Gujarat, the westernmost province of India evokes quest for wanderlust. Historical places in Gujarat bear the testimony to the rich past of the state whereas modern lures take you one step closer to the future. The peculiar topographical landscape, diverse culture, delicious food, incredible heritage, plethora of tourist attractions are the other delights.
Blend of Hindu and Muslim architectural excellence, cultural heritage and many relics of the golden past will entice your senses and leave you wanting for more. Here, we list the 5 most famous historical sites to visit in Gujarat.
1. Laxmi Vilas Palace in Baroda
The Laxmi Vilas Palace located in Vadodara, formerly Baroda is still the residence of the royal family of Gaekwad of the Vadodara state. Though the rule of monarchs have ended, they have left behind treasures. A true gem, the magnificent palace was built by Maharaja Sayaji Rao III in 1890. Spread over 500 acres, the palace grounds of Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the top historical places of Gujarat.
The beautiful palace is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built till date, and is four times the size of Buckingham Palace. The Darbar Hall of the estate is available on rent for movie shooting and music concerts.
Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows, private railway in the palace complex, zoo inhabited by crocodiles, golf course, museum, etc. are the top attractions of Laxmi Vilas Palace in Baroda.
Entry Timings: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM (Palace and museum), all days of the week except Monday.
Palace Fees – 225 INR for Indians, 400 INR for Foreigners.
Palace Museum – 80 INR for Indians, 150 INR for Foreigners.
How to reach:
By Air: Vadodara Airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 6.7 km.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Vadodara Junction Train Station around 2.2 km. away.
By Road: Vadodara has good road connections with Gujarat and other states. State buses, luxury coaches and private vehicles provide comfortable traveling.
2. Sidi Saiyad Mosque in Ahmedabad
The Sidi Saiyad Mosque in Ahmedabad is one of the great Mosques of India. Constructed in the year 1573, the mosque was established by Sidi Sayed, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. It is one of the last gifts of the Sultanate rule in Gujarat in the heart of Ahmedabad.
This mosque has a worldwide recognition, due to its splendid Indo-Saracenic architecture. The skillfully carved mosque is truly one of its kinds in the world. The Jali screen windows, intricate mesh of stylishly carved marble are a precious treasure housed in the mosque. The skillfully carved windows add glory to the mosque is known for its exquisite art of stone carvings.
Splendid Jalis, mesh of marble styled like a net are the highlight of the charming historical site. It is said to inspire the architecture and style of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.
Entry Timings: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Entry Fee: Free.
How to reach:
By Air: The nearest airport to Sidi Saiyad Mosque is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad which is 6 km away.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to Sidi Saiyad Mosque is Ahmedabad Junction Train Station, which is located 2 km away.
By Road: Ahmedabad is well connected by road. Buses, private vehicles, cabs offer smooth connectivity by road.
3. Rani Ki Vav in Patan
The Rani Ki Vav in Patan is a famous tourist attraction in Gujarat as well as in India. Built in memory of King Bhimdev 1st by his widowed queen Udayamati, the huge step well is a popular historical site in Gujarat. The step well dates to 1063 AD. It was said to be filled by waters of the now extinct river Saraswati.
It is designed as an inverted temple emphasizing on the sanctity of water. The seven levels of stairs are adorned in sculptural panels of high artistic quality with more than 500 principle sculptures and over a 1000 minor ones. The art combines religious, mythological and secular imagery, referencing to literary works and legends. In 1980, Rani Ki Vav was renovated and given the status of an UNESCO World heritage site.
Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsmen’s’ ability in step well construction. The Maru-Gurjara architectural style reflects mastery of this complex technique. The impressive beauty of detail and proportions is truly a spectacle.
Entry Timings: 08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Entry Fee: Indians 5 INR, Foreigners 2 USD
How to reach:
By Air: The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad is the closest airport at a distance of 124 km.
By Rail: The Mahesana Railway Station Junction, 41 km. away is the nearest well-connected railway junction
By Road: Intercity State buses, AC and non AC cars and shared jeeps frequently arrive from Ahmedabad to the city.
4. Dholavira in Kutch
Dholavira located in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch is one of the remarkable excavation sites of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture. Dating back to 4500 years ago, Dholavira Archaeological Place is one of the famous historical sites to visit in Gujarat.
Discovered in 1967 by archeologist Mr. J.P. Joshi, this site offers traces of one of the greatest civilizations of the world. The Great Rann of Kutch sparks your imagination and you think of the former days of the city. Marvel at the innovative Harappan technology, thinking and lifestyle. Explore the world’s earliest and best planned water conservation systems, world’s first signboards, written in ancient Indus script, antiquities, terracotta ornaments, and other relics.
Highlight: Dholavira is the site of excavated Indus Valley Civilization presenting sophisticated urban planning and architecture. The site also hints that the people chose to lead simple lives rather than ostentatious lifestyle, even though they certainly had the resources and technology to do so.
Entry Timings: Everyday
Entry Fee: Free.
How to reach:
By Air: The nearest airport is Bhuj, 250 km away.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to Dholavira is Bhachau BG.
By Road: Dholavira is 250 km from Bhuj. The route by road passes via Bhachau and Rapar. A daily bus leaves from Bhuj at 02:00 PM and arrives at Dholavira at 08:30 PM. It leaves at 05:00 AM the next morning and returns to Bhuj by 11:30 AM. It is also possible to rent a vehicle.
5. Vijay Vilas Palace in Mandvi
The Vijay Vilas Palace was built as a summer palace for Jadeja Rajas of Kutch, located on the sea-beach of Mandvi. The beautiful palace is one of the popular tourist attractions in Gujarat. Built in 1929 by Rao Vijayrajji, the place is one of the treasures of the historical heritage of Gujarat. Currently, the royal family of the Princely State of Kutch resides permanently in the palace.
Nestled in 450 acres of lush greenery, with 2 kilometers of private beach, the Vijay Vilas Palace has history, natural beauty and tourist attractions to lure visitors. The marvelous palace has been used for filming for Bollywood productions. The estate also has a heritage resort of the same name for travelers.
Highlight: The Vijay Vilas Palace is magnificent mansion of diverse blend of architectural styles. Cusp-arches and jarokhas of Rajput palaces of Rajasthan, umbrella-domes like palaces of Bengal, cupolas of Mughal buildings, and Victorian Gothic arches and classical columns create a harmonious specimen.
Entry Timings: 9 AM -1 PM and 3 PM-6 PM.
Entry Fee: 20 INR and photography costs INR 50 and entering with a private vehicle is 10 INR.
How to reach:
By Air: The nearest airport, Bhuj Airport is at 60 km from the seaside city.
By Rail: Gandhidham Railway Station approximately 112 km away is the nearest railway station.
By road: State buses and jeeps are easily available from Bhuj as they leave about every 30 minutes from the central transportation area.