Gujarat is known for being the place which is one every traveler’s bucket list. It is known for being engulfed in the traditional vibrancy as well as cultural uniqueness which sets it apart from the rest of the states of the subcontinent. Gujarat is a true representation of a mosaic of well preserved traditions, age old customs and numerous religious practices making it a land of surprises. This state is known for being a Pandora box of thriving ecology, vibrant biodiversity, lively festivals and pleasant people. There is something for everyone in this westernmost state, from the calming sandy beaches and one of the sites for the holy char dham yatra of Dwarkadhish mandir to the dream like landscape of Kutch complete with the dense forests, Gujarat truly is a wonderful land of wonders.
If you are looking for various places of attraction during your visit to Gujarat, while availing your Gujarat tour package then these are some of the places you should not afford to miss out on:
1. Somnath Temple
This temple is among one of the most highly acclaimed pilgrimage centres in India. Known for being the first ‘swayambhu’ (self created) jyotirlinga among the 12 sacred jyotirlingas in India Somnath temple remains flocked by devotees and pilgrims throughout the year. The entire temple complex is a magnificent representation of the grand architectural style and design of the Chalukya ages. Located on the strategic point the triveni mahasangam, this place has always been a centre of interest since the ancient times.
Travel tips – if you are planning on visiting this sacred temple then make sure to plan your travel during the months of October to March.
2. Gir forest national park
Also known as Sasangir, and located at a distance of 43 km from the Somnath mandir, this important national park was established during the year 1965 with an aim of protecting the endangered lions along with other species of flora and fauna. This dry deciduous covered forest is the only abode for Asiatic lions in the entire world. The entire national park is dotted with various water reserves which serve as the watering hole for the animals.
Travel tip – national park timings of the park is from 6 am to 5 pm (your jeep safari will depend on the availability of the slot in between the given schedule). The best time to visit is between the months of November to February.
3. Girnar group of mountains
Located in the Junagadh district of Gujarat, Girnar Hills is a group of majestic mountains which is an ideal place for weekend getaways from Gujarat and a must visit site. This group of mountain is said to be older than the mighty Himalayas, and it also plays host to a number of temples and historical sites. It is also known for being the spot of penance for numerous saints, devotees and other pilgrims. Plan your trip to the hills during the time of Maha Shivratri when the entire place is adorned with colorful decorations and thronged by worshippers from all over the world.
Travel tip – the best time to visit this place is during the months of October and March when you can visit some of the famous temples like – Ambaji, Dattatreya, Kamandalkund, Kalika and many more.
4. Rani ki vav – the queen’s stepwell
This intricately designed and carved stepwell is located in the town of Patan on the banks of River Saraswati. This UNESCO world heritage site was built in the year 11th century and showcases more than 500 perfectly crafted sculptures. It has also been dubbed as the ‘cleanest iconic place’ in India. The unparalleled beauty of the vav also carries some amount of spiritual significance, making it one of the prime sightseeing destination in Gujarat.
Travel tip – plan your visit during the pleasant weather conditions of September to February.
5. Kankaria lake
Formerly known as Hauj-e-Qutb and originally built in the year 1451, this lake is the second largest lake in Ahmedabad. The lakefront present around this artificial lake area developed with an aim of providing the visitors with numerous entertainment options like tethered hot air balloon ride, water rides, food stalls, toy trains and even a fun zoo. During the night the entire lake is lit up in different colors which amps up the beauty of this place. This is the perfect place to visit with your family during a holiday.
Travel tip – the best time to visit this lake is during the time of Kankaria festival which is held one the last week of December during which numerous cultural, art and social activities take place and entertain the visitors.
6. Laxmi Vilas Palace
Constructed by the important Maratha family of Gaekwad and built in the year of 1890 this palace has been dubbed for being one of the largest private dwelling till date since it is four times the size of Buckingham Palace. The entire opulent palace complex pans over an area of 500 acres and boasts of modern amenities and an intricately designed interior. This palace is a wonderful blend of age old architecture and well preserved history.
