Places to Visit in Gujarat
A state with the stances of culture, cuisine, history, people, and religion, Gujarat is a westernmost state in India that is referred to as “Jewel of Western India.” With an area of 196,024 km2 (75,685 sq. mi), the state is bordered by Rajasthan to the North, Maharashtra to the South, Madhya Pradesh to the East, and Pakistani province Sindh to the west of it. And, apart from its geographical statistics, Gujarat is not just a place; it has an entirely different world to explore within it through the cities that are included within the region of Gujarat.
No visit to Gujarat is complete without spending some time in the bustling metropolis, Ahmedabad. Being the administrative capital and largest city of the state, Ahmedabad has headquarters of all the major government offices in Gujarat. With many historical sites including the Sabarmati Ashram and the Hathisingh Jain Temple, Ahmedabad also has some lovely lakes like Kankaria and Vastrapur Lake to relax by and of course the best shopping in the state.
A capital of the state of Gujarat, Gandhinagar locates approximately 23 Km from Ahmedabad. Lies on the banks of the Sabarmati River, Gandhinagar is termed as a recreational area extending provision of parks and plantation along with the river giving the city a green garden city environment. The famous Akshardham Temple is located here and being a purely Indian enterprise; the city has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under the flagship of Smart Cities Mission. Gandhinagar has capital and government complexes, Sports centres, Software Technology Park, Shopping and commercial places along with residential areas.
It is a port city previously known as Suryapur is the economic capital and former princely state in the state of Gujarat. Surat is the 8th largest city and 9th largest urban agglomeration in India. This destination is the 3rd cleanest city of our nation. Famous for food, textile industries, and diamonds, Surat is the 4th growing city of the world. Breaking the records, Surat was also awarded as the “Best City” in the year 2013 by Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS). With the aspects of history, finance & economy, government & politics, and infrastructure, Surat has the site of Tapi river, and Mini Eiffel Tower to explore for tourists.
Dwarka is a holy city of Lord Krishna, which has an unspoilt charm that draws a large number of Hindu devotees every year. One of the four Dhams in India (Hindu Pilgrimage Destinations), Dwarka is nestled in the lap of Gujarat, offering divinity and abundant peace to every soul who visits it. Amongst the most important places to visit in Dwarka, Dwarkadhish Temple is a five-storied shrine constructed probably 1400 years ago. Other than this, for the people who would love to see Dwarka, Okha (30kms from Dwarka) and different temples dedicated to Rukmini (Lord Krishna’s Wife), Mirabai, Narsinh Mehta and Shank Narayan are present here.
Mandvi is a popular tourist destination in Gujarat and home for the largest shipbuilding yards in the country. It is a unique town that has true colours of Gujarati-Kutchi culture. There are still some artisans over here that make wooden ships by their hands on the bank of Rukmavati River. The beaches are clean and undoubtedly beautiful; the cacophony of the flamingos is the most obvious ones here. Other than the beaches, Vijay Vilas Palace is worth seeing in Mandvi.
Patan & Modhera
Both these towns can be easily visited from Ahmedabad within a few hours. Another example of the Solanki period architecture can be seen in the Anahilwada Patan. It is also famous for its patola sarees and one of the most exquisite step wells in India, the Rani-ki-Vav. Further south in the tiny town of Modhera is one of Gujarat’s best-kept secrets, a Sun Temple that rivals the more famous Konark Temple in Odisha.
A holy city in Junagadh district, Somnath is revered highly as one of the places where the Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva are kept. The temple is the centre point for all the locals and tourists activities of the town. Although Somnath Temple is the reason behind Somnath being a popular tourist attraction, another reason can be its scenic location near the coast. So, other than visiting temples and cleansing one’s soul, visitors can enjoy some good time at the beach as well. Junagadh Gate and Panch Pandav Gufa (Cave) are the famous tourist destinations in Somnath.
Offering an insight into the history and culture of Gujarat, Bhavnagar is amongst the most favourite cities in Gujarat. The city is at the distance of about 198kms from Gandhinagar; thus anybody seeking a heritage tour can easily reach Bhavnagar from the capital of Gujarat. There are some historical monuments in Bhavanagar including Brahma Kund, Nilambaugh Palace, Takhteshwar Temple, Palitana Jain Temples, Gopinath Mahadev Temple, the Khodiyar Temple and the Ganga Devi Mandir, Alang Braking Site and Victoria Park, which make up the list of the main attractions in Bhavnagar. Other than these, Velavadar Blackbuck National Park is in proximity to the city. It wouldn’t be incorrect if we call Bhavnagar the authentic face of Gujarat.
