Known for its majestic forts and palaces, breathtaking national parks and holiest shrines -Gujarat is the sixth largest state of India. Locals of this culturally rich state are deeply rooted to their traditions and follow their religion by heart. From the most religious Dwarkadhish Temple to the Great Rann of Kutch, from the astonishing Marine National Park to the awe-inspiring Sun Temple, sightseeing attractions in Gujarat are boundless.
Gujarat has a rich history as it was one of the most significant centres of the Indus Valley Civilization. Since then it has grown as an ultra modern state where one can see some of the biggest exemplars of modern times.
Here are the top places to visit in Gujarat:
Rani Ki Vav, Patan
Rani ki Vav was built by Queen (Rani) of Bhimdeva. This 11th century structure looks spectacular with its marvellously made stepwell which is approximately 64 m long, 20 m wide & 27 m deep. It remains one of the biggest and the most sumptuous structures of its kind. Most of the sculptures of Rani Ki Vav have been dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Winter season is ideal to witness the beauty of this historic wonder when numerous light shows, cultural events and exhibitions are organised here during the Rani ki Vav Festival.
Gir National Park, Junagadh
One of the biggest National parks for spotting Asiatic animals, Gir National Park remains the most visited National Parks in India. This dry deciduous forest is home to over 300 avian species, including great horned owl, crested serpent eagle, and much more. Gir National Park is the sole home of the Asiatic lion. People flock here to partake in breathtaking jeep safaris which take you deep into the jungle where you can peep into the world of wild. One can see over 400 plant species here and 2,375 distinct fauna species. Best time to visit the park is between March and May, when the probability of spotting lions rises.
One of the holiest sites in India, Dwarkadhish Temple holds great significance among Hindu devotees. Dwarka was the kingdom of Lord Krishna. It is believed that the actual temple was raised by Krishna's grandson, Vajranabha. The temple beautifully stands on 72 pillars adorned with mind blowing architecture. The temple is a part of the Char Dham pilgrimage, which is considered as holiest among Hindu devotees.
White Desert – Great Rann of Kutch
The Great Rann of Kutch often leaves travellers wide eyed with its astonishing vistas. This world’s largest white salt desert covers an area of 7505 sq km. It looks like a glittering diamond when the rays of sun fall on it. Rann Utsav is the best time to visit this remarkable desert when numerous cultural events are organised here. Enjoy camel safaris, traditional dance forms, local songs and a lot more during the festival.
One of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, Somnath Temple is located in Gujarat’s Junagarh district. The temple is known for carrying out the most expensive aarti which costs approximately 15 lakhs. It is believed that the shivling here is self-born. Locals are deeply devoted to this temple and it remains a must visit in Gujarat. The temple flaunts Chalukya style architecture and underlines the unique skills of the Sompura Salats, Gujarat's master masons.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
This UNESCO world heritage site is situated in the foothills of Pavagadh. It houses numerous forts, mosques, temples and palaces each of which has its own unique past. Most parts of Champaner are in ruins today. However, it still preserves its old world charm. Visit here to explore a range of heritage monuments, including tombs, gateways, mosques, temples, fortresses, and many more. The place flaunts a beautiful mix of Hindu and Muslim culture and architecture, which is hard to find anywhere else. The Heritage Trust of Baroda has listed a total of 114 monuments in the region.
Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad
Initially named as Satyagraha Ashram, Sabarmati Ashram is the second ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. The Ashram has a great historical significance as numerous freedom movements were carried out from here between 1917 to 1930, including Swadeshi movements, non-violent and civil disobedience. Today it has a museum, the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya where numerous historic artefacts have been kept, including pictures of historic events of Gandhi's life, quotations, letters and other relics of Gandhi, 35,000 books dealing with Gandhi's life, nearly 34,117 letters to and from Gandhi, and much more.
Marine National Park, Jamnagar
Those having keenness for the underwater world must visit the beautiful Marine National Park located on the western edges of Gujarat. This is a great place to spot vibrant coral reefs of all shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular species found here include sponges, starfishes, sea cucumbers, puffer fishes, sea horses and huge green sea turtles. One needs to hire a boat from Bedi Port to reach this National Park.
The hill station of Saputara takes you away from the forts and temples of Gujarat. Here you can unwind amidst dense forest, beautiful gardens and a pleasant ambience. Visit places like Honey bees Centre, Rose Garden, Lake Garden, Step Garden, Gira Waterfalls, Mahal Forest and a lot more in this beautiful escape.
Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Raised in 1890, this Palace was the residence of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. This is one of the biggest palaces in India sprawling over 700 acres. The palace has numerous places to see, including Moti Baug Palace, Makarpura Palace, Pratap Vilas Palace and Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building. People visiting here often get lost in its grandeur which is the work of Robert Fellows Chisholm who took twelve years to complete this masterpiece.
Food of Gujarat is simple yet delicious. Due to its extensive coastline, sea food remains popular here. However, this is primarily a vegetarian state with influence from Jain vegetarianism. A simple Gujarati thali includes rotli, dal or kadhi and rice. Khichdi is the staple food of Gujarat cooked in every household. Popular snacks item of the state which can be savoured with tea include khaman, khandvi, kachori, mini-samosa, dhokla, and dahi vada.
Gujarat is a charmer for shoppers. Markets of the state brim with rich collection of handicrafts. Blooming textile industry of the state brings you ancient embroidery work, which is loved by all. Form beautiful saris with zari work to suits with tie-and-dye and block-printed designs – you can find some of the most unique clothing items here. Gujarat is also known for its flourishing diamond industry and thus, one may find numerous jewellery shops here selling authentic jewellery items. Do not miss out state emporiums where one can find outstanding range of handicrafts and other items.
How to Reach
Gujarat has the largest number of domestic airports in India. The Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport in Ahmedabad is the international airport of the state that connects Gujarat with rest of the country. Apart from this, travellers can also take daily domestic flights from Surat, Bhagvanagar, Junagarh, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhuj and many other places in Gujarat.
Those travelling by train can deboard at the Vadodara Railway Station on the Mumbai - Delhi Mainline. Other significant railway stations of the state include Surat Railway Station, Ahmedabad Railway Station and Rajkot Railway Station.
The state is also known for the best roadways in the Western India and thus, offers great road connectivity. It also has one of the biggest ports in the Western India, the Kandla Port, serving as the major international shipping terminal.