Gujarat is a dry state with harsh summers and chilly winters. If you happen to be on a trip to explore Gujarat tourism during summer, chances are that you will be disappointed. The high temperatures will ruin all sightseeing plans, especially if you are travelling to Kutch and Gir.
On the other hand, the winter season is ideal to plan your tour of Gujarat tourism. The days are pleasant and the nights are chilly which gives you the best of both experiences. The busiest months to explore Gujarat tourism then are between October and February. We highly recommend not to visit Gujarat between March and June.
Monsoon in the state is mild and you can also plan a trip during this time, especially if you are on a budget. Most cities receive less or no rainfall and you can expect pleasant evenings. Some places such as Saputara are picturesque during monsoon. If you plan your trip to Gujarat tourism in advance, you can also expect some great discounts on hotels, especially five-star resorts.
Steeped in mythology and legends, the majestic city of Dwarka is the only city that is both a Char Dham and a Sapta Puri. Any trip to the state will be incomplete if you don’t experience this historical gem of Gujarat tourism. The name of the city literally translates to ‘door’ and ‘moksha’, which means door to salvation or door to enlightenment.
Visited by thousands of tourists every year, it is an unmissable part of Gujarat tourism. The most visited tourist attractions in the city are the grand Dwarkadhish and Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temples. The Nageshwar Temple is also one of the twelve jyotirlingas. However, for those interested in natural beauty, the scenic Dwarka Beach is not too far away. Watching the sunset on Dwarka Beach is the top few highlights on any Dwarka trip.
The Dwarkadhish Temple is the centre of all activity in the city. The five-storied shrine is a mesmerising sight that will surely take your breath away. The temple is believed to have been built by Vajranabha. The main highlight of the temple is the captivating idol of Lord Krishna. Melodic chants greet you as you enter the temple and you can almost feel the energy. We recommend keeping aside at least two to three hours if you want to explore the temple and also spend time here.
If this is your first trip to the city, it’s best to opt for a guided tour which you can book at the Gujarat tourism office. The five-hour tour will take you to the most significant sites of Gujarat tourism as well as offer you a glimpse into everyday life in the city. The Dwarka Lighthouse, the Rukmani Temple and Gomti Ghat are some of the popular attractions in the city. The tour also includes a visit to the busy markets where you can pick up a few souvenirs.
You need only two to three days to explore Dwarka so ensure that you plan your itinerary accordingly. There aren’t too many luxury hotels or restaurants in Dwarka but the local food and warm hospitality more than makeup for it.
Travellers have often said that Kutch is the star of Gujarat tourism. The white salt desert doesn’t seem to be part of this world and you almost feel transported to another land. The best time to visit Kutch is during Rann Utsav which is held annually. An integral part of Gujarat tourism, the festival transforms the desert and you can see a kaleidoscope of colours everywhere you look. There are numerous music and dance performances which are a must-watch. If you want to plan your trip around the festival, we recommend booking in advance since it’s the busiest time to explore Gujarat tourism.
Kutch is also a crowd puller for shopaholics and art enthusiasts. You can not only take back art and craft but can also interact with artists. There are many artist workshops in Bhuj, which is also an ideal place to start your tour of Gujarat tourism if you are exploring this part of the state.
The Kutch Desert Sanctuary should also be part of your itinerary. Located only 100 kilometres from Bhuj, it’s a once in a lifetime experience for nature lovers. For history buffs, a visit to Kutch Museum is a must. Among the oldest museums in Gujarat, the museum displays a unique collection of tribal artefacts, Kutchi scripts, paintings, apparel and musical instruments. Two to three days is ideal to explore Kutch unless you want to spend time exploring nearby areas.
Gujarat tourism gives you a chance to explore several historical gems and places of religious importance. One of which is Somnath. Home to the splendid Somnath Temple, which is one of the twelve jyotirlingas, the city is mentioned in several Indian mythological texts.
Pilgrims often combine two to three holy cities when they are exploring Gujarat tourism and Somnath is the top destination in most itineraries. Similar to Dwarka, Somnath is also known for its picturesque beach. If you aren’t keen to explore the temples and historical sites, you can always enjoy a peaceful day at the beach complete with local eating joints and splendid views of the setting sun.
The Somnath Temple, the first of the twelve jyotirlingas, is a crowd puller for Gujarat tourism and sees thousands of visitors every year. Counted among the oldest temples in the city, it is situated at the confluence of Kapila, Hiran and Saraswati rivers. The temple has stood the test of time and is often referred to as the ‘Eternal Shrine’. The temple was the main site of attack for many emperors including Aurangzeb and Alauddin Khilji. The reconstructed temple follows the Chalukya style of architecture and is a fine example of brilliant skills. The highlight of the Somnath Temple is the arrow pillar that indicates that if a straight line is drawn from the Somnath Temple towards the south, it touches Antarctica without any other landmass in between. The temple that we see today was reconstructed in 1951 and has since captured the attention of pilgrims.
