The State of Gujarat occupies the northern extremity of the western seaboard of India. The State is renowned for its beaches, holy temples, historic cities replete with immense architectural wealth and wildlife sanctuaries. The fascinating handicrafts, mouth-watering cuisine and colorful lifestyle of the people of Gujarat, are renowned all over the country. The hard work and civilized approach of the people of Gujarat are evident in every walk of life.
History Over a long period, Gujarat has been the abode of a number of races-settlers as well as conquers-and amalgamated their cultures into its very own. It is believed that Lord Krishna had left Mathura to settle on the west coast of Saurashtra, which later came to be known as Dwarka, the gateway. Being a coastal State, Gujarat has had contacts with the Western trading world since Greco – Roman times. In fact, in Lothal a civilization dating back to 3000 BC has been excavated which bears testimony of the State. Later the Aryans from Central Asia found it a good entry point. It saw various kingdoms Mauryans, Guptas Pratiharas and others. It was with Chalukyas (Solanki) that Gujarat witnessed progress and prosperity. After the golden age of Gupta’s, Gujarat successively came under the Rajput kings, the Muslim Sultans, the Mughals and finally under the British Raj, which however, excluded Saurashtra and its 202 princely States. Before Independence, the present territories of Gujarat used to be in two parts-the British and the princely territories. With the recognition of the State, the Union of the State of Saurastra and the Union Territory of Kutch along with the former British Gujarat became a part of the bilingual State of Bombay. The present state of Gujarat came into being on May 1, 1960.
Highlights of Popular Places Special Sites : (1) Ahmedabad (2) Gandhinagar (3) Vadodara (Baroda) (4) Bharuch (5) Surat (6) Daman (7) Saputara (8) Bhavnagar (9) Palitana (10) Diu (11) Veraval (12) Somnath (13) Sasan Gir Wildlife (14) Junagadh (15) Porbandar (16) Dwarka (17) Jamnagar (18) Rajkot (19) Bhuj (20) Mandvi (21) Little Rann of Kutch Pilgrim Centres : (1) Ambaji (2) Bahucharaji (3) Bakaram (4) Dakor (5) Dwarka (6) Junagarh (7) Khumbariya (8) Mahudi (9) Miradatar (10) Palitana (11) Pavagadh (12) Shamlaji (13) Somnath (14) Taranga Hill (15) Udwada (16) Virpur.
Hill Stations : Saputara.
Airports: Ahmedabad, Baroda (Vadodara), Jumnagar, Bhuj, Keshod, Rajkot, Kandla, Bhavnagar and Surat.
Founded in 1411AD by Ahmed Shah, Ahmedabad was at one time considered to be India’s finest city. Associated with Mahatama Gandh the Apostle of peace and non-violence, whose simple Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati River is now a site of national pilgrimage. Renowned as a great textile and commercial center and as ‘MANCHESTER OF INDIA’ today it is the second largest prosperous and thriving city in western India.
Places of Interest
(1) Jumma Masjid (2) Siddi Sayed Mosque (3) Bhadra Fort or Walled City (4) Hatheesingh Jain Temple (5) Rani Rupmati Mosque (6) Kankaria Lake (7) Gandhi Ashram, Sabarmati (8) The Shaking Minarets (9) Three Gates and (10) Calico Textile Museum.
How to Reach
Air: Ahmedabad is connected by air with Mumbai, Bhuj, Chennai, Delhi, Rajkot, Vadodara and Bangalore. Rail: Ahmedabad is connected directed by rail with all major cities.
25 km away from Ahmedabad.It is the new capital city of Gujarat built in 1960,on the banks of the Sabarmati River after the bifurcation of the old Bombay State into Maharashtra and Gujarat.Gandhinagar presents the spacious well organized look of an architecturally integrated city.
Vadodara, Gujarat’s cultural capital, has a long tradition of music, fine art and education. The former capital of Gaikwads, this city has many palaces, museums and spacious gardens. The Fine Arts School at the university here is well known for having given rise to a prominent style of contemporary painting 0 ‘The Baroda School’.
Places of Interest
(1) Nazarbagh Palace (2) Kirti Mandir (3) Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum (4) Makarpura Palace (5) Pratap Vilas Palace at Lalbagh (6) Vadodara Museum and Picture Gallery (7) Tambekarwada.
How to Reach
Air: Baroda is connected by air with Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai. Rail: Baroda is on main route between Mumbai and Delhi and is therefore connected directly to major cities.
This very old town was mentioned in history records nearly 2000 years ago. It’s on the main rail line between Vadodara and Surat, about one hour from each. The fort overlooks the wide Narmada River from a hilltop and at its base is the Jama Masjid.On the riverbank, east of the city, is the Temple of Bhrigu Rishi, from which the city took its name.
Since the earlier times, the ancient port of Surat has been renowned for its fine silks and exquisite brocades and its trade in spices. Surat has been one of the most prosperous of Indian cities in the 17 th and 18 th century. In Mughal times, Surat was the main port from which pilgrims sailed to Mecca. Today Surat is more known for diamond cutting and polishing industry. Surat is on the main Mumbai to Ahmedabad railway line.
Places of Interest
(1) The Old Fort (2) Sardar Patel Museum (3) Rangupavan
Daman In the far south of Gujarat is the 56 – Sq-Km enclave of Daman.Along with Diu and Goa, Daman was taken in 1961 from the Portuguese, who had seized Daman in 1531.For a time after reverting to Indian rule, Daman and Diu were governed from Goa but both now constitute the Union Territory. The streets of Daman are lined with bars selling beer, Finest Scotch Whisky – Made in India’ and various other spirits such as feni.
