Little Rann - Hotel Review
During any wild life trip, I normally try and concentrate on the content than on anything else including accommodation the place offers. While there are many national parks in India which offer good accommodation but my experience suggests to not to expect much rather look for good sightings in the park itself. But I do crave for good food while away from home since it keeps you in good spirits for long safari’s which can be tiring at times.
Last week we decided to go to the Little Rann of Kutch near Dhrangadhra in Gujarat known for its splendid beauty and the Wild Ass Sanctuary. This place is famous for Wild Asses (as the name suggests) and vast number of birds that arrive here at the advent of winter. Though the bookings were done much in advance, we did not spend much time researching for places offering accommodation around the Little Rann simply because we came across the Devjibhai’s website (http://littlerann.com) which seemed a nice place. When I went through the content of the site, I immediately decided to book it for the tour.
This place owned by renowned wild life conservationist and photographer Devjibhai Dhamecha offers Kooba huts as well as home stays at reasonable rates. When I spoke to Devjibhai, he assured me not to worry about too much about food and he would take care of our needs. Since our basic necessity - good food was taken care of by him, I didn’t waste much time and booked a Kooba hut for a weekend.
The plan was to stay overnight at Sankheshwar Parshvanath and travel to Devjibhai’s place the next day. Even though the driver was a local, he struggled to locate the place. That is when I called up Devjibhai for help. He asked me to hand over the phone to the driver. But I kept it on speaker for me to hear as well. I wasn’t surprised to know how well Devjibhai knew the places around Dhrangadhra (he is into this business for almost 35 years) because he explained every detail minutely. He gave concise instructions about every sign board, every road and every landmark. We were about 40 kilometres away but it did not require a second phone call to Devjibhai asking for directions again. Needles to say, we were impressed!!
When we reached his place, a little boy (Devjibhai’s grandson – Vikram) opened the gates for us. Soon I met the warm and hospitable Devjibhai himself who let me settle down in the beautiful and comfortable Kooba hut. When I enquired about lunch, he assured me that it wasn’t ready yet but would be ready in the next 30 minutes. A little later, Meena ben appeared at our door step and introduced herself as Devjibhai’s daughter. She courteously asked us what we would like to eat. She was well aware that we were travelling from Sankheshwar and may only like to eat Jain food hence she wanted to check if there were any special requests so that the arrangements can be made immediately. It is then we felt a bit of hustling amongst the family members to ensure we were comfortable. On learning we weren’t quite fans of what she had prepared, she quietly prepared another vegetable in a really short time ensuring our satisfaction. A little while later we were served with an authentic, hot, delicious and home-made food comprising of Chappatti, Vegetables, Dal and Rice.
This place in the Kidi village, is managed by Devjibhai’s family which I felt really helps them manage the place really well. The family was really hospitable and constantly assured we feel at home.
Post lunch, Devjibhai asked us the reason why we chose to visit the little rann and was happy to know we were bird-watchers. Next he did what he does best. He showed me a map of the rann and enthusiastically explained what to expect in the 3 safari outings planned for us. While I curiously enquired if the temperatures really dipped at night, the family proactively made arrangements of adequate blankets in the hut so that we enjoy our stay.
While I was wondering who we’d be doing the safari with, my questions were answered with the entry of Ajay Dhamecha. Ajay too like his father is a photographer and a bird-watcher. Most importantly, he knows the place so well. On the safari’s, we were joined by Dominique Brugiere from France. It was a joy to have him on board, because it meant we didn’t have to refer Salim Ali’s book (The book of Indian birds) for identification of sighting of previously unseen species since we had two knowledgeable guys alongside us. We really had a great time in the LRK sighting a really good number of birds.
On the day when we were to leave, there was a change in our plans at the last minute. Devjibhai immediately ensured we had proper lunch before leaving, thus making the stay memorable.