Stayed at: Lemon Tree Ahmedabad. Stay was good. Food is tasty, priced on the higher side. Service was good.
Suggestion : Days to add (from our learning):
Add Day 1 at the beginning if you want to see Ahmedabad local city exploration. Or you could move this to the final leg just before leaving Ahmedabad. We did not have a day planned for this city.Although I did arrive a day earlier (day 0) and had seen a bit of the old city market. Rest of the place was closed as it was a Monday. Most places are closed on Mondays.
Add Day 2: Add a day at Bhuj to go about things like a traveler instead of the touch and go that we had to do due to lack of time. We had 2 days and 1 night at Bhuj. Would recommend a 3 day and 2 night stay instead.
A total of 10 to 11 days with the modification suggested above should suffice for a quick tour of Gujarat.
1. First thing to do when you plan your trip to Gujarat is to book the safari at Gir . The only option to get this is online at the official site. And if it is sold out there, you have no option but to change your travel dates or go for the shorter 30 minutes safari at the Gir interpretation centre (Devaliya park safari). Here you will not get to see the lions in their natural habitat. You will see lions that have been brought there for monitoring. However you will not go disappointed in the interpretation centre for sure ;-). So if you don't sight one in Gir Safari then head to the Interpretation centre
2. Plan your Rann of Kutch visit on a full moon day (as far as possible). Ensure to book your stay much in advance as all places nearest to the white desert are sold out early.
3. At Patan: Getting a decent place to eat is a challenge. If the hotel where you stay has an average in-house restaurant, then I would recommend that you plan your meals at your stay hotel.
4. You are not allowed to carry mobile phones or any other electronic devices (including power banks) inside any of the temples. Bigger temples like Dwarka and Somnath have a safe keeping system. Somnath one is unmanned and has an electronic locker system with chargers for your mobile, which is cool. So your phones are getting charged up while you finish your short visit to the temple! Cool right!
5. Most tourist sites are closed on Mondays in Ahmedabad. Akshardham closes by 7 pm.
6. Would recommend renting a self-drive car to get around. And since the roads are great (for most part), the drive will be easy.
- If you cannot read Hindi and Gujarati then you will have a little trouble getting around. Because in remote villages map apps don't work. But then there are locals for rescue, if you don't know the local language sign language will work.
- If you are not a sweet tooth and not a fan of deep-fried stuff then surviving on the local fried food is mentally taxing ;). And in most places you will find only local food.
Regarding the locals: We had our share of good and bad interactions, which is typical of any new place. But we found majority of the people (in the service industry) indifferent towards travellers/outsiders. Everyone is on their own going about their business (typical of city cultures). My personal feedback is that Gujarat needs more travellers and some more time to become cultural hosts (like Rajasthan)!
- Great roads (90% of the time).
- Ahmedabad has good public transport connectivity Temples, Forest, Desert and beaches (Just outside Gujarat) which caters to different interests in a group of travellers.
- The salt marshes at Rann of Kutch is the highlight of Gujarat, makes for a beautiful travel memory.
- Gir for the obvious (Asiatic lions) but also for its landscape. It will feel like the African savannah with the Acacia trees all around.
- If you are a sweet tooth and fried food fan! Then Gujarat is your food haven.
To summarise, Gujarat is a great place to travel for what nature has to offer. Rann of Kutch is simply a must visit to add to your travel list followed by Gir. For transportation would recommend to rent a self-drive car, as the roads are great (for most parts).
Road trip route: Ahmedabad -> Ambaji -> Gabbar Hill -> Patan (Rani Ni Vav) -> Bhuj -> Mandvi Beach -> Kalo Dungar -> Rann of Kutch -> Bhuj -> Jamnagar -> Dwarka-> Beyt Dwarka -> Somnath -> Sasan Gir -> Diu - Sasan Gir -> Ahmedabad
Trip cost: 35000 INR per person including domestic flight costs. (25 K INR for food, stay and internal transportation). It includes rent of a 7 seater SUV for all 9 days of the trip. This costing is for a group of 6.
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