I would say that Gujarat is nothing less than a wonderland for it offers everything from vast sea coastline to the hint of desert with hill stations to religious sanctuaries to architectural wonders along with heritage & historical ancient places. In this blog post, I would highlight the top reasons that one should definitely visit Gujarat without giving it a miss.
For someone like me who hails from East, it was difficult initially to make up my mind to plan a trip to such a far away state as it requires considerable amount of time even to cover one part given with the full time job I have to sustain. But then, when I got the invite from Gujarat Tourism to visit iconic places in Gujarat like Rann of Kutch , Patan, Wild Ass sanctuaries in Dasada over six days , I was simply stoked and taken aback by the breathtaking vastness of this state.
And that’s exactly why I have listed down top 10 reasons that one should visit Gujarat.
You may also like to read on my Rann of Kutch Experience, Gujarat
1. To Witness Historical Wonders of Gujarat
Gujarat is a state of historical significance. Every district of Gujarat has a significant story to tell in the timeline of Indian history. From the Indus Valley Civilisation to the current era, Gujarat has contributed to the development of civilisations and communities like none other. The community of the state has managed to carry forward the stories of their traditions across generations from its origin. The history here deserves an ear! The history here is to be witnessed!
And, that gives all the more reason to visit the ancient city of Dholavira, the archaeological site of a Harappan-era city, which is also an UNESCO world heritage site at Khadirbet in Kutch district. This archeological wonder, demonstrates its multifaceted achievements in terms of urban planning, construction techniques, water management, social governance and development, art, manufacturing, trading, and belief system which happened around pre-harrapan times.
2. To Explore the Wildlife Diversity of Gujarat
Gir national park in Gujarat is famous worldwide for being the only dwelling place in India for Asiatic lions. From the Gir National Park to other flora and fauna, Gujarat has some of the best wildlife conservation facilities. Here people respect the greenery and believe in the notion that a balanced ecology demands diversity in species and they respect all lives.
But did you also know that Gujarat is also the last home on earth to the endangered species of Asiatic Wild Ass which are found near Dasada Village in Kutch, also known as Little Rann of Kutch. This place is a paradise for birding enthusiasts and can get several opportunities to spot rare birds. Little Rann of Kutch gives a wonderful opportunity for all nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts to witness amazing variety of animals found there.
3. To Connect to the Divinity in every corner of Gujarat
You might have heard about Dwarka the city from where Lord Krishna used to control the administration. The very city is part of Gujarat. People from across the country travel here in masses with their devotion to Lord Krishna.
Irrespective of the religion, the synergy that you would feel due to people’s optimistic feeling of belief, is an experience you don’t want to miss.
Just like Dwarka, places like Somnath, Kodiyar Mata Temple, Nishkalank Mahadev temple and many other temples will help you connect to the higher spirit and energy.
Out of my short trip to Gujarat, I had a wonderful opportunity to explore Sun Temple of Modhera, which is dedicated to the Sun god and has one of the most aesthetic intricate carvings in its structure. Built in 1026 AD by Raja Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty, the temple is divided into three sections, namely, Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda Mandap.
Hatakeshwar Temple in Mehsana, near Vadnagar is another divine place, dedicated to Lord Mahadev which was intricately built in 17th century. It is believed that the temple’s inner sanctum houses a Shiva linga said to have self-emerged (swayambhu). The premises also have an ancient Kashivishveshvara Shiva temple, a Swaminarayan temple and two Jain temples.
4. To Explore the Royal Riches & Life in and around Gujarat
Who does not like the majestic feeling or the goosebumps you get while walking through the halls or courtyard of a palace? Well, you are not dreaming, Gujarat hosts some of the best Palaces and Royal Life Experiences in India. The walls of the palaces speak the stories of kings and queens that lived their lives there. It resonates and echoes the monarchical stories. You must explore the royal part of Gujarat.
Apart from all the mahals and palaces that you will get to witness, one of the very interesting examples of the royal touches are that of “Stepwells”.
Rani ki Vav or the Queen’s step well is a UNESCO World heritage site which was built mainly to preserve huge quantity of water during early period which not only served Royal family’s but also skillfully designed to cater to the need of large number of travelers exploring this area. It is one of the most finest and one of its kind step well which is designed as an inverted temple which has more than 500 principal sculptures of Bhagwan Vishnu and over 1000 minor ones combine religious and Legendary imagery.
Adalaj ki Vav is another stepwell for those who wants to get a glimpse of such architectural excellence nearby to Ahmedabad city. It is located near Ahmedabad and is also one of the must visit place during your stay in Gujarat.
5. To Get Awestricken by the Architectural Wonder of Gujarat
How many times have you come across an Instagram post of a friend captioned “Sunkissed”?
Well, the architectural wonders wished they had an Instagram account to post that daily! Covered in the golden shawl of sunrays, from the dust till down and across the starry nights, the architectural wonders of Gujarat astound all. One of the interesting fact about Gujarat architecture is that it had largely inherited the Indo-Islamic style due to the predomination during Mughal rule. Hence, several architectures depict Mughal style of Chatteris , Jali, Minarets.
Also, one can witness British-style colonial architectural excellence in Prag Mahal, Vijaya Vilas Palace or Laxmi Vilas Palace which was built during British rule.
