March 17, 2020
If there is any new place that you wish to visit this year with your family, it should be the State of Gujarat. Highly developed over the last two decades and with many modern cities like Surat and Ahmedabad, Gujarat is indeed a great holiday destination.
A State with one of the largest coastlines in India – spanning over 1600 km – Gujarat is the fifth largest State in India in terms of geographical area. It is close to Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Daman and Diu.
Historically, Gujarat is a goldmine of ancient civilisations and artefacts therein. The ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, Dholavira, Gola Dhoro and Lothal were present in what is modern day Gujarat. Lothal had one of the first ports in the world before the 10th century, and there were other port cities that still serve the State, like Khambhat and Bharuch. The Gupta and Maurya empires also exercised a sphere of influence here, followed by the Saka dynasty and the Mughals. The name ‘Gujarat’ is derived from the word ‘Gurjarasa’ meaning the ‘Land owned by the Gurjars’ a tribe that was native to the State and Rajasthan.
There are several reasons to visit Gujarat with your loved ones. We list the prominent ones
* A rich history: Apart from the Indus Valley Civilisation, Gujarat was also the site of the famous Dwarka where Lord Krishna was raised. Even today, many parts of Gujarat have Lord Krishna temples and Gujaratis are ardent followers of the God. However, these are not mere legends but there are historical finds documenting Lord Krishna’s stay in the area. These include the Beyt Dwarka, Dwarkadhish Temple and Gomti Ghat.
* Friendly people: Gujaratis are known for being affable and kind. They are also known for being wealthy with a philanthropic bent of mind. You will love interacting with the locals, because they are friendly, eager to help and hospitable.
* Famous tourist places: Gujarat has a multitude of temples, sanctuaries, forests, deserts and other places of interest. You would be hard pressed to find a State with such a diverse set of tourist attractions. We list the places to visit in Gujarat in the next section.
* Delicious food: Gujaratis are known for being foodies – and with good reason! Their food is heavenly, and quite diverse. The Northern regions prefer spicy and savoury food, while Central and Southern Gujarat tends to have a sweeter tooth. You will love gorging on the Gujarati thalis at various restaurants in Gujarat. However, imbibing alcohol is prohibited here, so you cannot order alcoholic drinks with your food.
Now that you are aware of Gujarat’s history and why you must visit it, we compile a list of places to visit in Gujarat so that you can plan your itinerary. Here goes:
Kutch is one of the most famous places in India, if not in Gujarat. It is an island shaped like a tortoise, with a grand history. It comprises a vast tract of white desert – the white is not sand but salt! – in the Rann of Kutch, as far as the eye can go. It is a surreal experience traversing this desert, and it must figure on your list of must-visit places to visit in Gujarat. You will love coming here in December and January, when the Rann Festival takes place here in gusto. Kutch is close to the Pakistan border, and you can see parts of the neighbouring country from here. Meanwhile, you can shop for embroidered clothing, bags and leather footwear here – all of it is produced here.
Many visitors to Gujarat make a beeline for the Gir National Park, one of the loveliest places to visit in Gujarat. It is the only home to Asiatic Lions in India, and the sight of the lions going about their business in the lush jungles is an awe-inspiring one. Interestingly, the lion preservation project was initiated way back in the 1960s, when the Nawab of Junagadh proposed the project to stop the species’ near extinction. Apart from the lions, there are many species of flowers and other animals and insects too. You can spot the Chausingha, Sambar Deer and also Spotted Deer here.
The city of Vadodara/Baroda is one of the most important places to visit in Gujarat. It offers breathtaking architecture, historical landmarks and an old world charm to the visitor. It was an erstwhile educational and commercial centre of Gujarat, and also housed the most lavish Laxmivilas Palace with many beautiful monuments alongside. Vadodara is also famous for throwing the best Navratri festivities every year.
