Rann Utsav- Opening the Gateway of Tourism for Kutch

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Gujarat gets tagged as one of the culturally rich state in India with respect to the art forms like folk dances, handicrafts, embroidered textiles and exotic junk jewellery. But do you know which region of Gujarat contributes to it being a culturally rich state?

It is the self-effacing yet very flamboyant Kutch. The geography of Kutch is so diverse that the Gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea surrounds the South and West while the deserted area of Kutch is towards the Northern and the Eastern parts.

Bhunga Room at Shaam-E-Sarhad

What is Rann of Kutch?

The Rann of Kutch is among the world’s very few salt desserts or salt marsh located in the Thar Dessert in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Rann basically in Hindi means a dessert. This dessert is one of its kind and distinct in itself because of the uniqueness of not being covered by sand but salt crystals. Dhordo, a small village in Bhuj in the Kutch district of Gujarat has the privilege of hosting the Rann Utsav during the winter months starting from November to February.

Rann Utsav can be translated as the Dessert Festival. Every year a “Tent City” is constructed for tourists near the village of Dhordo. During this span of time it is a very extravagant man-made city of tents which keeps on bustling for good four months. It is a perfect family destination and a budget friendly holiday to relax and soak in the diverse culture of this part of India.

The official dates of Rann Utsav are announced and this year, you can be a part of it from 1st November, 2018 to 4th  March, 2019. If you plan to spend your time at this dessert festival then the best time to explore this spectacular white salt dessert is during the “Full Moon Days”. The main advantage of going during the full moon days is that you feel that the stars have descended on the earth as the salt crystals sparkle in the full moon light.

The activities that you can experience during your stay at the “Tent City” at the Rann Utsav are:

-The cultural folk dances
-Camel cart and camel rides
-ATV Rides

Different spectrum of the Gujarati culture expanding from food, dressing style to local livelihood and a lot more. Our personal favourite while being at the Rann Utsav is the spell bounding sunset that takes place across the horizon of the salt flats. The sun sets down leaving its orange tint all through the clear skies and it was one of the most beautiful sunsets that we have witnessed.


When we planned our visit to the Rann Utsav, we did not stay in the “Tent City” as we wanted a balance of quiet as well as culturally rich environment and hence we booked our two days stay at Shaam-E-Sarhad Village Resort which means “Evening by the Border” which is managed by the village and local community of the Hodka village. We loved the concept of the stay here and hence it was one of our most sort after decision.


This resort is open from months of October to March. The village community supports their livelihood by maintaining this resort and also promotes rural tourism and its development and hence trying to become self-reliant on their own.

This village resort is an initiative by the Ministry of Tourism of Government of India that aims to enable the local communities to introduce the art culture and heritage of this region to the world.


Of the two days’ stay at Shaam-E-Sarhad, on our first day we enjoyed the eco-friendly Mud Tents and on our day 2 we stayed in the Suite Bhungas that are circular mud huts with sloping roofs that are very typical to the region. All the room categories have attached bathrooms with western style toilet and shower 24*7 running water. Both our experiences of staying in a Bhunga and a Tent was unique in its own way because
both categories have their own distinctiveness. Each Bhunga has a private open space with chairs to relax on and just spend a leisure time. Both, Tents and Bhungas are very spacious for double occupancy and an extra bed is made available, on request.

Things to be Noted while making Bookings:

1. All the rooms do not have air-conditioning facility but the construction and location of the resort does not make it necessary to have air-conditioners in the rooms.

2. Hot water buckets are provided during particular slots which can be enquired at the

3. No rooms have TV sets, but every evening you can spend your time underneath the stars adjacent to the bonfire, enjoying the folk dances.

The room categories available at Shaam-E-Sarhad are:
Three Suite Bhungas (Suite Mud Huts)
Six Eco-friendly Mud Tents
Two Family Cottages
One Standard Bhunga (Standard Hut)

The resort has very limited rooms and staff as they want to preserve the authenticity and rawness of the place. It is better to book well in advance through their official website www.hodka.in


Food and Hospitality:

As this place provides a very homely environment, we cannot expect a very professional
approach to the service, but the staff is very warm and caring and will leave no stone
unturned to make you feel comfortable. The food that they serve is traditional Gujarati Lunch and Kutchi Dinner. Breakfast can be a variety of fruits, cereals, etc. Jain food is also served but has to be pre-informed while making the bookings.

