Great Rann of Kutch
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The Great Rann of Kutch, is a seasonal salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India and the Sindh province of Pakistan. It is about 7,505.22 square kilometres (2,897.78 sq mi) in size and is reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world. This area has been inhabited by the Kutchi people.
Location and description
The Great Rann of Kutch, along with the Little Rann of Kutch and the Banni grasslands on its southern edge, is situated in the district of Kutch and comprises some 30,000 square kilometres (10,000 sq mi) between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River in southern Pakistan. The marsh can be accessed from the village of Kharaghoda in Surendranagar District.
In India's summer monsoon, the flat desert of salty clay and mudflats, which average 15 meters above sea level, fill with standing waters. The greatest extent between the Gulf of Kutch on the west and the Gulf of Cambay on the east get united during the monsoon.
The area was a vast shallow of the Arabian Sea until continuing geological uplift closed off the connection with the sea, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great. The Ghaggar River, which presently empties into the desert of northern Rajasthan, formerly emptied into the Rann of Kutch, but the lower reaches of the river dried up as its upstream tributaries were captured by the Indus and Ganges thousands of years ago. Traces of the delta and its distributary channels on the northern boundary of the Rann of Kutch were documented by the Geological Survey of India in 2000.
The Luni River, which originates in Rajasthan, drains into the desert in the northeast corner of the Rann. Other rivers feeding into the marsh include the Rupen from the east and the West Banas River from the northeast.
There are sandy islets of thorny scrub, forming a wildlife sanctuary and a breeding ground for some of the largest flocks of greater and lesser flamingos. Wildlife, including the Indian wild ass, shelter on islands of higher ground, called bets, during the flooding.
This is one of the hottest areas of India - with summer temperatures averaging 44 °C (111 °F) and peaking at 50 °C (122 °F). Winter temperatures reduce dramatically and can go below 0 °C (32 °F).
Flora and fauna
In winter, the Great Rann of Kutch is a breeding ground for flamingos and pelicans. It is the only place in India where flamingos come to breed and is home to 13 species of lark. The Little Rann of Kutch is famous for the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, home of the world's last population of Indian wild ass (equus hemionus khur or khar). Other mammals of the area include the Indian wolf (canis indica), desert fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla), golden jackal (canis aureus), chinkara (gazella bennettii), nilgai (boselaphus tragocamelus), and the near threatened blackbuck (antilope cervicapra).
The marshes are also a resting site for migratory birds, and are home to over 200 species of bird including the threatened Lesser Florican (eupodotis indica) and Houbara bustard (chlamydotis undulata).
Many religions are found here like Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism & Islam.
Threats and preservation
Although most of the marsh is in protected areas, the habitats are vulnerable to cattle grazing, firewood collection and salt extraction operations, all of which may involve transportation that disturbs wildlife. There are several wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves on the Indian side in the Rann of Kutch region. From the city of Bhuj, various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch/Kachchh district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.
Indo-Pakistan international border
In India the northern boundary of the Greater Rann of Kutch forms the International Border between India and Pakistan, it is heavily patrolled by India's Border Security Force (BSF) and Indian Army conducts exercises here to acclimatize its troops to this harsh terrain.
This inhospitable salty lowland, rich in natural gas, was one scene of perennial border disputes between India and Pakistan that, in April 1965, contributed to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Later the same year, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Harold Wilson persuaded the combatants to end hostilities and establish a tribunal to resolve the dispute. A verdict was reached in 1968 which saw Pakistan getting 10% of its claim of 9,100 square kilometres (3,500 sq mi). 90% was awarded to India, although India claimed 100% of the region. Tensions spurted again in 1999 during the Atlantique Incident.
J. P. Dutta's Bollywood film Refugee is shot on location in the Great Rann of Kutch amongst other locations in the Kutch district. This film is said to have been inspired by the famous story by Keki N. Daruwalla based around the Great Rann of Kutch titled "Love Across the Salt Desert", included as one of the short stories in the School Standard XII syllabus English text book of NCERT in India. The film crew traveled from Mumbai and was based in the city of Bhuj and most of the film shooting took place in the Great Rann of Kutch (also on BSF-controlled "snow white" Rann interior), villages and Border Security Force (BSF) Posts in Banni grasslands and the Rann, Tera fort village, Lakhpat fort village, Khera fort village, a village in southern Kutch, some ancient temples of Kutch and with parts and a song filmed on set in Mumbai's Kamalistan Studio.
Several scenes in Salman Rushdie's Booker Prize winning novel Midnight's Children take place in the Rann of Kutch, including a scene where the protagonist faints from heat stroke in the Rann's famously brutal climate.
