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White desert comes alive with Rann Utsav

Moon beams caught on white pristine sands,camels garbed in colourful paraphernalia,the bleat of a pipe in the distance,the sharp pungent smell of exotic spices — these are some of the myriad facets that the annual Rann Utsav offers for tourists to see and experience in Kutch.

Written by Press Trust Of India | Kutch |
December 16, 2011 1:24:56 am

Moon beams caught on white pristine sands,camels garbed

in colourful paraphernalia,the bleat of a pipe in the distance,the sharp pungent smell of exotic spices — these are some of the myriad facets that the annual Rann Utsav offers for tourists to see and experience in Kutch.

Besides boasting of its rich cultural legacy,the 38-day- long festival,organised by Gujarat’s tourism department,is aimed at making the semi-arid villages of the border district of Kutch more than mere dots on the map.

“The utsav is conducted every year with an aim to put the state on the global tourism map. This year,visitors will get to experience a host of attractions like camel safaris,hot air ballooning and desert car rallies,besides seeing artists perform ancient ballads and Kutchi folk dances,” says Vipul Mitra,Principal Secretary (Tourism).

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In addition,as many as 440 AC and non-AC tents have been erected in Dhordo village to accommodate tourists.

The response from the tourists world over this year is “no less than overwhelming”,says Mitra,adding,“Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan,who was chosen as the Gujarat tourism department’s brand ambassador,played a pivotal role in promoting the festival in the country and abroad.”

While the government is pulling out all stops to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience,many of the tourists have been left disappointed with the arrangements made for them.

“We were specifically invited by the Gujarat government to cover the event. But we had to wait for close to two hours for the tents to be allotted. We were refused food because we didn’t have the necessary coupons and when we tried contacting officials they didn’t respond… this is a joke,” said a prominent TV anchor working for a lifestyle channel.

Tourists also complained of lack of amenities,exorbitant prices and complacency on the part of officials.

“The vehicle ferrying us to the venue of the cultural programmes broke down midway and we had to walk for four km in the desert braving the biting cold desert winds at night… we didn’t cough up so much money for this,” said Clement Bousack a visitor from France.

For Sarah Andre,a tourist from Italy,the festival is a far cry from what she had heard and read about. “I had taken my friend to the medical tent after she fell ill and to our surprise we found the camp empty,save a few beds. We waited for some official to show up but no one did… this is sad considering we came with a lot of expectation.”

Inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi on December 9,the annual festival will be on till January 15.

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