Read about TOURISM IN Gujarat, know The Popular Destinations Of Gujarat, Its points of interest, best time to visit And Other Details.
Tourism in Gujarat
Gujarat — “Aavo Padharo!” The tagline means “Come Here” sums up the generous nature of the people living here. Gujarat has stunning topography ranging from lush green dense forests to white salt plains of the Great Rann of Kutch. The state has the longest coastline in India and has some of the most important temples, forts, palaces and mosques of the country. Gujarat is home to Asiatic lions, ancient Buddhist caves and many historical sites dating back to Harappan civilization. It is a land of natural beauty, exotic wildlife, history and rich culture.
Gujarat shares international border with Pakistan and domestic borders with Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It is the westernmost and seventh largest state of India. Gujarat was the major center of Indus Valley Civilization and the sites of ancient cities such as Babar Kot, Bet Dwarka, Bhagatrav, Gola Dhoro, Lothal and Dholavira are still present there. The vibrant state of Gujarat is an ideal destination for international and domestic travellers.
Located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, Ahmedabad is the former capital and the largest city of Gujarat. The current state capital Gandhinagar is its twin city. Ahmedabad is among India’s important industrial and economic hubs. The increase in the city’s population has resulted in the construction of many skyscrapers. The city is chosen as part of PM Narendra Modi’s Smart Cities Mission. Ahmedabad has some fantastic historical, cultural, and religious monuments and buildings. Some of the notable places to visit in Ahmedabad are Sabarmati Ashram, The Adalaj Stepwell, Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Sidi Bashir Mosque, Hutheesing Jain Temple, Auto World Vintage Car Museum, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial, and Koteshwar Mahadev Temple.
Rann of Kutch
Kutch is known for its unique geographic phenomenon. The flat, tortoise-shaped land, is a seasonal island. In summers, the area looks full of dried mud and sparkling white salt. But during the monsoons, it gets flooded by seawater as well as fresh river water. The large quantity of salt present in the soil makes the low-lying marsh area fully barren. Only on scattered islands above the salt level is there coarse grass, which provides food for the region’s wildlife. The villages in Kutch are home to a number of tribal groups and sub castes. These hardworking people produce some of India’s finest handicrafts, textiles that glitter with exquisite embroidery and mirror work — something peculiar to this region. With its extraordinary mud architecture, a combination of craft traditions and exquisite clothing, 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 45,000 sq. kms and is geographically one of India’s largest and most idiosyncratic districts.
Located on shores of the Okhamandal Peninsula, Dwarka is one of the Chardhams (four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites). The town is also one of the Sapta Puri (seven most ancient religious cities) of India. It is quite often called “Devbhoomi Dwarka” because of the mythological connections with Lord Krishna’s kingdom. Dwarkadhish Temple (dedicated to Lord Krishna) has Dwaraka Maţha, also called Sharada Matha/Peeth. Janmashtami is celebrated with fervor in the city during August and September.
Somnath, literally meaning ‘lord of the moon’ is a pilgrim center and is home to one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. It is a town which gets much of its identity from the mythology, religion, and legends that surround it. Primarily a temple town, Somnath is a place where a strong bouquet of religion and legends remain around tourism and even daily life. Its spiritual environment is ornamented by the huge number of temples in the area, however, Somnath also offers beaches, museums and other attractions. While the Somnath Temple and Somnath beach are the primary places to visit here; Gita Mandir, Balukha Tirtha, Kamnath Mahadev Temple, and Somnath Museum are some of the other places that one can visit.
Junagadh is the seventh largest city in Gujarat, located at the foot of the Girnar Hills. Junagadh means “Old Fort”. An alternate etymology gives the name as coming from “Yonagadh”, factually “City of the Yona” (Greeks), referring to the ancient inhabitants of the city under the Indo-Greek Kingdom. It is also known as “Sorath”, the name of the earlier Princely State of Junagadh. After a brief struggle between India and Pakistan, Junagadh remained a part of Saurashtra State and later Bombay State. After the Mahagujarat movement, it became part of the newly formed Gujarat state. Some places worth visiting here include Tomb of Mahabat Khan, Gir Forest National Park, and Ashoka’s Rock Edict.
Champaner is a city of huge historical significance to Gujarat located in Panchmahal district of Vadodara city. The city was also momentarily the capital of Gujarat a few hundred years ago. It was founded by Vanraj Chavda, the most prominent king of the Chavda Dynasty. He named it after the name of his friend and general Champa, also known later as Champaraj. The young Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada, then spent 23 years in rebuilding and beautifying Champaner, which he renamed Muhammadabad, after which he moved the capital there from Ahmedabad. Champaner is today the site of the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, which is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. Sultan Begada also built a magnificent Jama Masjid in Champaner, which ranks amongst the finest architectural edifices of Gujarat.
