The Little Rann of Kutch (LRoK)
The ‘Little’ Rann of Kutch is a 4950 sq. km. saline desert in the Kutch Peninsula of western India that is dominated by vast salt pans, shrubby islands, seasonal nullahs, marshes and rocky hillocks or Dungars of volcanic origin. This unique landscape was originally part of the Arabian Sea. As the land separated from the sea by geological forces, it became a vast, featureless plain encrusted with salt that is inundated with water during the monsoon rains.
One of the most immersive ways to understand a landscape is to take a walk. The forested grounds of Rann Riders with its species of native trees, the wetlands within, the fields around the property, irrigation canals and the lakes dotting the fields make for great walking country. These walks are curated to highlight the smaller bird life, the agricultural practices of the local community, the simple living styles of the farmers and of course, looking at the smaller lifeforms like butterflies and dragonflies, who in their own way, contribute to this ecosystem. Walking the ‘’Rann ki Kaanti’’ or the edge of the Rann on one of the scrub islands, is also a possibility that can be organised by our team.
Night walks within the property are also organised for those keen on walking under the stars in search of owls, civets, bats, porcupines and small carnivores like foxes and jungle cats.
Village safaris by Rann Riders are designed to give you an opportunity to engage with the communities, observe their unique weaving practices and explore the handicrafts of the region. One of the highlights of our village visits is listening to the stories of Sarfaraz Malik in his house at Dasada. A member of the old jagirdars of Dasada, he is a fascinating repository of knowledge about every aspect of the Rann – from history to natural history with a special interest in the raptors of the region having himself been an expert falconer.
Wandering on foot and by vehicle, we explore the traditional arts and crafts of the local communities. The weaves of the Kharapat Rabari women using herringbone stitches interspersed with small mirrors & occasional chain stitches for peacocks and other motifs. At their houses, you can see fine embroidery on dowry sacks, a set of eight wall decorations including toran, chakla & pardo, horn coverings for their cattle and covers for their bullocks, chaniya-choli-odhni A set of skirt-blouse-and-veil) & heirloom pieces. The Mirs of Dasada work with beads to create braids, tassels, and necklaces. Mir women have begun to make beaded bangles commercially too that they sell in their houses and at the lodge.
A unique weave of this region is the Tangalio. Weavers are adept at adding extra knots on the weft which create motifs & figures in a dotted pattern on the woven fabric. Using this technique, artisans weave shawls, stoles & garments.
Taking in the ‘Little’ Rann
The Rann is a place that needs time, patience and keen observation to reveal itself fully. A walk through the shrub islands, a slow purposeful drive across the flats, climbing up one of the dungars or a conversation over chai with the herders and salt workers, can all be fruitful exercises in piecing together the puzzle that is the Little Rann of Kutch.
At Rann Riders we definitely do not restrict our experiences to safaris. When booked in advance, our guests have the option of dining in the great outdoors. Breakfast and dinners can be organised among pristine river side embankments and among the flats of Rann. A simple yet beautiful setup is created temporarily for guests to take in the beauty of this landscape over a well thought out meal. Dinners under the stars or in moonlight or breakfasts basking in the morning sun at the edge of the Rann are something that can truly transform the meaning of outdoor dining. These experiences are alway coupled with a guided walk, safari or a night safari to create the complete wilderness experience.
Horse and Cycling Safaris – Rann Riders has several indigenous breeds of horses including prize winning Kathiawadi and Marwari mares. The main attraction of our non motor safaris is the joy of riding good and well-trained horses or cycling through open country, rich in wildlife and cultural attractions. The riding routes can be according to your choice – quietly walking and trotting in the countryside, galloping across open desert plains, watching birds and wildlife from horseback in the Little Rann of Kutch, or visiting villages off the main road.
Non-riders and non-cyclists who are traveling with the group can travel in safari vehicles, joining the safari participants for meals or at their resting spots.
Camel Safaris – Safaris on camel carts can be organised both for village visits and among the salt flats.
Off-roading Experiences – For off roading enthusiasts, the vastness of the Rann, the surrounding ravines and rocks make for fantastic rally country. Off roading trips can be organised from Rann Riders going well into the Rann and beyond. Setting up of mobile camps to assist with the same adds to the outdoors experience and opens up new areas and further lands into the ambit of this expedition.
Curated Workshops – The space near the pool has been set aside solely for the purpose of curated experience in the form of workshops conducted by experts. Yoga, meditation, local weaving arts and crafts conducted by the Mir women, pottery, culinary arts and even workshops focussed on wellness and ayurveda are organised on a regular basis. These, and many other workshops, can be organised on request if booked in advance.
Experiences alongside local festivals – There are many festivals and fairs that occur seasonally in the vicinity of Rann Riders. The best known of Gujarat’s fairs is held at the historic shrine of Tarnetar (Trineteshwar), a holy site locally believed to have been the original course of river Ganga. Ravechi Mela is one of the most important fairs for the Rabari community of Kutch. The fair takes place at the Ravechi Mata temple where the people of Kutch can be seen at their colourful best.The 11th century Sun Temple at Modhera is the backdrop for a classical dance festival in winter. The temple is beautifully illumined and leading performers and troupes from different parts of India perform. Contact us to know more about seasonal festivals.
Day Trips to nearby sites and hotspots
Nalsarover Bird Sanctuary
Rann Riders is 44 km from Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary. At 120 sq km, it is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in India and the only Ramsar Site in Gujarat. One can explore the wetlands by boat and also drive around to various grassland hotspots around the wetland.
Architectural sites around Dasada
Guided day trips or half day trips to the Modera Sun temple, the historic town of Ahilwada Patan – the 8th-14th century capital of the region, Munsar tank with its intricately carved temples and the 12th century jain temple at Sankeshwar. Visits to other sites can also be organised on request.
Day trips to explore the Harrappan site at Dholavira set among the largest island in the Rann, Khadir Bet, can be coupled with a cross country safari drive across the Rann making the drive and the overall experience all the more exciting.