The gregariously friendly state Gujarat with its warm words of welcome Aavo Padharo invites and entices you to pay the visit once and again. Gujarat, renowned for its historic capitals, temple towns, wildlife sanctuaries and natural stateliness gifted in abundance, is also the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the most iconic figures during India's independence movement, therefore the state is also known as "the land of the legends".
The state of Gujarat derives its name from the word "Gujaratta", meaning the land of Gurjars. These Gurjars were a tribe of the Huns who ruled the area once. Gujarat is known to be the 6th largest state in India with the longest coastline of 1600km. The capital city is Gandhinagar while Ahmedabad is the largest city. It is bordered by the state of Rajasthan to the north, Maharashtra to the south, Madhya Pradesh to the east and the Arabian Sea along with the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west. The official and primary language of the state is Gujarati. Gujarat is known all over the world for its amalgamation of temples, historic cities, wildlife capitals, beautiful handicrafts and the mouth-watering cuisine.
One can witness scenic beauty of the white sands in the Rann of Kutch and also be a part of the hills in Saputara. Also, Gujarat is the only place in the world to have pure Asiatic lions. When it comes to architecture, history tells us that during the reign of the Sultans, Hindu craftsmanship was mixed with the Islamic architecture, which gave way to the Indo-Saracenic style. Gujarat still has many structures standing still which were influenced by this style of design.
Gujarat is also known by the name "the land of the legends". This is because it is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who were known to be the most iconic figures during India's independence movement. There are also many important educational institutes such as the Indian Institute of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Space Application Centre (SAC), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), etc that make the term "the land of the legends" more convincing for the state.
Must see tourist attractions
Standing strategically and moving up over the global map, the state of Gujarat has emerged as a tourists’ paradise over the years and one of the most sort after destinations.
The hill station of Saputara sits atop at an altitude of 1000m and is situated in the heart of Dangs district and near the Surat district. Located on the second highest plateau of the Sahyadari range, it has a very cool climate and offers a scenic view of the lush valley.
The Kankaria Lake
Situated in Ahmedabad, the lake was constructed by Sutan Qutb-ud-Din in the year 1451. It is the largest lake in the city, which has something to offer to everybody. Around the lake is the Kankaria zoo, children’s parks, boat club, museums and more. It also offers a hot air balloon safari and a train ride along the lake.
The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
This is an extensive 1412 sq km of forests besides having a wide range of plants and animals. The most part of this national park are the Asiatic Lions. On a visit to the park, one can also spot hyenas, wild boar, antelopes, fox, jackals and many other animals. The park organises Lion shows, which attracts a large number of tourists.
One cannot miss the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The Great Rann of Kutch measures over 16000 sq km and is known to be the largest salt desert in the world. Also called the white desert, one should visit the place on a full moon day when the place looks glorious in moonlight.
Tithal, Bulsar District, Ubhrat, Surat and Chorvad in Junagadh District are other major tourist places in Gujarat. Pavagadh has a hill top and Tulsi Shyam, which is known for hot springs, is in the heart of the Gir Forest.
Cuisine of the state
The Gujarati cuisine stands uniquely from the culinary traditions of the rest of the country. The dishes are savoured with great delicacy both in India and abroad. The cuisine is mostly vegetarian and this large scale vegetarianism came up due to the religious ideologies and beliefs followed in the state.
Traditionally served in a silver platter, a typical Gujarati thali has a blend of fine flavours and textures. It includes rice, chapatis, dal, vegetable curry, saag and pickles. Gujarati's are known for their food and every household cooks the food with great pleasure. Although different parts of Gujarat have a flavour of its own, there are a few ingredients that are common to all such as chat masala, Ghee (purified buttermilk), gram flour, maize, methi, rotis made of bajra, sugar, coriander, etc.
The staple foods of a Gujarati cuisine include salad, homemade pickles and most importantly Khichdi (rice and lentil or rice and moong daal cooked together), and chhaas (buttermilk). The main course is heavily a menu of dishes cooked from steamed vegetables and dals that are added to a vaghaar, which is a mixture of spices sautéed in hot oil. It is added to enhance the digestive qualities and taste of the main ingredient.
