Gujarat, the western state of India, the mystical kingdom of Lord Krishna & the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, is surely a dream destination for the travellers across the world. With the Manchester of the East (Ahmedabad), city of Akshardham Temple and the second planned Green City (Gandhinagar) Gujarat has become the third richest state of India.
From religion to nature, from economy to culture, Gujarat with its wide diversity is one of the most well developed state in the country.
Here's a list of places which you cannot skip during your trip to Gujarat.
1. The Lost City Of Krishna (Dwarka)
The story about the city is as magical as the story of the man who built it. Lord Krishna created the divine city in the western coast of India to save his devotees, with the help of the divine architect, Vishwakarma. When the Lord decided to unwind his mission, and left for His heavenly abode, the island of Dwarka which means “Gateway to heaven” also sunk.
Many amazing discoveries by marine archaeologists and oceanographic studies has proven the existence of Krishna's kingdom, the original Dwarka of the Mahabharata era. Dwarkadhish Temple, Gomti Ghat, Beyt Dwarka are few of the important places to visit.
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2. Somnath Temple
Located in Junagadh district, Somnath temple is one of the India's 12 sacred Jyotirlingas. To cure the curse given by the Daksha Prajapati, Moon created the Somnath Temple. It is also believed that the Shivling contains the Syamantak Mani (the Philosopher's stone) hidden within the linga that turns everything to gold. A visit during the Kartik Purnima Fair (according to Hindu calendar) will give you an experience of life time.
3. Gir National Park
In 1965, 18th September, Government of India notified Sasan Gir as wildlife sanctuary to conserve the Asiatic Lion. Situated near Junagarh District, Gir National Park provides best habitat for Asiatic Lions. Apart form Asiatic Lion, it is also a home of “The Sambar” counted as the longest Indian Deer,“Chowsingha”worlds only four horned antelope, the Jackal, striped Hyena and Indian Fox. Marsh Crocodile is another reason for tourist attraction.
They can be seen in large number in a large reservoir, named as Kamleshwar. Snakes like Indian Cobra, Russell’s viper, Saw-scaled viper and the Krait can also be seen here. Huge forest area, wide range of wild animals and a perfect habitat of Asiatic Lions makes into the top of the list. A must visit for all wild animal lovers.One can visit the Sanctuary from 16th October to 15th June every year.
4. Great Rann of Kutch
The largest district of India and the largest salt desert in the world, Kutch promises to give a soul soothing view of the Sunset and the snow white looking salt flats.
The Kutch is also famous for the Rann Utsav. It is a three months long celebration with folk dances and music, intricate arts and crafts, affluent handicraft culture, exquisite embroidery, Bandhani Sarees, traditional ornaments etc.
It is also known for the Wild Ass Sanctuary, Spread over 4954 km.The Indian Wild Ass are slightly bigger than a donkey & very similar to a horse. Among other animals the blue sheep, blackbuck, desert fox, blue-bull, hedgehog, hyenas, jackals and wolves are also famous here. Moreover the natural phenomena of Kutch, Colourful Rann Utsav& the Wild Sanctuary makes it a perfect family holiday destination.
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5. Rani Ki Vav, Patan
Vav is one of the finest man made step wells of ancient India. Founded by Rani Udaymati in the fond memory of her husband Bhimdev I (AD 1022 to 1063).Listed among the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Rani Ka Vav is divided into seven level of stairs adorned with more than 500 sculptures of Lord Vishnu.
The incarnation sculptures of Lord Vishnu, namely, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki are high in artistic quality & carries rich religious, mythological values. Rani ka Vav is a magnificent example of typical Maru-Gurjara architectural style.
6. The Gujarati Thali
A Guajarati Thali offers you a range of preparation to treat your taste buds. The concept of courses does not exist here & usually a glass of “Chhaas” which aids digestion, accompanies the meal. A typical Thali includes farsan and nasta (steamed or fried snacks),Gujarati flat breads, Shaak (cooked vegetable), Kathor (Beans in gravy), Kadhi (Yogurt based soup) & sweets.“Basundi” thickened milk topped with nuts, cardamom and saffron. ”Doodh Pak” similar to rice pudding & “Badam puri” are the most popular sweet dishes in Gujarat.
Parsi dish (meat kababs in dal), Bhaji Dana gosht (spicy mutton, prawn or fish curries) and Sali gosht (tender mutton cubes in ground spices garnished with crisp potato straws) are few favorite non veg cuisines of Gujarat.
7. The auspicious Nine Nights, Navaratri
There are many myths attached to Navaratri. Some believes Uma ,Goddess Durga comes to visit her parent’s home during Navaratri along with her four children Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati and Laxmi and two of her best friends or 'sakhis' called Jaya and Bijaya& on the tenth day, Dashera, also known as Vijayadashami she goes back to Kailash , home of Lord Shiva.
Others believe Durga, the goddess Adhya Shakti destroyed the demon Mahishasura. She fought with the evil Mahishasur for nine long days and nights and the tenth day brought the triumph of good over the evil.
Gujarat is the only state which celebrate this feminine divinity with dance festival. The dance form is known as Garba. Despite of the differences, people from all religion comes together to celebrate this dance festival. The festival has managed to transcend all religious boundaries and religious sects.
8. Solanki Era Temple, Modhera
Sun worshiping is as old as Indian civilization. There are more than 100 Sun temples in India &the Sun temple of Modhera is a prominent example of it. Build in the 1026 CE by Solanki king Bhimdev I, this temple is one of the best example of Solanki architecture.
The Surya Kund, the Sabha Mandap, Antaral, the connecting passage and the Garbhagriha all these sections of the Sun Temple is a classic example of Solanki architecture. Even after multiple attempts, Alauddin Khilji fails to destroy this brilliant piece of art.
Situated near the Bhavnagar District, Palitana is a home of more than 900 Jain temples dedicated to the 24 Tirthankars. Tourists must climb more than 300 steps to reach on top of Shetrunjaya hill. One can learn about the “Jain Mathematics” in the nearby Jambudweep Temple. This is the principle pilgrimage centre for Jains who come in thousands every month.
10. Laxmi Vilas Palace
Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III built this extravagant building boasted with the most modern amenities of its time. This Royal residence was named after Rani Laxmibai, the beloved wife of Maharaja Sayaji Rao III.
The Palace "compound" is of over 500 acres and houses a number of buildings like Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building, LVP Banquets and the Moti Baug Palace all of which were build in Indo-Saracenic architectural style.
11. International Kite Festival
Following the Hindu tradition according to the Indian calendar, Gujarat celebrates the Kite Festival on “Makara Sankranti”. International Kite Day is observed in Ahmedabad. The festival continues for a week and tourist from more than 150 countries comes to witness the “Uttarayan” Festival of Gujarat.
12. Gandhi Ashram
In the year 1915 on 25th may Gandhi established the first ashram near Kochrab Area, which was later on shifted on the banks of the river Sabarmati. The Sabarmati Ashram also known as Harijan Ashramwas the centre of Indian freedom struggle. The famous Dandi march was launched from here. Being a source of inspiration and guidance, The Ashram still stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission.
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