There is some kind of spirituality associated with traveling, as it offers some incredible amount of serendipity and serenity to us. We all have our hectic schedules and professional commitments which often make us forget the happiness behind real enjoyment and beauty of life. That is the reason, at least once or twice a year, we should pack our bags and leave for some unexplored destinations, where we can spend some quality time with our family, friends and most importantly with ourselves. Such trips would surely rejuvenate you and in addition to that, will give some handful of memorable moments and experiences too cherish for a lifetime.
If you are planning an amalgamation of culture, heritage, folk dances, long and parallel coastlines along with splendid wildlife, then Gujarat is one such destination you can long for. It has everything you can ask for within a budget of INR 5000 per person.
Beneath, I’m listing the places in each category, to help you to pick up the best destination as per your interest.
RANI KI VAV, PATAN
Rani Ki Vav is a major tourist attraction in Patan, Gujarat, visited by lakhs of tourists every month. It is a step well that was built by Queen of Bhimdeva, Udaymati in the 11th century, on the banks of River Sabaramati, known as Queen’s Stepwell. The main aim was to preserve the groundwater, which can be used throughout the year, in case of contingency situation. The Maru-Gurjara architectural style of the step well is incredibly beautiful as it is entirely hand carved by the artisans, spreading a message in the form of a story. The walls are ornamented with different motifs and images of varies gods and goddesses, which also makes it a holy place for local people. Recently in 2014, it was declared in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, as one of the oldest architecture destination.
Recommendation: Try to visit it during winter season as there would be a lot of cultural events, dance shows and exhibitions taking place inside the step well during Rani Ki Vav Festival, which can give you a real feel of the local culture.
GIR NATIONAL PARK JUNAGADH
Do you love wildlife? Do you love to spend days and nights in deep forests with sheer company of Asiatic lions? If yes, the Gir National Park is the perfect place for you to visit. It is situated in Talala Gir, a place in Junagadh district of Gujarat. In early days, it was a private hunting space of Nawab of Junagadh, used by him for hunting lions and other wildlife’. Later, it was converted into a wildlife sanctuary for preservation of lions, as there were just 11 left in Asia. It is the only place in Asia where you would find Asiatic lion, making it a very special place for Gujarat. It is the home of more than 3000 avian species including 37 species of Reptiles like Crocodiles, Tortoise, Cobra etc., 38 species of mammals and 2000 species of invertebrates, living happily in the same forest. It serves as the best place for the entire wildlife as it is surrounded by seven rivers near the same Gir region, which allows the wildlife to survive even in drought situations. (Rivers: Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari, Raval)
Recommendation: If you want to visit this jeep Safari, the best months are March and May, as during summer time, most of the animals would be outside their den due to heat and can be tracked easily.
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Dwarka is one of the most visited spiritual places of Gujarat and is quite famous as one of the temples of Char Dham (Abodes) and the seven Sapata Turis (Seven Sacred cities). Dwarka was the capital of the Lord Krishna’s kingdom and the name Dwarka was the namesake of Dwar (door) and ka (eternal importance), situated on the bank of River Gomati. Lord Krishna had spent quite a long time of his life here which makes it a special place for the devotees. The temple is made in Chaulukya architecture style supported by 72 pillars in each direction and has great archeo-astronomy significance. The flag on the top of the temple denotes the life span of Lord Krishna which says, the God would be alive till there is sun and moon in the world i.e. till the end of the world. The temple has two doors, Moksha Dwara which indicates the ‘Door to salvation’ and Swarga Dwara which indicates ‘Door to heaven’ that directly leads to the holy River Gomati. There are other temples like Bat Dwarka, Okha and different shrines of Rukmini, Mirabai, Narsinh Mehta and Shank Narayan around Dhawkadhish.
Recommendation: The best time to visit is August during ‘Shravan’ month of Indian calendar and especially on the day of Janmashtmi. You can experience the real history and significance of Lord Krishna depicted through ‘Shringaar’ (Decoration) and event of ‘Daahi Handi’ (breaking of curd pot)
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WHITE DESERT OF KUTCH
The white desert of Kutch is the largest salt desert in the world, covering 2900 square miles in Gujarat. It is widespread in the region between Banni grasslands and Little Rann of Kutch, along with southern part of Pakistan, touching the Indus River on one hand and Surendranagar district of Gujarat, known as Rann of Kutch on other hands. Kutch area of Gujarat where one would find an amalgamation of four diverse cultures- Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam. It is a home of Islam culture due to Indo-Pakistan International Border in the northern edge of Rann of Kutch. It is hot throughout the year, but in winter the temperature goes down to 0 °C due to influence of Indus River on the side. Some nearby tourist attractions are Narayan Sarovar, Koteshwar temple and Bahuchara goddess temple, where one can connect and experience the holy atmosphere.
Recommendation: The best time to visit the place is between November and March as during that time there is a three-month-long festival organized in the desert known as Rann Utsav, where one can enjoy the local culture and cool breeze of the white desert.
A holy shrine of Lord Shiva, it is one of the most visited places in Gujarat due to its historical and spiritual significance. Somnath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and it is located along the coastline of South West Gujarat. The main Shivling of this temple is considered as Swayambhu (self-born). The place is considered holy due to Triveni Sangam (the amalgamation of three rivers in a single junction: River Saraswati, River Hiran and River Kapila).
