Hello again everyone! I am back with travel again. This time it’s Black vs. White, not actually verses. Both places contradicts in terms of colors but are quite closer to each other. When the idea of Kutch Travel came into my mind I was damn sure to include both places but due to lack of time I wasn’t able to visit. Finally on 16th January 2016 I got the chance to visit both of them. It was about 260 km long journey on motorbikes.
I’ll first write about Black Hills (90 km from Bhuj) commonly known as Kalo Dungar (Couple of Gujarati words Kalo=Black and Dungar=Hill/Mountain), see! it was easily translated into plain English. White Rann literally translated into White Desert. Anyone traveling to Kutch would have at least White Rann in his/her list of places. White Rann is mainly famous for Rann Utsav (festival of the Rann), will come later.
If have already traveled to White Rann or Black Hills you can see other places in Kutch such as Mandvi, Narayan Sarovar and Koteshwar, Mountains in Bhuj, Other than Mountains in Bhuj or Famous places in Kutch.
The whole article can be nut-shelled as 6 people, 3 bikes, 2 places and 1 hell of road trip. I along with my five other friends (Sunil, Kishan, Abhishek, Aklesh and Arvind). It was couple of days after festival Uttarayan, we left from Bhuj (our hometown) around 9.30 AM.
We reached to Bhirandiyara (49 km from Bhuj), an important place in our journey. It is the place from where you can reach to both places (Straight 40 km will take you to Black Hills and left 37 km leads to White Rann). It is also called entry point for White Rann, will tell you the reason later. Let’s begin Kutch Travel.
Kutch Travel 5.1: Black Hills a.k.a Kalo Dungar
From Bhirandiyara we travel 40 km more to reach to Black Hills. One of the most interesting aspect about Kalo Dungar is that it is on the top of magnetic field similar to Ladakh. It is one of three magnetic hills in India(Others are in Ladakh and Tulsishyam).
Black Hill is the highest point in Kutch, Gujarat, India, at 462 m. This is probably the only place in Kachchh from where a panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch is possible. Since it is located very near to the Pakistan border, there is an Army post at the top; beyond here, only military personnel are allowed.
The Kalo Dungar is also famous for a 400-year-old Dattatreya temple. Legend says that when Dattatreya walked on the earth, he stopped at the Black Hills and found a band of starving jackals. Being a god, he offered them his body to eat and as they ate, his body continually regenerated itself. Because of this, for the last four centuries, the priest at the temple has prepared a batch of prasad, cooked rice, that is fed to the jackals after the evening aarti (Source: Wikipedia).
Another, legend has it that there was once a holy man named Lakkh Guru residing at Kala Dungar and worshiping the Lord Dattatreya. He used to feed wild jackals. There came a day when he found he had no food, so cutting-off a part of his body he offered it to the jackals, saying, “Le ang!’ (Take body part). Over the centuries, this got corrupted to ‘Long’(Source: Wikipedia again).
Magnetic filed here can let you vehicle take up the speed over 80 km while climbing down to the hill and as we observed even on flat surface motorbikes were sliding down at the speed of 40-50 km average with engine turned off. While climbing upwards almost twice the fuel and power was consumed so at the end it makes even.
The best time would be roughly anytime to visit. You won’t feel much heat due to constant flowing wind. Beautiful view from top the hill. Whole White Rann can be viewed. Talking about food, at Black Hill they provide food for free. Of course you can donate some money to them to help their cause. Camel rides are also available for some nominal cost.
Kutch Travel 5.2: White Rann(Desert)
We head to Bhirandiyara village (remember the entry point to White rann I talked about before). Now let me tell you why it is important place in this journey. It is the place from where you have to buy an entry ticket to White Rann, yes! you heard it right. It’s not free of cost to visit White Rann, you have to pay some amount. Following is the list:
- For adults: Rs. 100 and children 50
- For two wheeler: Rs. 25 and four wheeler/buses Rs. 50
You also have to carry an identity proof along with you. Authority will provide you with a form. Once the payment is done you be provided with a Tourist Permit. Keep that permit along with you, because as you reach to the White Rann (4 km before actual) you have to show permit to concern authority.
From Bhirandiyara we traveled about 37 km to reach to the entry gate of White Rann. Once we parked out vehicles we had to walk about 1.5 km more to reach to the actual beginning of Rann. You skip walking and take either camel or horse rides.
The area was a vast shallow of the Arabian Sea until continuing geological uplift closed off the connection with the sea, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great. The Ghaggar River, which presently empties into the desert of northern Rajasthan, formerly emptied into the Rann of Kutch, but the lower reaches of the river dried up as its upstream tributaries were captured by the Indus and Ganges thousands of years ago(Source: Wikipedia).
The Government of Gujarat hosts an annual 3 month long (Start around November and end in February) festival called the Rann Utsav (festival of the Rann), where tourists can see the various sights of the Rann as well as get a taste of the local culture, cuisine and hospitality. Specially built local houses (called tents) are also used to house tourists to give them a taste of them. Many adventure clubs and travel clubs organize expeditions.
This is one of the hottest areas of India – with summer temperatures averaging and peaking at 45-50 °C. Winter temperatures reduce dramatically and can go below 0 °C , so prepare accordingly. Best time to visit would be the time of Rann Utsav itself. Mornings and Evening are great here. More and more people gather as sun start setting down. In evening there are lots of cultural events are organized at White Rann. On the day of Uttarayan festival people use to come from different places to fly kites. Recently they have started building a bridge structure from which you can see full panoramic view of White Rann.
Note: If you are planing to visit White Rann other than during Rann Utsav (Ranging from Nov to Feb each year), you must get written permission from the Bhuj DSP office (Saturdays and Sundays are off), this is because White Rann is located near Indo-Pak border. So plan accordingly.
That’s all for this series. Kutch is not only famous for its traveling places but lot more. It’s culture very rich. It starts from ancient civilization (such as Dholavira) to modern times, its handicraft, its diverse collection of people (including me 😉 ) and so on. Covering all of these and more in just 5-10 articles is not possible as well as justifiable. May be some time later I’ll touch on some other topics and stories about Kutch. But for Kutch Travel it is end. Hope you have good reading time, let me know about your thoughts in comments or message me.