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.
Also called Amdavad, this place happened to be the former capital of the state of Gujarat. The third largest of all the cities in the state, it is situated on the banks of the famous Sabarmati River and happens to be the industrial and economic hub of the state. The Ahmedabad Stock Exchange is also the second oldest one in the country and the city second when it comes to cotton production. There are some very famous places like the Sabarmati Ashram and Kankaria Lake that one can visit when in Ahmedabad.
One of Gujarat's most beautiful places, Kutch is nature's masterpiece. The vast barren land with spurts of colour is an enchanting sight and the White Desert, as it's fondly called, is what travellers' dreams are made of. The Rann of Kutch is filled with sea water during monsoons and with salt water, immediately after. Only on a few islands will you find signs of vegetation enough to sustain the life here. The Rann is made of almost 16 tribes and most tribes have distinct cultures, different languages and a way of life that is drastically different. During your trip here, do make sure to spend time with the tribes here. Not only will you learn a little more about the locals here but the experience tends to become quite memorable. Do visit Aina Mahal, Bhuj Museum, Prag Mahal and Mandvi beach. For adventure enthusiasts, do try the camel safari, stay at the camps under the stars and experience everything one usually doesn't. Of course, a visit here during Rann Utsav is unmatched. For shopaholics, there is a plethora of goodies to take back home, including silver jewellery, handicrafts, bandhani and applique work. Do choose your stay option carefully since that will add to your experience here in Kutch. Numerous options have been added to this town's growing list of hotels and you can easily choose the kind of holiday you want.
Popularly known as Baroda, Vadodara is great travel destination for history buffs and art enthusiasts. The town is known for the grand Laxmi Vilas Palace and the Fatehsingh Museum (both located in the same premises). Do keep aside an entire day if you are fond or art and culture since the palace is huge and deserves that kind of time. You can also visit Sayaji Baug, a lush, refreshing garden in the middle of the city. It is the perfect place to visit if you are travelling with children since it has a small kid's zone, a cafeteria, a small museum and a zoo. If you are in the city for more than a day, do visit Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum since it houses numerous rare and beautiful paintings, sculptures and murals from all over the world, collected by the royal family. Vadodara may not be a traveller's perfect destination, but it does have its fair share of history, culture and art.
Examples of Rajput architecture and a prominent pearl fishing centre distinguish Gujarat’s lesser known gem, Jamnagar, from other cities. The age-old decaying buildings, narrow lanes and colourful bazaars make up for the lost charm inflicted by tall buildings and the brimming crowd. The scenic Lakhota Fort stands in the middle of the lake and is a fort like palace that now houses a museum of old collectables. It looks beautiful at sundown when the lake glitters in the yellow light that reflects from the monument. The Darbargadh Fort, constructed with a mix of European and Rajput architectural styles, is mesmerising to explore. Other must visits here are the Pratap Vilas Palace and Bhujio Kotho, a five-floor monument believed to be constructed for protection during invasions. There are also many Jain temples around the Chandi Bazaar that grant the place an old world charm. With a coastline that stretches till Dwarka, Jamnagar also offers some unspoilt beaches with white and golden sand. Shopping in Jamnagar is a treat and you must not forget to buy the world famous, multi-hued Bandhani fabric, which can be used as a dupatta or dress or even a sari. Taste the Gujarati delicacies of ghughra and dry fruit kachoris and consider the Express Residency or J R Avezika for a comfortable stay in the city.
An integration of historic monuments and modern skyscrapers, Surat is a quaint town located along the banks of river Tapi. The ISKCON temple here, standing on an area of around 13,000 km, is frequented by devotees from all across the world. The Dutch Cemetery, Shahjahan's Fort, Parsi neighbourhood and colonial building are beautiful symbols of the history of this city. Dandi is a popular destination among tourists visiting Surat and is a place made famous by the Indian independence movement. When it comes to food, Surat offers lip-smacking Gujarati flavours, albeit only vegetarian. Popular eateries here include the Leonardo Ristorante Italiano, Jalaram Khichadi and Kansar Gujarati Thali. Accommodation here is easily available and sits well within in your budget. If you want more, travel to the Dumas Beach, which is located about 18km from the city.
Rajkot today may deceive you with its congested roads and new heights, but the soul of the city still screams Gandhi. The narrow lanes, marketplaces with farmers selling bottled ghee at corners keeps the ethos intact. At Alfred High School you will see the reminiscences of the cultural setting where Gandhi pursued his education and at Gandhi Smriti, the recollections of his childhood. Founded in the colonial times, traces of the British Raj are still prevalent here. Prominent places to visit include the Watson Museum, Rotary Dolls Museum and Aaji Dam. Situated in the heart of Saurashtra, Rajkot is probably the centre with Gir Forest, Somnath Temple, Mount Girnar and even Diu all within a range of 200kms from it. If you want to spend the night, consider the Seasons Hotel or Marasa Sarovar Portico. From a cultural point of view, Rajkot is not inadequate either. The Kathiawari is an inherent form of folk music and Dayro too is Rajkot’s very own native genre. And how can one possibly forget the Garba? That is what keeps the city lighted during the festival of Navratri, through the night till dawn. Try the mouth-watering cuisine, which includes dishes such as fafda, poha, jalebi, dabeli, spicy ghughra and chikki before leaving the city.