The west coastal state of Gujarat is not only the most industrialized state of India, but also one of the popular tourist destinations of the country. Situated in between Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Gujarat never fails to draw tourist’s attention. Gujarat is bounded by the state of Maharashtra in the east, Rajasthan in the north-east, Maharashtra and the Union-territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu in the south. The state shares international boundary with Pakistan to the north-west. The Arabian Sea makes up the western coast of the entire state. Gandhi Nagar, the state capital is a planned city, while former state capital Ahmedabad is now the commercial capital of Gujarat.
Spread over an area of 196,024 sq. kms, Gujarat has a population of 50,596,992. Around 20 per cent of the state population belong to tribals or aboriginals locally called as Harijan. Jain religion predominates in the state and some of its most interesting sights are Jain temple centres like those at Palitana and Girnar. Apart from the Jain temples, other major attractions of the state are the Asiatic Lions in the Gir forest and the fascinating Indo-Saracenic architecture of Ahmedabad. Jains are friendly people and are big lovers of brutes and beast or wildlife. In fact, whenever you are out in the street and market of the state you will find them distributing foods to wild members and birds.
Gujarat – History
Gujarat has a long and varied history, the region was an important part of Mauryan Empire during 3rd century B.C. Even today you can see the testimony of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s commandments in the stone inscription of Junagarh. If you want to go beyond history into the realm of legend, then the Somnath Temple has witnessed the creation of the Universe. In the south-coast of the state there are several sites where many of the events related to Krishna’s life took place.
On more firm historic footing, Gujarat constitutes an area that housed the site of Harappan and Indus Valley Civilization over 4,000 years ago. Although the main sites from this very ancient culture are now in Pakistan, but it is believed that Lothal may have survived as the great cities of the Sindh around 500 years. In Gujarat around 50 Harappan sites have been explored and excavated, such as Lothal, Rangpur, Rozdi, Lakhabaval and Amri near Ahmedabad.
Gujarat is said to be the land of the Dravidian tribes, who inhabited here for long time. It is believed that before the Aryan occupation, Gujarat had trade relations with Sumer, in about 1000-750 B.C. During the 3rd Century B.C, Emperor Ashoka extended his domain into the Gujarat and Buddhism flourished in this region. Apart from spreading Buddhism, the Mauryans also promoted trade and helped to spread its culture. Around 150 B.C, the Maurya Empire fell down and the Bactarian Greeks under Meander took control over the region.
Next the Scythians ruled it from 130 AD to 390 AD. Gujarat went under the rule of Gupta dynasty around the 4th century and they ruled over it till 460 AD. In between 500 – 700 AD, the Vallabhas ruled over the region. After the death of King Harshavardhana, the Gujjars occupied the kingdom and ruled till 746 AD. In the 9th century AD, Gujarat came under the rule of Solanki dynasty, who ruled till 1143. In the 10th century, Gujarat saw its modernization in the hand of Chalukya King Mulraj Solanki.
Gujarat was the victim of the first Muslim invasion in 1027 by Mahmood Ghazni, leading to the downfall of the Solanki dynasty. However, the Muslim rule held Gujarat in 1299, with the capture of it by Delhi Sultanate King Allauddin Khilji. The Delhi Sultanate had their influence over Gujarat from 1299 to 1392 AD. In 1411, Altaf Khan declared himself the Sultan of Gujarat and held the crown as Ahmed Shah. Gujarat went under the Mughal rule for a brief period in 1534-35, at the time of Emperor Humayun. In 1572, Mughal Emperor Akbar once again captured Gujarat and ruled for about two centuries.
Next the Marathas uprooted the rule of Mughals in the mid 18th century. In the year 1817, after their third war with Marathas, British East India Company held Gujarat. Losing its separate entity, Gujarat became the part of the then Bombay state. In post-independent India, on 1st May 1960, the state of Gujarat was formed from the north and west portions of old Bombay state.
Gujarat – Tourist Destinations
Gujarat, a state known for its flourishing industries attracts tourists for more reasons than one. This geographically diversified land is dotted with lush green forests housing wildlife sanctuaries and parks, charming hill resorts, magical Aravalli ranges with several river and their tributaries flowing throughout the state. Besides its natural beauty, a number of exquisite forts and monuments, magnificent temples and pilgrim centres, rich arts and crafts, the delectable cuisine and colourful lifestyle of the Gujarati people, add to the splendour of Gujarat. Visit the tourist destinations of Gujarat to see the wonders of the state. Major tourist destinations of Gujarat include Ahmedabad, Gandhi Nagar, Surat and Vadodara
Gujarat – Wildlife
Gujarat’s forests provide shelter to an amazing diversity of wildlife and are also home to some of the extremely rare wildlife. Prominent amongst these are the Asiatic Lions, Wild Ass, world’s only four-horned antelope and one of the most threatened birds, the great Indian Bustard. Apart from these, you can see a wide variety of animals and avian species in the wildlife sanctuaries and parks of Gujarat. Popular wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Vansda National Park, Blackbuck National Park, Marine National Park, Wild Ass Sanctuary, Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary, Thol Wildlife Sanctuary, Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary and Porbandar Bird Sanctuary.
Gujarat – Forts & Monuments
Gujarat has several important historic events linked to it. Amongst the numerous historic attractions, the forts and monuments of the state draw large number of tourists from far and near. In fact, Gujarat is one of the few states, which have forts and monuments constructed with a fine blend of Hindu, Islamic and European architecture. In addition to excellent architecture, the provincial wooden furniture used in the forts and monuments is another charming ingredient. Some of the important forts and monuments of Gujarat include Pawagadh Fort, Dabhoi Fort, Nazar Bagh Palace, Uparkot Fort and Kusum Vilas Palace.
