The vibrant and culturally-rich state of Gujarat has an exquisite charm, which makes it one of the best tourist destinations in India. The list of places to visit in Gujarat has myriad of options for the visitors. It has temple towns, beaches, exotic wildlife, splendid structures, colorful markets, rich art and crafts and more. Due to its various allures, it is fairly termed as the ‘Jewel of Western India’.
Here is the list of top 15 places to visit in Gujarat:
1. Dwarka- one of the revered Char dham destinations
The revered city of Dwarka is one of the sacred Char Dham in India as well as one of the Sapta Puri, ancient holy pilgrimage centers in India. It is believed to be the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna that was referred to as City of Gold. Located at western tip of Saurashtra peninsula, this city holds deep religious significance and attracts millions of devotees every year.
Lord Krishna spent a significant amount of his time at Dwarka when he moved here from Mathura to build his new kingdom. Every year on the auspicious eve of Janmashtami (birth anniversary of Lord Krishna), devotees of Lord Krishna gather at Dwarka to participate in the elaborated festivities commemorating Lord Krishna’s divine presence in the universe.
2. Gir National Park- Home of the mighty Asiatic Lions in India
Being one of the youth brands of Global Tourism India (GTI TRAVELS PRIVATE LIMITED), we know your needs the best and thus offer you the best of your time and money for Gir National Park Tour. Under the guidance of our expert guides you will have surely a life time experience or everyone looking to fulfill their wildlife fantasies across one of most renowned wildlife sanctuary of India, we offer Gir Wild Life Tour Package. We all know, Gir is the only natural habitat of world popular Asiatic Lions. Where our tailor made Gir Wild Life Tour Package gives you an unparalleled opportunity to watch those rare Asiatic Lions coupled with thousands of other elusive wild animals and hard-to-find birds like uncommon Asiatic wild ass, hyenas, Gir foxes, pygmy woodpecker, brown fish owl and black buck etc, it will make sure that you receive the highest standards of luxury, comfort and travel. Additionally, all this is available at very competitive rates.
- Best time to visit Gir– December to March
- Popular Activities– Wildlife Safari, Bird Watching, Temple visit to Somnath temple and Kamleshwar Dham, Visit to Girnar Mountain and Nalsarovar Lake.
3. Great Rann of Kutch- India’s largest white salt desert
The Rann of Kutch is a salt marshy land in the Thar Desert in the Kutch district of western Gujarat. It lies between Gujarat in India and the Sindh province in Pakistan. It comprises of around 30,000 sq. km of land which includes The Great Rann of Kutch, The Little Rann of Kutch and Banni grassland.
The Rann of Kutch is famous for its white salty desert sand and is reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world.‘Rann’ means desert in Hindi which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Irina’ which also means desert. The inhabitants of Kutch are called Kutchhi and have a language of their own with the same name. Most of the population in Rann of Kutch comprises of Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs.
For transport options one could hire a private vehicle from Bhuj which is 102 km from Rann. From December to February there are also regular buses plying from Bhuj and Ahmedabad to Rann. The nearest railway station and airport are also situated in Bhuj.
The climate in Rann owing to its desert land is considered to be one of the harshest and hottest temperatures recorded in India. The summer temperatures go as high as 50 degree Celsius. The winters are also quite extreme with temperatures dropping to as low as 0 degree Celsius. During the monsoon, the salt desert is covered with water considering its proximity to the Luni, Rupen and Indus rivers. The marshy desert is only about 49 feet above sea level.
