Generally, when we talk about the Rann of Kutch, people imagine the White Sand Desert of the Greater Rann of Kutch which has been immortalised in many bollywood movies but there is another hidden Rann in the Western state. Though one must not get confused by its name, Little Rann of Kutch is anything but little. It is spread over a vast area of 5,000 sq km. It is called little because of its size comparison with the neighbouring salt desert of the Greater Rann of Kutch which is spread over 7,500 sqkm. For a traveller bitten by wanderlust, the Little Rann offers an array of opportunities right from its mesmerising fauna, to the host of plants and trees to the many mirages. It is house to one of the country’s largest wildlife reserves, the Wild Ass Sanctuary, where the topography varies from large marshlands to brown-grey patches of soil with a few small thorny shrubs.
The Wild Ass Sanctuary is home to ghudkar, or Indian wild ass — one of the few places to spot the animal. The famed jeep safari is one of the best ways to explore this opulent desert with travellers getting to choose the locations depending upon their interests. Birdwatchers generally opt for the marshlands and those who want to see mammals opt for the dry desert. The marshlands and Nava Talao are inundated with water birds.
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Flamingos and demoiselle cranes can generally be spotted in hundreds at some water bodies. One can spot Indian wild ass and white-footed fox in the vast areas of golden ground in Rann. The area is also speckled with Bullock Carts and Salt Pans that look like heaps and heaps of snow.
The people of the Little Rann too are conspicuous with their generous nature and grand culture. Dominated by largely pastoral tribes, this land is a hallmark of wonderful, carefully preserved traditions. One will find versatile tribes including Mirs, Rabaris, Bharvads and Agariyas among others in the region. The locals are decked up in traditional outfits replete with large silver jewellery and vivid garments. Several fairs and festivals like the famous Tarnetar no Melo are also cornerstones of the beautiful ethnicity of the Little Rann.
For those tourists who love discovering the golden heritage of a place, the Little Rann offers several attractions, prominent among them being the Modhera Sun Temple — a grand sandstone monument dedicated to the sun god, the Bahuchara Mata Temple and the Rani Ki Vav — the biggest and most extravagant stepwell in Gujarat. A big lawn, right next to the well is a great spot for a picnic and lunch. Outside the entrance, there is a small museum which displays the history of the area’s architecture. For saree lovers, the historical Patola sarees are a must-checkout with only a handful of families left now who are known to still produce the double ikat style of handwoven saris.
The Little Rann of Kutch offers a little something for every traveller from around the world. Tourists can soak in the rich history of the place complete with its wildlife sanctuary, splendid handicraft, striking monuments and the warm and affable locals. With its grand splendour, the Little Raan is a must visit!