The state of Gujarat is synonymous with rich culture, heritage and diverse tourist attractions. It is a seat of Indus Valley Civilization and thus its archaeological importance is immense. It is a splendid place to unearth the relics of our past dating back to 5000 years. The state of Gujarat is also the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, our "Father of the Nation", and thus will forever be associated intimately with the Indian Independence Movement. This west coast state of India is the hub of historical monuments and temples on one hand, and wildlife sanctuaries, National Parks, hill resorts and beaches of tourist interest on the other. Nature has blessed the state in leaps and bounds with rivers, mountains and forests enhancing its natural beauty. The major rivers quenching the thirst of Gujarat are Narmada, Tapi, Sabarmati, Mahi and ten others. The major mountain ranges towering the state are Aravalli, Vindhya, Satpura and Sahyadri. Gujarat is also home to 21 wildlife sanctuaries and 4 National Parks. These diversified attractions of the state add a unique taste for the tourists from all corners of the globe.
Situated in the western ghats of India, Gujarat has a total area of 196,077 sq. kms. It is bordered by the Arabian Sea in the west, the state of Madhya Pradesh in the east, the state of Rajasthan in the north and northeast and by Maharashtra in the south and southeast. The state shares its international boundary with Pakistan in the northern fringes.
Gujarat is called "The Jewel of the West". The jewels are its rich historic places of interest that dot the entire state like Lothal, Dholavira, Gola Dhoro, and Sabarmati; important temple sites like Dwarakadheesh Temple in Dwarka, Somnath temple in Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval, Becharaji temple in Mehsana district, Chotila in Surendranagar district, Dakor near Ahmedabad, Ambaji on the Arasur Hill, Modhera Sun Temple, etc; Jain temples at Girnar, Palitana, Patan and Shankheshwar Jain temple near Ahmedabad along with ancient mosques like Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Rani Rupmati Mosque, Shah Alam Roza and Kutbi Mazar. For the nature lovers the state of Gujarat offers a wide spectrum of National Parks like the most famous Gir Forest National Park, Blackbuck National Park, Vansda National Park and Marine National Park and many famous wildlife Sanctuaries. For a perfect weekend trip there are exotic beach resorts like Ahmedpur Mandvi beach in Junagadh district, Chowpatty at Porbandar, Somnath beach behind the Somnath Temple, Madhavpur beach, Gopnath Beach, Veraval Beach, etc and the panoramic hill station of Saputara.
Ahmedabad: The first capital of Gujarat and the Manchester of India, Ahmedabad is the sixth largest metropolitan city of India, located on the banks of River Sabarmati. The city is famous for its textile industry, great old architectural treasures and many fine art galleries and museums. Places to visit in Ahmedabad are the famous Sabarmati Ashram at Vadaj, Stepwell at Adalaj, Rani Rupmati Mosque, Sidi Sayed Mosque, the Bhadra Fort, Amar Dham, a replica of Vaishnodevi Temple, the ISKCON Temple, Hathisingh Temple, Juma Masjid, Jhulta Minara, the Kankaria Lake, Vastrapur Lake, Law Garden, Sarkhej Roja and many more interesting sites.
Sabarmati Ashram: The Gandhi Ashram, founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 is situated near the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad. It is the seat of Gandhijiâ€™s Satyagraha and is thus a major tourist attraction. People from all around the world flock the Sabarmati Ashram to learn about the legendary leader, Mahatma Gandhi and his famous Dandi March of 1930 which was initiated from this place. The ashram today is a major handicraft centre with a spinning wheel factory and handmade paper factory.
Gir Forest National Park: This is one of the Premier National Parks of India, the only natural habitat of the Asiatic lions, outside Africa. The Gir forest is also home to the big cat, leopard in India. A safari in this forest can be a lifetime adventure for many.
Wildlife Sanctuaries: Wildlife sanctuaries dotting the map of Gujarat are many and some are worth a visit like Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary, Porbandar Bird Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Balaram-Ambaji, Anjal, Khavda, Barda, Jambughoda, Purna, Paniya, Rampura, Surpaneshwar and Ratanmahal.
Dwarakadheesh Temple: This is one of the important temples of Gujarat dedicated to Lord Krishna in Dwarka, on the tip of the Arabian Sea.
