The warm and fluffy ‘dhoklas’ melted in my mouth, giving a spring of relief from the long drive through the highways of Gujarat. We had been driving through for a couple hours, passing by green fields, colorful draped saris, and even some camels! Stepping out into the hot yet pleasant environment, we finally arrived at a local restaurant to stop for a yummy meal of ‘dhoklas,’ ‘khakdas,’ with green chillies on the side. I looked around at the women draped in brightly colored saris, shyly conversing, as the boisterous men guffawed with laughter amongst friends. Everyone seemed to be in utter bliss in this wondrous state.
We finished up our meal and continued onwards in our journey to the city of Ahmadabad. A stark contrast from the rural Gujarat, tall buildings loomed over busy, sophisticated lanes maneuvering buses and the like. In awe of the organized layout of the city, I couldn’t help feeling like I was somewhere out of India! We soon arrived at our hotel, and dropped off our belongings to make our way to the Sabramati Ashram.
Greeted by Gandhi ji’s inspirational message: ‘My Life Is My Message,’ the Gandhi ashram encases precious pictures, stories, documents, and statues of the greatest freedom fighter of our nation. His house, called ‘Hridayakunj,’ stands behind the ashram for visitors to take a tour of. This was the starting point of his ‘Dandi March,’ an unforgettable act of rebellion in history. Getting a peek at his spinning wheel, glasses, walking stick, and other symbolic treasures reminded me of the courage with which this great leader fought for our nation.
Then, we went for some shopping afterwards in Ahmadabad’s Law Gardens. Pretty ghagras, colorful ‘jootis,’ and trinkets displayed sent me into a shopping frenzy! Bargaining left and right, we bagged some deals, satisfied. Hauling the numerous bags, we dumped them in, as we climbed aboard for our next pit stop.
Somnath Temple, which lies a bit outside of Gujarat, is another wonder, known to have become a tourist attraction for pilgrims. Arriving just in time for the evening ‘aarti,’ we lined up to enter the massive Shiva temple. The thunderous sound of drums gave a steady beat, as the chanting of prayers resonated through the temple walls. Praising the lord above, we all raised our hands above our head, lost in a trance. After the hour-long aarti, we stepped outside for a spectacular view of the beach. Breathing in and out, I closed my eyes, and let the cool breeze shuffle my hair, feeling completely at peace.
For a little bit on the adventurous side, the home of the Asiatic lion lies in the outskirts of Gujarat, in the Gir National Park. A ride through the misty forests bright and early in the morning just might let you see some lions in the wild! Along with other wild animals from the leopard, deer, samba, the Asiatic lion is the main attraction. We were lucky enough to see one, sleeping, but still a lion in the wild, nevertheless!
If a multitude of cultures, color, and nature is what you’re looking for, Gujarat is the place to go! The vibrant and sophisticated state leaves one awestruck, with its many modern developments within the significant history. I did end up falling a bit sick, due to the extreme weather changes throughout the day. The nights get a bit cold, so it’s best to pack accordingly. But, the afternoons get blazing hot, so you don’t want to bundle up too much! A DSLR is a must to capture some fantastic shots of this beautiful state!