Perhaps the only hill station in Gujarat, Saputara is unlike any other places that you would visit in the state. Nestled amidst the Sahyadris, Saputara offers respite from the hot and humid climate. Surrounded by green rolling hills, this hill station is quite picturesque. The soothing air and the charming people add to the reasons as to why one should visit Saputara. The main attractions here include Hatgad Fort, Sunrise point, The Ropeway, Boating in Lake Saputara and Artist Village. This beautiful town is situated about 170kms from Surat.
Gujarat’s rich heritage can be rightly seen in Bhuj. People who are keen interested in history and architecture, then there is no place better than Bhuj to visit. Sharad Baug Palace, Aina Mahal, Prag Mahal and Swaminarayan Temple that display some of the unique architectures here. Bhuj also houses Kutch Museum that preserves 2000 years old Kshatrapa inscriptions. At about 72kms from Bhuj is Khavda, which is famous for eco-tourism; Also, Khavda Natural Park is the departure point of one of the world’s largest Flamingo colony. Jamkundaliya is a lake in Khavda Desert, which is home to a sizable number of flamingo birds. Another superb destination for eco-tourism in Bhuj is Chhari Dhandh, which situated 80kms from Bhuj and is a wet salty land. About 370 bird species can be spotted here.
Mehsana is a beautiful town and is ideal for a family vacation. The city is famous for its massive water park, which is apparently the largest water park in Gujarat. A large number of temples dot Mehsana town. Thus seniors also have something to look forward to here. Mehsana is at a short distance from Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, so a weekend visit here is definitely a good idea. The most famous temples to visit here are Modhera’s Sun temple, Simandhar Swami Jain Temple, Hinglaj Mata’s Temple, Mulnayak Jain Temple, and Swaminarayan Temple. Famous Thol Lake Bird Sanctuary is also quite near this beautiful town.
Cultural capital and third largest city in the Western Indian State of Gujarat, Vadodara was formerly known as Baroda is located on the banks of River Vishwamitri. The city is known for Lakshmi Vilas Palace, the residence of Baroda’s State Maratha royal family. It is also the home of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. One of the important cultural, educational, and industrial hubs of Gujarat, the city includes several institutions with national and regional importance. Whereas, major industries include Petrochemicals, engineering, chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, IT and foreign exchange services amongst others. Also, Baroda has been entitled as “Kala Nagari” because of representation of beautiful forms of art and architecture.
Lothal & Dholavira
With ruins that date back to the ancient Indus Valley civilisation, you can step back into history here. Lothal was once a trading hub that was connected to the Sindh region, and Dholavira is an ancient city that has now been excavated and is believed to be over 100 hectares. It is the fifth largest out of the eight Harappan era sites in India. It is one of the major archaeological sites in India. Located on the Khadir bet island in the Kutch wildlife sanctuary in Great Rann of Kutch, this place is a treat to the eye and is a must visit for every visitor.
This city is believed to have been standing on the mound of many bygone eras. Situated in Mehsana district at a distance of about 111kms from Ahmedabad, it is a historical town that may incite an urge in you to dig deeper into the history of India. Ancient temples, sites and edifices make Vadnagar truly a delight to visit. Lake Sharmishtha, Chamatkarpur – The Magical Palace, Saptarishi and Toranas or the Victory Arches is amongst the major places of interests in Vadnagar. Just to mention the interesting part, the city is also the hometown of the 15th Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
The only home to the Asiatic Lion, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary has prime reason to visit it once. One of the largest marked provinces for Asiatic lions, the area is well protected due to the vast stretch of vegetation and other species residing in this sanctuary. The king of the jungle reigns supreme here, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit Gir, hyenas, leopards and over 250 species of birds just to name a few.
Great Rann of Kutch
The White Salt Desert is a place that is must visit in a lifetime. The Great Rann of Kutch is by far the largest white salt desert in India and is truly a magnificent destination to be at. One can enjoy camel safaris on a moonlit night (During the Rann Utsav in December-March). Accommodation is available at the nearby villages called Dhordo and Hodka. It is once in a lifetime experience to be at Great Rann and is indeed one for the best weekend tours.
A beautiful coastal city, Porbandar is ideal for a short vacation in Gujarat. The city is a perfect blend of both ancient and modern times. One can have a view of the history with a visit to numerous stone buildings and temples. Miyani Beach, Barda Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Kirti Mandir, Porbandar Beach are some of the important places to visit here. Other than its architecture and natural beauty, what marks the popularity of Porbandar is the fact that it is the hometown of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama (Lord Krishna’s Friend).