India draws in visitors from around the globe for its vibrant cultural and whimsical splendor, but few places remain as dreamy as the white sandy desert of Kutch, in Gujarat. The already stunning area becomes something otherworldly from December 1st, 2019 until February 20th, 2020 with Rann Utsav, an annual carnival of dance, music and cultural activities that takes place in the moon-lit desert.
Before the idea of relentless desert heat deters you, hear us out. Wintertime in these areas brings cool evening air and the salty marshland transforms into a mesmerizing silver sheet of white. Not only does Rann Utsav give visitors a ringside view of the world-famous desert, but it also offers an opportunity to explore the history, cultural and archaeological sites of the Kutch, one of the most ecologically and ethnically diverse regions of Gujarat.
Once written off as a lifeless stretch of land, the White Rann holds an infinite amount of stories. When Rann Utsav began, it was only three-days long but it wasn’t long until the dessert festival became one of the most eagerly-awaited events in India, eventually evolving into a nearly 100-day celebration. Each year, an entire tent city is assembled across five square-kilometers of land, complete with infrastructures like luxury accommodations, spas and shops. With traditional music humming through the air and the moon and stars lighting the campgrounds, it’s pretty hard to deny the dessert’s magic.
The heartbeat of the festival is its emphasis on local traditions and crafts. Visitors can discover some of the many various styles of embroidery, pottery, woodcarving, metal-craft, shell work and other handicrafts local to the region, and also try their hand at arts. From learning the technique of ethnic Tran embroidery to making hanging door decorations with threads and tiny mirrors, you’ll leave the Rann Utsav with new knowledge and skills.
Between extravagant dance performances and folk music concerts, spend time on a camel safari, race rally cars in the desert, or, if you’re bold enough, paramotoring. For those who need a break from the excitement, there’s a spa and meditation hall, plus Wi-Fi tents so you can keep Instagram updated through the event. By nightfall, the stars are luminous and beg for your attention.
Where to stay:
Rann Utsav runs from December 1st, 2019 to February 20th, 2020. For information on accomodation packages, how to get to the site, and more, visit:rannutsavgujarat.in.