Under twinkling sky, bike through Rann of Kutch marshlands (IANS Travel)

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) How about navigating the stars while biking it through the vast marshlands of the Rann of Kutch in western India? Not even mosquitoes will dare give company in the harsh clay desert, mind you.

Motorcycle brand Royal Enfield’s seven-day tour of the Rann – started this year – has beckoned 20 participants for a 1,500-km journey during Feb 21-27. They will travel to Kutch district of Gujarat that lies next to the Sindh region of Pakistan.

Spread over an area of over 10,000 sq km, the riders will come upon salt plains that are caused by flooding of the Rann by sea, river and rainwater and make survival difficult. It’s the stark, barren terrain where the Bollywood movie ‘Refugee’ was shot.

‘The reason for choosing this place is that it is a unique terrain. The paths here are 100 km wide. Riders will be riding on sand in open air. There are no roads there; hence it would be a new experience for riders,’ Kanwardeep Singh Dhaliwal, assistant manager of Royal Enfield, told IANS over phone from Chennai.

‘Also, for the first time, we are going to have night riding as a part of our trip. The terrain is such that you would love to navigate your bike through the stars,’ he added.

The bikers, all men, were selected on a first come, first serve basis after they applied for the tour on the Royal Enfield website.

Unlike Royal Enfield’s other adventure trips such as the annual Himalayan Odyssey or Rajasthan Odyssey, participants here will not have the luxury of staying in hotels but will enjoy the rugged experience of camping and resting underneath a sky twinkling with stars.

Ahmedabad-based Jaideep Khadoskar, who is participating, said: ‘You can lose your sense of direction as there are no roads and you are riding on a vast plain. I didn’t want to go alone on this terrain, yet I wanted to ride on it because it would be a different experience.

‘So I thought this was the right time,’ Khadoskar, 40, an international marketing professional, told IANS on phone.

For Sanat Tanna, a professional photographer who lives near Mumbai, the trip would be a step towards his dream trip, ‘Himalayan Odyssey’, and he is looking forward to clicking some great pictures.

‘I have a passion for biking and that is why I am part of this trip. Royal Enfield was my dream bike; so when I purchased Thunderbird Twinspark five months back, I knew that my tryst with adventure had just started,’ Tanna explained.

The trip will start from Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s principal city, and head for Little Rann of Kutch, Dholavira, Hodka, Wankaner, Nal Sarovar and India Bridge (close to the Pakistan border). The bikers will get to watch migratory birds at the Sarovar and visit the Mandvi beach during the trip.

Best time to visit: From November to April as at all other times the monsoons flood the marshland and the area is transformed into a vast inland sea.

Nearest airport from the Rann of Kutch: Bhuj, 150 km away.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)

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