Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Gujarat has to say about Kalo Dunga (Black Hill):
“Kachchh, India’s wild west, is a geographic phenomenon. The flat, tortoise-shaped land, edged by the Gulf of Kachchh and Great and Little Ranns, is a seasonal island. During the dry season, the Ranns are vast expanses of dried mud and blinding-white salt.
Come the monsoon, the Ranns are flooded first by seawater, then by fresh river water. The salt in the soil makes the low-lying marsh area almost completely barren. Only on scattered ‘islands’ above the salt level is there coarse grass, which provides fodder for the region’s wildlife.
North of the village of Khavda, the Black Hill marks Kachchh’s highest point (462m), with remarkable views over the Great Rann salt flat (or inland sea if you’re visiting during the monsoon).”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
After leaving the potter empty-handed, we headed further north and a little bit east, across flat land covered with scrubby bushes and little else. Off in the distance we could see that the land was rising into a ridge of hills. We eventually reached the base of the Kala Dungar and just as we started up the hill, we came upon a young boy leading a camel out into the flatlands.
After making a few turns on the twisting road, we came to a small village, probably where the boy and the camel live. We passed through and carried on higher and higher and eventually came to a cluster of buildings, a small temple and a parking lot of sorts; all meant for the visitors who come to see the views over the Great Rann of Kachchh to the east, and the White Rann to the west.
When we stepped out of the van, I looked over the edge of the embankment and saw a an absolutely beautiful specimen of a traditional Gujarati bird house. I’d seen so many different ones along the highway as we passed through countless villages, but I didn’t get a good photo one. Now my luck had changed, here was a beauty right in front of me.
I had to hurry to catch up with Anil and Duncan as they strode on ahead of me, up the wide path that led to the viewpoint. Donna had stayed behind at the Rann Visamo resort because of a nagging headache. I didn’t feel she’s missed anything by not coming with us to the potter’s, but this was beginning to look pretty special and I felt I’d have to take some really good photos so she wouldn’t feel bad about missing out.
I was happy that the path was paved and as it undulated up and down over the crest of the hill, that there were stairs as well. I imagine people visit at all times of the year, some coming when the vast area has dried in the heat of the summer months in order to see the glistening white salt. Other’s probably come during the monsoon months, to see the seasonal inland-sea, with only a few ‘islands’ sticking above the level of the salt water/river water mix. If it wasn’t for these few high points, there would be virtually no food for the wildlife passing through.
I don’t think I can do justice to the view that was waiting for us at the top of the Kala Dungar. I’ll leave it to you to view the photos I’ve shared on this journal, I’m at a loss for words to describe how awe-inspiring it was. It was the perfect time of day to come to see the Great Rann, the sun was sinking and the sunset was lighting up the sky to the west.
We left before it sank below the horizon because we had an hour-long drive back to join Donna at the resort, and we didn’t want to be driving in the dark for too very long. That’s one thing about being this far south. When the sun sets, its like someone turned off the lights with a switch. Click, darkness!