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Best places to visit in Gujarat

Discussion in 'Gujarat' started by SKG, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. SKG

    SKG New Member

    I am traveling from Luton to Gujarat with my family, and rather than the usual holiday we have staying with family and going to the local places, I want to travel in Gujarat.

    I want to see things and places in Gujarat and make my holiday more exciting than normal. I wanted to know what the best places to visit in Gujarat are so I can make plans to travel sort out a rough itinerary for my holiday.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!

    (Images from Emmanuel, Benedante, Miles to Smile, Parth and Anurag)


    An underrated tourist destination in India is the state of Gujarat. Perhaps it's because of its isolated location, overshadowed by its neighbours which are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Gujarat though boasts of so much history and heritage, being one of the few locations of the Indus Valley Civilisation in India. Aside from that, the state has beautiful coastal beaches that are also worth exploring. If that's not enough, the beautiful salt desert of Kutch is yet another must-see natural attraction in the state. The thriving wildlife of Gujarat is a sight to behold too, with its wide variety of birds and even desert animals. Truly, a visit to Gujarat can give you a complete overview of the Indian culture and the varying beauty of its landscapes. This guide would highlight the very best places to explore in this wonderful state.

    Best Places to Visit in Gujarat

    City lights and vibrant nights...

    1. Ahmedabad - First on this list is Ahmedabad, the former capital of the state. This is one of the developing cities of India but it isn't as crowded nor as noisy unlike other metro cities. It is significant because this is also where the Sabarmati Ashram is located, which was once the home of Mahatma Gandhi. What makes this attraction special is that this was the venue or base for the Satyagraha of 1930, lead by Mahatma Gandhi himself. If you want to experience both the new and old Ahmedabad, head on to the Bhadra Fort. This fortification was built during the early 15th century by Ahmad Shah I. Located in a busy market area of the city, you can enjoy the Indo-Saracenic architectural style of the structures within it and thereafter indulge in affordable shopping outside. The fascinating shaking minarets of the Sidi Bashir Mosque near the Ahmedabad Railway Station is also worth visiting. Most of the mosque has already fallen into ruins except for the minarets, which has this strange phenomenon that when one minaret is shaken, the other minaret would also shake, despite the distance between them. The Adalaj Stepwell, which is about 19 kilometres away from the city centre, is another must-visit attraction here. There's an interesting story behind the construction of this stepwell, which was built under the patronage of Mohammed Begada. This stepwell was built under the request of Rani Roopba, the widow of Rana Veer Singh, who was built in battle by Mohammed Begada, under the condition that she would marry the ruler after its completion. Once completed though, the five-storey stepwell became the suicide point of the queen, as she jumped to her death in it. Ornate with beautiful and intricate carvings, this well served as the main water reservoir of the surrounding villages during the 15th century. Other bodies of water like the Kankaria Lake and Sabarmati River are highly developed in the city too, yet remains clean and serene. Filled with lots of food stalls and activities, these bodies of water can provide for some entreatment for the whole family or group.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Sabarmati Ashram, Bhadra Fort, Sidi Bashir Mosque, Adalaj Stepwell, Kankaria Lake and Sabarmati River
    Adalaj Stepwell (Image from Chintan)

