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India >> West >> Gujarat >> Little Rann of Kutch
Little Rann of Kutch Gujarat, West
  Overview   Holiday Ideas 
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The largest sanctuary in India and a Ramsar site, the little Rann is spread over 4,953 sq km and encompasses five districts of Surendernagar, Banaskantha, Patan, Kutch, and Rajkot of Gujarat state. A flat, salt-cracked vast barren desert, hissing sand storms and the majestic Ghudkhar roaming over mirage waters make the Little Rann of Kachchh a unique and one of the most fascinating wilderness of the world. Locally known as 'Ghudkhar' was once common in the North-western India, West Pakistan and South Iran. They are now found only in the Rann of Kachchh of Gujarat State. The Wild Ass falls in Family Equide which includes Horses, Zibras and Donkeys. The Sanctuary is named after a sub species of wild ass (Equus hemionus khur), the last population of which it harbours. The Sanctuary was established in 1973.

 

The Rann of Kutch is geographically unique landscape that was once an arm 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 rains. It is formed through the process of siltation of marine estuary. The Rann can be considered a large ecotone, a transitional area between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. During monsoon, the Rann gets inundated for a period of about one month. It is dotted with about 74 elevated plateaus or islands, locally called 'bets'. The largest plateau called Pung Bet has an area of 30.5 km˛ and the highest island Mardak is 55 mt.

 Orientation

Seeing a wild ass isn’t at all as exciting as sighting a tiger.  There isn’t any mystery about them. They are light brown, with muscular hind legs, and travel in small herds with one lookout. At the hint of a threat, real or imagined, they are off.

 

Indian Wild Ass is one of the sturdiest animals in the world, withstanding scorching midday temperatures of 45° C or more without any shelter in midst of the desert and facing long periods of drought as well as other calamities with relative ease, where others cannot survive. It has strength and speed of a horse and can run at speeds of 60 to 70 km/hr. A mature beast stands 120 cm in height and 210 cm in length, weighing about 230 kgs. It possesses a shiny white coat with grayish-brown patches and a black or brown hairy stripe in the centre enhancing its beauty. They move about either singly or in herds (10 to 30) in search of fodder and sweet water, resting only in hot afternoon hours. They eat what they get, generally scrubby grass and pods of prosopis.

 

The Little Rann of Kutch is a paradise for bird lovers and is a Ramsar Site. During the safaris in the Rann one can expect to see large flocks of Larks, and other dry land birds like Sand grouse, Coursers, Plovers, Chats, Warblers, Babblers, Shrikes. Among the many winter visitors are the Bustard and spotted Sand grouse.

The best birding is at the lakes and marshes in and around the Rann where birds gather in numbers beyond comprehension during the winter months from October to March. These are the months when Demoiselle and common Cranes are seen in incredibly large numbers. The wetlands also attract Flamingos, Pelicans, Storks, Ibises, Spoonbills, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl. The Rann is also the hunting ground of raptors like the Short-toed eagle, Eagles, and six species of Falcon, Buzzards and three species of Harrier. It is one of the few places where harriers can be seen roosting on open-ground at night.

The elegant Blackbuck (Indian antelope), Nilgai or Blue bull (India’s largest antelope) and the graceful Chinkara (Indian gazelle) are other mammals seen at the bets. The main carnivores of the Little Rann of Kutch are the endangered Indian wolf, Desert fox, Indian fox, Jackals, Desert and Jungle cats, and a few Hyenas. Smaller mammals like Hares, Gerbilles and Hedgehogs, and reptiles like Spiny tailed lizard, Monitor, red and common Sand boa, saw-scaled Viper, Cobra, Dhaman (Indian rat snake), etc, could also be seen during the safaris in the Rann.

 

Around the Little Rann, numerous tribes live in villages, including Rabari, Bharwad, Mir, Koli, Bajania and siddi. A guided tour through the villages helps one understand their culture. Young Bharwad men, for instance, wear elaborate jewellery and are smartly attired the year around to be able to attract prospective brides.

 

In order to truly experience the Rann, an excursion of more than one day is strongly recommended. Wildlife is not something that comes packaged. Animals must be sought out, are often reclusive, and are not necessarily where you expect them to be. Plus, the huge variety of wildlife here cannot possibly be experienced in a short period. Spending at least one night camped on the Rann will dramatically increase how much you connect with the landscape and its inhabitants; settling into camp in the late evening and watching the desert stars appear at night is an experience not likely to be forgotten.


Around

Modhera Sun Temple is 70 km from the sanctuary entrance at Bajana, and 45 km from Dasada. Built along the Puspawati River, the Modhera Sun Temple was created by the king Bhimdev in the 11th century. From a distance the temple appears outstanding up close it is astonishing. Every foot of its outer walls is carved to depict gods and goddesses, and its interiors and columns depict erotic scenes, animals, and dance. The details and their history could well use weeks. The temple is no longer a place of worship but the shrines remain, and at its enterence are a deep step well that once contained water, and there are 108 tiny shrines within.

 

Patola weavers at Patan

About 75 km from Dasada Village, at Patan, one can discover the place where Patola sarees have been woven since the 11th century. Patola saries are made entirely of pre-dyed silk threads, and not a stitch or speck of paint is added after the threads are placed together. It is a challenging task. Each sari takes half a year to create and, on an average, each year only two are made. These cost upward of a lakh. Checking out the processes is worth it, from creation of natural dyes to the weaving and aligning of the fabric with its intricate designs – its treat to watch.

 Getting there

Location

Spread over five districts, namely Surendernagar, Banaskantha, Patan, Kutch and Rajkot.

Distances

130 km northwest of Ahmedabad

 Fast Facts
Name Little Rann of Kutch Best Time To Visit October to March
Location Gujarat   West   India   Destination   Best Sighing November to February
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Temperature Summar   32-38° C      Winter   10-16° C      Rainy   28-34°C
 Map
 
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