There are many reasons to visit Gujarat, the coastal state located in the western part of India. Its home to the Asiatic Lion, witnessed in all their glory at Gir National Park. With a history dating back thousands of years, it’s dotted with temples, mosques and other historical monuments that transport you back in time and shed light on its glorious heritage. Gujarat is also home to several natural wonders like the Rann of Kutch, the largest salt desert in the world.
If the remnants from the past leave you captivated, wait till you see the wildlife of Gujarat. The roar of the Asiatic Lion rings through your ears, while the sight of the feisty Blackbuck is a sheer delight. One also witnesses various eras of history, whether at the excavations at Lothal and Dholavira or at Sabarmati Ashram from where Mahatma Gandhi planned several national movements. If you haven’t yet visited Gujarat, you are missing out on an incredible experience. Here are some of the amazing tourist attractions and places to visit in Gujarat.
Somnath Temple, located in the district of Junagadh, is considered to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The fabulous wealth of Somnath Temple attracted various invaders who attacked and plundered it ruthlessly. However, every invasion was followed by its reconstruction which restored it to its former glory.
Architecturally, the temple displays magnificence. Built in the Chalukya style of architecture, it boasts a shikhara almost 50m tall. The temple impresses visitors with its intricate carvings, silver doors, the famous Nandi idol and the prime attraction, the Shivlinga. Its enormous courtyard houses the mandapa (hall) and the main shrine. From the temple, you can also enjoy incredible views of the Arabian Sea. Another exciting time to be here is during the Kartik Purnima Fair, held over a period of four days.
Gir National Park
Gir National Park is the only place in the world where one can spot the majestic Asiatic lion. Nowhere else will you get a chance to spot them as close as Gir National Park. Spread across an area of almost 1,412 sq. km of land, it’s the only national park in India where a tribal community have perfected the art of harmonious co-existence with wildlife.
Gir National Park is among the topmost places to visit in Gujarat mostly due to the Asiatic Lion. However, the park also boasts the largest dry deciduous forest in Western India. Apart from the Asiatic Lion, the park is also home to around 300 species of birds and a variety of other animals. The best way of enjoy sightseeing in Gir National Park is through a jeep safari.
Rani Ki Vav Patan
Rani ki Vav Patan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another of the tourist places in Gujarat, is a fine example of the kind of water conservation practiced in India during the ancient times. The building of Rani ki Vav Patan was commissioned by Rani (Queen) Udayamati in 1603 in the loving memory of her husband King Bhimdev 1 of the Solanki dynasty. It’s interesting to note, however, that the “vavs” of Gujarat weren’t just used for collecting water and socializing, they possesses great spiritual significance too.
The construction of the stepwell was quite simple in the initial years, but became more intricate as the years went by. Rani ki Vav Patan consists of more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. The central theme of the stepwell is Dasavataras, or the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, including Lord Buddha. A special attraction awaits you at the water level where you come across a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, where Vishnu is depicted reclining on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Today, the deserted city of Champaner provides a glimpse of the kind of prosperity which must have existed at one point of time. Located in the foothills of Pavagadh, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that rests on a rocky hilltop and is dotted with mosques, forts, temples and palaces. The architecture of many old mosques reflect a blend of Islamic and Jain tradition. You also come across various heritage monuments belonging to the 16th century including mosques, temples, fortresses and palaces, among others.
Some of the famous attractions worth checking out on your visit to Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park are Jama Masjid, Lila Gumbaj ki Masjid, Lakulisa Temple, Pavagadh Fort and Helica step-well, among the others.
Surely, you must have heard of Indus Valley and Harappan civilizations, and been fascinated with them. Lothal, which means, “Mount of the Dead,” is the most extensively excavated site in India. Upon a visit to Lothal, one of the best sightseeing places in Gujarat, your mind recreates the scenes which these remains must have been witness to at one point of time, a civilization far advanced than the time it existed in.
According to archaeological findings, Lothal was established by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, initially by the sea-faring merchants and later by the smiths, masons and potters, among others. Its worth mentioning that Lothal soon grew to become an industrial center and an extremely important port of the empire. Explore the ruins and visit the museum during your visit to Lothal.
Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach
If you are looking to have an enjoyable time relaxing or trying your hand at water sports, then Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach is where you should be headed to. Although a lesser known beach, it provides various avenues for entertainment. Lying adjacent to the island of Diu, which lies just across a creek, the Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach extends as the Ghogha Beach. Enjoyment here means enjoying a swim on its delightful waters or trying out the various water sports. A particularly delightful experience here is dolphin sighting
Chorwad Beach, located around 37km from Somnath, once served as the royal residence of the Nawab of Junagadh. However, tourists come here mainly to enjoy the lovely views of the sea ahead. Although the beach is unsafe for swimming, it is quite clean and great for enjoying a relaxed day at the beach.
Wild Ass Sanctuary
Wild Ass Sanctuary, located on the Little Rann of Kutch, is the only place in the world home to the endangered Indian Wild Ass, locally known by their popular name, “ghudkhar”. The wild ass is a fascinating creature, standing more than a meter tall at the shoulder and almost two meters in length. Being very agile creatures, they can run at a speed of almost 50 km/h. The Wild Ass Sanctuary is home to almost 3000 wild asses and are often seen in herds.
Apart from the wild ass, the sanctuary is home to almost 32 other species of mammals including the chinkara (Indian gazelle), two types of desert fox (Indian and white-footed), nilgais (the largest antelope of Asia), blackbucks, Indian wolves and striped hyenas, among others. If you are a bird-lover, then you have much to see here. Due to the proximity of this place to the Gulf of Kutch, its an important site for birds to feed and breed in. Some of the birds which one can spot here include the ceraneous vulture from Egypt, houbara bustard of Iran and demoiselle cranes from Siberia, among others.
Laxmi Vilas Palace
Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the must visit tourist attractions in Gujarat, and a testament to unparalleled opulence and grandeur. Built in the Indo-Saracenic school of architecture, Laxmi Vilas Palace is almost four times the size of Buckingham Palace. Till today, it is the residence of the royal family of Baroda, who are highly revered by the locals even today.
There are numerous important buildings inside the compound including Moti Baug Palace, Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building and LVP Banquets & Conventions. Another attraction is the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, which contains a spectacular collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Verma. In addition, you come across portraits of the royal family in addition to those of Hindu mythology. The museum is also home to works of foreign art, copies of famous masterpieces of Italian Renaissance.
Saputara Hill Station
Saputara Hill Station is where you go to when you want to spend your time amidst nature. Located in the Sahyadri range at an altitude of almost 1,000m, this hill-station derives its name from the snake god which is highly revered by the tribal people. Saputara means “the abode of serpents”. The road to Saputara is itself delightful. As the bus makes its way towards Saputara, you gradually feel the silence embracing the air, leaving the unrelenting commotion of the city behind you.
There are many activities to keep you thoroughly entertained. One of these is trekking to Gandhi Shikhar during dawn and watching the sunlight gradually clothe the landscape. The dense forest cover captivates your attention. During the summers, enjoy a leisurely stroll on the Governor’s Hill and watch the sun drape the sky in crimson at the Saputara Lake.
What makes Ahmedabad the top tourist attraction in Gujarat and a UNESCO World Heritage City is its history, heritage and culture. There is much to keep you interested here as a tourist, from the historic structures to the museums, markets to art galleries.
For exploring the walled city’s historic past, visit its historic structures like Teen Darwaza, Siddi Bashir’s Mosque, Jhulta Minar, Bhadra Fort and Lothal, besides others. To get a glimpse of its glorious heritage, head to Sanskar Kendra and the Auto Vintage World Car Museum. The cuisine of Ahmedabad which includes food items like namkeen, khakra, maska-bun and fafda, among others. If all you want is some moments of peace, head to the Kankaria Lake, which is a great place for friends and family. One of the city’s prime attraction, however, is the Sabarmati Ashram, the place from where Mahatma Gandhi launch several movements for India’s independence.
If you love archaeology and history, and possess a keen desire to explore different civilizations, then Buj is the place to head to. Bhuj, throughout its course of history, has witnessed some of the most momentous events in South Asian history. The archaeological finds here span through several historical periods of Indian history.