One cannot forget the sweets and chaats in the cuisine. They form an important feature of a proper full course Gujarati meal. Gajar ka halwa, besan halwa, sweet stuffed ghari-puri, malpwa, laddoos are the most sought among the sweet dishes. Papdi chaat, kachori chaat, samosa chaat, raj kachori chaat, dhokla, are some of the most popular of Gujarati snacks that one cannot miss on a visit here.
Infrastructural development taking place in the state
The state of Gujarat has always believed in infrastructural growth. This growth is given equal importance in all sectors. It is the first state in the country to have enacted a legal framework for the Public-Private partnership (PPP) in the infrastructure network, i.e. the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB). It was created in 1995 and was given the statutory status by enacting the Gujarat Infrastructure Development (GID) Act 1999.
The GID Act puts forth a fair mechanism for the selection of developers. These selectors are selected either through competitive bidding, Swiss challenge route or through direct negotiation after following certain criterion. The GIDB has the authority to get together the projects and co-ordinate with various agencies. The state of Gujarat today has an active private participation from a varied number of roads, railways, hydroelectricity projects, ports. Many projects have even been simultaneously developed due to this engagement.
In an initiative by the Gujarat government, they have started a scheme which is the viability gap funding scheme. This is to bridge the viability gap in infrastructure projects.
The state also believes and plans for a long term infrastructure vision. This long term vision plan called the BIG 2020 has an investment of around 12.00 lakh crore by the year 2020, which will be a boon of investment across various sectors of infrastructures.
The State has initiated projects, which will be responsible in re-defining India’s economic history and will also put the country in the high growth trajectory.
Wildlife in the state
Mahatma Gandhi had once said "A country is known by the way it treats its animals". The varied landforms and the dry deciduous forests along with the majestic grasslands, marine ecosystems and wetlands, is a dream come true for people who are always on the quest to explore nature and wildlife. The forests and the wildlife sanctuaries of Gujarat are a home to some rare wildlife inhabitants. Animals such as the leopards, hyenas, the Asiatic lions, wild ass, the sambar, sloth bear and even the black buck have found a place for themselves in the Gir National Park.
The Government of Gujarat has been highly conscious of preserving their wildlife and their environment by opening up national parks and sanctuaries. The conservation of these have not just enabled the opening up of these parks and sanctuaries, but also have given the opportunity to visitors to have a glimpse of the natural habitat and wildlife. The Asiatic Lion which is purely found in the Gir National Park, is at the risk of being wiped away from this earth and the right measures are important if we wish to protect it from being extinct.
Wildlife safaris in a jeep are also an aspect of the Wildlife in Gujarat. Many sanctuaries permit for a jeep safari among the wildlife. However, in some cases special permissions are also required from the concerned authorities.
Even the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat dwell a wide variety of animals and avian life. The topography and the extreme climates of Gujarat support some extremely rare animals. The wildlife tourism of Gujarat plays an important role in bringing tourism to the State.
Festivals of the state
Also called the Land of Festivals and Fairs, no other state witnesses so many colours in their festivals as the Gujarati's do. Almost 3500 small and big festivals and fairs are celebrated each year in Gujarat. These as well attract a large number of tourists.
Some important festivals and fairs of the colourful Gujarati culture includes the Kite festival, Modhera dance festival, Kutch Utsav, Mahashivratri, Holi festival, Chitra – Vichitra fair among others.
Dance and devotion form the "circle of ecstasy" in the heart of every soul who is a part of the Gujarat's Navrathri Festival. People dress up in colourful traditional costumes and dance away their hearts in this nine day festival. Although celebrated throughout India, the festival is celebrated with immense excitement and fervour in Gujarat. The importance of the Navrathri festival is all about offering devotion to Goddess Amba (Durga), who is believed to exist in many forms. These Goddesses are believed to be known as "Shakti". The devotees perform the 'devi-sthaapna' in their homes wherein they invite the Goddess and perform 'pooja-path' for nine days along with fasting.
Dwarka was the kingdom founded by Lord Krishna. It is located within the territories of the present day Gujarat and therefore, the Krishna Janmashtami in Gujarat is one of the most popular of the fairs and festivals in the state of Gujarat
Makara Sankranti is the next colourful festival after the Navrathri. This vibrant festival also marks the Kite festival, which also signifies Gujarat's cultural strength. Just like Kites, Gujarat also believes in soaring up in the sky.