From Salty marshland to an Iconic destination of the Western Indian Subcontinent – Dhordo, in the Rann of Kutch, has become the face of Gujarat’s development. Tourism has projected this formerly nondescript village onto the world tourism map.
The village must be commended for its achievements especially considering that it faces environmental and geographic extremities making development in the area extremely challenging. Coupled with these hardships, the Bhuj earthquake of 2001, devastated this village even more.
The initiative of using tourism as a key device to showcase what otherwise has been impeding the general development of the locality has worked wonders. Tourism was launched through Rann Utsav, a four-month festival whereby a special tent city was created in the desertic land with all the necessary amenities made available to tourists. It is during these four months that the village comes to life displaying all the natural and cultural resources/products to its consumers. The economy is growing because the products are promoted nationally and internationally, and consumers are eager to engage with the resources as much as they want to learn the art of making them.
The local natural and cultural resources are critical hence why both community and government have taken the initiative to conserve and sustainably use its limited resources. The state initiated the Heritage Tourism Policy that promotes conservation of old properties through PPP; the Gujarat Tourism Policy, which allows financial incentives for investors towards constructing Bhungas as lodgings.
A fruitful festival
The introduction of Rann Utsav has been one of the turning points for the village. Rann Utsav is a 4 month long annual festival that takes place between November to February in the Tent City. When launched visitor footfall increased from 5,000 to 7,000. This one touristic event in the village has had a catapultic effect on the rural society with incomes growing exponentially along with the self-esteem of the locals.
Advancing towards the Digital Age
As tourism becomes the key economic driver of Dhordo, the development of the tertiary service sector has been significant. The creation of Banks, ATMs and advances in digital transaction have greatly increased. Additionally, at present the village allows a 100% coverage of digital cashless transactions through Gpay and PhonePe to make payments more accessible for tourists.
Rural yet robust homes
Traditional homes called Bhungas, are used by locals and are also promoted as a tourist lodging offering an insight into the local experiences. Bhungas are circular mud huts, which withhold the integral character of Gujarat’s Kutch desert regions. These dwellings are climate resistant and have immense structural stability if hit by earthquakes. Additionally, they defend against cyclonic winds and sandstorms.
Following a devastating earthquake in 1819, the inhabitants of Kutch devised the circular design of bhungas, which has been in use for nearly 200 years.
Bhungas continued to stand strong even after the devastating earthquake of 2001.