How to Reach?

You can make it to Rann Utsav, Kutch:

Flight Connectivity: Bhuj, being the nearest airport at a distance of about 65 kms has direct flights only from Mumbai, Maharashtra.

By Road: You can hire a car or hop into an overnight bus service available from Ahmedabad, Gujarat which is at a distance of about 400kms to Bhuj and Hodka Village is at a distance of about 63kms from Bhuj.

We opted a private car hiring option from Ahmedabad to reach the Rann Utsav. The roads are extremely travel-friendly and hence road journey is an enjoyable and preferred choice.

By Rail: There is good rail connectivity as there are daily trains from Mumbai and Delhi to reach Ahmedabad and then cover the journey to Bhuj via road.

Kutch Express and Bhuj-Bandra Train are direct trains from Mumbai to Bhuj.
For more information and booking, check www.irctc.com (Indian Railway booking website)

What can you shop?

One thing to keep in mind while visiting Kutch during its peak tourist season is that all the pricetags on the products out on sale will be overpriced, so it is advisable to bargain but please do not bargain to the extent that local people will not be able to earn reasonably.

The items that can be purchased are:

– Traditional kutcha handicrafts and embroidery work that has been passed on through
   the generations which is an extremely intricate work.

– You can find block printed fabrics and gift articles that suit your taste and preferences.

– Traditional footwears like mojris, junk jewellery like neckpieces, heavy earrings, kadas,
   bangles, nose rings etc.

– Also, some amazing home decors like pillow covers, bedsheets, table covers etc.            


If you are interested in exploring the exquisite handicraft of the state of Gujarat like
embroidery, block printing, wood carvings, mud wall paintings, silver works, pen, knives and nut crackers, copper coated iron belts and toys made of seas shells and if you want to go on a handicraft trail, then you can book through the website of Gujarat Government being www.rannutsav.com for a unique handicraft themed holiday.

If you wish to stay in the “Tent City” during the ongoing Rann Utsav, the categories of tents in the “Tent City” are:

Premium Tents from INR. 8,100
Deluxe AC Tents from INR. 7,100
Non-AC Tents from INR. 5,500

All the tents in the “Tent City” are well equipped and make for a very comfortable stay.

Staycation At The Coffee Capital Of India- Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg!

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Imagine yourself leisuring around the scenic beautiful hill station of South India amidst the lush green coffee and pepper plantations running parallel throughout your road journey while you can relax and breathe in the aromatic air !!!!

                                             Thats Coorg for you !

Our #HolidayGoals for visiting Coorg was to unwind ourselves from the monotonous routine of city life and soak ourselves away from the hectic life in this beautiful hill station.

Coorg which is also known as “Kodagu” is basically a quintessential quiet and calm place but the hill station of Madikeri is where there is hustle and bustle of the tourists and locals. Madikeri as such is not a total tourist spot but can be a connecting point to visit various tourist destinations of Coorg. As we wanted to seclude ourselves from the hustling hill town we enjoyed Coorg while staying at some premium properties being The Ibnii Spa Resort and Evolve Back Resorts (Formerly known as Orange County)


This beautiful property was on our bucket list since the last three years when Evolve Back was popularly known as Orange County Resorts, Coorg but we were  not able to squeeze in the time to go on a staycation at Evolve Back. This year gave us an opportunity to experience the stay at Evolve Back which we grabbed royally. It was formerly called Orange County because the property was surrounded with Orange Orchards but now they do not have Orange Plantations around and hence it is renamed as Evolve Back Resorts. The idea behind naming the property as Evolve Back originates from the fact that they want to stay connected and rooted to their past heritage and can give their guests some very authentic and traditional experiences which can be felt throughout the stay with Evolve Back resorts.

Evolve Back resorts is situated in the Chikkanahalli estate surrounded by 300 acres of coffee plantations. Evolve Back resorts is situated at about a distance of 33kms from the hill town of Madikeri in Coorg. The road leading to the resort welcomes you with prolific coffee plantations and Dubare forest running in line with the road that leads you to Evolve Back Resorts. 

