Often mistaken as an en-route destination between two major ones, Gujarat is a wonder in disguise for its tourists. From the blue coast to the white desert, Gujarat is highly diversified in nature with some of the famous heritage, adventure and eco-tourism destinations behaving as an ideal all-rounder. Throughout the centuries, Gujarat has made its mark through its natural, man-made and cultural marvels. TravelScapes handpicks some of the rarely-explored spots in the states that might get the highest place in tomorrow’s travellers’ future bucket list
Gujarat tourism lays great emphasis on environmental conservation to enhance the tourists understanding and appreciation of nature. There is a range of multiple spots in Gujarat that allows one to witness the gifts of nature with minimum interference. Lakes, waterfalls, gardens, multiple alternatives entice the tourists visiting the state. Owing to its hotspots, the eco-tourism in this spot is gradually becoming a thriving sector of travelling. Camping is the most favourite activity of tourists while a tour to the eco-campsite of Gujarat is all about discovering peace quotient, living happily and de-stressing. Cycling will take one through the symphony of the grand Gujarati culture while challenging the tourist’s heart and uplifting their mood. Also, one may visit its famous wildlife sanctuaries to indulge in a bumpy jungle safari. Sasan Gir, Jambughoda, Jessore, Polo Forest, Saputara and Dasada are the recognised eco-tourism sites that will take one through an unforgettable and refreshing journey.
NATIONAL SALT SATYAGRAHA MEMORIAL
As rightly stated by the ‘Father of Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi, “Next to air and water, salt is perhaps the greatest necessity of life”, the ‘National Salt Satyagraha Memorial’ situated in Dandi, stands true to its significance. The memorial is spread over 15 acres (61,000 sq. m) of land and is located in the coastal town of Dandi, where the Salt March ended in 1930 and the British salt monopoly was broken by producing salt by boiling seawater. It is conceived as an experiential journey recreating the spirit and the energy of the 1930 Dandi March led by Gandhi and 80 of his fellow Satyagrahis, taking the visitors to the monument step-by-step to visualise and understand the history of the historic Salt March and the methodology of Satyagraha, which finally led to India’s Independence from the British’s colonial rule. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the memorial at Dandi on the 71st death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Located near the Arabian Sea, the idyllic Mandvi Beach offers absolute bliss and tranquillity. Mandvi is famous for its beach and a centuries-old shipbuilding yard. Although it is a lesser-known beach, it provides various avenues for amusement to its visitors. At the Mandvi Beach, travellers can indulge in thrilling water sports including surfing, skiing, speed boating, water scooting, parasailing as well as camping adventures or simply relaxing ease with family or friends. Watching the sunset from this beach while walking barefoot on the golden sand, is a simple pleasure that one should not be missed. The accommodation options are available at Mandvi Beach range from high-class beach resorts to budgeted cottages. From gazing at the windmills and birds to taking camel rides by the beach shore, Mandvi Beach offers several such unique experiences. Tourists can also visit the nearby Vijay Vilas palace which is a representation of the opulent architectural style and design.
CHHARI DHAND WETLAND RESERVE
Situated near the Fulay Village in Nakhtranan Taluka of Kutch, Chhari Dhand Reserve, which is also termed as the Nal Sarovar of Kutch, is one of the most versatile spots of wonders in the state of Gujarat. In the colloquial language, Chhari means ‘salty’ and Dhand means ‘shallow wetlands’. The Nal Sarovar has no hill in its background or proximity, however, the Chhari Dhand boasts of a gorgeous hill range right behind it and that makes it more beautiful than the Nal Sarovar. While the Chhari Dhand is quite a much-untouched place with better environmental experience compare to Nal Sarovar. The flats of Banni area in Kutch conceal many depressions where rainwater gets collected during a good monsoon and the shallow wetlands of Banni Grasslands in the heart of Kutch are a dream for birding enthusiasts. More than 370 species, including raptors, waders and larks are found in the region and the population goes up during the winters when migratory birds make this a veritable stop.
DON HILL STATION
The Don hill station is a scenic landscape located near Saputara and is perched on the border of Gujarat. Nestled in the Sahyadri range, at an altitude of about 1000 m, this Dangi enclave derives its name from the Snake God revered by the tribals and translates as ‘the abode of serpents’. During winters, at the spill of dawn, one may trek up to the Gandhi Shikhar as the river of light bathes the streams over the undulating mountains, into a magical dance of awakening. In summer, one may walk carefree on the expanse of the Governor’s hill and see the sun dip into the Saputara Lake. In monsoon, visitors can breathe in the rolling hills of Saputara, echoing green hues, lush with flowers, and watch the meditating rain drops sitting still on sloping leaves. As the tourists chug uphill, crisscrossing over the Ambika River, leaving all the congestion of towns and cities far below to enter the spirit world of tribal people. Despite being the only hill station of Gujarat, it is minimally commercialized; still unspoiled.
RANI KI VAV
The UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest step wells of the country, the Rani ki Vav is an incredible example of the kind of water conservation that was practised in India during ancient times. Interestingly, Rani ki Vav was commissioned by Rani (Queen) Udayamati in 1603 in the memory of her husband and King Bhimdev 1 of the Solanki Dynasty. This stepwell built in Maru-Gurjara architectural style is situated in Patan. The ‘vavs’ of Gujarat weren’t only used for collecting water and socialising, they also held spiritual significance. The steps begin at ground level, leading the visitors down through several pillared pavilions accompanied by the breeze to reach the deep well below. Rani ki Vav is designed as an inverted temple and is adorned with over 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. Here, visitors can find carvings of stone deities. Dasavataras or ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is stepwell’s central theme that includes Lord Buddha.