Gujarat today offers a wide range of the most spectacular attractions which includes breathtaking locations and scenic landscapes. Gujarat is also a melting pot of several civilizations resulting in a vibrant culture and a rich heritage. Gujarat is the home to exceptional archeological sites, several architectural marvels and witnesses glorious history and pilgrim centers for many faiths.
Gujarat, India’s western most state has varied terrains and numerous sacred sites. In its urban center of Ahmadabad is the Calico Museum of Textiles, displaying antique and modern Indian fabrics. Spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi’s base from 1917-1930 was Sabarmati Ashram, where his living quarters remain on view. The endless journey from the Roots to Wings is timeless with the historical and cultural traditions glorifying the State. Seemingly, one of the most vibrant state in India, Gujarat’s history stretches from the age-old Harappan civilization to the Mughal period; from the nationalist Gandhi to the present PM, Narendra Modi. The Jama Masjid, built in the 15th-century, is defined by its courtyard and columned design.
Located on the western coast and being one of the most industrialized and prosperous state, Gujarat has a lot to offer. The picturesque landscapes, historical sites and long stretches of coastline elevate the beauty of the state. The reflection of diversity can be seen in the colourful dresses and the variety of ornaments worn by women, even so is in the languages which constitute Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Sindhi and English. Besides the cultural aestheticism, the industrially advanced state is also known for its fascinating handicrafts, textiles, mouthwatering cuisine, lively fairs, festivals, and the colourful lifestyle.
Treat for the Eyes
The heart of Gujarat, Ahmedabad is a perfect blend of bustling metropolitan and of deeply rooted culture and tradition. Known for its association with Mahatma Gandhi and the finest medieval Islamic architecture, Ahmedabad isn’t a place you’d want to miss.
Sarkhej Roza, just outside the city, is a mesmerizing inheritance of the Gujarat Sultanate and makes for an idyllic retreat. Nal Sarovar, an extensive wetland, attracts thousands of migratory birds during winter furnishing an insight to nature. Patan and Mehsana, replete with architectural excellence, whereas Banaskantha, at the northeastern periphery of Gujarat, is characterized by undulating hills and forests from the Aravali Range, rich tribal culture,pilgrimage destinations, wildlife and a Nawabi heritage.
Geographically situated on the south bank of the Tapti River, Surat is also referred to as Saurashtra, ‘The Good Land’. Its finely carved mosques, Parsi agiaris, European tombs and colonial houses all testify to the eclectic mix of ethnic communities that continue to live in the city. A busy commercial centre for textiles and diamonds, Surat is chiefly visited by tourists, interested in its colonial history.
Tourists coming to Surat should not miss out the famous national park of Bulsar. One gets to see different species of wild animals over there. Ubharat, a beautiful sea beach attracts multiple tourists and can be exciting to plan a day out. And above all, the textile market in Surat which has the repute of possessing the best-embroidered products of silk and brocade. The best time to visit the city is from October to March.
Better known as the State’s ‘cultural capital’, Vadodara is graced with a vibrant combination of Hindu and Jain shrines, towers over Champaner and the 15th century Islamic fort. Vadodara is situated on the Vishwamitri River. It encompasses ample amount of attraction, with Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Naulakhi Well, Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Gozer and Nazar Bagh Palace topping the chart.
Rajkot stands majestically on the banks of Aji River, blessed with regal architecture. The house of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Karba Gandhi No Delo’ is the main tourist attraction in Rajkot. It was here, where Gandhi lived since he was six. Also a handicraft and textile center, Rajkot is known for its fine silverwork, Bandhani, Patola saris and beadwork. Other awesomely delineated places are Lal Pari Lake and Randerda, a picturesque picnic spot, Rashtriya Shala, a centre of patola weaving and the world famous, Rajkumar College.
Endorsed with beautiful wide streets, arches, shopping arcades and cool gardens, Junagadh’s splendour is more of an English city. The fantastic edifices exhibit the rich culture, depicting the presence and influence of the four major religions, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Muslims. The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only remaining habitat of the pure Asiatic Lion. Mount Girnar, marked by 10,000 stone step encompasses numerous Hindu and Jain temples. The hill, most sacred to the Jain community is visited by millions of Hindu and Jains. Jama Masjid, Ashoka’s rock edicts, Upperkot fort and the Mahabat Maqbara are the cynosure of Gujarat.
The Jewel of Kathiawar (Jamnagar) is established on the coast of Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat. As it turned out, the city is consorted with the legendary Krishna who migrated from Mathura and established his kingdom in Dwarka. The Lakhota Palace, the Kotha Bastion, Bala Hanuman temple and even the Jain temples beautify the assets of Jamnagar. Incorporating an archipelago of 42 islands, the Marine National Park established in 1982 is the first in India. One of its kind, the Bardar Sanctuary makes for a fabulously isolated, ‘out of the road’ trip.
