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Kutch
Best time to visit - July,August,September,October
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.
Jamnagar
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
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.
Rajkot
Best time to visit - January,October,November,December
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.
Bhuj
Best time to visit - January,February,March,November,December
One of the most visited cities in Gujarat, Bhuj is home to a number of historical monuments, a lively culture and a historically rich past. Taking you back to a time of simple living, Bhuj is a traveller's delight. From the enlightening Kutch Museum to the bedazzling Aina Mahal, this small city welcomes travellers with forgotten stories, intriguing escapades and numerous hidden corners. There are a number of popular temples here including the Shree Swaminayan Temple; the Swaminayan temples were actually first built in Bhuj. Enveloped in white, the temple is a must visit even if religious sites are not a part of your itinerary. You should also visit one of the oldest museums in Gujarat, which is the Kutch museum. Taking you through Gujarat's exciting past, the museum is also home to Kshatrapa inscriptions and the now extinct Kutchi script. The museum is located along the beautiful Hamirsar Lake and is a must-visit. Do also head to Aina Museum. One of the best examples of Indian architecture under the influence of European architecture, this one is fascinating to visit. True to its name, the best feature of the mahal is the Hall of Mirrors. The palace also houses a number of rare and stunning artefacts and paintings from around the world and is a treat to explore, especially if you are an art enthusiast. This small city packs in a lot for travellers and a couple of days here is enough to take back a beautiful experience unless, of course, you fall in love with the city's magic. Reaching Bhuj from Ahmedabad is quite easy since it's a major town and buses, taxis ply almost throughout the day.
Dwarka
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
The literal meaning of Dwarka is ‘gateway to heaven’ and for some tourists visiting this lovely city, this holds very true. This rocky coast on the western shore of the Okhamandal Peninsula nurtures major Hindu beliefs. More than half of ancient Dwarka is under water today and the remaining part known as Bet Dwarka or Shankhdhar is an island at the mouth of the Gulf of Kutch. Dwarka holds much importance in Hindu culture as it is said to be the place where Lord Krishna grew up. The ride from Port Okha to Bet Dwarka is exhilarating and a wonderful experience; and the sea gulls make it extremely special. To admire the aerial view of the coast, you can head up to the lighthouse on the peninsula. Another historic site is the the Gopi Talav. It is where all the tales of Krishna’s Raas Leela with Gopikas have originated and a visit here opens up a bundle of such stories. The Hanuman Mandir and Nageshwar Mandir are other prominent temples of Hindu importance and a must-visit. Don't forget to indulge in a full platter at Chappan Bhog for the finest of Gujarati cuisine. Dwarka comes to life during Janmashtami when people celebrate Lord Krishna with great splendour. Garba and Raas dances are performed and devotees indulge in exuberant merry making. The chants of ‘Jai Kanhaiya Laal Ki’ and plunges in the Gomti river will give you a spiritual high. Hotel City Palace is possibly the best choice if you're to stay the night.
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