Location : Western part of India
Capital City : Gandhinagar
Political Hub : Ahmedabad
Mostly Visited For : Gir National Park, Navaratri Festival
Adinatha Temple in Palitana, Gujarat
If there is one state where you can see India in all its colours, it is undeniably the vibrant Gujarat. Nestling in the extreme western part of the country, Gujarat is indeed a place with many enchantments, and that too for all your senses. As soon as you will put your footmarks on this pristine land, you will be greeted with an eclectic geography - the curious salt marshes, the thirsty scrubland, the fertile hinterland, and above all the scenic coast that attracts millions of tourists from all pockets of the world. If you ask somebody, a cradle of honey will be poured into your ears in an unknown language. That is Gujarati. The people love to dress themselves in colourful attires, adding a scintilla of glamour in an otherwise radiant ambience. Then there is the distinctive cuisine that titillates the sweet buds of every gourmet. It is a land that wakes up to the rhythms of 'Garba Dance' and the sleeps with the roars of the Great Asiatic Lions. Last but not the least, Gujarat is home to the nine-day long Navaratri - the longest dance festival in the world. Come see for yourself
Though the capital of Gujarat is at Gandhinagar, but its premier city at Ahmedabad is the political hub of this western state. A textile centre since the 15th century, Ahmedabad was once called the 'Manchester of the East'. Affording a reciprocal look, the city with its old and new sectors enthralls every visitor in its own way. Wander around the old city and you will find yourself enmeshed in a maze of labyrinthine lanes, under lofty 'pols' (residential areas designated by large gateways), sacred shrines and subterranean stepwells (called 'vavs'). Remember to pay a visit to the Siddi Saiyyad Mosque, renowned for its exquisite stone latticework. The slender lanes of the old walled city find their way to the new high rises via the new National Expressway. Portraying a completely new look, the new city is adorned with swanky multiplexes, brilliantly lit shopping malls, upmarket entertainment and fitness clubs and numerous eateries mushrooming all over the landscape. Don't miss the tranquil pleasure at the Sabarmati Ashram, located at 5 km from the downtown on the west banks of Sabarmati River. Once the abode of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, the Ashram offers an insight view of Mahatma's lifestyle and many pictorial memorabilia of colonial India.
Asiatic Lion At Gir National Park
The one place where you can be sure of spotting a lion is invariably the dry deciduous forests of Sasan Gir National Park, its natural habitat outside the sinister jungles of Africa. Originally fostered by the Nawab of Junagadh, after British viceroys brought to his attention the dearth of lions in Asia, the sanctuary is the jewel of Gujarat's ecological magnanimity. Sprawled over an area of 1412 sq km, this semi-evergreen grassland of acacia herbs is situated at 415-km south west of Ahmedabad. This forest is a birdwatcher's paradise. For your first hour, you will see nothing save a couple of mottled wood owls, peacocks dancing with mates, crested serpent eagles high up on a bare tree top or the dazzlingly white male paradise flycatcher flirting with a sleepy owlet. A mere 5-minute walk off the road, on a dry riverbed with smooth white pebbles will take you to a completely different world dominated by lions. Embedded deep in the psyche of the local people, the lions of Gir are a source of great pride and cultural identity. You can also have the pleasure to meet numerous nomadic and semi-nomadic tribal groups - Mirs, Vadiara Rabaris, Bharwads and Bajanias - roosting in this part of the country.
Gujarat is replete with vibrant festivals marked by a colourful ambience and intrinsic merriment. The most energetic of these is Navaratris, or the nine nights celebrated in vow of Goddess Durga. Held in October-November, the gaiety takes the sleep of a million of Gujaratis who drown themselves in celebration and dances for nine nights in a row. The whole atmosphere reverberates with religious songs - 'bhajans' and 'garbas' - that are sung beside a lamp placed in an earthen pot, the 'garbo'. You will be overwhelmed to see women in colourful costumes dancing to the beats of cymbals and drums, and when it is a time for 'raas', everyone joins in. 'Dandiya raas' is the most enticing version, where men and women strike lacquered batons, giving the dance its distinctive tempo. As a gesture of warmth and hospitality, home stays with Gujarati families are an added attraction, that enthralls ebery visitor.
Garbha Dance Performance During Navratri Festival
'Surat ka jaman aur Banaras ka maran' (Dining at Surat and dying at Varanasi), they say, is the way to heaven. And not only Surat, the whole of Gujarat wakes up to the call, making it a delightful place for gourmets. From umpteen roadside 'laaries' to budget restaurants and from cafes to fine dining options - the state has it all. The erstwhile conventional 'Amdavadi' cuisine is now daringly becoming more and more adventurous in its eating out options. Gujarati food, basically vegetarian often tastes sweet to a newcomer. This is due to the use of jaggery or sugar and generous doses of ghee in the food. It is one of the few cultures where a majority of people are vegetarians, the vegetarianism may have originally sprung from religious ideologies and beliefs of the region. A typical Gujarati Thali (plate) consists of Rotli (wheat bread), Daal (pulses), Bhaat (rice) and Shaak (vegetables) with lots of sweets and other delicacies to make a fantastic culinary holiday.
Ahmedabad's domestic and international airport is 10 km from downtown Ellis Bridge/Ashram Road area. Several Air India and Indian Airlines flights go to the gulf and to other western destinations from Ahmedabad. Moreover, Singapore Airlines has started three flights weekly from Changi Airport to Ahmedabad's Sardar Ballavbhai Patel International Airport. One can get multiple commutation options including pre-paid taxis and auto-rickshaws from the airport. Besides this, Ahmedabad is also linked to major tourist destinations within India via broad gauge rails. Tourists can embark on Shatabdi Express, Ashram Express and Delhi Mail to reach Ahmedabad from Delhi. The major towns and cities of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are linked to this city by regular bus services. Private operators supplement government-operated services to towns like Jamnagar, Rajkot, Mumbai, Udaipur, Nathdwara and Jaipur. Tourism government of Gujarat operates many excursion tours like Saurashtra Darshan and Kutchch Tours which gives every tourist ample scope to explore the heart of Gujarat.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Gujarat
Gujarat - The Vibrant Facade of India
Ahmedabad - The Manchester of The East
A Glimpse of Dancing Devotion
Get Into The Royal Orient
A Celebration of Taste
Caves and Beaches
Rajasthan and Goa
Beauty of Madhya Pradesh