Rann of Kutch: White salt marsh, mesmerising sunrise and sunset and the colourful hues of Gujarati culture are drawing visitors by yards from India and abroad to experience the Runn Utsav here at the Indo-Pak border.
Kicked off this Tuesday, the two-month long festival presents to the world, Kutch district`s natural and cultural heritage. The festival has already wowed people, young and old, first-timers and frequent visitors, who still flock to the seasonal salty marsh year after year.
During summer monsoon, the White Runn flat desert of salty clay and mudflats, which is average 15 meters above sea level, located close to the Indo-Pak border in Kutch district, fills with standing waters.
It dries up from late December, thus offering a breathtaking view of the "white desert" under the open sky, a major hook for visitors during the festival.
Last time about eight lakh visitors turned up to witness the white Runn, a state tourism official said, adding that the footfall this time will climb up steadily as the festival progresses.
The fair offers an opportunity to people to witness the shining salty desert in its full glory, from sunrise to sunset to moonrise, apart from experiencing the life of camping in well-equipped luxury tents.
Young engineering student Anju Katarmal from Bhuj district who speaks Kutchi language, brought her friends from Surat to the festival and the Runn left them "spellbound".
"We have come from Surat and we are amazed and completely spellbound. Watching the sunset on the white desert was a very unique experience. We are going to come again next year," said Jigna, an Engineering student.
But, it is not just locals who are floored after watching the "white wilderness," foreigners and NRIs too have arrived to witness the saline beauty.
Sarah, a US resident, and her Indian-origin Nepali friend Kushal Harjani hitchhiked their way to the festival, from Bhuj along with a group of local Gujaratis.
"We saw the white desert in the day time. It is absolutely beautiful. Looking forward to see it at night," Sarah said.