Gujarat – the land of undying entrepreneurial spirit and gentle people with a spirit of joi de vivre amidst an unmatched sense of hospitality. Not to mention the land of Mahatma Gandhi, also a land of fairs & festivals, architecture & archaeology, handicrafts & textiles, history & religion, wildlife & beaches.
The last abode of the Asiatic lion, it also has 12 other sanctuaries to boot (including the country’s only marine park), offering black bucks, sloth bears, flamingoes, wild asses; plus the country’s longest coastline. Enter a time warp with a visit to the ancient port of Lothal (“mound of the dead”), which once traded with Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia; or Dholavira, the extensive, well-laid out excavations of a 3000-year-old city from the Indus Valley civilization – replete with planning, drainage systems and commercial facilities.
During the Sultanate reign, Hindu craftsmanship mixed with Islamic architecture, giving rise to the Indo Saracenic style. A good number of palaces and forts have been converted into heritage hotels . The Laxmi Vilas Palace in Baroda (Vadodara) is reputed to have been the largest private built dwelling built at one time and it is four times the size of Buckingham Palace. Gujarat is also home to a multitude of devotional centres and temples; including Dwarka, Dakor, Ambaji, Palitana, Shamlaji, Pavagadh etc besides being on the Buddhist circuit with the Junagadh Buddhist caves.
Gujarat celebrates a number of other festivals too; such as ‘Kite Flying,’ (11–15 January), Kankaria Carnival (25–31 December) ‘Rann Utsav’ (November–December, Kutch), ‘Modhera Dance Festival’ (3rd week of January) and fairs like Tarnetar Fair (August) & Vautha Mela (November). Further, the state is rich in several handicrafts such as Bandhini, bamboocraft, khadi, embroidery, woodcraft, metalcrafts, pottery, namda, rogan painting, pithora etc. While Gandhinagar, the state capital, is the second city in the country to be designed by Cobusier, the state’s largest city continues to be Ahmedabad, the earlier capital.
Be amazed as you behold the Somnath Temple that was looted, demolished and rebuilt several times; or the incredible Modhera Sun Temple where, every equinox, the sun shines straight through the hall of pillars into the sacred shrine. Dance away non-stop for nine nights to the mesmeric beats at the one-of-its-kind festival of Navratri. Check out the amazing handicrafts from block printing to mirrorwork dresses, brasswork to leatherwork, Patola silks to terracotta. Or just travel as the Maharajahs would have in a 14-saloon luxury train, Royal Orient, with its double bedded cabins, private bathrooms, hot showers, well-stocked bar and a reading lounge.
State capital: Gandhinagar
Of tourist interest: Sasan Gir, Modhera Sun Temple, Siddi Saiyyad mosque, Shaking Minarets, Gandhi Ashram, Sarkhej Roza, Akshardham, Adalaj step-well, Patan step-well, Chorwad beach, Palitana, Rann of Kutch, Velavadar Sanctuary, Somnath Temple, Lothal, Dholavira etc.
Airport: Linked by air
Railhead: well connected
Road: well connected
Official website: www.gujarattourism.com