The Government of Gujarat hosts an annual 3 day festival called the Rann Utsav (festival of the Rann), where tourists can see the various sights of the Rann as well as get a taste of the local culture, cuisine and hospitality. Specially built local houses are also used to house tourists to give them a taste of them. Many adventure clubs and travel clubs organize expeditions.
The unique handicrafts of Kutch are world famous. A lot of women and young girls make their living by selling different types of embroidered cloths. The embroidery is of various styles such as Rabari, Ahir, Sindhi, Banni, Mutwa, Ari and Soof - and some styles include mirror or bead inlay.
- Rann of Kutch
- Little Rann of Kutch
- Kori Creek
- Atlantique Incident
- Banni grasslands
- Chhir Batti (Ghost lights) from Banni grasslands, its seasonal wetlands and the adjoining Rann of Kutch
- Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve adjacent to Banni Grasslands
- Salt marsh
- Salt flat
- Salt pans
- "Gujarat Tourism Document". http://www.gujarattourism.com/downloads/nov_2008.pdf.
- INTERNATIONAL LAW REPORTS VOLUME 50. Cambridge University Press. p. 464. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=9F1l4CKaYdMC&lpg=PA464&dq=Great%20Rann%20of%20Kutch&pg=PA464#v=onepage&q=Great%20Rann%20of%20Kutch&f=false.
- Negi, S.S. (1996). Biosphere reserves in India : landuse, biodiversity and conservation. New Delhi: Indus Pub. Co.. ISBN 978-81-7387-043-9.
- "Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. http://worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/im0901.
- "Encyclopaedia of Earth". http://www.eoearth.org/article/Rann_of_Kutch_seasonal_salt_marsh.
- Sajnani, Manohar (2001). Encyclopaedia of tourism resources in India. New Delhi: Kalpaz Pub.. ISBN 978-81-7835-018-9. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=nxtnsT8CdZ4C&pg=PA124&dq=kutch+handicrafts&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_mFoT9eFJcXtrQfl9JHwBw&ved=0CHIQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=kutch%20handicrafts&f=false.
- "CNN IBN Report - Flamingoes Under Threat". http://ibnlive.in.com/news/road-through-kutch-puts-flamingoes-under-threat/192781-3.html.
- 50 years of Indo-Pak relations / the initial phase : partition of India, Indo-Pak wars, the UNO.. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publ.. 1998. ISBN 978-81-7629-057-9.
- Stark beauty (Rann of Kutch); Bharati Motwani; September 23, 2008; India Today Magazine, Cached: Page 2 of 3 page article with these search terms highlighted: cheer batti ghost lights rann kutch , Cached: Complete View - 3 page article seen as a single page 
- Ghost lights that dance on Banni grasslands when it’s very dark; by D V Maheshwari; August 28, 2007; The Indian Express Newspaper
- Love Across the Salt Desert; by Keki N. Daruwalla. Pdf of full story posted at Boston University at . Bollywood connection - J. P. Dutta's "Refugee" also is said to be inspired by this story; learnhub, University of Dundee
- (iii) Supplementary Reader; Selected Pieces of General English for Class XII; English General - Class XII; Curriculum and Syllabus for Classes XI & XII; NCERT. Also posted at  / , 
- Gujarat Tourism website
- The Great Run of Kutch; Dec 10, 2006; The Indian Express Newspaper
- World Wildlife Fund (2001). "Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh". WildWorld Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20100308064632/http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0901.html.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rann of Kutch|
-  Gujarat Tourism official website.
- "World Wildlife Fund:". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. http://worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/im0901. Terrestrial Ecoregions: Rann of Kutch
- Satellite views comparing summer and winter conditions in the Rann of Kutch
- Little Rann of Kutch National Park
- Kachchh Portal a web portal about Kachchh and the people who hail from there - the global community of Kachchhis / Kutchis.
- Desert (Rann of Kutch) wetlands; 06 February 2003; WWF Global website
- KACHCHH PENINSULA AND THE GREAT RANN; The Geological Survey of India, Ministry of Mines, Government of India
- Archived News Articles from India Environmental Portal on: Rann of Kutch
- Archived News Articles from India Environmental Portal for a Search made for: Banni grasslands
- Trip Record: Photos of Friends on a motorbike trip through Kutch visiting the Great Rann of Kutch passing through Kala Dungar (Black hill), snow white Rann, then they visit the Dholavira Harappan excavation site. Then biking through Banni grasslands they see Indian Wild Ass there and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve. They then Bike to Lakhpat fort village and also Mandvi beach.. Also see .