Saputara This cool hill resort in the south – east corner of the state sits 1000m high. There is picturesque lake, attractive gardens, an artist’s village and the views from both Valley View Point and Sunset Point are worth the climb. It’s a popular base for excursions to Mahal Bardipara Forest Wildlife Sanctuary (60km) or the Gira Waterfalls (52km).
Bhavnagar Once the capital of the princely state, Bhavnagar was founded in 1743 AD and is now a flourishing port on the gulf of Khambat.For tourist it is the convenient base for visits to the town of Patlitana and the sacred hill of Shatunjaya.
Places of Interest (1) Gaurishankar Lake (2) Takhteshwar Temple (3) Lock Gate.
Palitana Palitana lies 56 km from Bhavnagar at the foot of the Shatrunjaya Hill with the Shatrunjaya River flowing to its south. The sacred hill rises in a crescendo of magnificent temples – 863 in all – that soar in marble splendour to the top of the hill.
Diu Diu is for many the highlight of Gujarat with its relaxed pace of life, decaying Portuguese architecture, huge fort and quiet beaches. Diu is a popular hang – out with travelers and you’ll probably see more foreigners here than anywhere else in Gujarat. Although the beaches are nothing compared to Goa’s,it is still a great place to let your hair down and watch the world drift by.
Beaches: (1) Nagoa (2) Gomptimata (3) Jallandhar (4) Chakratirth (5) Sunset Point.
Veraval On the south coast of Saurashtra, Veraval was the major seaport for Mecca pilgrims before the rise of Surat.Apart from the port and the outside of the eerie old Nawab’s Palace in the west of the town, there’s not a lot to see in but the main reason to come here is as a base for a visit to Somnath Temple, 6km to the east.
Somnath One of the most sacred and renowned Hindu pilgrimage centers being one of the 12 Jyortirlingas of Lord Shiva. This city has seen a tumultuous history – having been plundered more than once for its legendary wealth and having been resurrected every time by its devotees. Somnath has a large fair at the full moon of Kartika Purnima in November/December, during the statewide festival. Most travelers prefer to stay in Veraval, 6km away.
Sasan Gir Wildlife This last refuge of the Asiatic lion is 59km from Junagadh via Visavadar.The 1400 sq-km sanctuary was set up to protect the lion and its habitat. Apart from lion there are more than 30 other species, including leopards, hyenas, foxed, wild boars and a number of deer and antelope. The best time to visit the sanctuary is from December to April; it is closed from 16 June to 15 October, or even later if there has been a heavy monsoon. The lions are elusive but you’d be unlucky not to see at least one on a safari.
Junagadh An ancient fortified city rich in myth and legend, Junagarh lies at the foot of Girnar Hills and takes its name from the ‘old fort’ which circles the medieval town. There are 14 rock edicts cut into a great rock outside the city of that period.
Places of Interest (1) Upar Kot or Upper Fort (2) Ashoka’s Rock Edicts (3) Damodar Kund (4) Chorwad Beach.
Porbandar On the south east coast, midway between Veraval and Dwarka, the modern day city of Porbandar is chiefly noted, as the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, beyond which there are no reasons to visit.
Dwarka On the extreme western tip of the Kathiawar peninsula, Dwarka is one of the four most holy Hindu pilgrimage sites in India and is closely related to the Krishna legend. It was here that Krishna set up his capital after fleeing from Mathura.
Places of Interest (1) Dwarkanath Temple (2) Rukmini Temple (3) Sabha Mandapa (4) Nageshwar Mandir.
Jamnagar Founded in 1540AD,Jamnagar has been the abode of the Jains – the Jadeja Rajput ruler of Nawanagar, and has been the capital of their State. It is renowned for pearl, fisheries, a naval base and a certain type of tie-and dye fabrics.
Places of Interest (1) Solarium (2) Lakhota Fort and Kotha Bastion.
Rajkot Rajkot was once the capital of the princely state of Saurashtra.Today it is best known as the town where Mahatma Gandhi spent the early years of his life when his father was a Diwan to the king of Saurashtra.
Places of Interest (1) Kaba Gandhi No Delo (2) Watson Museum and Library (3) Lal Pari Lake and Randerda (4) The Rajkumar College (5) Rastriya Shala (6) Jagat Mandir.
Bhuj The gateway city to Kutch, Bhuj is the most important town of Kutch area. Kutch Museum formerly called the Ferguson Museum, built in 1877 AD, is the oldest museum in the State and has an exquisite collection of exhibits including a picture gallery, anthropological and archaeological sections displaying of textiles, weapons, musical instruments and stuffed animals.
Mandvi Mandvi founded in 1581 AD has a fortification with 25 bastions. The place is known for being the center production of country crafts. Mandvi is also well known for its beautiful sea beach and Vijayvillas Palace built in 1935 AD. Little Rann of Kutch The Little Rann of Kutch, the barren expanse of ‘desert’ (Actually salt plain) which divides Gujarat’s western region of Kutch from the rest of Gujarat, was described by one traveler as ‘a striking desert of mud, salt and mirages. The Little Rann of Kutch is the home to the last remaining population of khur (Asiatic wild ass).