Great Rann of Kutch
Kachchh or Kutch is the wild and determined Gujarat. Kachchh literally means something which is intermittently wet and dry. Edged by the Gulf of Kachchh, Great Rann and Little Rann, this marshy island is the wild west of India. The tribal villages dotted on the edges of Kachchh produce glittering textiles with intricate embroidery and shining mirror-work and are some of the most beautiful examples of Indian textiles and handicrafts. But the most interesting part of this district of Gujarat is the Great Rann of Kutch. A blinding-white expanse of salt in winters and a swampy, muddy land in summers, this natural wonder is a must visit destination with family. Then there is also the Rann Utsav, a four-month bonanza, organised by the Gujarat government, which is the best way to explore and enjoy the salt desert. A profusion of colours, a cornucopia of music and dance and stupendous design is what you can expect at the utsav.What else to see: There are so many things around the Great Rann of Kutch that provide an excellent way to discover the life of people around here. You can visit the various tribal villages and nomadic establishments on the outskirts of Rann. You can also visit Bhuj and Mandvi while here.How to reach: The nearest airport and railway station is Bhuj, around 80km or a 2-hour drive away. Ahmedabad is 400km and regular private and public buses run between Bhuj and Ahmedabad.Timings: The Rann can be visited all year round but it's only during winters that you see the wonders of the salt desert.Entrance fee: There is no particular fees to visit the Rann, however there are numerous camps around the desert where you can stay and enjoy the Rann at a relaxed and leisurely pace.
Yet another hillock that overlooks the Great Raan of Kutch, this place is often referred to as Black Hill. Hence the name, Kalo Dungar. One will find the sacred Dattatreya temple atop the hill which is quite a distance to cover. Along ones way, uphill one is introduced to a number of ravines and canyons that remind one of the forces of nature that are at contact play. The area is covered in greenery and moss. One is sure to enjoy the clean air and sacred atmosphere at the temple atop Kalo Dungar.
Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
The GIR Forest National Park is situated about 342 kilometres from the city of Ahmedabad and is a breeding area for the Asiatic Lion. The place was declared to be a protected area in 1990 by the Nawab of Junagadh. One can also expect to find panthers lurking about here. The park is also home to deers, peacocks, gazelles and nilgais. The borders of this forest reserve are home to some villages and hamlets inhabited by the Maldhari tribes. A tour of these villages will also one a glimpse into the lives they lead and their folk art. One needs to be attentive to the sounds here as the cry of a languor or monkeys could indicate that some jungle cat is on the prowl.
This beach at Ahmedpur is considered to be the best in all of Gujarat and is a great place to vacation, soak in the sun while lying on its sandy beaches. The water is fine for wading or swimming and one will spot a number of sand castles being built by kids all along the beach. One can also make the most of the water sports like skiing, parasailing, surfing, water scooters and speed boats that are available at the beach. Indeed, Mandvi Beach is a great place for one to vacation and has become a favourite spot with the locals and as well as the tourists.
Sabarmati Ashram / Mahatma Gandhi's Home
Lying on the western banks of the River Sabarmati, this ashram is a peaceful heaven that is situated at a distance of 5 kilometres from Ahmedabad city. This ashram was founded by the great man himself, Mahatma Gandhi in 1915 as he struggled to free the country from the reins of the British Empire. It is from this place that Mahatma Gandhi carried forward his persistent struggle and garnered much support for the March of 1930 towards Dandi. The ashram is filled with items that were used by Gandhiji such as his khadi spinning wheels and, handicrafts and handmade paper.
Vijay Vilas Palace
Water Channels, lush garden and marble fountains adorn the exteriors of the Vijay Vilas Palace that was constructed in the year 1920 A.D by craftsmen from Jaipur. The influence of the Rajput style of architecture can be seen at this place that is resplendent with its towering Bengal domes, windows with coloured glass, humungous extended porches. The palace has a private beach that is well maintained. It is a popular tourist spot and is often used to film Bollywood movies as well. The palace can be found in Mandav and is a great example of exquisite craftsmanship down the ages.
Blackbuck National Park
Situated at Velavadar, it was established in 1976 as a hunting ground of blackbucks and cheetahs for the maharaja, and it is spread over 34 sq kms in area. This park has a grassland ecosystem with flat land, dry grasses and herds of antelope and always attracts visitors.
