Gujarat, the home state of Gandhi is also one of the few dry states in India and an example of development. It has it all.
It was a state where world-famous architects experimented in the late 1900’s, where ancient temples of all Jains and Hindus are present and the place where Lord Krishna’s land, Dwaraka is said to be lying submerged.
Things To Do In Gujarat
You should walk along the streets of Ahmedabad, visit Manek Chowk to eat late at night, and explore the old city.
You can explore the white deserts at Kutch, the highest collection of Jain temples in one place in Palitana, go diving in Dwaraka to see the submerged city, see how ships are built in Mandvi, watch the lions roar at Gir National Park or just take a stroll by the riverfront promenade in Ahmedabad. You can do it all.
Photo: Uttarayan sky / CCo
Top Cities in Gujarat
Here are nine of the most notable cities.
- Gandhinagar — administrative capital of Gujarat, the city of Akshardham Temple and the second planned Green City
- Ahmedabad — Manchester of the East, the commercial capital of Gujarat, home of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram and the world’s finest textile museum
- Bhavnagar — busy industrial centre, a base for journeys to nearby sites
- Jamnagar — home to the world’s largest Grass-Root Refinery complex
- Junagadh — city of ancient Ashokan Stone Edicts
- Rajkot — former capital of the state of Saurashtra
- Surat — Diamond City, famous for mouth watering Surati food
- Baroda/Vadodara — Cultured City, Oxford of Gujarat
Photo: Tomb in Junagadh / CCo
One of the biggest cities of Gujarat, it is home to some delicious Gujarati food, an old city filled with traditional Havelis, huge educational institutions and modern buildings shooting up with restaurants and food trucks by its side.
The Sabarmati River runs through its center. On the western bank is the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati, which displays the spiritual leader’s living quarters and artifacts. Across the river, the Calico Museum of Textiles, once a cloth merchant’s mansion, has a significant collection of antique and modern fabrics.
Photo: Teen Darwaza in Ahmedabad / CCo
Vadodara, formerly called Baroda, is an impressive city known for its architecture. Kirti Mandir is the mausoleum of the Gaekwad dynasty, which ruled until 1949. It has murals by Bengali artist Nandalal Bose.
Tambekar Wada is a 4-story wooden townhouse with 19th-century murals depicting scenes from the Mahabharata epic poem. The Lakshmi Vilas Palace features both Indian and European architectural styles.
Photo: Lakshmi Villa Palace in Vadodara/ CCo
Modhera Sun Temple
This impressive exclusively carved temple complex and the magnificently sculpted kund are jewels in the art of masonry of the Solanki period apparently which was also known as the Golden Age of Gujarat.
Also, visit the city of SIdhpur located close to Modhera to view some amazing streets filled with mansions made entirely of wood belonging to the Bohra Muslim community. You won’t feel like you are in Gujarat while walking along these streets
Rani Ni Vav
Rani ki Vav is a step well built by the Queen (Rani). Constructed in the 11th it lay hidden until it was recently uncovered. The main highlight of the stepwell is that its walls that are ornamented with figurative motifs which showcase images of various god and goddesses and their consorts.
Winter is the best season to visit Rani ki Vav as you can enjoy the light shows, cultural events and exhibition at the Rani ki Vav Festival.
Photo: Rani ni Vav / CCo
A primary shrine amongst the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, Somnath temple is located in Junagarh district. One of the most expensive aartis, costing approximately 15 lakhs is carried out here.
You can also visit the beach, and the museum, close to the temple, which exhibits 1638 pieces from 7th to 15th century.
Photo: Somnath Temples/ CCo
Polo Forest Monuments
This collection of monuments now in ruins is a brilliant example of Gujarat’s amazing past and architecture. It is unique as the structure and design of the temples reveal Islamic traces in the use of domes and lattice screens but also follows the layout of Traditional Hindu temples.
