. The Little Rann of Kutch wild extends northeast from the Gulf of Kutch over 5,100 sq km in size, which is more than 12 times the size of Ranthambore National Park (400 sq km)Once an extension of the Arabian Sea, the Rann (“salt marsh”) has been closed off by centuries of silting. During Alexander’s time it was a navigable lake, but is now an extensive mudflat, inundated during the monsoons, salty and cracked otherwise. Settlement is limited to low, isolated hills. Many Bollywood films have been shot in these harsh terrains where the only obstruction between our eyes & beautiful horizon are specks of Asiatic Wild Ass.
As a travel professional I found 3 convincing reasons to promote Little Rann of Kutch to visitors from all over the world-
1.Wildlife:- Often found in herds of 15 to 20, Wild Ass are found in little Rann of Kutch and in no other park anywhere.
2.Birds: About 380 species of birds have been recorded in and around the little Rann Sanctuary. Bird waterchers have been more than 140 species of birds in a single day here. The are is known for Pelicans, Gazelle, Blue Bull, Wolf, Indian Foxes, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Hare, Chinkaras, Houbara bastard, Sandgrouse, Desert Chat, Desert Wheat Ear, Larks, Quails, Gray francolin, Nawa Talao, Vanod Saran, Flamingoes, Cranes, Storks, and Ducks. The wetlands here are paradise for wetland birds.
3.Textile : Kutch is also home to numerous tribal groups, whose attire often adds a dash of color to the otherwise dull desert monotones. Every textile tour that covers Bhuj and its villages, also features nomads of KUTCH. The journey into the surrounding villages here offers an insight into a variety of cultures & handicrafts. Kharapat and Vaidyara Rabaris are known for their exquisite embroidery with stitches interspersed with small mirrors.
There are many small villages & talukas around the little Kutch. Three villages – Dasada, Zainabad and Dhrangadhra have basic accommodation in Rann Riders, Desert Coursers and Eco Tour Camp (also known as Devjibhai’s Kooba) respectively.
Some of the prominent tribes that have made this region their home are the Rabaris, The Bharwads, The Kolis and the Bajanias. The region also plays host each year to many nomadic tribes like the Jat with their large herds of camels. On the periphery of the sanctuary lives a community of 15 families of nomadic Mirs. Their dress is Rajasthani, their homes are temporary and they make artistic bangles.
My only regret on this trip to one of the best hidden secrets of India was of not carrying a professional camera to capture some stunning sights that I saw. Now I possess a DSLR hence I pledge to be there soon in not so distant future.
28 Feb’ 2013