A Mughal invader Mehmud Gazni attacked and robbed this holy temple for more than 6 times during the 7th and 15th century. After every robbery attack, this city was rebuilt by kings and local vendors in the same way, with the same enthusiasm. The last renovation was made in 1947 after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first home minister of India ordered reconstruction and renovation of this holy temple. It was built by famous Sompura masons of Gujarat, following the same Chaulukya Architecture style along with ‘Kailash Mahameru Prasad’ architecture style.
Recommendation: The best time to visit the temple is in February and March during the time of Maha Shivratri festival.
If you wish to explore the actual lifestyle of Gujarati people and its culture, you should visit the economical hub of Gujarat, Ahmedabad or Amdavad. It is a home to some astonishing historical monuments, temples and museums. During your visit to Ahmedabad, you can explore and gain knowledge about the development model of Gujarat, affectionately marketed by current Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The city has rapidly grown in past two decades and is now, a hub for Information technology, textile and other industries like Gujarati Film industry. It is located at the bank of River Sabarmati and was the former capital of Gujarat. There are many places to explore in Ahmedabad such as Jama Mosque (a famous mosque built during the Delhi Sultanate), Sabarmati Aashram (A place where Mahatma Gandhi lived during the Indian independence struggle), ISKON temple, Bhadra Fort, Adalaj ni Vav and other historical monuments. Recently in 2017, the old city Ahmedabad is declared as India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City due to its pol culture still prevalent in the heart of the city. It is also selected among 100 Indian Cities to be developed as ‘Smart City’ in upcoming time.
Recommendation: The best time to visit this place is between September and November i.e during Navratri festival, where you can experience the best nine colourful nights of your life.
If you are a fan of historical places, where you can get some real glimpses of history and those times, then you must definitely add Junagadh in your checklist during the Gujarat tour. After Independence, the Nawab of Junagadh, Mahabbat khan signed the instrument of accession with Mohammad Ali Jinnah and declared to join Pakistan. However, with the intervention of home minister Shri Sardar Patel, the premise of Junagadh was merged with India after a strong fight between Aarzi hukumat and Junagadh royal army. There are some excellent historical places to visit at Junagadh district like Girnar hills, Sakkarbaug Zoo, Wildlife museum, the edicts of Ashoka, Mohabbat Maqbara, Adi Kadi Vav etc. The famous Asiatic lion wildlife sanctuary is also located in the Gir region of Junagadh district.
Recommendation: The best time to visit Junagadh is during winter season i.e in months of October to January.
Polo monument, also known as Polo forest, is one of the most-unexplored tourist places in Gujarat. It is a home of 300 to 400 species and is surrounded by four hills on each side. The four temples (Sharaneshwar Shiva temple, Lakhena na Dera Jain Temples, Trayatan Shiva temple and Shiva-Shakti temple) near Vijay Nagar were built by Gurjara- Pratiharas and Rathores to hide from enemies during wartime. These temples have a mix of Hindu and Muslim architecture designs and patterns all over the walls. You can hire a taxi or a bus from Ahmedabad as it is within 160 km of distance from Ahmedabad, situated on the top of Aravalli Range near Vijaynagar Taluka of Sabarkantha district, also known as Idar region. It also has some adventure sports like rock climbing, rapling, trekking, river crossing etc.
Recommendation: The best time to visit this place is after monsoon season i.e from September to December as Gujarat Tourism Community organises Polo Festival during that time of the year.
VELAVADAR BLACKBUCK NATIONAL PARK
Velavadar Blackbuck National Park is the only tropical grassland in India that has earned the title of the National park. Here, you will see the Blackbuck, spiral-horned Indian antelope along with many grassland birds and other wild animals like Jackals, foxes, Jungle cats, Hyenas, Hares, Wild pigs, rodents etc. The famous Blackbuck Lodge is one of the best Jungle lodges in India, situated in Bhal region of Bhavnagar District in Gujarat. It is 150 km from Ahmedabad and would take 4 to 5 hours max during peak season.
Recommendation: The best time to visit the National Park is during Monsoon till end of winter i.e from June to March
Palitana is a pilgrimage centre for Jains, located in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. It has more than 3000 steps and 900 temples in the same premise. The main temple is constructed on the Shatrunjaya hills and it is said that before several years from now, the first Jain tirthankar, God Adinath meditated on the hill top, making it a holy land. It also has a dam known as Palitana Dam on the banks of river Shetrunji, helping the nearby residents during droughts and off monsoon season.
Recommendation: The best time to visit the place is during winter season as technically it becomes a little easy to climb the stairs during that time.
I’m sure after reading this, you would be more curious about visiting to Gujarat and experiencing its local culture. I’m sure you cannot leave Gujarat, once you are here. It has a different vibe of its own, which would be struck in your heart forever. In case, you are stuck somewhere in Gujarat, you can definitely contact me and I’d be your tourist guide for the day.
AAIYE, KUCH DIN TO BITAYIYE HUMARE GUJARAT ME!
In case, if you have some crazy stories of your Gujarat Visit then do share me at Readywithriya@gmail.com