    2. Vadodara - Vadodara is perhaps best known for its vibrant and festive celebration of Navratri. Come September or October, you would enjoy this spectacle of a celebration dedicated to Durga, especially as the famed classical dance form, Garba, is done with such fervour. On normal days, Vadodara is just like any other city, a bit on the chaotic side yet still worthy of exploration because of its unique culture and heritage. Before the colonial rule, Vadodara was ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty, which was a Hindu Maratha clan. After their reign, they have left behind some of the most opulent and luxurious structures that transports one to the bygone era. There's the Laxmi Vilas Palace, which was built by Maharaja Saiyyajirao III during the late 19th century. Spread over 700 acres of land, this is one of the largest palaces in the world. With a blend of Hindu, Islamic and European architectural styles, the palace is a grand structure that needs a few hours of exploration. Inside, you would be bewildered by the intricate ceiling works and gorgeous stained glass artworks. There were many more palaces in Vadodara, however many of them have been demolished already while others remain inaccessible to the public. Nearby to the palace is the Sayaji Baug, a huge garden, touted as the largest in western India, and has its own zoo as well. The Maharaja Fatesingh Museum is also located within the premises and here, you can enjoy viewing the personal art collections and weaponries of the Gaekwad dynasty. For the spiritual travellers, there are many temples around the city that you can visit like the EME Temple and the Nilkanth Dham Swaminarayan Temple. A bit on the outskirts of Vadodara is the Tapovan Temple, a unique South Indian style of temple with shrines for numerous deities like Shiva, Durga, Hanuman and many more. The surrounding greenery outside the temple can render you a calming effect as well. Don't forget to visit the Sursagar Lake as well, the prime attraction of the city, wherein a 120-feet statue of Lord Shiva can be found in the midst of the lake.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Laxmi Vilas Palace, Sayaji Baug, Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, EME Temple, Nilkanth Dham Swaminarayan Temple, Tapovan Temple and Sursagar Lake
    You can't escape the past...

    3. Champaner & Pavagadh - Champaner and Pavagadh are two different ancient cities in Gujarat though they're situated just under six kilometres away from one another. Champaner is located at the foothills of the hillock of Pavagadh and it's very easy to reach one from the other. Initially, these ancient cities were ruled by Vanaraja Chavda but was later conquered by Mohammed Begada, the same one mentioned above who built the stepwell in Ahmedabad. Most of the structures here, from the temples to the fortifications, can therefore be attributed to the later ruler. In Champaner, there are many mosques that one can visit. But one that truly stands out is the Jama Masjid, which was built in the 15th century for over a hundred years by several rulers. One word describes this mosque which is exquisite, from the lattice-like carvings on the exteriors, to ornate interior ceilings and intricately carved pillars. The Kevada Masjid, though less intricately carved, easily blends Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. There's even a cenotaph here that doesn't contain a grave which is its unique feature. Onto the Pavagadh side of the ancient heritage site, it requires a bit of a climb to reach its peak. Feeling a bit tired? Well, you can opt for the ropeway that would take you directly to the Kalika Mata Temple located on top of the hill. This temple is revered sacred by many Hindus and even Buddhists, dedicated to the Goddess Kalika Mata. After paying your respect to the Goddess Kalika, you can head on to the other religious attractions of the ancient city. There's the Lakulisa Temple, which is mostly in ruins now, dedicated to Lord Shiva with the famed preceptor of Shaivanism, Lakulisa, carved on its exterior walls. The Jain temples of the city, Shwetamber Jain Temple and Shri Digamber Jain Temple, are also worth visiting. They might not be as opulent but they do have ornate murals on their ceilings and walls depicting the principles of Jainism.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Jama Masjid, Kevada Masjid, Kalika Mata Temple, Lakulisa Temple, Shwetamber Jain Temple and Shri Digamber Jain Temple
    Jama Masjid (Image from Lamarfat)

    4. Dholavira - The Indus Valley Civilisation is one of the oldest civilisations of humankind. In Gujarat, there are two sites for this ancient civilisation, namely, Lothal and Dholavira. Of the two, the latter is considered as the more developed residential site. Here, you can walk through the ruins of an ancient civilisation that existed over 5,000 years ago, amazing! Dholavira was a well-planned town, comprised of a central palace and surrounding residential areas. But prior to reaching the ruined town, make sure you visit the ASI Museum here first. There, you can view the evacuated artefacts from the site such as terracotta vases, ancient utensils and even water vessels. An interesting display here is the signboard, which is believed to the the world's first ever signboard though the phrase in it can't be deciphered yet. Make your way into the Dholavira Indus Valley Civilisation Ruins proper and explore the ruins. Noteworthy here is the huge water reservoirs, about 16 in total, which are all made of stone. They are capable of storing gallons and gallons of water harvested from rain, which showcases the unique technological advancement of this civilisation back then. There are many more structures like stairways, granaries, burial grounds and water canals that one can explore in this ancient site.
    • Must Visit Attractions - ASI Museum and Dholavira Indus Valley Civilisation Ruins
    Where sands and seas dominate...