Saputara is a hill station located on a plateau in the Dang forest area of Western Ghats of Sahyadri. Saputara means the “Abode of Serpents” and a snake image on the banks of the river Sarpagandha is worshiped by the Adivasis on Holi. It has been developed as a deliberate hill resort with amenities like hotels, parks, swimming pools, boat club, theaters, ropeways, and a museum. From Saputara you can reach to the wildlife sanctuary in the Mahal Bardipara forest and to Gira Waterfalls. It is 46 km from Saptashrungi (a site of Hindu pilgrimage). Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Mumbai is the nearest international airport to Saputara. Bus facility is available from Chikhli, Bilimora, Nasik, and Surat. By bus, Saputara is about three hours from Bilimora. Government buses are available from there.
Vadodara (formerly known as Baroda), the Cultural Capital of Gujarat, is the third largest city of this state, after Ahmedabad and Surat. Vadodara District is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri River. The railway line and NH 8 that connects Delhi and Mumbai pass through Vadodara. The city is known for the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, the residence of Baroda State’s Maratha royal family, the Gaekwads. It is also the home of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara), the largest university in Gujarat. An important industrial, cultural, and educational hub of western India, the city abodes several institutions of national and regional importance while its major industries include petrochemicals, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, IT, and foreign exchange services amongst others.
Bhuj is a city in Kutch District of Gujarat. It is a famous destination for shopping of handicrafts like bandhani (tie-dye) and leatherwork. Artists of nearby villages bring their artwork for sale in Bhuj haat which is situated near jubilee ground. It is famous for the nature of its kind-hearted citizens, who usually go to the surroundings of Hamirsar Lake to relax. Bhuj is also famous for its food, especially Pakwans, dabelis (a local burger stuffed with mashed potato, cooked with masala curry and serious chutneys). Gujarati thali which is unlimited Gujarati food is well-known in Bhuj. The town is connected to Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Pune, Visakhapatnam and other major cities of India by trains. It has a domestic airport from which daily flights connect to Mumbai, with flights operated by Air India. State Transport buses are available from the ST stand in the middle of the town to various places in Gujarat. Furthermore, many private tour operators also run frequent buses to major cities in and outside Gujarat. Kandla Airport is 53 km from Bhuj. The city can be navigated by city bus and auto rickshaw.
Patan is an ancient fortified town in Gujarat. It was part of the Baroda State from the mid-18th century until India’s independence in 1947, when Baroda became part of Bombay State, which in 1960 was separated into Gujarat and Maharashtra. During the period of the Chalukya dynasty or Solanki’s of Patan, the stepwell called the Rani Ki Vav (Queen’s stepwell) was constructed. This stepwell is the oldest and the deepest among the 120 other stepwells in Gujarat. The sculpture of Rani Ki Vav depicts Lord Vishnu’s avatars, Hindu Goddesses, Jain idols and their ancestors. Around 50-60 years back there used to be ayurvedic plants around this area which lead the water to be accumulated in Rani Ki Vav thus making its water to be helpful for treating viral diseases such as fever. It was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are many tourist attractions including forts, vavs (step wells), talavs (lakes) and places of worship. The remains of the Old City of Patan are small but its important historical and archaeological portion is present on the outskirts of the New City. Same is the case with the remains of the walls of new fort and the Darwazas (gates) of the new fort which are fast disappearing. Unfortunately, administration and majority of local people show little interest in preserving these heritage places which are shrinking at a rapid pace. GSRTC, provides bus service connecting all major towns of Gujarat. The nearest airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at Ahmedabad.
Lothal is famous for the discovery of several ruins of Indus Valley Civilization. It is located between the Sabarmati River and its tributary Bhogavo, in the Saurashtra region. The sea is, today, over 19 km away from Lothal, but at one time, boats from the Gulf of Cambay could have sailed right up to the spot. Exploration of the Sabarmati Valley led to the discovery of Lothal and several other Harappan sites, thereby adding a new province to the extent of the Indus civilization, which extended from present-day northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. The civilization flourished in the basins of River Indus and the now dried up River Saraswati. Excavations were carried out at Lothal, after which the site as well as the site museum were set up for tourists.