Travel tips – the palace timings are between 9:30 am to 6 pm and there is an audio tour is also available for the convenience of the visitor.
7. Aina Mahal
Constructed during the 18th century and located right next to the Prag mahal, this palace is one of the most unique palaces in India. with the walls adorned with colorful glass, gold laces and lines of mirrors separated with the help of gilded ornaments, the features of this palace is unparalleled and one of a kind. The palace also houses a wholesome museum which showcases a bedroom, pieces of mirrors and arts, palanquins, music rooms and courtroom. The ornate representation of design and architecture is truly a sight to behold.
Travel tips – plan your trip during the pleasant months when it won’t be a hassle to go through the entire palace complex.
8. Jama Masjid
This mosque is one of the most splendid structures in Gujarat which was built in the year 1424. Situated outside the stunning Bhadra fort this masjid is probably one of the largest one in the subcontinent. Built with the help of red and yellow sandstone and showcasing the Indian and Islamic architectural styles this mosque was initially created for the personal usage of Sultan Ahmad Shah 1.
Travel tip – the mosque is open for visitation from 6 am to 10 pm.
9. The Great Rann of Kutch
Panning over a vast area of 7,505.22 sq. km. this gleaming white land is the largest salt marsh in the world. The entire area is inhabited by the local village where you can visit and witness the traditional Gujarati way of life. For three months (November to March) this surreal place is host to the vibrant Rann Utsav for three months. experience the wonderful and colorful Gujarati culture in all its vigor.
Best time to visit – July to March
Timings – 6 am to 8 pm
10. Polo monument and Vijaynagar forest
The temples of Polo were constructed between the years of 10th and 15the century near Vijaynagar. The thick forest area surrounding these temples was used as a hiding place from enemies, the sun and mobs. The temples still in use are the Saneshwar mandir, Lakha dera Jain temple and Shiv Shakti mandir while other medival temples are in ruins. One will feel like the entire place is frozen in time.
Best time to visit – July to February
Travel tip – your jeeps will transport you only till the polo campsite from where you will be following the trekking trails and explore the forest on your own. Be sure to carry water and wear skin covering clothes since you will be inside a forest.
11. Champaner – Pavagadh archeological park
Located in the Panchmahal district and extending from the pavagadh hills to Champaner this deserted city is studded with numerous forts depicting the rich architectural heritage of Hindu and Islamic styles. The entire area is dotted with residential complexes, mosques, tombs, gateways, stepwells and many more which dates back to late 15th and early 16th century. One can feast on the panoramic view of the wonderful city on the foothills from here.
Best time to visit – October to February
Centre of attraction – Kalika Mata temple (located 2,600 ft above sea level) an important site for Hindu pilgrimage
12. Palitana Jain temple
This cluster of 3000 brilliantly carved Jain temples are located on top of Shatrunjaya hill which is an extremely important site for Sveteambara Jains. Its importance lays in the fact that the first Jain tirthankara, Adinathvisited this hill along with his chief disciple Pundarika who attained his enlightenment here. The top of the hill gives a panoramic view of the Gulf of Cambay.
Best time to visit – October to February
Travel tip – be sure to start your climb early in the morning in order to leave by evening since there is no option for night stay here.
13. Sun Temple, Modhera
Dedicated to the sun god, Surya and constructed in the year 1026 – 27 CE, this temple is one of the best representation of the Chalukya style of architecture. No worship takes place here and is taken care of by the archeological survey of India. The entire temple is adorned with neat and fine carvings on the interior as well as the exterior walls. One of the most unique features of this temple is the fact that the three different parts of the temples are perfectly aligned from east to west.
Best time to visit – October to March
Travel tip – make sure to plan you visit here during the Modhera dance festival, which pans for three days and is held every year during the 3rd weekend of January after the completion of Uttarayan festival.