4. Laxmi Vilas Palace- The Magnificent Palace Museum
Lukshmi Villas Palace, an extravagant building of the Indo-Saracenic school, was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890 at a cost of GBP180,000. Major Charles Mant was the architect. It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built till date and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda. Its ornate Darbar Hall, which is sometimes the venue of music concerts and other cultural events, has a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic decorations. Outside of the Darbar Hall is an Italinate courtyard of water fountains. The palace houses a remarkable collection of old armory and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta by Fellici. The grounds were landscaped by William Goldring, a specialist from Kew Gardens. The palace is open to the public and an audio tour is available. The Palace “compound” is of over 500 acres and houses a number of buildings, particularly the LVP Banquets & Conventions , Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building. Adjacent to the Moti Baug Palace and the Museum is the Moti Bagh Cricket Ground, the offices of the Baroda Cricket Association and a very rare indoor teak floored tennis court and badminton court (where the All India Badminton Championships were previously held). The Museum building was constructed as a school for the Maharaja’s children. Today a large number of works of art belonging to the Royal family have been displayed in the museum. The most remarkable of these is the fabulous collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Verma, who was specially commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda. The collection includes portraits of the Royal family in addition to the paintings based on Hindu mythology for which Raja Ravi Varma was famous. The Maharaja constructed a miniature railway line, which circled the mango orchard within the palace compound, to take his children from the school to the main Lakshmi Vilas Palace. The train engine was recently refurbished by Ranjitsinh Pratapsinh Gaekwad, who was the maharaja during the time, and can be seen at the entrance to the Museum. The palace also boasted a small zoo. The only remnant of the zoo is the pond where a number of crocodiles remain. The Navlakhi (literally meaning “of nine hundred thousand”) Well, a fine ‘baoli’ or step well, is 50 meters north of the palace. In the 1930s Maharaja Pratapsinh created a golf course for use by his European guests. In the 1990s Pratapsinh’s grandson Samarjitsinh, a former Ranji trophy cricket player, renovated the course and opened it to the public. The audio tour of the palace gives a deep insight to the history behind it.
5. Somnath- A holy city with Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlinga
Located in Somnath, Guajarat, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, the ‘Somnath Temple’ is home to the first of the twelve sacred Jyotirlingas. Considered to be the holiest of all Jyotirlinga shrines of India, the temple is visited by thousands of devotees every year, especially on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
According to the legends, the Moon God, ‘Somdev’ neglected his wives (daughters of Daksha Prajapati) in awe of a celestial maiden. Seeing this, Daksha Prajapati cursed the Moon God to have his lustre consumed by the darkness of night. Grief stricken, Moon God prayed to the Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva for 4000 years at this place. Pleased with the devotion of Moon, Lord Shiva blessed him to wane in brilliance for only 15 days in a month. Regaining his brilliance, the Moon God erected this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The temple is believed to have been built during the period between 320 and 500 AD. Originally believed to have been made of pure gold and silver, the temple witnessed massive destructions from Arab and Afghani invaders and by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb during different time periods. These invasions stripped off the temple with all its wealth. Even after all these invasions and destructions, the glory of this pious place remained untouched.
In 1947, the temple was restored on the orders of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the Jyotirlinga was installed by the then president Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
Temple Timings: 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
6. Sun Temple, Modhera- An architectural masterpiece
This glorious edifice speaks of the architectural talent of the Solanki era. Built in 1026 AD during the reign of King Bhimadeva I, the remains of the Sun Temple of Modhera are now under the management and supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Dedicated to Surya, the Sun god, the Sun Temple impresses all with its history, grandeur and design. The Solankis were considered to be the descendent of the Sun God and thus the structural marvel was constructed. The aura of the temple is defined by its distinct elements described below:
Surya Kund: This rectangular stepped tank has exemplary geometric features. With innumerable stone steps and 108 miniature shrines chiseled between these steps, Surya Kund is a sight to be captured and treasured.
Main temple: The temple architecture was designed in way that the rays of the sun during sunrise and sunset falls on the gold idol of the deity, Surya and his chariot during the equinox (20th March and 21st September). Though the entire gold idol was taken away by Mahmud Gazni, you can still see how the sun rays illuminate the sanctum sanctorum.
Sabha Mandap: It is a pillared hall with 52 unique and beautifully carved pillars depicting the tales from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The priest of the temple will actually narrate many of these stories if you request him. These pillars represent the 52 weeks of the year.
You can also attend the Modhera dance festival which is organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat. It is celebrated during the third week of January every year and enjoy overwhelming performances by renowned artists.
7. Patan – An ancient fortified town
Located at a distance of 110 km from Gandhinagar, Patan is one of the top 15 places to visit in Gujarat. The traces of this ancient fortified town can be found from 746 AD when King Vanraj Chavda of Chavda kingdom founded it. Rani ki Vav, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit here. It is dotted with several other wonderful structures including lakes, step wells, and temples, which make it a special destination for history aficionados.