With its notable mud architecture, a medley of craft traditions and exquisite apparel, this eminently colorful and culturally rich land has a wonderful handcrafted feel. Each community has its own oral traditions, dance, craft and dress. Stretching along the Tropic of Cancer, from Rajasthan to the edge of Pakistan and the Arabian Sea, Kutch covers a little over 45000 sq km and is geographically one of India’s largest and most distinctive districts.
A city of gold – Dwarka, the mesmerizing kingdom of Lord Krishna. ‘Ranchhodrai’, as Lord Krishna is affectionately called in Gujarat, came to Dwarka from Mathura to build his new kingdom where had would later spend a significant part of his life. Located at the western tip of the Saurashtra peninsula, this town enjoys remarkable importance in Hindu lore. It is the only place considered both one of the four principal holy places (char dham), as well as one of the seven ancient towns (sapta puris) to visit. For this reason, millions of pilgrims and historical scholars have come here over the centuries.
It is believed that immediately after the death of Lord Krishna and the consequent demise of the Yadav dynasty a massive flood swallowed all of Dwarka and submerged the city of gold to the bottom of the ocean. However, current excavations give us reason to think this myth has a historical basis, as most myths do.
Saputara (2500 ft asl) is a lakeside destination of Gujarat and one of the popular honeymoon destination on outskirts of Maharashtra (85 kms from Nashik). It comes alive in monsoon when it gets misty and green. Gira Falls (47 kms) nearby is in its full glory. It is a renowned standalone getaway and kind of place for offbeat holiday travellers to arrive. There are view points, lake (with boating) and some forts to explore in and around Saputara.
The capital of Kachchh is an interesting city, mostly resurrected following the massive 2001 earthquake that destroyed most of the place. It sells amazing Kachchh handicrafts, and historic buildings such as the Aina Mahal and Prag Mahal possess an eerie beauty. Bhuj is an ideal springboard for visits to the surrounding villages, and textile tourism is attracting visitors from around the worldThe Jadeja Rajputs who took control of Kachchh in 1510 made Bhuj their capital 29 years later, and it has remained Kachchh’s most important town ever since.
Blessed with an extensive coastline, Gujarat provides for bounteous seafood. However, the Jain vegetarianism and traditional Hinduism makes Gujarat, primarily a vegetarian state. A subtle combination of leafy vegetables and pulses, flavoured with spices and accompanied by rice and bread, makes for a delightfully delicious cuisine of Gujarat.
Gujarat, renowned of its typical mouth-watering food has loads of dishes to crave for. The salty steamed cake ‘Khaman Dhokla’, ‘Kadhi’ a savoury yoghurt curry with chopped vegetables and spices, ‘Debra’ flour mixed with spinach and yoghurt and ‘Oondhiya’ subsuming several vegetables.
The sweets and desserts offered in Gujarat are fabulous. Doodh Pak, Gharis, Nankhatias made of milk, dry fruits, and nuts are delicious. Gujarati cuisine is distinct in its wide variety of ‘Farsan’- side dishes taken as a snack. The leisure of all these famous dishes can be taken by ordering a ‘Thali’.
Shopping in Gujarat
Popularly acknowledged for its picturesque and exquisite handicrafts all over India, Gujarat is considered as the most booming, prosperous, encouraging, and flourishing state in India. Shopping in Gujarat can be a lifetime experience for anyone. The market of Gujarat is flooded with the array of items on display, the cloth toys, cradle cloth, appliquéd quilts, embroidered marriage costumes, lacquer furniture, ghagra cholis, patola silk sarees, embroidered footwear and the list goes on.
The range and variety of crafts and textiles offered in Gujarat is absolutely mesmerizing. Even the most reluctant of shoppers will find it impossible to resist picking up beautiful hand made fabrics, woven shawls and rugs and the intricately patterned beadwork. This is the sphere where Gujarat beats most parts of India.
How to reach?
Encompassed with 10 domestic airports and an international airport at Ahmedabad, Gujarat incorporates frequent international flights to countries in Middle East, Europe and America. Indigo Airlines, Jetlite, Kingfisher airlines; Air India and Kingfisher Red operate regular flights to Ahmedabad from all major cities of India. Other airports are at Vadodara, Bhuj, Bhavnagar, Surat, Kandla, Keshod, Jamnagar, Porbandar and Rajkot.
A good railway network not only connects the state internally, but also links all the prime cities of Gujarat to the rest of the country.
An excellent network of roads, state and national highways connect Ahmedabad, the capital city to the various important places in the state of Gujarat and the major cities of India. The Gujarat State Transport Corporation, Gujarat Tourism, and private operators operate regular buses to all the major destinations of the state from most of the larger cities.Private taxis, auto rickshaws can be hired to move around the cities and towns. For shorter distances, cycle rickshaws are also available.