Drawing inspiration when traveling – A visit to the Great Rann of Kutch in India

Covid has had us home bound for so long. Like many others, I have sorely missed traveling. After a lot of thinking, we finally decided to travel to India over this winter break. I’m doubly vaccinated, and got a booster shot just a few weeks back. We thought this would be a good time to visit our families, as well as get some sightseeing under our belt.

One of our stops on our trip was Great Rann of Kutch, one of the largest salt deserts in the world. And boy am I glad that we made this trip! The white desert looks absolutely gorgeous! The photographer in me was dying to get some nice, colorful and high contrast photos against the white sands. Alas, this was not to be at this time. Even so, the white desert looked beautiful and unforgiving.

It just so happens that the there was also a cultural festival going on in the Rann at this time, called “Rann Utsav“. The festival promotes local arts and culture, by giving local artisans a place to showcase their goods. Amidst the vast desert, the festival erects a temporary city of sorts, complete with tents for staying, dining halls for eating, and rows of shops with such amazing craftsmanship that you cannot help but be amazed at the beautiful products all around you. From bags, to shawls, to sculptures to figurines to wall hangings, I saw all kind of beautiful work being sold by local artisans.

If you live in India or are planning to visit India at any point, I highly recommend adding Rann of Kutch to your itinerary, especially if you can make it during the time of the festival! The cultural festival takes place from Nov – Feb, which is a good time to visit India, since it’s winter season and not very hot in any part of the country. Summers can be hard in India if you’re not used to the heat (unless you’re going into the mountains). The festival is not only great for exposing yourself to lots of different types of arts and crafts, you also see how there’s so much talent in such a remote part of the world. For me, it was deeply impactful to see how this festival has created a platform for villagers living in this desert, giving them a place to share their work with the world. It helps them in more ways than one – they earn money from any sales that they make, and they build pride in their work when they see tourists from around the world admire their craftsmanship. Of course, you also get to enjoy a salt desert, which looks remarkably different from a sand desert, and so beautiful!

Another stop for me was Jaisalmer, a city in Rajasthan, India, that’s close to the Thar desert, world’s 20th largest desert. Jaisalmer was again awash with such intricate work, but this time in the form of beautiful architecture. The city is resplendent in gorgeous buildings everywhere, all carved with such intricate work by hand. One can only imagine how much time it must have taken to make such buildings.

If you engage in any kind of creative pursuit, be it a hobby or a job or a side project, you’ll look for sources of inspiration at one point or another. And travel offers one of the best sources of inspiration. When you move out of the comforts of your home, your mind is automatically more open to details. Since you’re in a new and different environment, you’re not sure yet of what to “ignore” 🙂 You take in the sights, the people, and everything around you, and things soak in much more.

Try to find things that interest you when you travel – local exhibitions, theater, museums, markets….they will open up your mind to new things, and stimulate you in ways you hadn’t thought of before. Don’t be a tourist 🙂 Try to immerse yourself, wherever you go.

Also – I don’t think you need to think too much about where you go to travel. You’ll be surprised about how you can have an amazing experience in the most unexpected of places. I was in the Rann of Kutch for a full 3 days, and once you’ve seen the white desert, you might feel that there’s not much else to do. But the local handicrafts gave me enough to immerse myself in for the full three days. I do believe that no matter where you go, you’ll be able to find something to pique your interest.

I know that covid has made it hard for us to get out. But you can still travel a little, while taking necessary precautions. Use services such as Airbnb to make sure that you’re not coming in close contact with others when staying. Take a road trip to nearby places, instead of flying to far off places. Don’t go to crowded areas. Definitely get vaccinated and wear a mask at all times. But give your brain that dose of inspiration it so desperately needs 🙂

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