Gujarat’s #RannUtsav, Part I — From Bandra to Bhuj to Kutch, the Journey

Rann of Kutch was a long longed destination. Every year we seemed to be postponing it citing some reason or the other. But, in October 2012, Jayant finally booked a 3 days/2 nights trip to the Kutch Utsav 2012 — a part of the much advertised Gujarat festival organized by the Modi government and endorsed by none other than Amitabh Bachchan, India’s superstar!!

#RannUtsav, a Gujarat Government initiative

#RannUtsav, a Gujarat Government initiative

We took the Bandra-Bhuj Express on our way to Kutch, booking a first class AC compartment which we had to ourselves – 2 berths. Have to admit that it was really well-maintained and clean. Since it was first class, we took very few snacks like biscuits and chips with us thinking, nay believing, that there would be food in the train. However, I did pack a box full of idlis and another box full of plain uttapams for Ridi, my 4 yr old daughter, not wanting to give her train food. Well, thank goodness for that, for there was absolutely no food in the entire 15-16 hour train ride to Bhuj. Why! Even the station where we stopped by early in the morning didn’t have the usual chaiwallas. Weird for a country like India!! We survived on the stuff that I had packed until we reached Bhuj and bought some fruits and dhokla from a shop near the station. Therefore, carry your food if you are planning to take the train. Thankfully, we had flight reservations for the way back!!

There, adjacent to the railway station was a big tent, where members of the organising committee were giving tourists their ID cards and information about the festival and the next level of the journey – the one and a half hour bus ride to Kutch. The good thing was that everybody was offered water and hot tea at this tent. Mornings, at that time of the year, were rather chilly. The tea felt divine. Elders, children and women tourists rested here while the men-folk took care of loading the bags on to the allotted buses.

A glimpse of the Kutch life -- #RannUtsav

A glimpse of the Kutch life — #RannUtsav

Soon we were speeding away towards Kutch. But not before packing yet some more bananas. As we sped out of the city limits, we found only arid land around us. Clearly, life was difficult in this part of the world. The weather supported the growth of only shrubs here. Few clusters of hutments revealed a sparse lifestyle. Women-folk in ‘ghunghats’ (veil), children playing in the dust, men chatting on their charpais – sure made lovely photographs. But every once in a while, you’d lift your head from your camera’s lenses to wonder how people could live in such scanty conditions. You accuse the government for not doing enough. You hate yourself for being a part of the capitalist race that is creating so much disparity between you and them. Thus reminiscing, we reached Kutch. And were taken aback by the riot of colours and life in almost a no-man’s land. But wait, that will be my next part of the story…:-)

Check out these photos in the meantime..

Small clusters of hutments -- #RannUtsav

Small clusters of hutments — #RannUtsav

Water, an every second problem -- #RannUtsav

Water, an every second problem — #RannUtsav

Unmindful of the dust raised #RannUtsav

Unmindful of the dust raised #RannUtsav

Also read Destination #RannUtsav Part II — Living & Eating in Tents @Kutch and Destination #RannUtsav Part III — Experience @Kutch

–This post has been written by Deepa/Photographs by Deepa