GUJARAT – THE LAND OF HISTORY AND STORIES.

Written by Pooja & Abhign / localaroundtheglobe

Do you people feel intriguing to know more of the place where people still believe “Guests are God”, where late Shri Mahatma Gandhi was born and initiated independence movement. Birthplace of Lord Shri Krishna well-known as the God of love. The only place in the world where you encounter Asiatic lions. Yes! I am talking about GUJARAT. One of the states in India where people still preserve its vibrant culture and rich heritage.

Gujarat has a vastly diverse culture, history, and stories. These history and stories are well reflected in the precious monuments which are one of the well-known tourist places Gujarat. Here we are to take you on a ride to feel the free spirit of Gujarat.  

GREAT RANN OF KUTCH

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Ran of Kutch is the desert in Kutch district of Gujarat state, India. It is the largest salt marsh in that desert worldwide spread in around 7500 sq. km. This desert is designated as a world heritage site since 2002 have varied tourist attractions, moreover, Government of Gujarat has initiated a 3 months long festival where people from all over the world come and dive in the local culture and have their best time away from the monochromic life of the cities.

I could not get more than excited to share with you a glimpse of this wonderful RAN UTSAV”.

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Ustav means festival. Festival where people rejoice and celebrate the local traditional culture which is nowadays forgotten in our unvarying city life. The wonderful combination of local cuisines, folk dance, and music, art, and crafts, camel rides, encountering the unforgettable view of the salt marsh on a full moon night. Where the desert gets lighted up with the moonlight that makes this place more magical and dreamy. You have the lifetime experience to stay in luxurious tents with traditional “Kutchi” interiors. They also have a dedicated space for indoor games for tourists to relax and enjoy the stay, rather than going for various sightseeing excursions. You can take back beautiful handicrafts like embroidery, wood carving, mud wall paintings, seashell toys and much more. This festival is celebrated for 3 long months every year in winters.  

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You can also visit other tourist attractions like

  • Wildass sanctuary
  • “Mata no madh” is a temple of a goddess
  • Black hill – this is the highest point in Kutch and famous for the 400-year-old temple of a saint “dattareya”. Moreover, it is very close to Indo-Pak border and hence there is an army post at the top of the black hill.

This place is for people who love to add flavor to their life. The flavor of enrooted culture, mouthwatering delicacies, folk dance and music, the colorful ambiance on a white deserted land brings up the fun-filled atmosphere. Where you make new friends and enjoy the magical white dazzling desert of Kutch.

Travel tip: Best time to travel is in winters from October-February. Specifically, for Rann Utsav, dates are announced well in advance so you can book your trip accordingly. To book your ran Utsav trip you can visit official site www.rannutsav.com  Nearest airport is Bhuj airport.

SPIRITUAL GETAWAYS

Sacred jaunts are not everyone’s cup of tea. Yet some shrines on this planet have a huge significance. Gujarat state has an abundance of devotional and spirituality towards their shrines. This is a never dying essence of the state. It is next to impossible to cover all the Hindu temples which have huge gravity and history but I can’t afford to miss “DWARKADISH TEMPLE” and “SOMNATH TEMPLE”.

DWARKA

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Dwarka is an ancient city well known for the “Dwarkadish” temple of Lord Krishna. Devotees of Lord Krishna visit this temple not only from India but from different countries. This temple is famous for its beauty and location. It is situated at the banks of Gomti river. This temple has beautiful and enticing carving on the walls on the inside as well as outside. The pious and peaceful environment of this holy city gives you a soothing experience.

Dwarka is also one of the most studied underwater sites in India. It is believed by many that Dwarka was the city of gold had lacs of palaces and embed with crystals and silver. Dwarka was one of the richest city in the history of India. It is believed Dwarka has submerged thousand years ago. It’s an honor for India that the majority of the beliefs were proved to be a reality by Indian archaeological explorations.

Travel tip:  Tourist travel throughout the year, but, the best time to travel is between the month of October-February weather will be pleasant and cool.

SOMNATH

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Image source: By BeautifulEyes – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21223175

This place is a significant example of a greater history and spirituality. Somnath temple is a one of the 12 joytilinga of Lord Shiva located in the city of Somnath in Gujarat at banks of Arabian sea. Devotes of Lord Shiva come from all corners of world to seek blessings. An inordinate amount of people visits Somnath temple in the month of August as this month is considered holy in accordance to Hindu Calendar.

What is absolutely fascinating about this temple is it has witnessed mammoth and tragic destructions in the past. It is believed the temple of Somnath has been built in AD. Later on, destroyed by Afghans and Portuguese several times. Henceforth in 19th century The Iron man of India Sardar Vallabbhai Patel was conducive to build the old temple and New temple built was inaugurated by the First president of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1951. This temple has alluring architecture carved from stone and inner pillar is made of gold. it is believed by many shiv linga possess radioactive properties to produce gold is a reason it has witnessed invasions for several years.

However, after such challenging and decades of warfare, it is kind of captivating how this temple has not lost its spiritual essence and aura. And people come here with a heart full of wishes and pray for its fulfillment with fidelity.

