A 5-Day Itinerary to Gujarat

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Photo of A 5-Day Itinerary to Gujarat by Husein Haveliwala

Gujarat is the westernmost state in India, and has some of the most important and unique places to visit in the country. The home-state of the Father of the Nation, as well as the location of one of the Char Dham sites; it holds a lot of cultural significance. The state is also the home of one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The only abode of Asiatic Lions in the wild is also found in Gujarat. The people are friendly, the food is decadent, and the culture colourful; which makes it the perfect place to explore. Let’s show you how to explore Gujarat in 5 days!

Day 1

Your trip starts off in the largest city and commercial hub of Gujarat: Ahmedabad. You can fly into the city through the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, or arrive at Ahmedabad Railway Station by train.

Your first destination for the day is the Sabarmati Ashram. This institution was founded by Mahatma Gandhi, and he even called it his home for about 12 years. It was where he promoted the Swadeshi movement and from where he commenced the Dandi March. You can visit the Gandhi Smarak Sanghralaya, a museum in tribute to Gandhi, the "My life is my message" gallery which is a visual gallery of photographs and paintings that showcase the historic events in Gandhi’s life, and also a gallery that records his life in Ahmedabad. The ashram is open every day from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, and there is no entry fee.

A 10-minute/Rs. 35 rickshaw ride across the Subhash Bridge, over the Sabarmati River, should take you to the Calico Museum of Textiles. What many people do not know is that Ahmedabad is also known as the ‘Manchester of the East” due to its flourishing textile industry from times of the Mughal dynasty! Fun fact: Ahmedabad is the largest supplier of denim in the country. The Calico Museum of Textiles contains exhibits of textiles all the way from the 15th century, to local style embroidery and tie-dyed textiles of the 19th century. The only way to visit the museum is through a guided tour that takes place every day (except Wednesday, and public holidays) from 10:30 pm to 1:00 pm. There is no fee for the tour, and it must be booked through their website/telephone at least a month in advance to get a slot, as only 20 people are allowed every day. Arrive by 10:15 am.

Your lunch stop for today is one of the most famous places to eat at Manek Chowk, the city centre of Old Ahmedabad (also where your next sight is). It is a 15-minute/Rs. 45 rickshaw ride from the Calico Museum. The restaurant is famous for its many different varieties of dosa, the pride and joy being the Gwalior Dosa which oozes with butter. Another favourite is the Gotala Dosa. A solid Ahmedabad street foot joint, with a meal for 2 costing about Rs. 250!

Just a minute’s walk away from your lunch location stands the Jama Masjid of Ahmedabad. This stunning structure, when built, was possibly the biggest mosque in the Indian subcontinent. As you enter the courtyard through any of its three gates on the north, east and south sides; there is a serenity that is paradoxical to the chaotic marketplace outside. The marble floor courtyard, with a water tank in the centre for devotees to perform wudhu, is the foreground for the massive main prayer hall with hundreds of columns supporting 15 huge domes. The mosque is open to visitors everyday from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, who must be dressed modestly.

As evening sets on the city, make your way to Law Garden, where a market sets up around 4:00pm every day and runs till midnight. You can expect to purchase some traditional Gujarati attire that is full of colour and sparkle. The best time to visit is around 6:00 pm.

Get ready for a dining experience where you will eat to your stomach’s content, and then some! This no-frills dining hall is where you will get some of the most authentic Gujarati food in the city. The Gujarati thali is a dining concept where you sit at your table, with no menus, and are hit with an onslaught of the most delicious food. This place is just a 5-minute/Rs. 25 rickshaw ride from Law Garden. The thali here is Rs. 280 per person (and Rs. 155 for a half-thali for children aged 3-10 years) where you will get unlimited servings of vegetable bhaajis, farsan, roti, puri, bhakhri, dal, kadhi, rice, khichdi, salads, chutneys, pickle, papad, two sweet dishes and one serving of buttermilk. The dinner service is from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and is closed on Monday evenings. A value for money, and authentic dinner to end your first day!

From Ahmedabad, you can either take a train or a bus to Bhuj, which is the gateway to the Great Rann of Kutch. The Kutch SF Express (02:05 am – 08:50 am, AC 3 Tier Rs. 645) is an ideal train to take. Make sure you reach Bhuj before 10:30 am.

Day 2

Today, you will explore one of the most extraordinary geographical terrains on Indian soil. The Great Rann of Kutch is the world’s largest salt desert. It remains underwater and thus unvisitable during the four main months of the monsoon season from June to September. Costing approximately Rs. 8500 + GST per person on a twin-sharing basis, the 1N/2D package at the White Rann Resort is perfect for your stay. You will be picked up from Bhuj Railway Station and whisked off to the resort which is at the periphery of the desert.

After lunch, shopping and tea you will be taken for a visit to the white Rann to see the sunset; a stunning sight. After dinner and the night’s cultural activities, you can even request (prior) a visit to the Rann at night to see the desert salt glisten under the moonlight, which is an experience of a lifetime. (Tip: Try and make sure your dates at Kutch coincide with the full moon).

Day 3

Wake up early in the morning today, to be taken to see the sun rise over the desert. You will check-out of the resort post breakfast, and then be taken back to Bhuj.

You will be a part of the complimentary sightseeing tour as part of the White Rann Resort package, which will show you around places such as the Vande Mataram Memorial (closed on Mondays) or shopping at Vania Bazaar/Bhuj Haat/Chhatardi, Kutch Museum (closed on Wednesday/public holidays), and the Aina Mahal + Prag Mahal (closed on Thursday) or Sharad Baug Palace (closed on Friday).

Don’t miss this restaurant, located in central Bhuj, for authentic Kutchi and Kathiyawadi cuisine.

Book the 9:30 pm GSRTC sleeper/seater bus to reach Junagadh bus stand around 6:00 am (around Rs. 250).

Day 4

From the Junagadh bus stand, take a taxi (should cost you about Rs. 2,000 for a return journey) to the Reception Centre of the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Sasan Gir. You must book your safari slot for 9:00 am to 12:00 pm much in advance (bookings open 3 months prior) on their official website. The charges for Indians up to 6 people are Rs. 800 on weekdays and Rs. 1000 on weekends and public holidays. Similarly, for up to 6 foreigner tourists they are Rs. 4800 on weekdays and Rs. 6000 on weekends. The fees for the gypsy jeep are Rs. 1500, and the compulsory guide fees are Rs. 300. Gir is the only place is the world where you can see the Asiatic Lion. Further, you can also look forward to seeing leopards, hyenas, jackals, crocodile, cobras, different species of deer, boar, and also a number of birds including peacocks, 3 species of eagle, 2 types of owl, and vultures!

You can spend the day at a resort near Sasan Gir, such as the Woods at Sasan and have lunch at their multicuisine restaurant Terracotta.

Take the 8:30 pm bus from Sasan Gir bus stand to Vadodara (Shree Hari Travel, Rs. 550 per passenger), that reaches Vadodara at 8:10 am.

Day 5

Visit the official residence of the Maharaja of Baroda, whose royal family still resides in this stunning piece of architecture. The palace grounds are impeccably maintained, and the interiors are breath-taking with mosaic and stained glass. The gates of the palace open to visitors every day but Monday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, the ticket cost being Rs. 225 for Indians and Rs. 500 for foreigners, which includes an audio guide in English, Hindi or Marathi.

And with that, your odyssey of Gujarat comes to an end! Sure, it was hectic; as most adventures are, with the journey often being half of the fun. Gujarat is such a diverse state that in just 5 days you feel you’ve explored enough to last a lifetime!

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