Rann of Kutch

There are few road trips which we riders ought to do in life and if one has to list them, for sure Kutch will be right there in top 5. Personally I had not touched western part of India with bike and it was imperative for me to do this ride. I’m writing this blog after a year! all thanks to my work and travel…I’ll keep this blog brief and share some useful information as always for fellow travelers and riders. Please do leave your comments.

The Rann of Kutch is located in the Thar desert bio-geographic area in the Indian state of Gujarat with some parts in Pakistani province of Sindh. It is a seasonally marshy region, the word Rann meaning “salt marsh”, alternating with medaks, elevated pieces of land where vegetation grows.

Kutch is the name of the district in Gujarat where this region is situated. The marsh covers a huge area of around 10,000 square miles and is positioned between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River in southern Pakistan. To the northeast corner of the Rann of Kutch lies the Luni River, originating in Rajasthan (source: Wikipedia).

Kutch was on my list for a long time and finally decided to do this ride in Nov’ 2016 during my annual vacations. As always i checked with my friends for joining this ride but most of them had valid reasons. But my Leh ride friend, Mr. Samir agreed and wanted to join this ride. Alas, it was 2 riders with single bike and no trainer with bike selection. It has to be RE and specifically Thunderbird. Limited days at hand meant we could not take our bikes via train or drive till Kutch and hence had to depend on rental bikes. When it comes to renting bikes in South India, one  famous service provider comes to mind i.e. WickedRide. With them i share some wonderful memories and wanted to check if they do provide in Kutch. Surprisingly they do have services in Kutch and also couple of other famous tourist locations. This definitely solved major part of our travel plan, since having a trust worthy and reliable agency is critical. Now it was time to book my train tickets. It was long time since i traveled in train and this ride gave me that opportunity. but it seemed really a bad idea as my ticket did not get confirmed fully (RAC) which meant i had to share seat. The whole experience of travel till Ahmedabad was bad and regret the decision of opting for train. Hence decided to cancel my return train journey and booked direct flight to Bengaluru via Indigo airlines.

Day 1: Ahmedabad Sightseeing
After reaching Ahmedabad from Bengaluru via train early morning I checked into a local hotel which barely looked liked a hotel. Aim was to just use the hotel as a stop point till evening when we catch our train to Kutch. Samir reached Ahmedabad via flight in the evening.

I decided to do local sight-seeing since i had full day at hand. Just for a change i opted to hire a local auto for city tour and it turned out to be good decision. The auto driver was too good to me and ensured that he showed the famous places with ample time given to me. I was able to visit following places.

Sardar Museum, Akshardham, Gandhidham, Syed Siddi Mosque and the famous Ahmedabad Lake where you can witness the laser light show.

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Gandhidham
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My Guide_Auto driver

The museum about Sardarji i.e. Iron Man of India is very well-kept and informative. It is as if we have forgotten Sardarji in the whole independence movement. Please do visit this museum to know many unknown facts of this great personality.

Also it was interesting to see next to Syed Siddi Mosque there is a restaurant which serves excellent tea. Do visit this place for tea and also to get surprised about the premises.

Day 2: 362 km ride
We reached Kutch next day via train from Ahmedabad. We visited the local office of WickedRide and took our bike by submitting couple of documents. As we left from the office, we filled our bike full with petrol and departed for following places.

[x] Mata no madh
[x] Lakhpat
[x] Narayan Sarovar
[x] Koteswar

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Tropic of Cancer

The roads in Gujarat are well maintained and you see some good road discipline in locals. Also the people are welcoming and friendly. We returned back to our hotel later at night same day. I feel we could have halted somewhere in the middle instead of traveling back all the way to Kutch. Nonetheless it was worth riding the bike in night with cold winds blowing on your body.

Day 3: 256 km ride

[x] Kutch Museum
[x] Hajipir Dargah
[x] Rann

Today was a special day and the much waited day for both of us. We were heading to see the Rann of Kutch finally. Before we departed to Rann, we did a quick tour of the local museum which has some interesting facts and artifacts displayed. One can spend a couple of hours comfortably and get immersed in the museum with details.

As we departed the locals suggested to take the Hajipir Dargah route so that one can also visit the dargah enroute Rann. The stretch towards Hajipir Dargah is isolated and highly deserted. Suggest to avoid this route if you are solo. for many miles you will not find humans or any shops. God forbid, if you get stuck due to whatsoever reason then it will be nightmare. We quickly finished our visit to Dargah and headed straight to the Rann. From dargah the road towards Rann is excellent and one can literally fly on this roads. It was a nice and first experience for us to see the vast plains of desert lands. Temperatures were not high but we could still feel the heat of desert. As we headed towards to Rann, we could see many tourists vehicles passing by since the Kutch Utsav few weeks away. To our bad luck the salt bed formation was not 100% and  we could not enjoy the full-fledged view of salt lake. But nonetheless the partial frozen lake bed did give us a good view of the Rann. There is a makeshift arrangement to witness aerial view of Rann and one climb the metal frame comfortably. You can see the vast stretch of plain land all the way till Pakistan.

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Hajipir Dargah

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Salt Bed formation started

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It was getting dark and we had to head back to Kutch for our overnight stay. Again, we should have stayed at Rann for the night view and rested a while but didn’t. Please do stay at the Rann and do not head back to the city in a hurry to cover more places.

Day 4: 230 ride

Our last day of the trip and we had planned to see the following places before returning back to Kutch and heading back to home.
– [x] Mandvi
– [x] Vijavillas palace
– [x] Mundra port

The stretch from Kutch towards Mandvi is beautiful and the roads are excellent. You can rarely find any bumps on these roads. Do visit Arya Dhaba, Kodaypul shown in below picture for an amazing local lunch. And do not be surprised after checking the bill…

Vijavillas palace is a private owned palace and it is famous for many of the movies which is shot here viz. Lagaan, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and many more. The view from top of the palace is superb and it is worthwhile to rest for few minutes at the top with cool breeze blowing across the palace.

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Delicious Lunch @ Arya Dhaba, Kodaypul
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Palace

Mundra port is India’s largest port owned and handled by the Adani Group. Our dear friend from Leh ride, Harpal took us around the port for a quick tour. Indeed it is a mega port.

We returned at 8 PM to Kutch and handed over the bike. As soon as we checked out of the hotel and headed to bus station to catch our onward bus to Ahmedad, we had the biggest Breaking News…Demonetization by PM Narendra Modi. There was hue and cry across the city and all the ATMs had huge queue. Like most travelers, we had very little hard cash. With an hour at hand before our buses departed, I stood at the ATM queue to withdraw some money. Somehow managed to convince the local ladies about our situation and we were allowed to jump the queue for money withdrawal but were allowed to withdraw only INR 4000. This was to be used wisely till we reached our homes! Next day morning we reached Ahmedabad and checked into a local hotel since our flights were in the evening. We could comfortably rest till evening and headed straight to airport for our flights back to home. It was morning 5 AM when I reached Bengaluru and was relived to notice with INR 1000 left in my hand. It was sufficient to take me home…

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