Photo: Polo Forest ruins/ Art of Travel Partners
The deserted city of Champaner is a UNESCO world heritage site located in the foothills of Pavagadh. With some area perched on a rocky hilltop and bristling with forts, mosques, temples, and palaces this place is another marvel in Gujarat.
Here one can find eleven different types of heritage monuments belonging to 16th century like tombs, gateways, mosques, temples, fortresses and walls, palaces, and pavilions, helical wells, custom houses. It is famous for its arch built without mortar.
Photo: Mortarless Arches in Champaner / Art of Travel Partners
Lothal is a significant site of the Indus Valley civilization excavated in India. Here, you can see a tank, which is believed to be a dry dockyard and is connected by the channel to the old course of the Sabarmati River. Visit the museum to know more and see the unearthed artifacts.
250 km from the Bhuj district of Gujarat nestles an ancient town, Dholavira; that throws the light on the Harappan culture and its magnificent civilization. Second largest in India and fifth largest in the Indian sub-continent, this Harappan site the only place that marks the presence of Harappan culture from 2900 BC to 1500 BC.
Photo: Ruins of Harappan civilization/ CCo
Preached on top of the Shetrunjai Hill, Palitana temple is one of the most sacred Jain temples in India and is known for it’s 3000 brilliantly carved temple. You will have to climb 3800 steps to make it to the top. Try to make the climb before sunrise and enjoy the view from up there.
Photo: Hilltop collection of temples – Palitana / CCo
Located in the heart of Junagadh city, Uperkot Fort was built way back in 319 BC by the Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of Maurya empire.
In the course of 2300 years, this fort has faced many sieges, seen bloodshed, witnessed chivalry of many kings but it still stands tall for the protection of the city. Like its exteriors, interiors of the fort are equally impressive.
Photo: Jama Masjid / CC – Bgag
Adalaj Step Well
Built as a stepwell in 1555 AD in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, Adalaj Vav is the finest example of Indo-Islamic architecture with Hindu craftsmanship and the geometric pattern of Islamic architecture.
A series of platforms and galleries are built on the side of the stepwell. Flight of the steps leading to circular tank, entrance pavilion at the ground level and well at the lowest level are the three distinctive feature of Adalaj stepwell.
Photo: Carvings in the step well / Art of Travel Partners
Akshardham Temple, Gandhinagar
Set up in an area of over 23 acres, the temple complex serves as a place for education and entertainment. The highlight of the temple is its architecture built of 6000 tons of pink sandstone.
You can enjoy various rides, the laser show or the commercial educational walkthrough shows in the temple complex.
Nature & Scenic Sites
White Desert, Kutch
Located near the India Pak border of the state, this marvelous desert as the name states is white! And hot! You can take a walk through the barren white salt desert and experience what it is like to be in a place where no trees/living being grows.
Visit during the Runn Utsav to see the whole place come to life.
Photo: White desert/ The Art of Travel Partners
Saputara, meaning “Abode of Serpents” is situated on a densely forested plateau on top of the Sahyadri range.
Honey bees Center, Rose Garden, Lake Garden, Step Garden, Gira Waterfalls, Mahal Forest, Gandhi Shikhar and Sunrise Point are most visited tourist attractions in Saputara.
Photo: Way to Saputara / CCo
Wildlife in Gujarat
Gir National Park
It is one of the largest domains of the ferocious Asiatic animals in the country. Along with lions, this dry deciduous forest is home to more than 300 avian species like great horned own, crested serpent eagle and other members of the cat family like leopards.
According to records of the forest department, there are 29 species of reptiles, 33 species of mammals, 93 species of invertebrates, 96 trees, and 448 flowering plants! You won’t be allowed in during mating season though.
Marine National Park
It happens to be the only place in India where one can see the coral reefs of different shapes and sizes without diving in the water.
Some of the finest marine species that can be found in the national park are sponges, starfishes, sea cucumbers, pufferfishes, seahorses, huge green sea turtles, etc.