Surat is a port city formerly known as Suryapur. It is the economic capital of Gujarat. It is the eighth largest city and ninth largest urban agglomeration in India. It is one of the fastest growing cities of the world and has registered an annualised GDP growth rate of 11.5 percent over the seven fiscal years between 2001 and 2008. Surat had a population of 4.5 million at the 2011 census, making it the second largest city in the state of Gujarat, after Ahmedabad. The city of Surat was awarded “best city” by the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) in 2013. The city is selected as the first smart IT city in India, which is being constituted by the Microsoft CityNext Initiative tied up with IT services majors Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro and has been preferred as one of twenty Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under PM Narendra Modi’s flagship — Smart Cities Mission.
Located near Khadir belt in the great Rann of Kutch, Dholavira is an ancient town that contains the mesmerising and historic wreck of the Indus Valley Civilization. The city seems important during the Indus Valley days as excavations have found evidence of seven layers, indicating as many settlements over a period of 1500 years. Archaeologists have identified seven different stages in the city design. The most interesting aspect of Dholavira is the inscriptions, mainly, ten large signs that are the first evidence of the written language. Locally called Kotada timba, the site is the second largest Harappan site in India and fifth largest in the Indian subcontinent. Amongst the Harappan sites discovered so far, Dholavira is the only place that marks the presence of Harappan culture. Pastoral, attractive and fascinating, Dholavira is a popular weekend getaway in Gujarat for people seeking harmony and adventure. With such unique geographic location, Dholavira is a unique paradise on earth.
Anand lies between Ahmedabad and Vadodara. It is popularly known as the Milk Capital of India due to Amul dairy and its milk revolution. This city hosts the Head Office of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) which is the parent organization for AMUL & co-operative operations to collect milk. Anand has seen rapid economic growth along the Anand-Vallabh Vidya Nagar and Karamsad road belt. One of the famous educational hubs present here is Vallabh Vidhyanagar, an educational suburb of Anand which has institutes like GCET (G.H. Patel College of Engineering And Technology) and is home to around 50,000 students from all over India.
Rajkot is the fourth largest city of Gujarat after Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara. Rajkot is the center of the Saurashtra region. It was the capital of the Saurashtra State from 1948 to 1956, before its merger with Bombay State on 1 November 1956. Later it was reincorporated into Gujarat State from 1 May 1960. Rajkot has been under different rulers since it was founded and has a long history and had a significant part in the Indian independence movement. The city proudly boasts of its association with Gandhiji, who spent his early years in Rajkot while his father was a Diwan to the local ruler. The house where he lived is now a museum. The district is also a handicraft and textile center known for its fine silverwork, Bandhani, Patola sarees, and beadwork. The towns of Wankaner and Morbi host beautiful royal estate, some of which have been converted into heritage hotels. Rajkot is in an evolution period of growing cultural, industrial and economical activities. The old city, east of the newer center, still has plenty of character, with narrow streets, markets and farmers selling ghee on street corners. It’s worth a visit.
Points of Interest In Gujarat
National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Reserves
Popular national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and national reserves in Gujarat include Gir National Park, Black Buch National Park, Vansda National Park, Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary, Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary, Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary, Porbandar Bird Sanctuary, Marine National Park, Gaga Wildlife Sanctuary, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Rampara Wildlife Sanctuary, Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Purna Wildlife Sanctuary and Bhadra Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.
Temples: Popular temples to visit in Gujarat are Somnath Temple, Adinath Temple, Akshardham Temple, Becharaji Temple, Chandod Temple, Dakor, EME Temple, Yellow Stone Temple, Taranamata Shrines, Samlaji Temple, Shabari Dham, Rukmini Devi Temple, Sahasralinga Talav, Unai Mata Temple, Naulakha Temple, Nishkalank Mahadev Mandir, Shree Dwarakadhish Temple, Shree Somnath Jyotirling Temple, Chamunda Mataji Temple, Shree Kashtabhanjan Dev Hanumanji Mandir Salangpur, Nageshwar Shiv Temple and Bhavnath Mahadev.
Mosques: Mosques to visit in Gujarat are Jama Masjid (Ahmedabad), Rani Sipri Ki Masjid, Shah-e-Alam’s Tomb and Mosque, Isan Malik Masjid, Ektoda Masjid, Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Muhafiz Khan Masjid, Rani Masjid and Tomb, Sidi Bashir Masjid, Baba Lavlavi Masjid, Shahpur Mosque, Khanpur Pathar Wali Masjid, Jame Masjid Jamiat Ahle Hadees, Noorani Masjid, Ajmeri Masjid, Madina Masjid, Khan Jahan’s Masjid, Anawal Masjid and Shaher ki Masjid.