There are several ways to experience Bhuj. You can visit the Hall of Mirrors at the Aina Mahal, take a leisurely stroll through the produce market and enjoy a Kutchi pau bhaji for lunch. Come across its ancient history at the 2000yrs old Kshatrapa inscriptions in the Kutch Museum. The Ramayana characters at the Ramakund stepwell fascinate you thoroughly while nothing is more relaxing than taking a walk around the Hamirsar Lake. Explore popular attractions in Bhuj with these packages.
If you have the faintest knowledge about Hindu mythology, you would know about Dwarka’s association with Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Considered to be the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna and the first capital of Gujarat, it’s considered to be one of the four most sacred char dham Hindu pilgrimage sites. If you come to Dwarka, which undoubtedly is one of the must visit tourist attractions in Gujarat, then it’s the Dwarkadhish Temple which you should first visit. Jagat Mandir is another attraction. Go to Gomti Ghat though, and you will come across decorated camels, tea stalls, jewelry sellers and seashells.
Visit Gondal to see the royal side of Gujarat. Gondal, a city state located almost 35km from Rajkot, was once ruled by a royal family whose passion for cars was legendary. That passion resulted in a wonderful collection of automobiles which are today exhibited in the museum located inside the palace premises.
Like most states ruled by royalty whose main attractions are their palaces, one of Gondal’s main attraction is the Riverside Palace commissioned in 1875 by Bhatwat Singhji. This palace has since then been converted into a heritage hotel. Exploring the palace grounds, which is actually a private forest reserve, is a treat. Another major attraction is the old Darbargadh, also known as “Navlakha Palace”. Exploring its interiors provides a glimpse of the opulent living style of the Maharajas. The central market is a bustling scene with its vendors, hawkers, foodstuff and trade cloth.
The city of Junagarh traces its origins to ancient times in history, beginning with its associations with Lord Krishna during his life in Saurashtra. Since then, Junagadh went under the rule of several dynasties and emperors, playing a significant role for some years and then fading into the background for quite another. For a tourist though, Junagadh provides magnificent sightseeing opportunities.
The first of these is Mt. Girnar, a holy site for Hindus and Jains which can be accessed after climbing 9,999-steps. The further you climb these stairs, the more you get the feeling of getting closer to heaven. On the route, make a stop at Ashoka’s Rock Edicts. Head to the oldest quarters of the city though, and you can make your way down into the deepest parts of the earth through a pair of ancient step-wells carved out of solid rock. The Mahabat Maqbara and Jama Masjid are other attractions of the place.
Kutch, the largest district of India, is eminent for its mud architecture and cultural traditions. One of the top places to visit in Gujarat, Kutch is most famous for hosting the Rann Festival from the months of November to February. As a holiday destination in Gujarat, Kutch stands out. Ancient caves, wildlife sanctuaries, beaches, lakes and of course, the Great Rann of Kutch, the largest district of India has it all.
Visit the Rann of Kutch to come across a marvelous spectacle of nature. Enjoy a jeep ride to Kalo Dungar (black hill) the highest point of Kutch which provides views of the Indo-park border and is home to the 400 years old temple of Dattatreya. To enjoy wonderful views of the Gulf and the operation of commercial vessels, head to Kandla Port. If you are a history buff, then visit Kutch Museum (the oldest museum in Gujarat) or Dholavira (where you can see relics of Harappan civilization).
Modhera, situated against the backdrop of the River Pushpavati, is most famous for its Sun Temple. Visiting it for the first time, you can’t help but wonder at the grand ideas that must have inspired such a creation. The Sun Temple was built during the Solanki period, a period which has been hailed as the Golden Age of Gujarat.
The temple, and its surrounding, exude a positivity which is felt by everybody visiting the temple. The Sun Temple is a tribute to the Vedic God, along with the natural elements like fire, air, earth, water and sky. Visit Modhera for its magnificent Sun Temple, and also to get away from the maddening commotion of city life.
Palitana is another of the top tourist attractions in Gujarat, and also one of the holiest places for followers of Jainism. The Palitana temple lies atop the Shatrunjaya Mountain, much in accordance with Jain philosophy which believes that the holiest places are to be found in the skies rather than on land. Reaching the temple, however, requires one to undertake an arduous climb involving over 3,000 stairs.