The erstwhile capital city of Ahmedabad is the soul of Gujarat. A commercial hub, it’s a growing urban city that is at the core of Gujarat tourism. Offering you the perfect combination of history and modern comfort, Ahmedabad is an enthralling holiday destination. The old part of the city is said to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must-visit for all history lovers and photography enthusiasts. Dada Hari Stepwell, World Vintage Car Museum, Jhulta Minar and Law Garden Night Market are a few places that should feature in your itinerary when you are exploring Gujarat tourism.
Ahmedabad is the perfect example of a metropolis in the making. The city offers a unique contrast of the old and new and the experience is quite refreshing. Ahmedabad holds a special place in Gujarat tourism owing to the variety of options it offers shopping enthusiasts. Ahmedabad is the hub of textiles and you can bring home bandhani sarees, local handicrafts, tie-dye handloom and home decor from the artists themselves. The absence of middlemen ensures that you get the best price for your shopping and also have an opportunity to meet the people behind India’s art and craft.
While there are many places to see in Ahmedabad and you can expect a tightly packed itinerary, the most popular places are Sabarmati Ashram, Swaminarayan Temple and Hathisingh Jain Temple. However, to explore the entire city, one needs between three and four days so ensure you schedule your tour of Gujarat tourism accordingly. Another thing that attracts travellers to Ahmedabad is the variety of local food.
Gujarat tourism’s popularity also stems from the fact that the state is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One such beauty is Champaner. Situated in the midst of dense Pavagadh forests and hills, this historic city is a delight for history lovers.
Champaner was once the centre of all activities and the capital of the erstwhile kingdom. Over time, the city lost its glory and importance until it was rediscovered owing to the treasure of architectural structures. Champaner also attracts travellers owing to its mythological relevance. It’s said that the hills of Pavagadh are actually part of the Himalayan range and were carried by Lord Hanuman to Lanka.
Champaner is located around 150 kilometres from Ahmedabad and can easily be included in your Gujarat tourism itinerary. Depending on your schedule, you can either choose to stay in the city or plan a day trip. There are a few hotels around the area which may not be too grand but certainly promise a comfortable holiday experience.
Champaner is home to numerous forts, temples and old markets that stand tall as a testament to the city’s glorious past. You must include a visit to the Jain temples, Fort of Pavagadh, Kalika Mata Temple and Kevada Mosque. Pavagadh Fort is also home to smaller temples which give architectural buffs insight into design styles. You must keep aside a couple of hours to explore Lakulish Temple that is situated in the Mauliya plateau.
Since the architectural marvels are spread throughout the city, we suggest hiring a local guide to take you through the important sites. This will not only make it easier to explore the beautiful sites but will also ensure that you don’t miss out on anything.
Explore the wildlife at Gir National Park
A mention of Gujarat tourism is incomplete without mentioning Gir National Park. Recognised as the only home for gorgeous Asiatic lions, the park is one of the primary reasons for the popularity of Gujarat tourism. The sanctuary is closed from June to October every year and you shouldn’t plan your trip during this time. The best time to visit the park is between December and March.
Besides the majestic tigers, Gir is home to more than 200 species of birds, over 600 species of plants and 40 species of reptiles and amphibians. Often compared to African national parks, Gir is among the few places in the world where you can spot a tiger in its natural habitat. Leopards, jungle cats, rusty-spotted cats are a few other animals that you can spot here.
Gir National Park is a huge contributor to the popularity of Gujarat tourism and has also put the state on the world map. The park sees wildlife enthusiasts, photographers and nature lovers from across the world and every year the number increases tremendously. There are numerous guided tours of Gir National Park but we highly recommend the Gujarat-tourism-approved tour offered by the park. You can either book your tour beforehand or opt for on-the-spot bookings. Many resorts and hotels also offer safari bookings as well as guided tours of the surrounding area.
Your tour of Gir National Park will also depend on the duration of your trip. If you are short on time, you can visit Devaliya Safari Park which is an enclosed area of the park. A visit here allows you to explore the sanctuary in a short duration. The tour is conducted in a minibus and offers you a glimpse into the natural habitat of the animals. The tour is typically for a period of 30 to 40 minutes which is ideal for those who have time constraints.
On the other hand, the jeep safari of the main park is the highlight of Gujarat tourism. There are two slots for the jeep safari, one that takes place in the morning and one in the evening. Owing to the popularity of the jeep safaris, they are mostly booked. If you are planning a trip to explore Gujarat tourism, this is one of the first activities that you should book. The cost of the jeep safari for a group ranges from Rs.5500 to Rs.13,500 depending on your nationality. As most wildlife enthusiasts will suggest, the best time to book a jeep safari is either early morning or late evening. As is the case with most national parks, there are strict rules and guidelines which need to be followed. While most travellers are chased by tour operators for night safaris or special on-foot safaris, this is not allowed and is prohibited by law. We strongly recommend booking safaris only through the tourist office at the park.
Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Rani Ki Vav in Patan
A recent addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Rani Ki Vav has gradually become a highlight of Gujarat tourism. Attracting history lovers and architectural buffs, Rani Ki Vav is a stepwell with a unique water storage system. The marvel is located in Patan, which is the hub of patola art. An example of Maru-Gurjara or Solanki architectural style, the stepwell is a thing of beauty worth exploring.