Kaba Gandhi No Delo
Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the Mahatma was appointed the Diwan of Rajkot State and resided in what is today known as Kaba Gandhi no Delo, located just off the busy Gheekantha Road. The house offers a pictorial tour of the Mahatma’s life with bilingual captions in both Hindi and Gujarati.An NGO runs classes in sewing and embroidery for young girls within the premises. The Delo is open for public viewing six days a week from 9 am -12 pm and again in the afternoon from 3 pm to 5 pm.
Sardar Sarovar Dam
Sardar Sarovar Dam - Gujarat also known as the 'Narmada Dam' because of being built over the Narmada River, it is the largest dam to have been built under the 'Narmada Valley Project'. It has power facilities of up to 200 MW and provides relief to drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra.
It is a festival that goes on for about 2 months showcasing the beauty, culture & traditions of Kutch & Gujarat. The true essence of the festival begins at night with endless dancing and music at the beautiful Rann of Kutch. It also offers a variety of activities like camel riding, bicycling etc.
Diu is a town in Diu area in the union region of Daman and Diu, India. The town and region were a historical part of the Saurashtra district of Gujarat and an imperative port on exchange courses of Arabian ocean of The Indian Ocean. The dialects talked in Diu incorporate Gujarati, Portuguese, English and Hindi. With no tall structures aside from the stronghold, Diu has a naturally low skyline. The closest railroad intersection is Veraval, which is 90 km from Diu. Real urban areas like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Dwarka and Thiruvananthapuram are specifically associated with Veraval Railway Station. Also a meter gage at Delwada is only 8 km from Diu. Every day, two trains interface Junagadh and Veraval to Delwada Railway Station. Diu is charming lasting through the year, making it an holiday destination one can visit at whatever time. However, peace is best experienced in the months in the middle of October and March.
Thol Bird Sanctuary
Why: A scenic man-made freshwater wetland in Mehsana, this sanctuary has the world’s tallest bird, Sarus crane and more than 100 species of other transitory or migratory water birds. Visit Thol early in the morning after monsoon and witness daybreak at the banks. There are quaint corners where you can spend time leisurely with your family and spot a lot of rare species of birds!Where: Thol Bird Sanctuary Rd, Thol, Gujarat - 29 km from Ahmedabad
This temple happens to be a landmark in the state of Gujarat and can be found around 5 kilometres away from Junagadh. It also happens to be one among the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. As the legend goes, Lord Krishna is said to have embarked on his final journey from this very place. The name Somnath is also mentioned in the Rig Veda, epics and other Hindu scriptures as well. The temple was first built using gold and then rebuilt in silver by Ravana. Over the course of time, this temple has been rebuilt numerous times and has seen invasion by Muslim invaders about sixteen times. This causes it to be called the Shrine Eternal.
Borrowed a friend's bike the day before. It is always advisable to start early in the morning around 3:00-4:00 AM. I left for the base around 3:30 AM, reached, parked my ride and started around 4:00 AM after having tea. There are stone steps that are unevenly laid all the way till the end with markings indicating the number of steps at every 1000th step.There are several stalls selling snacks and refreshments. Their rates go up with the altitude though. I had all that I needed, Water 2L, so didn't bother much with these stalls. There are plenty of monkeys here and the more you try to feed them the more of them will surround you - amusing at first, a bit risky later with them jumping and trying to grab stuff from your hands. Watch Out!After 7000 steps, comes the point where there are a couple of Jain temples. This is where 80% people end their trip and head back after praying at the temples. There's a flat surface here where people rest for a while, have refreshments, enjoy the dazzling view of the mountains and then head back, unless they're the other 20% who choose to go till the end.
Narayan Sarovar temple (5 km from Koteshwar)houses innumerable deities but the main shrine is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Mythology says that the holy water of River Saraswati, all the way, reached to fill the lake, thus sacred. The water didn’t look clean, people were taking a dip in the sarovar. You can spot the board reading 'Tropic of cancer while passing through Bhuj - Narayan Sarovar - Koteswar route and dont forget to taste Dabeli of Kutch.
