Road Trip: Mumbai to Rann of Kutch

Lovelle Brachman said "Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures." Oh! I was curious. Very curious. Every year a magical pull edged me to undertake a road trip & come across surprises that became beautiful memories. But every year, I opted out. The fear of the unknown you see. As 2016 culminated to a mixed bag of emotions, I decided to take the plunge. I planned a road trip from Mumbai to the Rann of Kutch via Ahmedabad. Believe me the magical experience has got etched in my mind like it just happened yesterday :)


Day 1: Mumbai- Ahmedabad. Approximately 530 kms 9 hour drive.

GPS- check. Water- check. Mobile phones- check. Other road trip essentials- check & we were ready to embark on the road trip. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway is a pleasant drive but we got delayed at toll booths. The route is dotted with ample petrol stations, restaurants with clean washrooms & changing landscape. We stopped at Noble Umbadiyu near Valsad to indulge in a seasonal delicacy available only in winters- Umbadiyu. Smokier than Undhiyu (a famous Gujarati dish made with seasonal vegetables), Umbadiyu is a gourmet delight. Near Valsad, we saw multiple stalls that beckoned us with a smoky fragrance & on close inspection, we came across earthen pots filled with wild beans, sweet potatoes, purple yam, potato & brinjal marinated in green chili & garlic paste & buried under cow dung cakes & hay that has been set on fire. Served with chilled chaas & green chutney, it was a delight.



After the lunch break, we stopped only for refreshing tea & continued our voyage to Ahmedabad.

Pro tip# Stop at Sugar & Spice located near Valsad for lunch. The food is good & the place has clean washrooms.

Day 2: Ahmedabad to Dasada. Approximately 90 kms 2 hour drive

Located on the edge of little Rann of Kutch, Dasada is a great location to explore the extension of Rann of Kutch into Saurashtra region. A beautiful getaway located quiet near to Ahmedabad was our next pit stop. The only place in India that boasts of a sanctuary that is home to Asiatic Wild Ass & a prime bird watching destination. A jeep safari can be arranged by resorts around the sanctuary. We chose a beautiful eco resort called Rann Riders for our 2 night stay (read all about our getaway here). The resort has eco cottages known as Bhungas that blended beautifully into the landscape of the region.



Early next day, we started for the morning safari to the sanctuary & spotted beautiful Asiatic wild ass, greater & lesser flamingos, pelicans & cranes. A quick visit to the salt pans helped us learn about harvesting of salt & we enjoyed a cuppa with a family residing near the salt pans. We came back humbled at the simplicity of their life.




The evening was spent in admiring the beautiful weaves of the Kharapat Rabari community & the amazing bead work done by the Mirs of Dharada.



Pro tip# Make a quick stop to see the famous sun temple at Modera. One can also plan a trip to Patan, a quaint town now coming up on tourist maps. Rani ka Vav is now a UNESCO world heritage site & one can also shop for beautiful Patola sarees.

Day 4: Dasada to Bhuj. Approximately 280 kms 4.30 hours

The good roads & good mood continued enroute Dasada to Bhuj. After breakfast, we started our journey towards Bhuj. We passed quaint villages enroute & glimpsed at the simple village life. Sigh!! I had heard about the varied handicrafts available at Bhuj (Read all about the fabulous shopping you can do here). After finding a good parking spot we enjoyed a meal of Kadak Dabeli (a famous street food) & embarked on our shopping escapade. Visit Vaniyavad for clothes with intricate embroidery, bags & handicrafts & take a peek at Saraf Bazaar for beautiful silver jewellery & silver artifacts. You can read all about our blog on Shopping in Bhuj here.



Pro Tip# Take a quick halt at Anjaar to shop intricately carved daggers & swords. We stopped at Shah Handicrafts, a wholesaler located at Anjar market & bought a beautiful Rajwadi Khanjar to add to our souvenir collections.



Day 5: Bhuj to Dhordo Approximately 82 kms 1 hour drive

A smooth drive from Bhuj to our resort located 10 kms away from the Great Rann of Kutch, Dhordo. After lunch, we started towards the Great Rann of Kutch & witnessed a beautiful sun setting over India's largest salt dessert.



We gazed at the endless white expanse & felt how tiny we all are in the mighty scheme of things!!! For the first time as we walked around, we enjoyed silence. No words were spoken, our eyes did the talking. Many had quizzed us...what will you do for two days at this white marshy land? Well, we actually wanted to stay a couple of days more admiring traditional performances, gazing at the pristine whiteness of the dessert & enjoying silence.




Do not miss Para Motoring, an adventure activity that helps you witness the wonderful vistas of the white dessert, tent city & salt pans as you glide high in the air.



The craft village around the Tent City is a shopping mecca for tourists but you may find similar items at Bhuj for a lesser cost.

Pro Tip# Stop at sign 67 on the road that leads to Kala Dungar from Dhorodo & walk into the dessert during the night to witness clear skies that enable beautiful star gazing. Do carry valid photo IDs that help to gain a permit & entry into the Rann of Kutch.

If time permits, do visit Dholavira- an archaeological site located at Bhachau in Kutch. Keep an extra day so that you can explore one of the largest Harappan site in India. The excavation revealed urban architecture & planning, earliest water conservation systems & several antiquities. The journey to Dholavira itself is a delight with sightings of Flamingos, Nilghai & Chinkara gazelle.

After a two night stay at Dhordo, we started our journey to Ahmedabad armed with travel stories that would make interesting conversations. Mid way, on a whim, we decided to take a one day break at Surat - one of Gujarat's largest city home to major diamond cutting & polishing units & textile manufacturers. As we neared Surat, we saw stalls selling Ponkh- a famous dish of tender jowar mixed with fried gram flour noodles & enjoyed a hearty plate of this winter delicacy.

We stayed near Surat railway station in a comfortable budget hotel & bought Ghari (a local sweet). For dinner, we decided to explore the famous Surati street food. We were amazed to find many kiosks selling various dishes made eggs laced with green chili paste & green garlic paste. Spicy to taste we enjoyed green garlic sunny side up, Ghotalo- version of the famous Loccho made with eggs & kheema & Australian Fry- a dish made with half fry, tomato puree & grated cheese.

As we started towards Mumbai from Surat, we remembered a famous quote "Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me as is ever so on the road".

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