Private Lake at Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg


The abode for our three day stay at Evolve Back Coorg was the Lily Pool Cottage. It is a luxurious villa overlooking the paddy fields, banana plantations and the greenery surrounding which will take you to a zone where the time stops and make you aloof from the routine life. The Lilipool cottage is very spacious for two guests to stay and relax. The cottage has in itself one bedroom, one living room, one bathroom with a bath tub and a sit out area at the pool. The unique selling point of Evolve Back Resort is that all their rooms have adjoining private pools where you can soak yourself and have a soothing swim away from the other guests and disturbance. All the rooms are constructed with traditional Karnataka style homes but are equipped with all the modern facilities. The other categories of rooms at Evolve Back are Heritage Pool Villa, Lilipool Villa, Lilipool Bungalow. You can select any of the rooms from these categories that best suit your choice and preference.

Culinary rollercoaster

Evolve Back resorts have a cluster of three restaurants that serve diverse foods. Its like you name it and you have it. The restaurants are Peppercorn, Plantain leaf and Granary.


The Peppercorn serves some authentic organic Coorg cuisines. Being vegetarians we did not have much food options to explore here and hence preferred Plantain Leaf and Granary. But as this restaurant overlooks the private lake of the resort it is an ideal binging spot for non-vegetarian and organic food lovers.


The Plantain Leaf is a vegetarian’s delight serving the traditional South and North Indian cuisines under one roof. Out of our three days stay at Evolve Back majority of the meals we relished were at Plantain Leaf. The food served here is on banana leaf giving you the feel of traditional South Indian setup and taste. We have binged on only South Indian delicacies because when in South India, eat like the South Indians. The chef there used to prepare for us the choicest of food items with authentic spices and aromas of our choice to give us a South Indian cuisine roller coaster. Ragi puttu, bamboo coconut curry, sautéed dry jackfruit, beetroot chutney, mint cheesecake, kiwi moose and abundance of typical idlis and dosas to name a few were the best food items that we have throughly enjoyed. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was such a widespread food affair that every time we went for the meals it was like a food coma situation in a whole. We would like to give a special shoutout to the chef of Evolve Back to spoil us with delicious food that we will forever remember as the highlight of our staycation. Also a special mention to the staff of Plantain Leaf restaurant that are super friendly towards the guests to give a homely feeling all along the stay. 

The Plantain Leaf At Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg

Granary is a multi cuisine restaurant serving Italian, Continental, Mexican and Indian food, etc. As an experiment we had our first dinner at the Granary restaurant and we loved the tasteful dishes. Granary restaurant can qualify as one stop food restaurant at Evolve Back resorts to binge on the variety. We ordered some red sauce pasta and Dal makhni with rice at Granary. 

Every evening high-tea was served besides the common pool area. Sipping on some filter coffee from their very own coffee estates, some masala chai along with some food options like sandwiches, cakes, pastries, vadas, etc in witness of the beautiful sunset is a worthwhile experience.

Activities at Evolve Back

Evolve Back resorts believe in engaging their guests with some activities to get connected with the world which people from big cities rarely get a chance to do in their hectic routine lives. Some of the activities that are undertaken by the resorts for their guests are :

  • Plantation walk
  • Nature walk
  • Bird watching
  • Coracle ride
  • Village visit
  • Workers trail

    Beehive – Activity Area at Evolve Back , Coorg

The guided Plantation walk is the signature activity of Evolve Back Resorts which is conducted by their in-house naturalist for a duration of approximately two hours from 4pm to 6pm. (Please confirm the timings at the reception) The plantation walk is all about learning how coffee and pepper plantations are cultivated, harvested and processed by the workers. Mr. Murthy, our guide for the day was friendly, informative and interactive fellow giving us insights about the history of the resort and also the flora around it. Our plantation tour began with some knowledge about the spices, fruit bearing fig trees and some traditional flowers of the Karnataka state. We visited Coorg in the month of March being the flowering season of coffee which made the landscape look like the area is flourished with white flowers blooming to turn into coffee beans over the time. The guide accompanying us explained us the whole process of how a coffee sapling is grown into a bean bearing plant, the procedure of harvesting beans, roasting beans, methods of protecting the plantation etc. Sipping on coffee before our visit to Chikkanahalli estate, we would have not known so much goes into producing coffee beans and further to coffee powder. Chikkanahalli estate spread over 300 acres of which Evolve Back Resorts is a part is adorned with Oak trees which provides shades to the coffee and pepper plantation and hold the reputation of one of the biggest coffee plantations of Coorg. As our plantation tour came to an end we were served with filter coffee grown in their in-house plantation and sipping on the coffee we wondered how much efforts and care has gone into making these coffee beans is just incredible !!

