Gujarat is located on the western coast of India between Maharashtra and Rajasthan. A very successful series of ad campaigns and the addition of the Statue of Unity have changed this though. Tourist’s interest in the state has grown substantially. There are actually some amazing places to visit in Gujarat, with diverse attractions such as handicrafts, architecture, temples, and wildlife. It’s worthwhile getting out and about, away from the major cities, and exploring.
Ahmedabad, Old City
Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat for many centuries, was declared to be India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City in 2017, beating both Delhi and Mumbai. Its walled Old City was founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century and is home to diverse Hindu, Islamic and Jain communities. The Old City is divided into numerous pols (historic residential neighborhoods with winding lanes and carved wooden homes). Plus, it has some of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and Hindu Muslim art in India.
Gandhi’s Ashram is another top attraction in Ahmedabad. It was the starting point for his movement for India’s freedom through non-violence.
The world’s tallest statue, dedicated to Indian independence activist Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), was completed in 2018. At 182 meters tall, it’s twice the size of the Statue of Liberty. Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of independent India, and is highly regarded for his leadership in bringing the 562 states of India together. The area around the statue has been developed as a comprehensive tourist destination for the whole family to enjoy, with enough activities and attractions to fill in at least three days. Apart from the statue, these include a sound and laser show, butterfly garden, cactus garden, Ayurvedic wellness center, eco-friendly and medicinal plant nursery, handicraft stores, valley of flowers, forest with native trees, children’s park with train and mirror maze, safari park and zoo, zip-lining, white water rafting, cycling, and boating on the lake.
Where: About two hours (90km) southeast of Vadodara.
Gir National Park
The natural home of the Asian Lion’s, Gir National Park is the best place to come face to face with them. Truly one of the best places to visit in Gujarat, Gir is also home to a variety of other rare wild animals, such as hyenas, fish owls, black bucks and many others. Itspreads across nearly 1412 sq km of land, this is also the only national park in India that has a community living inside its perimeters. While riding the open top jeeps, looking for lions is unworldly, and a must do for whenever you are in Gujarat.
How to Reach: The best way to reach Gir is by landing at the airport in Keshod or by taking a train till Junagadh or Veraval. Following this, take a taxi to reach your destination.
The next one on the list of famous places in Gujarat is a famous temple. One of the most sacred of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, Somnath Temple is not just a religious site. Lying as it is on the shores of the rough Arabian Sea, the temple is also a thing of wonder. It has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times, once by Lord Soma in gold, once by Ravana in silver, once by Krishna in wood and once by King Bhimdev in stone. It is the stone edifice that stands tall now, and attracts millions of devotees to come over and seek the Lord’s blessings.
How to Reach: The cheapest way to reach Somnath from New Delhi is to take train to Vadodara then take Jbp Somnath Exp from Vadodara to Somnath.
Rann of Kutch
Rann of Kutch is probably the most beautiful place you will ever lay eyes on. Nestled comfortably between the endless Thar Desert and the mighty Arabian Sea, Rann of Kutch is a mesmerizing wonder of sand and salt. On full moon nights, the desert shines bright as a diamond, and brings a surreal sense of calm with it. Cultural programs are held on full moon nights, tents are pitched and the wondrous land is yours for the night. Truly one of the most mesmerizingly beautiful places to see in Gujarat.
During winters, Rann of Kutch is home to the flamingoes, here all the way from Siberia! The white desert turns a delicate shade of pink, and brings with it the chance to enjoy proximity to these elusive birds and many others. But Rann Mahotsav is the best time to visit Gujarat, with Rann of Kutch coming alive with music, cultural shows, dances, food, Camel Safari.
During the monsoon season, it is entirely submerged in water and visitors might return home dejected.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Champaner and Pavagadh are laden with historical, architectural and archeological treasures from both Muslim and Hindu traditions, dating back to between the 8th and 14th centuries. These include a hill fortress, palaces, places of worship (Jama Masjid is one of the most spectacular mosques in Gujarat), residential areas, reservoirs and step wells.
Where: An hour (48km) northeast of Vadodara.