The stepwell was constructed between 1063 and 1068 as a memorial of Bhimdev Solanki by his widow Queen Udaymati. It’s said that the stepwell has medicinal properties that had helped in keeping away viral diseases. Besides the unique water storage system, the stepwell is recognised as a majestic artistic masterpiece owing to the brilliant design and art adorning the walls. The stepwell consists of seven levels of stairs that have more than five hundred principle sculptures and uncountable mythological figures.
One can also spot stone structures of Lord Krishna, Lord Vishnu and artistic sculptures of yoginis and apsaras depicted in the 16 different styles of ornamentation. We highly recommend a guided tour of the stepwell to learn more about the architecture and history. If you are interested in exploring the small town of Patan, you can opt for a guided tour which takes you across several temples and a bustling local market.
Spend a day at Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Recognised as the largest seasonal saline wetland area, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is a gem of Gujarat tourism. Situated 100 kilometres from Bhuj, a visit to the sanctuary is a must if you are interested in wildlife or are a photographer. The variety of fauna in this part of the state is unique and unlike any other. You can spot the greater flamingos, Indian porcupines, wild ass, Indian cormorants and spiny-tailed lizards.
Like most places in Gujarat tourism, the best time to visit the sanctuary is during the winter months when sightseeing is more convenient. Owing to its proximity to the Indo-Pak border, some parts of the sanctuary are not open to the general public. We recommend booking a guided tour since it’ll not only add to your experience of exploring this white desert but will make the tour easier and convenient.
The sanctuary is located close to Dholavira, an ancient town that is well known for its archaeological treasures. The small town has exhibits dating back to the Harappan civilization. Dholavira is visited for its historical treasures and most travellers prefer combining a visit to these two places in their Gujarat tourism itinerary.
The right kind of accommodation can make a holiday memorable and Gujarat tourism takes into consideration the needs of all kinds of travellers. Whether you are looking for a small budget accommodation or a luxurious experience, all you need to do is choose your city and budget.
Luxury hotels in Gujarat
Luxury hotels in Gujarat combine world-class service and warm hospitality to give you an unforgettable experience of Gujarat tourism. Here are some of the best luxury hotels that are a part of Gujarat tourism.
Mid-budget hotels in Gujarat
If you are looking for a mid-budget hotel while exploring Gujarat tourism, you won’t be disappointed. Offering comfortable rooms, local cuisine and efficient service, here are a few mid-budget hotels which are part of Gujarat tourism.
Budget hotels in Gujarat
Owing to Gujarat’s enthralling historical past, architectural marvels and warm culture, it has become a hotspot for backpackers and budget travellers. There aren’t too many budget properties in Gujarat but this is slowly changing with homestays and hostels. Here are some of the best budget hotels which are part of Gujarat tourism.
One can’t deny the relationship between food and culture. The local cuisine of Gujarat is not only influenced by the climate of the state but by its cultural practices as well. From the special preparation process to the different varieties, the cuisine of the state is an essential contributor to Gujarat tourism.
Mild spices, vegetables and a unique preparation process have taken Gujarati cuisine across the world. Khakhra, khandvi, undhiyu, Gujarati thali, khaman, dhokla, muthiya and kadhi are some of the specialities. While there are several high-end restaurants in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, we highly recommend street food in the cities. Local eating joints prepare dishes in the traditional way and you will be surprised by the quality. It’s also important to remember that despite being situated along the coast, non-vegetarian food is not easily available in the state. You will have to try high-end restaurants or request your hotel if you are looking for local non-vegetarian food.
If you are exploring Gujarat tourism with a local, you are in luck since you will be privy to the best eating joints in the state. Vishala in Ahmedabad is ideal if you are looking for a casual evening out with delicious food, Das Kaka’s khaman outlets, Dakshinayan, Toran Dining Hall, Agashiye, Gopi Dining Hall and Rajwadu are some of the other popular places to eat in the state. Another great thing for budget travellers exploring Gujarat tourism is that the food in the state is not very expensive. You can expect to enjoy a grand meal in under Rs.500.
Budget is one of the first things that all travellers take into consideration. If you are planning to explore Gujarat tourism, you can rest assured since the state offers all kinds of travellers a fulfilling experience.
For luxurious travellers, exploring Gujarat tourism can cost anywhere between Rs.5000 and Rs.7000 per day. This amount can vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose and the type of activities.
Mid-budget and budget travellers, on the other hand, can expect to spend between Rs.2000 and Rs.3500 per day. However, this amount can vary and can drastically reduce if you choose budget accommodation and travel during the offseason.
Exploring Gujarat tourism is fairly easy considering that the entire state has a well-connected rail and road network. All major cities are connected and you can plan your sightseeing trips without worrying about transport. The best places to visit in Gujarat are easy to reachand you can either take a bus or choose a train.
If you are travelling in major cities such as Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, you can hire autos and cabs. In smaller cities, you can hire autos for the entire duration of your trip. Most auto owners double up as tour guides and offer enthralling tours of the city. You can also choose to travel by Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation buses. Not only is the bus fare reasonable but the buses promise a comfortable journey.
Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.