The Nature walk activity was temporarily restricted on government orders during our stay at Evolve Back Resorts.

For the guided Bird watching activity you will have to rise up early in the morning to get a chance of observing some exotic bird species. The activity of bird watching is for a duration of two hours with the greenery surrounding the resort, watching the fauna around will be a treat to your eyes. So if you are a bird enthusiast and an early riser then do not miss out on this early morning bird exploration opportunity around the resort property.

Village Visit : The Chikkhahalli estate is surrounded by local villages at a mere distance of 2kms to 3kms adjacent to the bank of Cauvery river. We were accompanied by their in-house guide Mr. Vikas  to the nearby village Karadigodu. The Village visit began at 7.30am and the exploration goes on till 9am. The traditional tribal village homes are getting transformed into modern homes with bright colours of pinks, yellows, blues and purples. Early into the day you will see the local ladies heading onto their jobs at the nearby coffee plantations, children on their way to school which is funded and managed by the resort and the tiny tot kids playing around all away and unknown about the hard times of life. When you visit the village you can see how content and happy the people are with their lives which fills you with positivity and gratitude with what you have and own. The village visit ends on sipping the Mohammad Ali’s special tea at his tea stall on the banks of River Cauvery.

Workers Trail activity happens during the day ( please check the timings with the reception as they keep changing ) to give you a sneak peak into the lives of the workers working in the plantation. The time of your visit in the resort will make you experience that part of seasonal work being conducted in the plantation like in the month of March the coffee plantations are water for their further growth. Usually ladies work in the coffee plantations and we got a chance to help the ladies with watering the plants and getting a slice of their working life. You will be taken to the estate in a tractor which will be a unique experience in itself so go ahead and live a few moments of your stay as the local workers do.


To make your stay luxurious and comfortable Evolve Back Resort assures to provide services to fulfil all the needs of their guests during the stay. As we reached the resort the staff greeted us with traditional Indian culture and we were welcomed with coffee flavoured coconut milk. The staff at the reception after doing all the check-in formalities will show you around the resort and give a brief about their activities happening around the resort premises. As the resort is spread over a wide area, it is better to explore the place by taking walks around or if you wish to move about in the resort on polo cars it can be done by hopping onto them as well. The resort is very clean and the staff takes utmost care to assure that cleanliness is well maintained during our stay,  Ms. Priyanka assured that we had a comfortable and leisure stay at the property. The room service department of the resort is very prompt and swift in their service. If you need anything just make a call and your demands will be fulfilled.

The rooms are cleaned and made twice a day so the rooms are spick and span. Kudos to the housekeeping department as well to provide us with swift and speedy service. Every evening in the activity area the staff arranges tribal dance for entertainment of the guests everyday. There are varied folk and tribal dances performed by the local communities of Coorg which for us is something rare and never seen before entertainment package. The tribals and the local dancers perform so well that all through your stay at evolve back resorts do not miss out on this evening entertainment slot. By providing exposure to the locals and their art form the management is taking a great effort in keeping the Coorg culture alive and refreshed. The resort also provides with soothing and relaxing ayurveda massages at Vaidyasala, their very own ayurvedic massage centre where you can chose from varied choices of ayurvedic treatments that best suit your body and spirit. On our last night of stay at Evolve Back we were sent a surprise cake by the head chef of the resort to our room which in all made us feel very special and we ended our stay at the resort on a very sweet note. 

Environmental conservation at Evolve Back Resorts

One of the activity that also encourages the participation of guests is in conservation of water and also in recycling water that can be used in miscellaneous activities like gardening. The resort has its own biogas plant which is a step towards sustaining the environment. The coffee estates are also enhanced with naturally made manures with very limited use of chemicals. Such a thoughtful effort makes Evolve Back Resort a responsible luxury property that balances out its surrounding ecosystem.


In a wholesome note we would be very happy to mention the efforts that the staff of Ibnii Spa Resort and Evolve Back resorts at Coorg have taken to assure that our stay at these luxurious properties becomes a memorable one.


Bellas Suggestions : At such luxurious properties you may not find mobile network connectivity depending upon the service provider you use but you will get wifi connectivity at few spots in and around the resort property but who needs to be connected to the world via technology when you are cradled at such lovely places for your holidays.

This was about our Staycation at Evolve Back, Coorg. If you want to learn about our Staycation at Ibnii Spa Resort,Coorg click on the hyperlink NOW!