It’s believed that the construction of Palitana Temples spanned over a period of 900 years and was completed in two phases. However, the credit for the construction of the temple cannot be claimed by any one person, as it was a group of wealthy Jain businessmen who contributed towards the building of these temples. The climb to the mountain is a difficult one, so remember to pace yourself. The idols in the temple are bathed around 9.30pm, and prayers are offered around noon. It would be better if you began your climb in the morning, when the heat is moderate and gives you plenty of time to explore the mountains.
The story of the founding of Patan is as fascinating as the city itself. Vanraj Chavda of the Chavda dynasty is said to have laid the foundation of the city at a place pointed out by Anahil, his shepherd-friend. No sooner do you enter the fortified city of Patan than you are greeted by the sights of fort walls and gates.
Today, Patan is famous for several small scale industries including rope and bidi (the poor man’s cigarette) making. Other attractions include snow-white Jain temples and Hemachandracharya Jain Gnan library of ancient Hindu and Jain texts. Another attraction is the 1000 years old Kali Temple, whose main deity, Kali Maa, is believed to guard the town. Sahasralinga Talav, or, the “lake of a thousand lingas”, is quite mystifying, while Rani ki Vav (Queen’s Stepwell) is fascinating as ever.
Porbandar. What does that remind you of? Mahatma Gandhi. After all, it was here that the Mahatma was born. The site of his birth, known as Kirti Mandir, has been converted into a small museum and contains some exhibits along with a small library consisting of books relating to Gandhian philosophy and practice. Porbandar Beach is another tourist attraction here. Quiet, secluded and offering wonderful views of the sea ahead, you cannot help but get lost in a train of thoughts while staring far ahead.
Rajkot is full of life and vigor while the traditional Kathiawari hospitality immediately wins your heart. Why should you visit Rajkot though? A visit to Rajkot shows you what a city full of life, enthusiasm and vigor looks like. You see that lively spirit while striking up a conversation with people, while watching a cricket match during the evenings at the gymkhana or even when people go about their jobs every morning.
Stretched out on the banks of River Aji, the city comfortably blends the traditional with the modern. As part of your sightseeing tour, you could visit the Watson Museum, Ramkrishna Math and Lang library. Rajkot is also a shopper’s delight, an example being Bangdi Bazaar. Rajkot is also the place where Mahatma Gandhi spent his early days, studying at the Alfred High School, now renamed Gandhi Vidyalaya. That’s another place to check out.
Surat, situated on the south bank of the Tapi River, is a symbol of Gujarat’s prosperity. The city is also a wonderful mix of various ethnicities that lend a unique flavor to its society and culture. If you are looking for the best sightseeing places in Gujarat, then Surat is where you should be.
There are several beaches in Surat, and others situated in close proximity, where you could head to with your friends and family. Some of these are Dandi Beach, Suvali Beach and Dumas Beach, among others. Of course, this being Gujarat, the imprints of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation are everywhere, and especially so in Dandi. This is where he picked up a pinch of salt and began his Dandi March. Surat’s wonderful heritage can be seen by visiting the European tombs, Mughalsarai and Surat Castle, among others.
Vadodara is Gujarat’s third largest city, its “cultural capital” and the administrative headquarters of Vadodara district. The city is overlooked by the enormous Pavagadh Hill, which is itself home to a number of Hindu and Jain shrines.
Special experiences await you at Vadodara, an example being ecotourism. The eco-tourist sites where you can watch the flora and fauna of the state while staying close to nature are Sursagar Talav and Vadhvana Wetland & Eco Campsite. The city’s heritage can also be witnessed by visiting its various museums including Vadodara Museum, Sri Aurobindo Niwas and Tribal Museum. Also, now the city has become the getaway to the Statue of Unity, the world’s largest statue. Dedicated to the Iron Man of India-Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the colossal portrait is one of the amazing tourist sites in Gujarat and also India. You can visit the most popular tourist attractions in Gujarat with well-customized tour packages to Vadodara.
These are the most popular tourist attractions in Gujarat which you can visit with Gujarat tour packages and explore the various attractions that it has to offer.
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