Namit Arora in Shunya’s Notes:
The road to Dholavira goes through a dazzling white landscape of salty mudflats. It is close to noon in early April and the mercury is already past 100F. The desert monotones are interrupted only by the striking attire worn by the women of the nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoral tribes that still inhabit this land: Ahir, Rabari, Jat, Meghwal, and others. When I ask the driver of my hired car to stop for a photo, they receive me with curious stares, hoots, and giggles.
This is the Rann of Kutch, an area about the size of Kuwait, almost entirely within Gujarat and along the border with Pakistan. Once an extension of the Arabian Sea, the Rann (“salt marsh”) has been closed off by centuries of silting. During the monsoons, parts of the Rann fill up with seasonal brackish water, enough for many locals to even harvest shrimp in it. Some abandon their boats on the drying mudflats, presenting a surreal scene for the dry season visitor. Heat mirages abound. Settlement is limited to a few “island” plateaus, one of which, Khadir, hosts the remains of the ancient city of Dholavira, discovered in 1967 and excavated only since 1989.