    5. Jamnagar - Jamnagar is known for its heritage sites but not too many tourists venture here to reach its beaches. Secluded and away from the busy beaches of the state, couples, families and even friends can enjoy the serenity here. The best beaches of the city can be reached further from the city centre. The closest beach is the Sivrajpur Beach, about 12 kilometres away from the city centre. A beautiful creamy white shore, filled with little shells and sometimes a flock of crabs, this beach is a gem for the beach bums. The water of the sea is extremely clear that you can spot the seabed very clearly. It is not as commercialised yet though there's one food shack selling a few snack items. It's best to bring your own picnic blanket and some snacks to enjoy the serenity of this beach. Balachari Beach is perhaps the most crowded beach of the city. Though it's not really suitable for swimming especially during high tide. A birdwatcher's haven, this beach would entice you with its golden shores and turquoise waters. A bit further from the city, about 25 kilometres away, is the Okha Madhi Beach. This long stretch of white sandy shores and even a turtle nesting ground near the end is the perfect beach for families. The gradient here gradually deepens as well so it's perfect for swimming. There are no beach shacks here so it's best to bring your own snacks and beverages.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Sivrajpur Beach, Balachari Beach and Okha Madhi Beach
    6. Porbandar - The birthplace of India's greatest freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi, is Porbandar. Mahatma Gandhi, during his college days, felt so homesick that he quit school and returned to his hometown after just one semester. Perhaps there's something about Porbandar that draws him in and most probably it's the laid-back charm of the little village. The most popular beach here is the Chowpaty Beach, also known as the Porbandar Beach, which has its signature silvery golden shores. This is a very lively beach, with tons of options for dining all around. Locals also frequent this beach so you can enjoy the local culture. This is also touted as the best beach for sunset viewing in the town. About 12 kilometres away from the city centre is the Rangbai Beach, which is relatively secluded and more tranquil. The long stretch of golden sands would render one speechless. There's a nearby park too where children can enjoy playing and running around.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Chowpaty Beach and Rangbai Beach
    • Related Thread - n/a
    Chowpaty Beach (Image from Holiday IQ)

    For the religious ones...

    7. Dwarka - Located on the banks of the Gomti River is the holy city of Dwarka. This is a very important city to the Hindus as this was where Lord Krishna lived after killing his uncle, Kansa, who imprisoned him and his parents in Mathura, his birthplace. As a part of the Char Dham Yatra, Dwarka is an inevitable pilgrimage site for the Hindus. The Dwarkadhish Temple, once the location of the abode of Krishna, is the most important religious attraction of the city. This is a five-storey structure and is visible from any point of the city. According to legends, it was Vajranabh who initially built the structure here. But the present structure was built during the 15th century by the Chalukya dynasty, as scholars have researched. The main sanctum houses an idol of the Lord Krishna but there are also shrines for other deities. There are various carvings on the exteriors of other Hindu deities while the interiors are more simple with a few carvings of the Lord Krishna and his chariot. Also a must visit is the Nageshwar Temple, which is one of the Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This vibrantly hued temple has a huge statue of Lord Shiva wrapped in serpents visible even from a distance. You also can't miss visiting the Rukshanamee Temple, located just on the outskirts of the city. Dedicated to Krishna's better half, Rukmini, it is believed that a visit to Dwarka won't be complete without paying your respect to the Goddess Rukmini of this temple. Finally, you can also visit the Gomti Ghat, a ghat area alongside the Gomti River. You can even watch aartis that are performed here during early mornings and evenings.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Dwarkadhish Temple, Nageshwar Temple, Rukshanamee Temple and Gomti Ghat
    Nageshwar Temple (Image from Tour D Gujarat)

