The Tent City, Rann Utsav: Great Rann of Kutch
The Rann Utsav or Rann Festival is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals in India. The cultural extravaganza is organized by Gujarat Tourism every year in Dhordo village in the Kutch district of Gujarat. The festival takes place in the whimsical backdrop of the largest known salt marsh in the world – The Great Rann of Kutch. The stunning saline marsh in Kutch remains submerged underwater during the monsoons and slowly re-surfaces in October as the water slowly recedes from the shallow wetland. As you stand surrounded by miles and miles of salt-encrusted barren land, the unique and mystical experience would leave you awe-struck with its eerie beauty. The winter season (November to February) is the best time to visit this natural marvel, as the region becomes very hot in the summers.
The grandeur of the endlessly extending white salt marsh is highlighted and celebrated by Rann Utsav that runs for more than three months – from November to February. As you soak in the beauty of the stark landscape, the Rann Utsav elevates your experience by giving you an opportunity to savor the local cuisine, culture, and warmth. Rann Utsav began in 2005 as a three-day festival but now runs for 100-days every year. The grand festival of Rann helps in bringing the colorful and vivid art & heritage of the Kutch region to the forefront.
The town of Dhordo, located 85kms from Bhuj, comes abuzz during Rann Utsav with visitors traveling from all parts of the world to take part in the festivities. As tourists descend on the small town, the sleepy village comes to life. Small resorts, Bhungas (huts), and home-stays sprout all over the region, offering affordable options to stay. But if you really want to experience the Rann Utsav in all its glory, you have to stay in the accommodations provided by Gujarat Tourism – The Tent City and White Rann Resort.
After the success of Rann Utsav and the Tent City, Gujarat Tourism started another complex called White Rann Resort. The new resort gives you the option to stay in tents as well as local huts (bhungas) and is cheaper than Tent City. However, the Tent City is the one that is situated on the edge of the Great Rann. It is the hub of all the cultural events, adventure activities, local shopping, etc. So, if budget is not a concern and you want to enjoy the festivities fully, book your stay at the Tent City, Kutch.
The Tent City, Rann Utsav, Great Rann of Kutch
During Rann Utsav, Tent City is built and rebuilt every year across an area spread over 5,00,000sq.mt. in Dhordo. Around 350 tents are set up in C-shaped 9 clusters, and their are options for Non-AC, Deluxe-AC, and Premium tents. It takes two months to set up the temporary structure that has all the amenities for a perfect family holiday destination – multiple dining halls, a plethora of adventure activities, a huge reception area, Shopping Haat (arcade), clinic, recreation centers, stages, open spaces, and lots more. A staff of 350 people works around the clock to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Tent City attracts around 35,000 visitors every year.
Packages at Tent City, Rann Utsav
Tent City offers accommodations in various categories – Non-AC, Deluxe-AC, and Premium tents to suit all pockets. The rates start from 5000++ per person, per day for Non-AC cottages and keep on spiraling as you opt for bigger and better-equipped tents. If you are looking for personalized and royal treatment, you can book your stay at Darbari and Rajwadi Suite where the tariff starts from Rs 25,000++ per person, per day. The three Darbari tents are mostly assigned to VVIPs and come at a whopping price of Rs 50,000++ per person, per day. You can make your booking at booking.rannutsav.net.
Tent City offers 1-2-3-night all-inclusive package. Once you make a booking and reach Bhuj, you don’t have to stress over anything. You are picked up from the airport/railway station located in Bhuj at a specified time. Everyone collects at a waiting room built at the railway station. You can drink tea/coffee, use the washrooms and then leave for Dhordo on a coach. The ride will take two hours and you won’t get any food until you reach the resort. If you are hungry, better eat something quickly at the Click hotel located near the waiting room.
The package includes everything – pick-up/drop, meals, transportation, sightseeing tours, and many adventure activities. The permit to visit the Great Rann of Kutch is also organized by the Tent City. You just have to relax and enjoy the colorful festivities and the spectacular expense of white snowy marsh.
Stay at Tent City, Rann Utsav
People arrive in cars, taxis, and buses from all parts of Gujarat and neighboring states to take part in Rann Utsav. The entrance to the Tent City is grand and the resort looks festive with vibrant vibes, traditional structures, colorful decor, and local flavors. The reception area is big and the check-in is smooth and quick. A staff member escorts you to your tent, pointing out all the information needed during your stay at Tent City. The tents are placed in large clusters and each cluster has a manager sitting at the entrance. He looks after all the needs of people living in that cluster.
The tents are rustic but have all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay. All tents come with en-suite toilets. Hot running water is available in the mornings and evenings. There are no heaters in the tents nowadays. After a recent fire in the premises, the heaters have been discontinued in the tents. But there are enough blankets to keep you warm during the freezing nights. The tents do not have any locks and can be easily opened from both sides. However, the entire resort is under CCTV surveillance and looks quite safe. You can use the locker at the reception if you have some valuables that need to be stowed away.
The resort is well-spread out and you have to walk around the sprawling premises to reach the different amenities like dining-hall, adventure zone, conference hall, reception area, shopping stalls, spa, etc. You can also call the electric golf carts if you don’t want to walk.
The Food at Tent City, Rann Utsav
The food at Tent City is served buffet-style in the Dining-hall. There is an elaborate spread for breakfast, lunch, evening tea, and dinner and everyone gathers in the hall to have their meals. You get the best of Indian and Gujarati cuisine. There is a separate section for Jain food. Few international dishes are also served, but it is best to focus on the local delicacies. Non-vegetarian food and alcohol are not allowed in the resort. Darbari and Rajwadi tents have their own dining-hall. There is no room service, but morning tea/coffee is bought to your tent early in the morning by the servers. The warmth and hospitality of the staff are commendable.
Activities at Tent City, Rann Utsav
The Tent City has lots to keep everyone entertained. You can enjoy paramotoring, ATV Ride, Rifle shooting, indoor games, archery, yoga, and even a rejuvenating spa. The 60 ft high Skyzilla – the Adventure tower – offers lots of aerial activities like rappelling, ziplining, giant swing, rock climbing, etc. If the kids get restless, you can take them to the Kids Zone. Some of the activities are included in the package and a few, like paramotoring and ATV, are on a chargeable basis.
You can’t leave Tent City without buying some of the local handicrafts, trinkets, traditional outfits, bedcovers, cushions, etc. They have a small Haat tucked away near the entrance displaying a wide range of exquisitely crafted traditional stuff. The highlight of the resort is, of course, the folk dances, live shows, and music performances that are organized every day in the resort. The whole experience provides a great opportunity to experience the unique and flamboyant art and heritage of the Kutch region.
Excursions organized by the Tent City, Rann Utsav
Besides taking you for camel safari across the spectacular White Rann, many other excursions are organized by the Tent City. Guest can witness the breathtaking sunrise and sunset at the Great Rann, take a trip to Kala Dungar to get a panoramic view of the salty marshes, explore Bhuj and other tribal villages, relax at the Mandvi beach and visit the Kutch Museum & other nearby monuments. The number of excursions will depend on the length of your stay. If you are lucky to visit the Great Rann during the full moon, you get an additional trip at night when the moonlight lights up the entire space making the White Rann sparkle like shining jewels.
Internet connectivity at the Tent City, Rann Utsav
The region has very good internet connectivity. Mobile data and WIFI both work quite well and you should not face any problem in using your phone and other gadgets.
A trip to Great Rann of Kutch is undoubtedly a lifetime experience. And it cannot be denied that a stay in the Tent City of Kutch helps in making your vacation totally memorable.