Gujarat is one of those states in India, you’ll never get tired of exploring! Read on, as we help you narrow down the choices with 10 must-see places in the state, where life is nothing but celebration!
While most travellers and bloggers today can generally be found gushing over ‘hidden gems’ and unique, lesser-known attractions, there are certain places that one cannot miss while visiting a new state. After all, these famous touristy attractions are what give the state its unique identity.
Here are our recommendations for 10 must-see places whenever you are in the fascinating land of Gujarat:
1. Rann of Kutch
The saying, “Kutch nahin dekha to kuchh nahin dekha” (you have not seen anything if you haven’t seen Kutch) could not be truer. The salt marsh of the Rann of Kutch located in the vast Thar Desert is nothing short of a spectacle. While it remains submerged in the monsoon, through the rest of the year it is a vision in white of limitless salt pans, a sight that is particularly unforgettable on full moon nights.
The annual festival of Rann Mahotsav is the best time to visit this place. Moreover, winter also sees several migratory bird species arrive here, only adding to the spectacular beauty all around.
Dubbed the Cultural Capital of Gujarat, Vadodara is an essential stop for architecture and history buffs. The erstwhile capital of the Marathas, the city has a glorious past that is still evident in structures like the Laxmi Vilas Palace. The Gaekwad royal family still reside in this majestic palace, a stunning example of the grandeur and architectural skill of Indian royalty.
Other places to visit in Vadodara include Kadia Dungar Caves and the beautiful Sayaji Baug.
3. Rani ki Vav, Patan
An excellently-preserved ancient stepwell, the Rani ki Vav is a rare monument that was built by a queen (Rani Udayamati) as a memorial for her husband, King Bhimdev I.
Built in 1063, the structure still stands strong and grand by the Saraswati River. Well-erected pavilions with pillars, beautiful stepped corridors, intricate sculptures of Lord Vishnu’s 10 avatars, and 400 niches on the stepwell’s walls make this UNESCO World Heritage Site an unmissable attraction while in Gujarat.
A famous yet unique landmark, Palitana is the world’s biggest mountain temple complex.
The Shatrunjaya Hill here is dotted with 900 impressive temples of different sizes, and is a revered pilgrimage site for the Jains. But what makes Palitana distinctive are the Hindu Brahmins serving as priests in Jain temples and the peaceful co-existence of Muslim shrines like the Angar Pir Dargaah at the same place. Another unique record that Palitana holds is of being the world’s first city to be legally declared as vegetarian.
Along with being the commercial hub of the state, Ahmedabad also has a rich cultural heritage and myriad attractions. When not tucking into a mouth-watering Gujarati meal at the many restaurants or soaking in the view from the Sabarmati riverfront, you can explore places like the Akshardham Temple Complex, Kankaria Lake, Calico Museum of Textiles, and of course, the beautiful Sabarmati Ashram. The city is also an excellent street shopping destination.
6. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this archaeological park on the foothills of Pavagadh was constructed over a period of 600 years. It is also the sole unchanged site from the pre-Mughal days and is home to important structures like the Jama Masjid, Pavagadh Fort, Helica Step-well, Lakulisa Temple, and Kevda Masjid. These monuments are impressive examples of Islamic, Hindu, and Jain architectural styles and date back to the 8th-14th centuries. There are also historic reservoirs, tombs, residential buildings, gateways, and palaces inside this fascinating site.
With a name that translates to Abode of Serpents, Saputara is a welcoming hill station in Gujarat located at an altitude of 1,000 metres on the Sahayadri range.
The government has taken active efforts to develop it as a tourist destination, and it is a popular weekend getaway for people from Gujarat and neighbouring states as well. Monsoon is the best season to visit this green retreat and enjoy its waterfalls, outdoor activities, and mist-covered views.
8. Gir National Park
There is something for everyone in Gujarat, and the Gir National Park will particularly appeal to families and wildlife lovers. This is the world’s only natural habitat of the stunning but endangered Asiatic lions, and it offers the chance to view these magnificent beasts from close quarters. A jeep safari is a must at Gir, and it also lets visitors catch sight of other rare wild animals like black bucks, hyenas, and fish owls.
Visitors to Gir often overlook this place, but we recommend a visit to Junagadh (meaning the Old Fort) for a peek at some marvellous historic structures.
Home to Hindu temples, mosques, and Buddhist structures that feature exquisite architecture, Junagadh used to be under the rule of Babi Nawabs before India’s independence. Do not miss visiting the Mahabat Maqbara, a spectacular mausoleum that is considered a vintage architectural gem.
10. Somnath Temple
To end on a spiritual note, the Somnath Temple is what you should definitely see while in Gujarat.
A much-respected place of worship as well as an architectural marvel, this landmark is considered to be the first and the most holy place of Lord Shiva’s 12 shrines, called Jyotirlingas. It is believed that Lord Krishna left for his heavenly abode here, and is a major tourist draw today.
Gujarat Fact File
Location:In India’s westernmost part, flanked by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and the Arabian Sea.
Connectivity: Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport is well-connected to Indian as well as international destinations. With 17 airports in total, air connectivity is frequent and convenient to different parts of Gujarat. The Western Railway connects the state to other parts of India; while there is good road connectivity from several neighboring places.
Climate: Varies according to the season and place. Summers are usually extremely hot.
Official Language: Gujarati
Time Zone: Indian Standard Time – IST (UTC +5:30)
Food and Drink: Gujarati Thalis are the best way to sample different foods in each city. Popular local beverages include Chaas (buttermilk) and Piyush (sweet yoghurt).
Interested to holiday in Gujarat?