Nothing fancy about this Somnath temple but its history is a legend in itself to dwell upon. temples architecture, beauty, seaside location, and warmth will bring you at peace with your own mind and soul. It is worth a visit if you coming to Gujarat.

Travel tip: Best time to visit somnath is in winters between October to February it is less crowded and weather is chilly and pleasant.

Interact with residents, priest and devotees to explore more. Nearest tourist attraction is Prabhas Patan museum which exhibits the remains of the old temple idols and Chorvad beach is approximately 30 kms from Somanth.

Stay in somnath are very convenient. It offers you budget hotels to 5 star hotels and you can even stay in inexpensive dharamshalas.

The nearest airport is Diu airport.

Gir National Park

Gujarat doesn’t only consist of temples but it has also preserved nature in its best way. If you don’t know Gujarat is the only state in the world where you can encounter Asiatic lions. Yes, that’s right! Gujarat has been efficient enough to preserve the wildlife for several years.

Gujarat doesn’t only consist of religious destinations but wildlife, preserving nature is also at utmost priority.

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Picture credit: daljeet singh sadhu (unsplash)

Gir is the only place in Asia to sight Asiatic lions in Asia. Gujarat is a tropical dry state wherein you can say summers are for 6 months and the other half is winter and monsoon. It is, in fact, beautiful to visit Gir after monsoon when you can see the lush green flora blooming all around, while on the contrary, in summers the forest is all dried up and not dense. Hence it becomes very easy for the tourist to sight wild animals as they come out in search of water.

In this national park other than lions you can encounter leopard, monkeys, deer, reptiles, varies breed of birds. It’s a delightful experience to go on a safari and encounter the whole family of a lion in the wild region. Along with the lion you can see the lioness and their cubs too. Isn’t that cute! leopards are frequently encountered by tourists and neighborhood residents too.

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Photo credit to daljit singh sadhu (unsplash)

The ideal time to go on safari is in the early morning where in fresh and pleasant weather animals are out for scavenging. Early morning dawn is peak time to sight varied birds and listen to their sweet and mellow chirping. It’s a lifetime experience to go on a wildlife safari in Gir and dive in the wilderness around.

Travel tip:

Jeep Safaris is to booked online. You can visit  http://www.girlionsafari.com  get it booked. Book your safaris well in advance in yours prefer dates. On the spot bookings are not available.

National park is closed from 16th June to 15th October.

Carry your ID proof with you which you used while your booking. If any discrepancy found in your photo id you are not allowed to board the jeep.

We suggest you to visit is in winters as summers are too harsh. You can visit from December to February month.

You can even visit: black buck national park, Nal sarover bird sanctuary to sight birds.

 Historical landmarks

By now you might have got an idea Gujarat is a state of a legendary past, undying love for nature and divinity. Some places are left behind by ancestors to remind the coming generations of their intellectual intelligence without the use of advance technologies and formal education. There are few monuments in Gujarat that will blow away your minds just by looking at them.

Rani ni vav

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(Photocredit:ByKshitijCharania-Ownwork,CCBY-SA4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62435325)

 “Rani ni vav” stands for queen’s stepwell. This monument is like an inverted temple. It has seven level stairs in it. Various sculptures of celestial beings like Apsaras, goddess and seven avatars of Lord Vishnu are carved all around it.it was built by a widowed queen Udayamati in fond memory of her husband king Bhimdev IN 1050 AD.

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ByShakti-Ownwork,CCBY-SA3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11427525

It was believed during that era the water of the stepwell was so pious that it had a healing properties to heal various ailments and viral fevers. It was a beautiful stop for people traveling and want to have layovers. It is said beneath the last steps of the well a 30 m tunnel is build that takes you to a city of Sidhpur close to the Patan city.

A must visit place if you coming to Gujarat. In 2014 it is registered as a world heritage site by UNESCO

LAXMI VILAS PALACE

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https://www.gujarattourism.com/hotel/details/1014

Laxmi vilas palace is a must visit palace whilst visiting Vadodara city of Gujarat. This place is four times Buckingham palace. Spread across in 700 acres. You will see lush green gardens which are still maintained for the visitors that adds beauty to this palace. If you are lucky visitor you will to monkeys, peacocks, and birds roving around the green gardens of the palace. The architect of this palace is mixture of Hindu, gothic and Mughal. It is mesmerizing to see such a pretty palace with such a beautiful garden around gives you memorable experience. No wonder, it is still a resident to the royal family. Palace ground is amazingly utilized for golf, moreover in earlier times museum was used as school where you will find a small pond and few crocodiles.

You need to buy a ticket which includes audio tour and snacks.

Travel tip:

Nearest airport is Vadodara. Vadodara is beautiful city and you will get enough options for hotels from budget hotels to 5 and 7 stars. It is very convenient to get to the palace via local auto rickshaws, buses and cabs.

Palace is closed on Monday and visiting timings are from 10: 30am to 5:30 pm

Visit hours is for maximum 3 hours. For more details, you can visit http://www.gujarattourism.com
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