The local markets here sell some wonderful Patola saris. Take a walk through the busy bazaar and notice the locals busy in their daily work. Do not miss visiting the Hemachandracharya Jain Gnan library, housing ancient Hindu and Jain scripts.
Popular Attractions– Rani ki Vav (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Anand Sarovar or Gungadi Talav Sahastralinga Tank, Hingaraj Mandir, Panchasar Derasar, special Patola silk saris etc.
8. Gandhi’s Ashram, Ahmedabad- First ashram by Mahatama Gandhi
There’s an interesting story behind Ashram Road of Ahmedabad getting its name. It is said that Ashram road is the road that connects the two ashrams of Mahatma Gandhi, Kochrab Ashram andSabarmati Ashram. While Sabarmati Ashram is more popular nowadays, Kochrab Ashram has an interesting history. Kochrab Ashram was the first ashram in India established by the Mahatma on 25th May 1915. It started with less than 20 members where they followed Gandhian style of living. After two years, Mahatma shifted to Sabarmati Ashram because of space constraints.
The Ashram is now managed by Gujarat Vidhyapeeth, an institution also established by Mahatma Gandhi himself. Recently, Kochrab Ashram has started a program ‘Live Gandhi for a while’ which allows people to stay in the ashram for a definite period of time and experience Gandhian lifestyle. It’s a homestay experience where one can live in the ashram provided they follow the 11 Gandhian vows including Satya (truth), Brahmacharya (chastity), Ahinsa (non-violence), Shram (physical labour), among others. One can also try their hands at the spinning wheel, community visits and cooking. Those who opt for this program will have to wear Khadi during their stay at the ashram. One can learn more about the virtues of Mahatma and get a different perception towards life, society and other natural resources. Ashram has a library with more than 10,000 books. One can also spend time reading books in a library that still breathes the spirit of freedom.
9. Saputara- the only hill station in Gujarat
Happily snuggling the Sahyadris or Western Ghats, Saputara is a small yet special destination in Gujarat. Reckoned to be the most popular hill station in the state, at Saputara the lush green forests and enchanting waterfalls; the beautiful sunrise and sunset and the consistent salubrious climate accentuate the beauty of the region. It is an excellent place for those who wish to contemplate nature’s beauty; spend cozy moments with a loved one or simply like to be all by themselves. Here is all that you need to know about this beautiful destination in Gujarat:
Saputara is situated in the Dang district of Gujarat. This beautiful hill station is situated at an elevation of about 1000m above sea level. It is located on a plateau in the Dang forest area. Adding to the beauty of Saputara is the River Sarpganga which flows through the town. The hill retreat is situated about 80kms from Nashik (Maharashtra), 112kms from Bilimora (Gujarat), 172kms from Surat (Gujarat), 280kms from Mumbai (Maharashtra), 300kms from Vadodra (Gujarat) and 420kms from Ahmedabad (Gujarat). The temperature in summer goes up to a maximum of 32°C and a minimum of 27°C. In winter, on the other hand the temperature remains between 16°C and 10°C. Saputara in monsoon receives an average rainfall (from July to September) of 254 cm.
10. Bhavnagar- Cultural hub of Gujarat
The lapping waves of the Gulf of Khambat along with the majestic splendor of art and architecture acquaint one to the most royal city of Gujarat. Bhavnagar located at the Southern tip of Peninsula Gujarat with its principle port Gogha as the entrance to the Gulf of Cambay, has been a predominant city for trade and commerce.
The glimmering shine of gems to grandiose of the historical structures, vibrant bazzars flaunting the glory of textile artisans to the finesse of the silversmiths, centuries of ocean trade to the effervescent entrepreneurship spirit, this city offers ample amount of diversity for any tourist or visitor. Delicately carved wooden pillars to facades of the merchant houses display the magnificence and opulent taste and fervor of the inhabitants whereas the buzzing markets and the industries state the enterprising zeal of the populace.
The intricately lattice work on the walls of Ganga Devi Mandir fills an feeling of awe in the spectator while the Takhteshwar Temple on the hilltop in the south of the town affords a good view over the city to the Gulf of Khambat in the South. The city known for being pioneer in rural children and women’s education field is also lauded for their efforts in social welfare.
