Gujarat is the 7th largest state in India, located in the western part of India with a coastline of 1600 km (longest in India). It is one of the most popular tourist regions in the country, and was visited by 19.8 million tourists in 2010-11. Gujarat offers scenic beauty from Great Rann of Kutch to the beautiful beach of Somnath. Gujarat is the one and only place to view pure asiatic lions in the world. Here are a few marvels of Gujrat which are a must visit if someone plans a trip to India.
Shopping Old style – Markets in Ahmadabad Shopping malls might provide air conditioned comfort and a huge collections of all brands under one roof, but to really get the feel of a city, a walk around the old-world shopping areas is just the thing. All tastes and budgets will find something to buy in the markets of Ahmedabad. Most shoppers in Ahmedabad fall in love with stunning traditional fabrics like bandhej, tie-and-dye, bandhni or plain printed cotton. While shopping at Ahmedabad, don’t miss out on the intricate embroidery and zari work. Go crazy picking from the myriad varieties of pottery and terracotta items, dhurries, carpets, blankets and rugs. Teen Darwaja is for those who appreciate old-world charm.
Check out this grand collection of antiques, furniture and trendy accessories like cowbell wind chimes, mirror studded wall hangings and Kutchi embroidered tablecloths. The bustling marketplace is also immensely popular for beautiful jewellery made of precious and semi-precious stones – necklaces, earrings, bangles and brooches. Be ready to bargain to get the price down. While here, look for colourful chania cholis to be worn during Navratri.
The bustling market place of Dhal Garwad houses merchandise that is colorful, varied and extremely attractive. Shops line both sides of the road and the bylanes are a maze that any enthusiastic shopper will love to get lost in. THis is the best place to pick up traditional bandhej fabric in Ahmedabad and silk patola saris that the city is famous for. Go with your entire family for a day of fun, choose from a wide range of dress materials, saris, bedcovers and dupattas. The prices here are lower that you’ll find compared to most other markets in the city.
Great Rann of Kutch The Rann of Kutch, also known as the Great Rann of Kutch (there’s a Little Rann of Kutch as well), is a remarkable place to visit in Gujarat. It’s the world’s largest salt desert, measuring over 16,000 square kilometers. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s underwater during the main monsoon season in India. For the remaining eight months of the year, it’s an enormous stretch of packed white salt. Here’s all the information you need to visit it. Rann of Kutch Accommodation Options
The most popular choice is the Gateway to Rann Resort at Dhordo. It’s made up of characterful Kutchi Bhungas (mud huts), traditionally crafted and decorated with handicrafts. Expect to pay around 3,500 rupees for an air conditioned double, per night with meals included. Best Time to Visit the Rann of Kutch The Rann of Kutch begins to dry up in October every year, steadily transforming into the desolate and surreal salt desert. The tourist season runs until March.
Somnath The most sacred among the 12 jyotirlings in India, Somnath Temple is located in Veraval region of Junagadh district. Somnath means ‘Lord of Moon’ and the town gets its name from the Somnath Temple According to legend, Som, the Moon God built the Somnath Temple from gold, Ravan made it from silver, Lord Krishna made the temple from wood and King Bhimdev of Anhilwad made the temple from stone.
Som constructed the temple out of respect after Lord Shiva cured his illness that was caused by Som’s father-in-law Daksha Prajapati’s curse. Daksha Prajapati had cursed Som as he was infatuated with Rohini and was not paying adequate attention to his other 26 wives who were all daughters of Prajapti. It is believed that Lord Brahma advised Som to build the temple to honor Lord Shiva.
Earlier known as ‘Prabhas Patan’, the town remains a quintessential pilgrim town. The temple has been built at the tip of the landmass in Gujarat and no land exists between the temple and the South Pole. The temple is also believed to be the place where the holy river Saraswati meets the sea.
The temple is built in Solanki style. The sabha mandap (assembly hall), sanctum sanctorum (innermost shrine) and the shikhar (top) was built in the first phase followed by the nritya mandap (dancing hall). The apex of the temple reaches a height of 155 ft and the kalash (pot) on top weighs 10 tons. The temple was razed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1025 AD.
Somnath is mentioned in the Puranas and the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Lord Krishna is believed to have been shot in the foot with an arrow in the region. The Yadav community, the descendents of Lord Krishna, is said to have fought among them and caused the downfall of the entire community in this region.
After the integration of Junagadh with the Union of India, the then Deputy PM of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel visited Junagadh in November 1947 and ordered the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple.
The ruins of the Somnath Temple were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque was shifted a few miles away. The temple was built in 1951. A statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stands in front of the temple as a mark of honour for his contribution to the building of the temple.
The Somnath Temple is visited by millions of devotees every year. It is not just the temple, but other tourist attractions like Somnath Museum, Somnath beach and Junagadh Gate also attract visitors. The Sound and Light Show held in the temple is another attraction.
WHERE TO STAY
Being a temple town, there are several options to stay in Somnath. There are 18 guest houses that offer mid-range accommodation and a VIP guest house run by the trust that runs the Somnath Temple.
Dharamsalas and Sanskritik Bhavans are also available. Most of the dharamssalas and guest houses do not take bookings as they are served on first come first serve basis.
