Planning a vacation? Here is a list of some amazing places to visit in Gujarat. Gujarat is rightfully referred to as the “Jewel of Western India” since this state encompasses various sites that tell the tale of ancient empires and civilizations and their succession and demise. From Indus Valley Civilisation in Lothal to the port city of Maurya and Gupta empire, this western state of our country has it all. These empires have left an indelible mark on various places in Gujarat in the form of traditional and cultural architectures and ruins.
Every temple tells its own ancient tale, be it Somnath or Dwarka, but history is not all that Gujarat has to offer, this state also has the world’s largest salt desert – The Rann of Kutch and a city of leading textile boom – Surat. It also has one of the longest coastlines in India and some of the most important ports. Sabarmati Ashram is a reminder of the legacy of The Father of our Nation- Gandhiji and it still houses many of his personal belongings. So pack your bags and get ready for a fun trip to the diverse and divine state of our country, Gujarat. Here is a list of our pick for top seven must visit places in Gujarat.
1. Somnath Temple
This temple has a great history of being destroyed and rebuilt over the years but even today its architectural beauty captivates its viewers. It is believed to be the first jyotirlinga of the twelve shiva shrines. It is believed that the Moon-god Soma had lost his luster and he bathed in the water of Saraswati at this site to regain it thus the name Someshvar and Somnath arise. The time of construction of the first temple is not known but the current temple was built in 1951, between this period the temple has been looted and destroyed a number of times. The temple is open to devotees throughout the year and the beach nearby is great for long walks. There is a light and sound show which the temple authorities organize at night and the temple looks mesmerizing when lit up.
2. The Rann of Kutch
The beauty of the vast salty marshes of Kutch is captivating and never ceases to amaze the onlookers. The great Rann of Kutch spreads as far as the borders of India and it is the largest salt desert in the world. There is no special season to visit there, however going there during the Rann Utsav would be best. Rann Utsav is a festival of frolic and fun at the white desert under the beauty of full moon which starts from November and lasts till February. Apart from the spectacular stretches of white the place also offers a great mix of folk textiles, bandhani saree, and traditional ornaments. Camel ride is the best way to tour the region and what more you can hire tents for accommodation as well.
3. Dwarkadish Temple
Dwarka is said to be the city of Lord Krishna and the Dwarkadhish Temple was built in praise of the Lord himself thus the name Dwarkadish or ‘King of Dwarka’. Situated on the banks of river Gomti, the temple is believed to be 2000 years old. The temple is also one of the four sacred pilgrimage or ‘chaar dham’. The temple flag shows the sun and the moon and is said to be changed 5 times a day yet the symbols remain the same. The main entrance door is the ‘Moksha Dwara’ and the entrance leading to market is known as ‘Swarga Dwara’ which led to the river Gomti. The temple timings are from morning 6 am to 1 pm and from evening 5 pm to 9:30 pm at night but the best time to get darshan is during the Aarti which takes place at 8 pm.
4. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
The only region apart from Africa where wild Asiatic lions roam around freely should be reason enough to excite any traveler to visit Gir. Not only are these Lions a major attraction but you get to go on Safaris and explore the natural habitat of these big cats. Gir wildlife sanctuary is also a major site for bird watching. You can spot many wild birds during the Safaris. It also homes many migratory birds during the months of November till February. You can spot many other animals such as leopards, hyenas, and crocodiles in their natural habitat. The fastest of the Indian antelope’s Blackbucks also call this region their home apart from other species, deers, and antelopes. Exploring the serene beauty of the Sanctuary in the morning during safaris seems to me as reason enough to visit Gir. Online bookings are also available for the safaris and the hotels.
5. Lukshmi Vilas Palace
This extravagant palace was built in the era of the Gaekwad rule. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad named it after his wife Maharani Lukshmibai. The palace is one of the largest private dwellings, four times larger than Buckingham Palace. It took 12 years to complete at a whopping cost of GBP 180,000. Famous artists from all over the world have contributed to the architecture of the present day Palace. Complete with a Lift and a Golf Course this palace is one of the most modern households. It is built for only two residents, the king, and the queen. Exquisite statues and pottery from all over the country adorn the palace. The palace is open to visitors throughout the year and the palace timings are 9:30 am to 5 pm. The ticket costs Rs.250 and the complete tour of the palace is for an hour. It allows you to explore the selected regions of the palace.
6. Madhavpur Beach
Clean coastline and stretches of sea blue water best describes this beach. The best way to access the beach is via the road which is near the coastline. This sandy beach stretches along the Porbandar – Veraval Highway and is a very quiet and peaceful beach. The beauty of the beach is captivating and the best part about this beach is that it is very clean. You can spend hours walking on the sand and listening to the sound of the waves. The best time to go there is early in the morning. You can spot many birds on the shore and flying near the ocean to fish. It is a totally captivating place and the best time to go there is during the summers and winters.
7. Sabarmati Ashram
Located on the bank of river Sabarmati, this ashram is one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The ashram was house to him and his wife for twelve years. Gandhiji led a great movement known as Dandi march which later on became the Satyagrah movement. This historic movement led to the freedom of our country. This site is one of the ancient ashram sites of Dadhichi Rishi. Rishi Dadhichi is known for his great sacrifice to donate his bones to make an armament for the war. The ashram also houses a museum, an old guesthouse known as Nandini, Vinoba Kutir, Upasana Mandir and Magan Niwas. The Chakra and the writing table used by Gandhiji are among the few priceless items kept in the Museum. The ashram remains open to visitors throughout the year from 8 am to 7 pm.