I spent around three and a half weeks exploring Gujarat, a state in the western part of India, in the month of 2015 Dec- Jan.
This trip was an experimental trip for me in many ways , budget travelling , a little bit of backpacking, couchsurfing for the first time and solo travel the later one and a half weeks.
And it came as a surprise that Gujarat has so many things to offer a traveler. Just giving you a quick glimpse of the the place with blog on diffrent places coming up later.
To start, the one place that I have always dreamed about visiting in Gujarat is the Great Rann of Kutch also known as the White Desert. This vast area of around 7,500 square kms is considered to be one of the largest site of salt desert in the world. The place just takes your breath away. Dhordo village is the point of entry for visitors into this Desert.
White Desert @Kutch, picture shot just as the sun sets and the moon rises
Bhuj which is around 80kms south from Dhordo is rich in historical buildings like the Prag Mahal, Aina Mahal. The closeby villages of Bhujodi and Ajrakpur are well know for its weavers and block printing work
Prag Mahal,Aina Maha at Bhuj, weavers Bhujodi, block printers Ajrakpur
Another interesting place in the Kutch region is Dholavira one of the five largest ancient Indus valley Happappan site. I was not able to visit this as the entry to this place is not through the White Desert as I expected but via Bachau.
Little Rann of Kutch, Wild Ass Sancturay is famous with bird watchers for the many migratory birds. Going for a Safari through this park we saw herds of wild ass, blue buffaloes, flamingos were a sight to behold, cranes, harrier hawk and pelicans
Little Rann of Kutch, Wild Ass Sanctuary
Gujarat hosts the only Asiatic Lion National Park at Sasan Gir, Junagad district. The tickets for the Safaris scheduled by the Forest department can be purchased online. If you are lucky you may spot lions, sometimes they walk by the jeeps. During our evening safari we had a far view of a group of lions resting. The next day morning safari brought us some luck and we spotted a leopard on hunt. Spent most of the morning safari just watching its antics with the prey. Jackals, langur monkeys, peacocks, spotted deer, samba deer can also be spotted in large numbers.
Gir National Park, Sasan, Junagad Gujarat
Junagad historically has been an important place from the early Mauryan period and so has some beautiful buildings like the Mahabat Maqbara which is the mausoleum of Bahaduddinbhai Hasainbhai, Upperkot fort which has Adi Kadi ka Vav and Navghan Kuvo, the much earlier version of stepwells and the Khapra Kodia Buddist caves.
Dwarka and Somnath are the religious centers in Gujarat. Dwarka is famous for Dwarkadhish (Krishna) temple which is around 2000 yrs old. Gomti ghat where the river Gomti merges into the sea is very close to the temple. Somnath has the Siva temple which is believed to be the first among the 12 Jyotirlingas. Both the temples are architecturally rich along with being places of spiritual importance. Also an equally religious place for the Jains is Palitana, Bhavanagar. Adinath the firt Jain thirthankara is believed to have meditated on the Shatrunjaya hill. This hill has numerous beautifully sculpted Jain temples on the way to the main Adinath temple and is a good trek up around 4000 steps.
Talking about temples one other beautiful piece of architecture is the Modhera Sun temple at Modhera , 100kms north of Ahmedabad. There is no worship here as the temple was plundered by Mohamad Ghazni. Around 30kms nort to this lies Patan famous for the intricately carved Rani ki Vav stepwell. Patan is also very famous for the Patola sarees.
Marine National Park in Jamnagar is another unique place where you can walk down the sea bed for almost 3 kms into the sea glimpsing through the various marine life in this area. Surrounded by mangroves this is an experience by itself. One other National park that I visited was the Back Buck Sanctuary in Bhavnagar., which is the only place in Gujarat that I saw huge areas of grass. The park is around 34 sq kms with large groups of black bucks, blue buffaloes and various types of migratory birds in it.
Between Somnath and Dwarka you have Porbandar which is well know as the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation. Kirthi Mandir is the name of the building. For Beaches Diu is the place to visit Nagoa Beach being the most popular where the Festival of Diu is held.
Check out this post on Diu https://travellermusingsblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/beaches-and-some-history-at-diu-gujarat-india/
Ahmedabad is where we flew into from Bangalore and this city has some great historic architectural buildings, the Jama Masjid, Sidi Sayyed Mosque famous for its Jharonkas (windows), Hutheesing Jain temple, Sarkhej Roza, Sabarmati Ashram. The decorated stepwell at Adlaj Ki Vav on the way to Gandhinagar is a must visit. Gandhinagar itself boasts the AksharDham, smaller version of the one in Delhi, great grounds but the temple as such is not that very spellbinding.
Ahmedabad , Historical places and Sabarmati Ashram
Checkout for a detailed blog on Ahmedabad : https://travellermusingsblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/ahmedabad-old-capital-of-gujarat-india/
Checkout detailed blog on Gandhinagar : https://travellermusingsblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/two-places-of-interset-in-gandhinagar-gujarat-india/
Lastly, Vadodara south of Ahmedabad by around 110kms is another historically significant place being a stronghold of the Gaekwad in the 1800s. The Lakshmi Nivas Palace reputed to being the largest private dwelling is partly open to public. Champaner-Pavagadh Archeological park is around 55kms from Vadodara and is a UNESCO heritage site. I also visited the Galteshwar Mandir, 15kms away from Dakor a very old temple from the Solanki era.
Vadodara Palace, Jama Masjid at Champaner and Galteshwar Mandir
Will try to post a few more blogs on the different places and the itinerary I followed in the coming days.
Blogs with more information on different places , check these out too.