As we set foot in the White Rann, the panorama in front of my eyes matched precisely the one my mother had showed me in the travel magazine. The milky white sand was reflecting crimson hues as the sun slowly set in the background. Both my parents and I couldn’t stop smiling, but it was for very different reasons. Here I was, standing on this white wonderland that beat any “Instagrammable” destination I was hell-bent on going to, and my parents, on the other hand, knew in this moment that they had proven it to me that “parents are always right”.
To put things in context, the story began 2 months back, when my parents and I were discussing (read: bickering) about what destination to pick for our annual holiday. We take one each year as a rule, since my father believes I am “too busy” on a general day to spend quality time with them. Fair, considering they are at the age of retirement and I have just barely begun my career.
“Let’s go to McLeodganj. It’s got the most amazing food and I love mountains."
“I am too old to climb mountains. Why don’t you just listen to us and visit the Rann Utsav in Gujarat?” my father reasoned
“No way!! What will I do at this place? I am sure it’s suitable for you guys but people my age, don’t go to Rann."
“We’ve been there before and there were ample people of your age and ours. Trust us this time and visit Rann!” said my mother, rolling her eyes at me.
My apparent resistance for the next few minutes was dealt with, with feeble nods of acknowledgement and by the end of an hour, I knew my parents had made up their mind and there was nothing I could do anymore. So I accepted my defeat and prepared for what I thought will be one of the most non-enterprising trips of my life.
Since there were no direct flights from Delhi to Bhuj, we booked one via Mumbai and reached the Bhuj airport, nine hours later, from where a bus picked us up to go to the ‘Tent City of India.’- the Land of the Rann Utsav.
“What? We will have to stay in tents? That was not part of the deal! How much will you make me struggle?” I went on a tirade about how I love luxury travel and staying in a tent is far from that.
My mother cut my speech short and pulled out all the information on accommodation in Rann Utsav. Divided into three categories- Premium AC, Deluxe AC and Non AC, these tents seemed to be dripping in comfort and luxury with huge beds, attached washrooms and wooden flooring. It was enough to shut me up till we reached Dhordo, our destination, two hours away from the airport.
Welcomed by the loud thuds of dholaks and the Kachhi Ghodi folk dance, I could see people from all around the world, and yes, of all age groups, coming in and out of their tents, heading to different activity areas.
“Mother was right! This tent is better than some hotels I’ve stayed in,” I thought to myself.
A few minutes of freshening up and we were ready to begin our cultural sojourn. Since I was so reluctant to visit this place, my father had taken the onus of planning the itinerary. Our day began with a delightful meal- the dining hall was huge, but even more extensive was the menu. Ranging from local delicacies to international dishes, I was spoilt for choice at the lunch table. Quickly wrapping it up, we went to the activity area where there were enormous installations for people to indulge in some crazy adventures. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw the wide array of choices I had—para-motoring, rock climbing, zip lining and so much more.
“We have booked a massage for ourselves. See you in an hour.” My parents left me to indulge in some adrenaline rush while they relaxed themselves with a massage session. My favourite moment was witnessing the glory of the Tent City and the White Desert from a bird’s eye view.
Just when I was about to climb the huge rock wall for the second time, I spotted my parents looking fresher than ever. It had been over an hour and I had no idea how time had flown.
“Let’s go! It’s time for some shopping,” my mother squealed in excitement walking towards me.
Since I was enjoying myself way more than I had imagined, I decided to put my skepticism aside and explore all aspects of the Rann Utsav. A canvas of all the possible colours of the rainbow, the market was a delightful sight and I could finally understand why my mother was so excited.
Father, on the other hand, had excused himself from our shopping escapade and had decided to try his hands at chess and carom at the recreational centers in the tent city.
From Bandhani cloth to block printing apparels, silver jewellery and warli painting, clay pots and woodwork, we couldn’t decide what to buy and what to leave. Mother got her hands on items for house decoration while I picked up as many accessories as I could. Father, who joined us later, also shopped for gifts for his friends and relatives, and kept coaxing us to hurry up because what lay ahead, he said, “will be one of the best experiences of your life.”
I had heard so much about the sunset at White Rann from my parents during their last trip that I couldn’t wait to witness what it really was. The camel cart transported us to the white sand wonder and as soon as we reached, I was left spellbound, struggling to find words to express how beautiful the panorama was! I sat there in quiet contemplation for some time soaking in the beauty of this place. Even though we had a bunch of other people travelling with us, the place had a sense of quietude, peaceful enough to let me hear my thoughts. I had believed that a trance such as this was only possibly achieved on the hills, but I guess this trip was all about proving me wrong and I didn’t mind that at all.
Once back to the tents, the evening was another delight. There were many cultural performances planned for guests including a tribal dance, puppet shows and folk music performances. Ending the day with another tasty meal, we stopped outside the tent to gaze at the stars in the sky.
“I have never had a clearer view of the sky,” I pointed out!
Our bodies may have been tired, but our faces exuded contentment. As we sat that night looking back at the entire day, we realised we hadn’t had a vacation so wholesome, where both my parents and I, who belong to completely different generations and have entirely opposite interests, had so much fun at one place.
“We told you it’s a place for everyone,” exclaimed my parents in perfect sync, with immense pride, might I add, before retiring to bed.
For more information on Rann Utsav, visit Gujarat Tourism