Gujarat – Arts & Culture
Gujarat is renowned for its song, dance and drama. In fact, singing and dancing runs in the blood of Gujaratis. For each and every occasion and festival, the Gujaratis have special songs and dances. Most popular amongst them are Ras and Garba and several folk dance forms like Padhar Nritya, Tippani Nritya, Dangi Nritya and Siddi Dance. In Gujarat famous folk drama is called as Bhavai. With fantastic handicrafts, the traditional Gujaratis have retained their rich cultural centuries, which you can see well exhibited by the art and craft of the state. Gujaratis are master craftsmen and they transform even a simple object of daily use into a thing of immense beauty. Major handicrafts works of Gujarat are Patola Silk fabrics and Sarees, Bandhej (Tie and dye fabric), Pachedi Prints, Zari Work, Mashru fabric, Lacquer Work, Wood Carving, Furniture, Pottery, Embroidery and Dhurries.
Gujarat – Cuisine
Gujarat’s varied cuisine is a food-lover’s delight. Gujarati cuisine is more or less similar to any other Indian cuisine. Although Gujarati cuisine is almost strictly vegetarian, served on silver platters with cooked rice and a soft wheat breads, but sea food is favourite in the coastal regions. While visiting Gujarat, you must savour Gujarati delicacies like the Dhokla – a steamed cake made of gram flour paste, Kadhi – a curry made of yogurt, Sev-Ganthia- a variety of spicy snacks, Doodh Pak – a milk confection, Undhyo- a winter delicacy cooked in earthen pots, Srikhand and Suter Pheni.
Gujarat – Fairs and Festivals
Gujarat, a land to several culture and traditions, celebrate hundreds of fairs and festivals throughout the year. Some festivals are related to various religions, while some are related to a particular region, but all offers lots of fun and excitement. Popular fairs and festival of Gujarat are International Kite Festival, Navratari, Janmashtami, Dangs Darbar, Chitra-Vichitra Fair, The Sun Temple-Dance Festival, Bhavnath Mahadev Fair and Kutch Mahotsava.
Gujarat – Hill Stations
Saputara, a village in Dangs district is the only best known hill station in Gujarat. Literally called the ‘abode of serpents’, Saputara is one of the smallest hill stations in India. Situated at an altitude of 875 metres, the hill station offers a cool and soothing climate and also provides breathtaking view of lush green Dangs forest. Saputara is located at a distance of 112 kms from Bilimora railway station of Gujarat, and it can be easily reached from Mumbai via Nasik, which is about 80 Kms away from it. As Saputara hill spreads over a small area, so you can cover the entire hill station on foot. From the Saputara you will get splendid views of the sunrise and sunset. Major attractions at Saputara are Purna Sanctuary, Boating, The Ropeway, Vansda National Park and Sunrise Point. Besides, you can also visit the nearby villages of Malegaon, Jogbari, Linga, Gadvi, Bhadarpada and Ambapada.
Gujarat – Temples
Temples are one of the major attractions in the state of Gujarat. Gujarat is home to several magnificently sculpturesd temples, both old as well as modern. Apart from their marvellous beauty, the temples of Gujarat are known for their temple festival and their attached deities. Some of the most revered temples are Akshardham Temple, Dwarka Temple, Rukmini Temple, Dwarakadhisha Temple, Somnath Temple, Sun Temple, Ajit Nath Temple, Palitana Jain Temples, Bhadreshwar Temple, Ambaji Temple, Manav Mandir Temple, Saidham Temple, Someshware Temple and Shankeshwar Temple.
Gujarat – Shopping
Your trip to Gujarat is not complete unless you do some shopping in the colourful bazaars of the state. Since a long time Gujarat is known all over the world for its rich tradition of handicrafts. Gujarat has a large number of Government Emporia and private shop, where you can buy almost everything from A to Z. Some of the items which you must check out in Gujarat are Cradle Clothes, Patola Silk Sarees, Embroidered Footwear, Cloth Toys, Wall Hangings, Marriage Costumes, Bandhnis, Traditional Gagra-Cholis, Embroidered – Appliquéd Quilts and Lacquer Furniture.
The climate of Gujarat varies in different regions, it is moist in the southern region and dry in the northern region. On the other hand, the Arabian sea and the Gulf of Cambay reduce the temperature and make the climate more pleasant and refreshing. March to June is the hot season, when the temperature soars to a high of 43°C. The south-west monsoon arrives the state by the end of June and stays till September. In Gujarat the average rainfall varies from 33 cms to 152 cms. Winter starts from November and end in the month of February. Winter is mild and temperature drops to a minimum of 14°C.
Best Time to Visit
Best Time to visit Gujarat is between October and March.
Airlines : Gujarat has an international airport in the state’s commercial capital, Ahmedabad and 10 domestic airports in major cities of the state. Flights of major airlines like Indian Airlines, Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet, Air Deccan, Air Sahara and Kingfisher ply to Ahmedabad and other domestic airports of the state.
Railways : The state of Gujarat is connected by railways with important places of the country. Ahmedabad is the major railway station of the state, the state capital Gandhi Nagar is also a major railhead. Gujarat is served by a number of express and super fast trains.
Roadways : Extensive network of National Highways, State Highways and several other roads connect the major cities of the state with the rest of the country. All the tourist destinations of Gujarat is well-served by buses run by state government and private operators.