WHERE TO EAT
Options to eat are limited. Food served in eateries near the temple, are mostly vegetarian and basic. There are stalls that sell buttermilk, chocolates and ice creams.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Somnath is between October to March as the weather remains cool and conducive for visiting the temple. Dwarka
Renowned for its mythological significance and shrines, Dwarka is closely associated with Lord Krishna and was his capital. Located in Saurashtra peninsula of Gujarat, Dwarka is part of the Char Dham pilgrimage and also one of the seven ancient cities (Sapta Puris).
Dwarka, also known as Dwaravati, is derived from the words ‘dwara’, meaning door and ‘ka’ refers to ‘Brahma’. Hence, Dwarka means the gateway to Brahma or Moksha.
After leaving Mathura, Lord Krishna established his kingdom at Dwarka on the banks of Gomti River. Vishwakarma, the celestial architecture, built the city at the request of Lord Krishna. As per legend, after the death of Lord Krishna, the city of Dwarka submerged under the sea. It is said that the city was rebuilt six times and the present city is the seventh one to be built.
Excavation worked carried by the Archeological Survey of India has revealed the existence of a two millennia old city. Excavation work carried between 1983 and 1990 have revealed that a township was built in six sectors. A fortified wall, extending more than half a mile has also been unearthed.
The present day Dwarka is a prominent pilgrimage and boasts of several shrines. Among the temples, the 2000-year-old Dwarkadheesh temple is the most notable one. According to legend, Mirabai, Lord Krishna’s devotee, merged herself with Lord Krishna in the temple.
Besides its temples, the city is also popular for its beaches. Scuba diving to see the underwater remains of Dwarka is a prominent activity at Dwarka.
Dwarka is also a shoppers’ delight. Patola silk sarees, Bandhni fabrics, embroidered handicraft items, embellished footwear and local souvenirs are worth a buy.
After fleeing Mathura, Lord Krishna decided to build a new capital on the coast of Saurashtra, which is the present day Okha and established his kingdom on Beyt Dwarka. Dwarka was a well planned city and divided into six sectors.
The city had around 700,000 palaces of gold and silver. However after the death of Lord Krishna, Dwarka got submerged by the sea.
WHERE TO STAY
There are several accommodation options in Dwarka. One can find many budget and mid-range hotels. Some hotels also offer guided tours of archaeological marvels.
WHERE TO EAT
Being a temple town, restaurants generally serve vegetarian cuisine. Majority of the restaurant serves Gujarati, South Indian and North Indian dishes. Gujarati thali is popular and you should try Khamman Dhokla and sweet buttermilk.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Dwarka is an all season destination; however the months of October to March are ideal for the visit. Bhuj If you love Indian handicrafts, don’t miss spending some time in and around Bhuj, the capital of the Kutch region. It offers an eclectic combination of bazaars and historic buildings with atmospheric architecture dating back to the 17th century.
Highlights include old royal palaces in the Darbargadh walled complex, and the Italianate style Sharadbagh Palace (its dining room has been turned into a museum). Sadly, an earthquake caused widespread destruction in Bhuj in 2001 though. You’ll find textile dealers lining Shroff Bazaar, just east of the Darbargadh. Also take side trips to Bhujodi (a village of weavers, seven kilometers from Bhuj) and Ajrakhpur (a village of block printers, 15 kilometers from Bhuj) to meet artisans, see demonstrations, and buy handicrafts.
The birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, Porbandar is a coastal town in the southwest peninsula of Gujarat. The Mahatma’s house has become a pilgrimage.
The Harappan civilization flourished here from 16th century BC to the 14th century BC in the region which is now Porbandar.
The city is also believed to be the birthplace of Sudama, Lord Krishna’s friend and devotee. The city was a part of the princely states during the rule of the British in India. The ruins of ancient jetties and ports along the Porbandar creek are evidence that the city was once a hub of maritime activities.
The city was a flourishing trade centre for centuries and traded with Persian, Arab and East African countries under the reign of Mughals, Marathas and British. Today, there are many cement and chemical factories on the outskirts of the city.
There are many festivals that are celebrated in Porbandar like Navratri, Holi and most other Hindu festivals. The city is rich in cultural and historical heritage. The history of this city is associated with many popular historical personalities.
There are many monuments and temple of great historical importance like the Kirti Mandir which is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. It is built next to the haveli where Mahatma Gandhi was born in.
Other temples worth visiting are Gita Mandir, Sudama Mandir and many others. Other tourist attractions include the Bird Sanctuary in Porbandar, Chowpatti or Porbandar Beach, Nehru Planetarium, Kamla Nehru Park and Rana Bapu’s Mahal.
Porbandar is famous for the wide variety of textiles like bandhani work. Gharchola, a special kind of bandhani which is made in cotton, laharia and chunari prints are also famous. Clay, brass and iron items, silver jewelry, terracotta figures and mirror works are some of the popular buys which can be bought from markets on Sudama Road and Kedareshwar Road.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation options are plenty ranging from budget, mid-range and luxury hotels. The budget hotels are clustered near the railway station; they have good facilities and are close to the bus stand as well. Mid-range hotels can be found all over the city. MG Road and Cross Road have a good number of mid-range hotels. Luxury hotels are located near Hospital Road and near the airport.