Lothal Harappan Period Archeological Site
Visiting the ruins of the ancient city of Lothal is like visiting an open museum. One of the greatest civilisations of the world now lies flat and desolate. Stand here and imagine the lives of people who existed during the prosperous and flourishing Indus Valley Civilisation. The excavation of Lothal was carried out by Dr. R Rao, between 1955 and 1962. Lothal, literally translated to ‘mound of the dead’, is the most extensively excavated site of Harappan culture in India, and therefore allows the most insight into the story of the Indus Valley Civilisation, its exuberant flight, and its tragic decay. This is the place where kids can learn about glorious India in the ancient times.What else to see: A museum in Lothal houses the artefacts excavated from the site. Out of more than 5000 items excavated, the museum showcases around 800. The entrance of the museum depicts an artist’s conjectural idea of Harappan town of Lothal. Inside, the stone weapons give a glimpse into the skills and craftsmanship of the masons of those times. The vibrant displays of beads, terracotta ornaments, shell and ivory objects, copper and bronze kitchenware, and painted potteries showcases the dynamic society that Indus Valley was. How to reach: Lothal is 78km from Ahmedabad and state buses take around three hours to cover the distance. The only way to reach Lothal is by road.Timings: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5pmEntrance fee: The Lothal site can be visited free of cost. The museum entrance fee is Rs. 2 per person, and free for children up to 15 years of age.
Among other places to pay visit, Aina Mahal should not be missed out while touring BHUJ!The palace remains closed from 12 to 3pm for lunch. A visiting fee of 30rs is required.The palace from the outside does not represent any kind of grandeur,which efficiently conceals the exquisite beauty that lies inside. Built during Lakhpatji's reign, the master was specially commissioned to design this palace, which owed all its materials to have been developed in the Indian soil.On entry one will be treated with a visual sight of a huge chariot on display, a 14 feet long painting on a single canvas, a weighing machine of those times, among other crafts.Proceeding to the main area or darbar, its magnificence on display! Hanging candle chandeliers, an ivory throne on an elevated platform, a dented space surrounding it which is supposed to be filled with water to keep the place cool. On special occasions, the chandeliers are filled with colored water bringing the darbar alive.
This tourist spot is very famous for its historical importance because the famous ‘Dandi Yatra’ was commenced in Surat by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930. If you are a true follower of Gandhiji, I am surprised to know that you have not been there to see and feel the glorious pages in our country’s history.
Why: Nalsarovar is a paradise for migratory birds especially from November to January and also for those looking for weekend getaways around Ahmedabad. Around 200 species of birds are around the lake from places including Central Europe during this period. Birds such as pelicans, flamingos, geese, angling falcons can be found around this time, and for people who are a little adventurous, there are activities such as boating, camping, animal rides etc.Where: West of Ahmedabad near Sanand Village, in Gujarat - 60 km from Ahmedabad
So, on our day 2, after our hectic schedule of Ahmedabad to Mehsana and then back to Ahmedabad, we took some time and explored the law garden area and their amazing display of night market. Seriously, it would have been shameful if we wouldnt have made this visit. On reaching there, we could see this never ending flea market full of colours, beautiful handicrafts, dupattas, block prints, chikankari, bandhani and so much more. All these things at so affordable prices that you are spoilt for choice. Pretty hand worked dupattas starting from just 150/- and chikankari kurtis as below as 200/-. God! Wow! There are so many amazing food stalls to relish and amuse your tongue.We spent about an hour in this flea market stretch which one can visit everyday from 7 P.M. onwards and unlike flea markets in Goa, these offer pure Gujarati handicrafts. We also went to the very famous Induben Khakrawala shop in Mithakali, just few kms away from Law garden. This place is again a must visit because of its immense variety of Gujarati snacks and you just can't miss their Bhakarwadis. Yummy! I swear!After our exploration, we were damn hungry, and as per a pre-determined plan, we went to the heaven of Gujarati Thali- Agashiye.Yes, it's the house of MG! Agashiye located centrally in the busy city streets, provide your eyes with amazing tentalizing views and most importantly the best, I repeat, the best Gujarati Thali in Ahmedabad. It's a heritage hotel cum restaurant. The food here was amazing and they serve only Gujarati thalis and different Thali every day. Ended up bursting and went straight to the hotel room to dump ourselves into our beds.
Rudabai Stepwell Aka Adalaj Stepwell
AdalajOne our way back, we took made a stopover at the Adalaj stepwells. While there are quite a few stepwells in India, this one is quite unique. If you can ignore the tourists clicking selfies and the now-dirty water of the stepwell, the structure has a lot to offer.There is also a tree outside the premise which has roots deep in the ground, and is possibly centuries old. It's a luxury to see that some trees have survived the test of time, and are rooted so deep in our nature that nothing destroy them. They show, that nature will survive, we may not.This brought us to the end of the weekend trip. On both days we came back to our home in Ahmedabad. If you're visiting, you can also stay in the city and make day trips to these places.