Bhavanagar is also known as the Sanskari Kendra or the Cultural city and is identified for its cultural ingenuity and the literary laureates who were born and reside in the city. Narsinh Mehta, Ganga Sati, Jhaverchand Meghani, Kavi Kant, Govardhan Tripathi and many other poets, writers and artists have been part of the cultural and literary heritage of the city.
11. Bhuj- a place of several wonders
12. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary- For Bird Watchers and Nature Lovers
Located 60 km south-westwards of Ahmedabad, Nalsarovar bird sanctuary is one of the best bird sanctuaries in Gujarat. Nalsarovar is a shallow lake that is enveloped by marshy lands. It is home to as many as 250 species of birds including black tailed godwit, brown and white wader, and Merops orientalis. It also attracts migratory birds such as flamingoes, herons, white storks, rosy pelicans etc. from Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia. During winter months, the place is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Endangered wild ass and the black buck are also spotted here occasionally. Nalsarovar is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in India and the largest one in the state. In April month of 1969, this lake was declared a bird sanctuary. Rent a boat during sunrise to enjoy bird watching here. It is the only lake of the country, which has been declared as a Ramsar site in India.
- Timings– 06:00 AM to 06:00 PM
- Best time to visit the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary– November to February
13. Palitana – Shatrunjaya- Splendid Jain temples on hills
The Palitana Temples of Gujarat are located in the Shatrunjay(which is said to have 108 names) hills in the city of Palitana in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. In ancient times Palitana was called Padliptapur. It is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for the Jains. The Shatrunjaya hills are at a height of 2121 feet above sea level and are on the banks of the Shetrunji River. It means hills of victory and was originally called Pundarikgiri as Pundarik the grandson of the 1st Tirthankar Rishabhdeva attained salvation here. Lord Rishabha gave his first sermon in the temple on the hill top hence the hills are considered extremely sacred and visited by Jain pilgrims from all over the world. There are approximately 863 marble carved temples on the hills. It is said that the hills have been sanctified by the visits of 23 Tirthankars(except Lord Neminath).Reaching the summit involves climbing of more than 3750 steps. The temples are generally closed for devotees during the monsoon season. The spires of the temples is visible from a far distance. The Shatrunjaya hills offer a beautiful view of the surrounding scenery. Bathing in the waters of the Shatrunjay River is said to cure various diseases and confer merit to the pilgrim. From this hill the Gulf of Cambay is also visible.
14. Mandvi- Offering an unforgettable beach vacation
Mandvi Beach is one of the finest deluxe camps situated along the 1666km long Gujarat coastline.
One of India’s best-kept secrets, the deluxe camp at Mandvi Beach is part of the private beach estate of the Maharaos (rulers of Kutch) which is completely safe, secured from outside visitors and privately-owned. While the sun-kissed sands and warm tropical waters make Mandvi Beach a great holiday destination, Mandvi’s Palace is one of the grandest in Gujarat state and has a museum of princely heirlooms. The palace estate has been the location for filming many Bollywood Blockbusters.
Here, we offer you the opportunity to enjoy the beach, the palaces of Mandvi, the handicrafts and monuments of the rest of Kutch district, and birdwatching along the northern coast of the Gulf of Kutch including the flamingo-rich Mandvi creek while staying in the air-conditioned comfort of the royal-style tented deluxe camp with an old-world ambience and contemporary facilities.
15. Porbandar- A coastal city with a mix of old and new worlds
Porbandar is a serene coastal city, which offers its visitors an amalgamation of ancient and new world, making it an interesting option. It is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. Visit Kirti Mandir, his birth place that has now been turned into a museum. The city has a number of temples and stone buildings. River Asmavati merged into the Arabian Sea at Porbandar.
The city also finds its mention in the great Hindu epic of Mahabharata as the birth place of Sudama, the friend of Lord Krishna. Touches of late Harappa civilization can also be seen here. Enjoy bird watching at the Porbandar Bird Sanctuary.
Popular Attractions– Porbandar Beach, Miyani Beach, Kirti Mandir, Barda Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Sri Hari temple, Krishan –Sudama temple