Photo: Exotic fishes at the National park / CCo
Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary
The national park is situated in Bhal region, 150km from Ahmedabad, it is one of the largest roosting grounds of blackbucks. Along with the blackbucks, you can spot birds of every shapes and size.
Walking is the only way to explore the national park and is an experience you will not forget.
Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary
The sanctuary spread over an area of 2 sq km, is the second largest home ground of Indian Bustard, the largest being Desert National Park in the neighboring state of Rajasthan. Other than the Great Indian Bustard, birds that are found flying around the sanctuary are McQueen’s Bustard, Lesser Florican, Stoliczkas, Bushchats, Merlins.
Best time is between August and March.
Photo: The great Indian Bustard / CCo
Wild Ass Sanctuary
Located in Little Run of Kutch over an area of 5000 square kilometers, the Wild Ass Sanctuary in Kutch is the only home to wild ass in India.
Other than the wild ass, the sanctuary is home to 32 other type of mammals including chinkara(Indian gazelle), Jackals, Caracals, Indian Wolves, Blackbucks, Striped Hyenas, etc.
Photo: Wild Ass / CCo
Beaches & Sports Activities
The eastern tip of the island of Dwaraka is where you will get this beach. you may need to charter an entire boat, to get to this lovely white beach with extensive marine life which you are sure to enjoy.
Photo: the Submerged city of Dwaraka/ CCo
Nargoal Beach is very rare unexplored beauty spots. This secluded beach, one of the few undiscovered spots in the tourist program, has lush palm trees and greenery all around at Nargoal beach, making the entire surrounding gorgeous.
Somnath Beach is one of the best beaches in Gujarat, There are a large number of the events during Shivaratri. Enjoy the natural beauty of the quiet atmosphere in this tranquil beach. Camel Ride and light snacks are available helping you while away your time here.
Tithal Beach situated on the coastline of Valsad in Gujarat. The beach is famous for Black sand and its divided into two areas, Moti Daman, Split by the Daman Ganga River. It’s a very popular tourist destination in South Gujarat.
This beach located in Surat stands out from all the others beaches as it has a story of being haunted. People have felt things when walking along its shore at night, and if your in a mood to experience some paranormal activity then do pay it a visit.
Standing near the Vijay Niwas Palace, this is a pristine beach with windmills soaring high on the shore of the beach. Few snack shacks are located on the shore making it an ideal place to relax and spend your evening.
Photo: Mandvi Beach/ The Art of Travel Partners
Camping in Gujarat
Camping in Gujarat is not all about running to the mountains; it’s more of meeting and greeting people of different cultures and tribes. While camping in Gujarat, one can witness the best of jungle culture and enjoy the traditional style of living. Daang Forest is also a good place to camp and gaze at the stars
One can come along with family for camping in Gujarat as it includes all exciting activities from nature trails, astronomical stargazing, wildlife conservation, bird watching, kayaking, and photography contests to chocolate making and barbeques.
Photo: Ruins near Polo Forest / CCo
When to Visit
The Winters are mild, pleasant, and dry with average daytime temperatures around 29 °C (83 °F) and nights around 12 °C (53 °F) with 100 percent sunny days and clear nights making it the best time to visit.
The Summers are extremely hot and dry with day temperatures around 46 °C (115 °F) and at night no lower than 34 °C (90 °F) with sunshine making it very tough to tolerate.
The time just before the Monsoon, the temperature is similar to Summer but now there is high humidity which makes things feel hotter.
Culture of Gujarat
A vast array of handcrafted products displaying intricate Gujarati art forms are not only popular in our country, but are a well-known entity all across the globe.
Products include furniture, jewelry, embroidered garments, leatherwork, metalwork, baked clay articles and mirror work. The traditional art forms of the state play a significant role in preserving its rich heritage. Some other aspects of art include music, dance, and literature
Preserving the glorious legacy of its past, the garment industry of Gujarat provides a broad range of items to the buyers, namely salwar, kurtas, cholis, ghaghras, odhnis, skirts, and jackets. Intricate dainty patterns are woven on the patola sarees with high precision.