    8. Somnath - Home of the famed Somnath Temple is the city of Somnath. The claim to fame of this holy temple is its constant destruction over the years. The original date of the construction of the temple is still unknown but scholars trace it back to the rule of the Yadava dynasty around the 1st century. Thereafter, the temple has been under the attack of many Muslim rulers but was consequently renovated by the Hindu rulers as well. This is also considered as one of the Jyotirlingas of the Lord Shiva so it's revered by many Hindus. The temple has a typical Chalukya dynasty style of architecture, with its high spire and intricately carved exteriors. An interesting feature of the temple is one of its pillars named the Sthambha, which points to a certain angle and from thereafter, it means that there is no landmass between that point until Antarctica. Nearby this temple is the Old Somnath Temple, which was constructed by Ahilyabai Holkar during the early 18th century. The pink hue of the walls provide some contrasting vibrancy to the temple premises. It is believed that the original shivalinga is buried underneath this ancient temple. Still have time? Explore the Gita Mandir, which is an interesting temple complex. Each of the 18 pillars of the temple contains a chapter from the Bhagavad Gita. The Triveni Sangam, where the confluence of the rivers of Hiran, Kapil and Saraswati are located, can also be visited. Other must-visit temples are the Bhalka Tirth and Lakshminarayan Temple.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Somnath Temple, Old Somnath Temple, Gita Mandir, Triveni Sangam, Bhalka Tirth and Lakshminarayan Temple
    In the laps of nature and wildlife...

    9. Junagadh - Junagadh is one of the greenest cities of Gujarat, being home to two wildlife reserves. First and more popular is the Gir National Park, home of the world's only Asiatic lions. Once on the brink of extinction, this wildlife reserve was able to save these specie of lions and according to latest estimates, there were about 500 Asiatic lions residing here. With its dense forest coverings of teak, acacia and more trees, the flora here is also quite remarkable. Aside from the lions, you can also spot other desert animals such as Indian leopards, jungle cats, striped hyenas, desert cats and golden jackals here. There are many water reservoirs here which means that the number of avifauna are also plentiful. If you're not lucky to spot many animals here, just venture into the Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens. This is one of India's oldest zoos and has a wide variety of wildlife within its enclosures. Here, you can spot the Asiatic lions as well, along with other animals such as white tigers, Indian gaurs, tigers and more. The best part? You can explore the zoo by foot or by bus, your choice.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Gir National Park and Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens
    Gir National Park (Image from Rupal)

    10. Kutch - Last on this list is Gujarat's most popular destination, Kutch. Of course, the most popular attraction here is the seasonal salt marsh of the Great Rann of Kutch. This place becomes alive during winter season, when it's fully dried and there are festivities in the form of the Rann Utsav. The pure white salty desert is a sight to behold, especially during sunset and evening. There's also the Little Rann of Kutch, where you can find a variety of other attractions. The Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary is located here, where the endemic ghudkhurs can be found. These sandy-coloured wild ass subspecies were once on the brink of extinction as well but through the sanctuary, their numbers have increased in the recent years. During winter season, a huge number of migratory bird species also venture into this sanctuary. Other wildlife reserves such as the Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and Bustard Sanctuary are also worth visiting as they have a good number of flamingoes as well as other animals such as donkeys and the latter even having the Indian bustards.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch (Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and Bustard Sanctuary)

    Let the hidden beauty of Gujarat beguile you. Explore its modern yet history-laden cities like Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Or venture into its ancient cities like Pavagadh and Dholavira. For the beach lovers, Jamnagar and Porbandar are the best places for your escape to the sandy shores and turquoise seas. You also can't miss Dwarka and Somnath, especially if you're devout Hindus. This list won't be complete without the mention of both Junagadh and Kutch, Gujarat's most popular tourist destinations. There are many more places that one can visit around the state, as this list only highlights the most popular destinations around Gujarat.

    Good luck and I hope this helps you!:)