Somnath Temple : "The Shrine Eternal", as the Somnath Temple is popularly known, is located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval on the western ghats. One of the 12 Jyotirlings or golden lingas of Lord Shiva, the Somnath temple has been destroyed and rebuilt six times.
Girnar: This steep hill is the epitome of communal harmony among the Hindus and Jains. It bears the shrine of the 22nd Tirthankara, Neminath on one hand and the Hindu deity, Guru Dattatreya on the other.
Palitana Temples: This is a complex of 863 Jain temples studded from the base of the Shatrunjaya Hill to its peak where the Palitana Temple is located, 51 kms from Bhavnagar.
Hawa Mahal: Located at Wadhawan in Gujarat, the wind palace is an incomplete piece of edifice worth a visit.
Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach: This beautiful beach resort is situated in Junagadh district of Gujarat which is perfect for thrilling water sports like water scooters, parasailing, surfing, etc. The Ahmedpur Mandvi stretches around 6 kms providing an exotic view of the Creek of Diu Island, attracting weekend tourists.
By Air: The state of Gujarat has 10 domestic airports and one international airport (Ahmedabad). It is well connected by air to all the major cities of India and with many parts of the world.
By Rail: The Western Railways connects the state internally and also to other states. Major railway stations of Gujarat are Vadodara, Surat, Ahmedabad and Rajkot railway stations.
By Road: Gujarat is easily accessible to all parts of the country through Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation.
Travel by Royal Orient Train: The journey to Gujarat from Delhi in the luxurious Royal Orient Train can be an amazing experience for tourists who wish to feel the lifestyle of ancient Maharajas. This 7 day journey through Rajasthan and the famous places of interest in Gujarat, like Ahmedabad, Junagadh, Somnath, Gir Forest, Palitana and Sarkhej village unfolds various facets of this historical state.
Safari: The adventurous nature lovers can take safaris in the Gir Forest to explore the lions and leopards or in Blackbuck National Park to see the exuberant Black Bucks.
Hiking: Hiking on the Shatrunjaya hill to explore the 863 marble Jain temples can be an added attraction.
Water Sports: The beautiful Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach along with a hoard of other beaches in Gujarat offer facilities for adventurous water sports like water scooters, speedboats, parasailing, surfing, etc.
Boating & Bird Watching: Boating in Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is a perfect means to take a close look at the 250 species of migratory birds from Siberia between November and February. The Sanctuary is spread over 120 sq. kms.
The best time to visit Gujarat is the winter season (from November to February) as the climate is pleasant and clear, suitable for travel. It is during this time (in January) that the International Kite Festival is held in Ahmedabad at the time of the Uttarayan Festival. Tourists from around the globe come to celebrate and participate in the festival. Another suitable time to visit the state would be during the gorgeous Navratri Festival around September-October when the state dances to the tune of ras garba for ten days.
Gujarat has been the bed of Indus Valley Civilization. Major historical towns of Indus Valley like Lothal, Dholavira and Gola Dhoro, belong to Gujarat. The first Indian port was located in Lothal, while Dholavira is famous for its sophisticated water reservoir. The emergence of the Muslims in Gujarat dates back to the 11th century with the conquest of Somnath by Mahmud of Ghazni. Later in history the first European power to step into the state was Portugal, followed by the British in 1614. In this year the East India Company established their factory in Surat. Gujarat also nurtured the most popular historical leaders of India like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai and others. The historical significance of Gujarat during Indiaâ€™s freedom struggle is immense with Gandhijiâ€™s famous Salt Satyagraha commencing from the Sabarmati Ashram. Gujarat finally became a new state of Independent India on 1st May 1960, with its first capital at Ahmedabad. However in 1970 Gandhinagar became the capital of the state.
The climate of Gujarat varies from north to south. It is dry in the northern region and moist in the southern districts. Inspite of the fact that the Tropic of Cancer passes through the state, Gujarat does not face extreme climate, thanks to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Cambay in the west and the hilly forest region in the east. The winters are pleasant from November to February with average temperature varying between 29°C and 12°C. The summer season from March to May is extremely hot and dry with maximum temperature touching 46°C during the day. The monsoon brings relief in mid-June. Average rainfall in the state varies between 33 to 152cms. However the semi-desert region of Kutch has very little rainfall.