The Great Rann of Kutch, is a seasonal salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India and theSindh province of Pakistan. It is about 7,505.22 square kilometres (2,897.78 sq mi) in size and is reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world. This area has been inhabited by the Kutchi people.
Location and description
The Little Rann of Kutch occupies 4,953 sq. kms of land and is spread out in the districts of Surendranagar, Banasakantha, Patan, Kutch and Rajkot. The Little Rann of Kutch has a convoluted topography that varies from large marshlands sporadically cut by brown-grey patches of soil with a few small thorny shrubs. The Little Rann has to its credits one of the largest wildlife reserves in the country, the Wild Ass Sanctuary. Little Rann has been deemed as the world’s last refuge of the Indian Wild Ass known locally as Khur, hence it has been declared as the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary.
The bleak appearance of the land seems to be a camouflage when we realize that it shelters some unique species of animals. Little Rann also gives refuge to several migratory water birds like pelicans, flamingos, cranes, ducks and land birds like Indian bustards, sand grouse and frankolins. Apart from the wild ass the Little Rann is also home to some rare mammals like Indian Wolf, Desert Fox, and Nilgai.
The region is a paradise for bird-watchers who need to opt for marshlands to get closer to the birds. But for those who are interested in watching mammals have to take the dry deserts to get a better view of them. The best way to feel the pulse of this salty desert is a jeep safari. It is better not to take your private vehicle for such safaris since it is easy to get lost in these vast and desolate deserts. Most of the hotels in this area arrange jeep safaris at moderate rates for the tourists. Enroute you will find white patches resembling snow. But take a closer look, these white patches are salt crystals which will soon be collected by the salt pan workers known locally as Agarias. Take a bullock cart ride through the villages of Kutch in company of the local populace to know more about the local culture and local life.
This is one of the hottest areas of India – with summer temperatures averaging 41°C and peaking at 49.5°C. Winter temperatures reduce dramatically and can go below 0 °C (32 °F).
Threats and preservation
Although most of the marsh is in protected areas, the habitats are vulnerable to cattle grazing, firewood collection and salt extraction operations, all of which may involve transportation that disturbs wildlife. There are several wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves on the Indian side in the Rann of Kutch region.
How to reach
By road: It is 130 km from Ahmedabad, 45 km from Viramgam, 175 km from Rajkot and 265 km from Bhuj, accessible from all of these by ST buses.
By Rail: Ballarpur railway station, about 197 Km from Bhamragarh and Ahmedabad about 130 Kms
By Air: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at Ahmedabad.