The tent town at Rann of Kutch
The aspiring Prime Minister in him is harping on “India first”, while the chief minister in him is still tireless in packaging his state a must-visit destination.
Narendra Modi’s government has come calling, urging people from Bengal to visit the Kutch desert in his state in numbers this winter.
The move almost councides with a speech of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate at a rally in Patna on Sunday: “My party, my government has only one agenda: India First.”
The occasion for the Modi government’s invite to the people of Mamata Banerjee’s state is Rann Utsav, to be held from December 15 to February 15.
Four hundred air-conditioned tents with modern facilities will accommodate the visitors at Rann of Kutch and there will be facilities for hot-air ballooning, adventure sports and fairs, said an official of Gujarat tourism.
Started in 2005 as a three-day event, the Rann Utsav has grown into a two-month festival. Last year, it had attracted 10,000 visitors. A two-night-three-day package will cost Rs 15,000, including pick-up from Bhuj, lodging and dining. A three-night package will come for Rs 22,000.
“The highlight of the place is the full moon shining on the white sand as well the sunrise,” said Kingshuk Biswas, the marketing manager of the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL).
“Kutch nahi dekha toh kuch nahi dekha (If you haven’t seen the Kutch you haven’t seen anything),” proclaims the booming voice of Amitabh Bachchan in the promotional video to announce Gujarat tourism’s latest venture — a tent city in the heart of the arid Rann of Kutch.
TCGL chairman Kamlesh Patel, who was in the city on Friday to promote the destination, said it was one of the most ambitious tourism projects of the Modi government. “We have spent over Rs 1,200 crore over the past five years on upgrading our infrastructure to promote tourism... the tent city is one of our most ambitious so far,” said Patel.
However, while the tourist count in Gujarat has shot up by 54 lakh in the past two years, Bengal in the period has managed to attract only 5 lakh.