Churches: Some of the popular Churches of Gujarat include Sharon Methodist Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, CNI Christ Church, The Church of North India Ellis Bridge, St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Green City Bible Church, St. James Church, The Salvation Army Church, Jesus Temple Bible Church, Shahpur Methodist Church, Rehoboth Christian (A.G.) Assembly, St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Salem Marthoma Church, St. Xaviers Loyola Parish Church, Ashadham Catholic Church, Gujarat Conference of Sda, The Pentecostal Mission Church, Church of Christ Fatehgunj, Anklav Church, Marthoma Syrian Church, Elim Methodist Church and Church of Our Lady of The Forsaken.
Fairs and Festivals
Popular fairs and festivals of Gujarat are International Kite Festival (Uttarayan), Modhera Dance Festival, Navratri Festival, Tanariri Festival, Rann Utsav, Paragliding Festival, Bhavnath Fair, Dang Darbar, Chitra Vichitra Fair, Kavant Fair, Tarnetar Fair, Bhadrapada Ambaji Fair, Shamlaji Fair and Vautha Fair.
Trekking destinations in Gujarat are Dhanpari Eco Campsite, Kevdi Eco Campsite, Mahal Eco Campsite, Polo Monument and Vijaynagar Forest, Samot-Malsamot Eco Campsite, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Vishal Khadi Eco Campsite, Zarwani Eco Campsite, Kanjeta Eco Campsite, Kilad Nature Education Campsite, Padamdungari Eco Campsite, Sagai-Malsamot Eco Campsite, Saputara Hill Station, (Sitavan), Vadhvana Wetland and Eco Campsite and Waghai Botanical Gardens.
Forts and Palaces
Forts and palaces to see in Gujarat are Bhujiyo Kotho (Dabhoi, Jamnagar), Lakhota Palace and Museum, Pavagadh Fort, Taranga Fort, Vijayanagar Circuit Citadel, Gates of the Fort Walls, (Kera, Lakhpat), Surat Castle, (Uparkot), Sharad Baug Palace, Darbar Gadh (Kadval), Pratap Vilas Palace and Peter Scott Nature Park, Utelia Palace, Vijay Vilas Palace, Brahma Kund, (Gondal), Prag Mahal, (Rajpipla) and Wankaner Museum.
Best beach destinations in Gujarat are Ahmedpur Mandvi, Chorwad Beach, Dumas Beach, Ghogha Beach, Nargol, Pingleshwar Beach, Sarkeshwar Beach, Suvali Beach, Beyt Dwarka, Dandi Beach, Dwarka Beach, Gopnath Mahadev Temple and Beach, Mahuva Beach, Miyani Beach, Okha Madhi, Porbandar Beach, Somnath Beach and Tithal Beach.
Best Time to Visit Gujarat
Gujarat has typical North Indian style weather where winters are very cold and summers very hot. For most part of the year, it is arid. Although you can visit the region throughout the year, but the best time to visit Gujarat is during the months of November to February, when the weather is pleasant and cold.
However, the state’s only hill station Saputara is worth visiting during summers to get respite from scorching heat. Its lush countryside and serene lakes will entice you for sure.
Things to do in Gujarat
- Savor Exquisite Gujarati Cuisine: Like in many other states of India, Gujarati cuisine is not homogeneous through the entire state. While the traditional Gujarati thali which is served at most restaurants is the food of central Gujarat with inducements like sugar or jaggery added to many dishes even the ones that are fiery, the cuisine of Saurashtra or the Kathiawar peninsula is strong on garlic, onions and chillies. Some of the key Kathiyawadi dishes are sev tamatar, lasania batata, raseela, kadhi-khichdi and baigan, generally eaten with bajra rotla.Dairy products like curds are profusely used in the cuisine of Kutch and Kathiawar peninsulas, which are infertile grassland regions with a large population of livestock, while in the food of Surat and other parts of Southern Gujarat, you will find a better range of green vegetables and tubers like sweet potato in the food. There are also seasonal specialities — Aamraas (mango pool) is commonly served in summer while Undhiyu which has roasted vegetables and muthias (veg kebabs) is normally served in winters. As many of Gujarat’s famous cooks called Maharaj are Brahmins from Mewar and Marwar regions of Rajasthan, their signature dishes like dal bati churma and besan gatta have also been incorporated in the thalis served at many restaurants. In addition to vegetarian dishes, the Muslim communities like Bohras and Khojas offer special non-vegetarian cuisine. Many Gujarati dishes are peculiarly sweet, salty and spicy at the same time.
- Stargazing in Kutch: This enticing region of Gujarat with an area of over 7,000 sq. mts is a wonderful place for stargazing. The striking stretches of white earth, clear skies and a cover of stars present a surreal sight for travellers visiting The Great Rann of Kutch. Spending a night in the spectacular Rann of Kutch is nothing less than an adventure worth remembering all your life.