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Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh

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Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh


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.[1] This area has been inhabited by the Kutchi people.[2]

The name "Rann" comes from the Hindi word ran (रण) meaning "desert". The Hindi word is derived from Sanskrit/Vedic word iriṇa (इरिण) attested in the Rigveda and Mahābhārata.

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.[3]

In India's summer monsoon, the flat desert of salty clay and mudflats, which average 15 meters above sea level, fills with standing waters. In very wet years, the wetland extends from the Gulf of Kutch on the west through to the Gulf of Cambay on the east.[4]

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.[5]

There are sandy islets of thorny scrub, forming a wildlife sanctuary[5] 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.

Climate

This is one of the hottest areas of India - with summer temperatures averaging 41°C and peaking at 49.5°C. Winter temperatures reduce dramatically and can go below 0 °C (32 °F).[6]

Religions

Many religions are found here like Hinduism, Jainism & Sikhism.

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.[7]

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.[8]

Chir Batti

At night, an unexplained strange dancing light phenomena known locally as Chir Batti (ghost lights) occurs in the Rann,[9] the adjoining Banni grasslands, and the seasonal wetlands.[10]

Popular culture

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",[11] included as one of the short stories in the School Standard XII syllabus English text book of NCERT in India.[12]

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.

Amitabh Bachchan in his advertisements for Gujarat Tourism titled Khushboo Gujarat Ki has also extensively shot in the Rann of kutch.[13] 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. Crucial scenes in recent Indian films like Magadheera and D-Day, were shot in the area.

Tourism

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.[14] Many adventure clubs and travel clubs organize expeditions.

Handicrafts

The unique handicrafts of Kutch are world famous.[15] 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.

See also

References

  • The Great Run of Kutch; 10 December 2006; The Indian Express Newspaper

External links

  • [7] Gujarat Tourism official website.
  • 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; 6 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
  • [8].

Coordinates: 24°05′11″N 70°38′16″E / 24.08639°N 70.63778°E / 24.08639; 70.63778

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