The folk music of Gujarat is known as Sugam Sangeet. The range of musical instruments utilized in Gujarati folk music includes turi, manjira, ektaro, jantar, prabhati, dhol and ravan hattho Baardic tradition is another major type of folk Gujarati music.
The four major forms of dance are Dandiya Raas, Garba, Padhar, and Garbi. Dandiya Raas is performed by both men and women and utilizes movement of bamboo sticks, known as Dandiyas.
Photo: Garba Nights during Navrathri / CCo
Fairs and Festivals
- The Uttarayan– The one-day Uttarayan is held every year 14th January at each and every cities and village of Gujarat. Peoples of all ages go to the roof and flying kites and Kite fighting for a full day even in the night also.
- The Navratri Festival – The ten days Navratri Festival is held roughly in September/ October at all cities and villages of Gujarat. Navaratri is the dance festival of Gujarat the dance form known as Garba. People dance late into the night and you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself shaking your leg with them.
- The Tarnetar fair– The fair is held for three days every year during the months of Aug.-Sept. The Tarnetar fair is held 8 km from the town of Thangadh, in Surendranagar District.
- The Bhavnath Fair– The fair during Mahashivaratri is held for five days commencing from the months of February-March. The Bhavnath Fair is held at the Bhavnath Mahadev Temple near Junagadh
- The Vautha Fair – This fair is held during Kartika Purnima, the full moon night at Dholka near Ahmedabad corresponding roughly to the month of November. It lasts for five days.
- The International Kite Festival– The three-four days International Kite Festival is held every year during the second/ third-week, end of January at Ahmedabad during Uttarayan festival (14-January). Visitors come from countless countries, including Japan, Italy, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, and many more.
Photo: Skyline during uttarayan/ CCo
A traditional and authentic Gujarati meal consists of dal, roti, rice, vegetables, salad, chaas, farsan followed by a sweet dish.
Gujarati cuisine is quite similar to that of Maharashtra, and most of the Gujaratis are vegetarian. Some of the famous Gujarati delicacies include dhokla, fafda, khandvi, dhal dhokli, undhiyu, handvo, ganthia, dal wada, khakhra, and thepla.
In Gujarati dishes, the flavors are a blend of sweet, spicy and sour tastes. Each region of the state has a distinctive flavor associated with its local food. A typical Gujarati dinner includes bhakri-shak or khichdi-kadhi.
You should try their street food which varies from varies types of Pani Puris to Kichidi. They have their local version of Pizza in Ahmedabad called Jassuben Pizza, all of which are worth trying at least once.
Photo: A typical Gujarati Thalai with Dhokla, Bhakri, Dhal Dhokli, etc. / CCo
You can fly into the state through the International Airport at Ahmedabad. From there you can access any part of the state using trains, buses or taxis.
You can also move from one part of the state to another by train. Though not as many in frequency as the buses they are also an ideal way of traveling, especially for a night journey. You can book your ticket from IRCTC.
The government bus service called the GSRtC provides buses of all types to help reach all the corners of the state. Depending on your destination the buses vary from Airconditioned Volvo/Scania buses to local buses running within the city.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of places to stay in the state. The top tourist destinations cater to the needs of both the backpacking travelers with hostels and the family holiday tourists with budget and high range hotels and resorts located all over the state.
Depending on your budget you can check in on online sights like Make my trip or Yatra to get the best deal. Try staying in local Bhonga Houses in Kutch or the Pol houses in Ahmedabad to get to experience their culture.
How Safe Is Gujarat
People of Gujarat are generally friendly by nature and will help you in many ways. However, common crimes such as theft and purse-snatching do occur and one has to be careful with your valuables.
To bring, buy or drink alcohol is forbidden in Gujarat. However foreign tourist can buy and drink in a few five-star hotels like the Taj, Marriot, etc
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July 13, 2018 5:53 am
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