Structured from the monarchical ages, these places, temples, forts, and Pillars have seen the kingdoms fall and rise! The amount of information that can be fetched just through the sculptures and inscriptions on the walls and pillars is immense.
One of the most astounding architectural wonders which highlight glimpses from Indus Valley Civilisation is in the place called Dholavira, which is also declared as the World UNESCO Heritage Site. The city of Dholavira has a rectangular shape and gives information about the very first civilization in Gujarat which was the Harappan Civilisation.
The city of Torans, better known as Vadanagar has many ancient torans, which are the 12th century intricately carved columns that support an arch. They are basically the depiction of ornate entrance gate which were built on the banks of Sharmistha Talav during the grand Solanki period which were erected to depict the war victory. The architectural wonder will give you enough reason not to miss Vadanagar in your Gujarat itinerary.
6. To Experience the Gujarati Culture
What is Culture? The folklores of the region? The beliefs, the community system, the food? the dance? The Music? The Attire? Well, if you have ever been to Gujarat, you can see the site defining it much better.
From finger-licking good foods to colorful festivals and everything in between, Gujarat is the north pole of awesome! In fact, each district has its own dance style and festivals. One such festival and an arcade of culture that I got to witness were in Rann Utsav which takes place in Rann of Kutch every year from November to Feb.
You cannot say you have planned for a Gujarat trip unless this experience is on your menu. Experiencing the Gujarati Culture is a life-changing experience. I mean, this place will set your expectation standard high for all tourism practices you would do in the future.
7. To Explore the Native Cuisine of Gujarat
The finger-licking water-dripping flooding mount cuisine is about to crash the party! For someone like me who is a hardcore nonvegetarian, trust me for saying this, but I am in love with Gujarati cuisine for two main reasons – first that its not very spicy as it is on the sweeter side just like we Bengali’s like it and second is that it has amazing flavors and richness to every dish, which are served. AND so much of variety!
Yes, the true local authentic Gujarati food will blow your mind sky-high. The escalating heartbeat while you bite on the spicy aromatic “kadhi, dal and sabzi”, the tickling satisfaction of biting the Tangy Dabeli, the very famous bite of Khaman in the morning. Ahh! Am I spoiling the fun already for you? Well, you must not miss experiencing this on your plan to visit Gujarat.
8. To Experience the Traditional Dance of Gujarat
India has hundreds of dance forms if you combine the widely famous, UNESCO recognized tribal and infamous ones. Among all the ones you might know is Dandiya. If you are visiting Gujarat during Durga Puja in the later part of a year, you can take part in Dandia community performances and experience the dance firsts hand. Just like every other state in India, Gujarat has a major significance for dance! Do not miss a chance to be a part of it.
Apart from Dandiya, you can also witness dance forms like Garba, Padhar, Timpani, and Bhavai. Each dance form especially Garba is performed in the honor of golden Durga during the Navratri festival which also depicts many life inspirational stories in the song that is sung. In fact, Gujarati Dance does convey a lot of gaiety and enthusiasm as it involves a large number of participants in coordination.
9. To Witness the Dashing Desert “Rann of Kutch” – Highlight of Gujarat
One of the main highlights of Kutch and also in Gujarat is exploring the great and mystic Rann of Kutch. A frequent traveler would have seen the majority of the terrains in life but the desert is one of those many few terrains that everyone hasn’t scratched off their list. The beautiful Sun-kissed white desert in Gujarat is a must experience especially if you have never seen a desert.
The great white desert of Gujarat can be best witnessed during the sunset and sunrise. The most preferable time would be right after breakfast in the morning just when the sun has shown up. The later part of the day could be unpleasingly hot. You might enjoy scratching your skin out of burn more than scratching your will to visit the white desert! However, Nov to Dec is the best month to explore the beauty of the great salt flats along with witnessing and soaking in the grandeur of Annual Rann Utsav which takes place in the middle of the dessert.
Get all the booking details and other information about Rannutsav
10. To Experience a wonderful trekking experience in Gujarat
And lastly, if you have not got your eyebrows lifted yet by realizing the potential of Gujarat, let me crank the excitement dosage a bit higher! Because calling is also there for all the adrenaline junkie and nature lovers that Gujarat doesn’t only limit itself to dessert and spiritual places, but has a large potential for nature seekers as well.
Adventure enthusiasts and Adrenaline Cartels, welcome to the hotspot of Adventure Tourism.
Gujarat has some amazing places to practice Adventure tourism. For Sky diving, you can visit Deesa, for River Rafting Vadodara and Ahmedabad, For paragliding Saputara and Junagarh for Zorbing in Bootcamps in Gandhinagar.
Saputara hill station will take your breath away because that’s one of the hill stations in Gujarat which has caves and several surreal nature spots which can be explored at ease while on a hike around.
Gujarat is definitely a big and diverse state which comes with an amazing range of options to choose from. It has always been the flag bearer of promoting Indian tourism on a global level. And with so much and much more to be explored, I bet visiting Gujarat more than once will definitely be a great idea.
Disclaimer: I was invited by Gujarat Tourism, India Tourism, Mumbai in association with Incredible India to explore the historical and spiritual places of Gujarat along with covering the Great Rann of Kutch. However, all opinions and views have been compiled based on my personal research and experiences.