The peaceful village of Modhera is home to one of the most significant sun temples in India. Built in the 11th century by Solanki dynasty rulers, it’s dedicated to Surya the Sun God. The temple is a substantial structure, consisting of a carved stepped tank, assembly hall, and main shrine. It’s covered in intricate stone sculptures. The sanctum is positioned in a way that it receives the first rays of the morning sun at the equinox.
Where: Northern Gujarat. About two hours (99km) north of Ahmedabad.
It is a stepwell situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat state. It was constructed during the Solanki dynasty, apparently in memory of ruler Bhimdev I, by his widowed wife. The stepwell has stairs going down seven leveRani ki vav is considered as the finest and one of the largest example of stepwell architecture in Gujarat. It was built at the height of craftsmens’ ability in stepwell construction and the Maru-Gurjara architecture style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and beauty of detail and proportions.ls, and panels containing more than 500 main sculptures and over 1,000 minor ones.
Where: Northern Gujarat. About 128km from Ahmedabad and 35 Km from Modhera.
Idar Hill Fort, Sabarkantha
Idar is a town in Sabarkantha district, Gujarat, India. It is known for the manufacture of the legendary king Veni Vachh Raj ruled at Idar, the possessor of a golden figure which helped him to build the hillfort and its reservoirs
Giant boulders have guarded the town of Idar, at the southern end of the Aravali mountain range, for centuries. A scenic but strenuous climb to the top of the hill (Idariyo Gadh) through the rocks will take you past the remains of various palaces and temples. The town is known for its handmade wooden toys as well. They can be purchased at the market near the clock tower.
Where: Northern Gujarat. About two hours east of Patan (98km), near the Rajasthan border. It’s on the way to Mount Abu in Rajasthan.
Dwarka (Dwarkadhish Temple)
One of the four most sacred Char Dham Hindu pilgrimage sites and seven most ancient Sapta Puri religious cities in India, Dwarka is considered to be the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna and the first capital of Gujarat. The Krishna Janmashtami festival is a major event there. Of special importance is Dwarkadhish Temple, built approximately 200 BC and often referred to as Jagat Mandir. Head down to Gomti Ghat, at the holy water’s edge, for a spectacle of decorated camels, tea stalls, and seashell jewelry sellers.
Where: Western Gujarat, at the mouth of the Gomti River on the Arabian Sea. It’s about 135 Km west of Jamnagar.
Isolated and off-the-beaten-track, Marine National Park lies along the coast on the way to Dwarka. It was established as a national park in 1982 and is the first of its kind in India. Yet, not many people know about it. The national park is made up of 42 islands, 33 of which are surrounded by coral reef, and is home to diverse marine and bird life. Tourists are only permitted to visit a couple of the islands though. The main one, Narara Island, is accessible by car and a long walk during low tide. Visit during the winter, and be prepared to wade through ankle deep water on the seabed. Local guides are available.
How to Reach: Western Gujarat in the Gulf of Kutch, about 54 km west of Jamnagar.
Little Rann of Kutch’s Wild Ass Sanctuary
The Wild Ass Sanctuary, home to the last of the Indian wild ass, is the largest wildlife sanctuary in India. It’s spread over almost 5,000 square kilometers. The unusual, vast terrain is a salt marsh that features barren mudflats dotted with small islands.
The sanctuary was set up in 1973 to protect the endangered wild ass. These creatures look like a cross between a donkey and a horse. They’re slightly bigger than a donkey, and are fast and strong like a horse. They can run an average of 50 kilometers an hour over long distances!
How to Reach: The closest railway station is at Dhrangadhra. Many trains stop there, and it’s connected to both Mumbai and Delhi.
Pavagadh Mahakali Maa Temple
Mahakali Maa Temple is a Hindu goddess temple complex and pilgrim centre at the summit of Pavagadh Hill in Panchmahal district of Gujarat. To reach the temple at the summit is about a 5 km walk along a jungle footpath to the top of the hill; otherwise, there is a cable car which will haul you to the summit from about the midway point, which is the last place accessible by road.
How to Reach: A 48 km northeast of Vadodara. You can have bus/ Cab.