This erstwhile princely State is one of the most historically rich places to visit in Gujarat. It is located close to the Girnar Hills and also the Gir National Park, so you can visit these other spots as well. Also in the vicinity are Uperkot Fort, Sakkabaug Zoo and Wildlife Museum.
These twin spots are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. They comprise archaeological parks that hold tremendous cultural, mythological and historical value. There are many splendid architectural buildings here, in both the Hindu and Islamic styles. The legend about the Pavagadh Hill is that it is a part of the Himalayas that Lord Hanuman carried to the site.
The city of Bhuj is widely known for being the epicentre of a ghastly earthquake several years ago. However, it rebuilt itself well. It is one of the most historically interesting places to visit in Gujarat, what with its heritage of several kings and empires changing hands over the centuries. You can trace many ancient civilisations here, as well as archaeological finds from the Indus Valley Civilisation. You can find several cultures here, remnants of various royal dynasties changing hands. So where there is an Aina Mahal, there is also the Prag Mahal. Do visit the Kutch Museum located here, and the Hamirsar Lake.
Dholavira City is roughly 4500 years old, part of the excavations found that marked the Indus Valley Civilisation. It was a developed city with commercial and educational leanings, and there are traces of various architectural styles in use here. While in Dholavira, do take the time for another important place to visit in Gujarat, the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary.
#8 Danta Ambaji
Danta is a site for pilgrims and those seeking spiritual solace. You can find many beautiful temples, ancient houses and commercial buildings, and the famous Ambe Temple that attracts devotees from all over the land. You should also check out Gabbar Hill (it has 999 steps to climb!) which marks the legends of Devi Sati.
The famous Girnar Hills bring out the golden sands of Kutch in sharp relief. The hills are lush green despite being so close to the desert, and are grouped in the Junagarh district. Many trekkers come here, as do those hoping to see a splendid sunrise. The famous Datar Peak is here, which is holy for both Muslims and Hindus. Meanwhile, the Meravasi and Neminath Temples are here as well. The Girnar Hills are the site for the famous Bhavnath Fair and Girnar Parikrama Festival held in January and February every year. These are the best times to visit Gujarat if you want to participate in these festivities.
The last place to visit in Gujarat on our list is the small town of Umbergaon/Umargam, which is a fishing village. The area is hilly and close to the Maharashtra State border. Residents here speak both Gujarati and Marathi. There are many beaches and beachside temples located here. It is ideal for a day long picnic with the family. Don’t forget to catch the awesome sunset at Umbergaon beach, and gorge on yummy snacks there. The beach is also famous for the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival celebrated here.
When in Gujarat, you have the choice to stay in the accommodation that most suits you. But we recommend only the best: and you have four options in Gujarat resorts from Club Mahindra:
* Azzaro Resorts & Spa: This is a resort located in Diu, and a luxurious oasis that fulfils your need for a quiet, memorable Gujarat holiday. Offering every creature comfort, from spectacular views from each room to the most delicious meals prepared in the resort’s restaurant, this is the perfect beach destination to holiday in with your loved ones.
* Boulevard 9 Resort, Nadiad: This property is a Club Mahindra Affiliate, and is known for the highest levels of luxury and supreme service it provides. Located in the ancient town of Nadiad in Kheda District, the resort offers the relaxation you need on your Gujarat sojourn, apart from scenic views, great food and modern amenities like a fitness centre and swimming pool.
* Dwarka Resort: Located in Dwarka, and in close proximity to temples and rivers, the Club Mahindra Dwarka resort is the last word in luxury and every experience that you seek while on holiday. You should book yourself into this Gujarat resort in time for the Janmashtami celebrations that take place close by. There are beaches and gardens within walking distance of the resort.
* Kensville Golf Club Resort, Ahmedabad: This Associate Resort property with Club Mahindra is famous for its golf links, and its closeness to nature. Spread over a huge 900 acres of greenery, the resort puts you right in the lap of nature while also providing every modern amenity you require. This resort is especially a hit among those looking to host wedding parties and receptions.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.