A few years ago, my friend and I traveled across Gujarat for 10 days and it was one of the best travels we have done. Gujarat has so much to offer and is a beautiful state offering from historical sites to delicious food. This post is to tell you why Gujarat must be on your travel list.
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Where is Gujarat?
Located on the Kathiawar peninsula, Gujarat is a state on the western side of India. Famous for its Gir National Park and the Somnath temple, Gujarat is a beautiful state to understand and learn the traditions and culture.
The name Gujarat is derived from a Sanskrit word Gurjaradesa, meaning the land of Gurjaras. Gurjaras ruled Gujarat in the 8th and 9th centuries. Gandhinagar is the capital city of Gujarat.
The best time to visit Gujarat is during the winter season (between the months of October and Februaury) as the weather is pleasant. Gujarat is the fifth largest state in India and hence needs at least 10 to 12 days to travel and see the places.
By the way, historically part of Gujarat, you can also enjoy the laid back and chilled out atmosphere at Daman and Diu.
10 reasons why Gujarat must be on your travel list
Because Gujarat is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation India, was born in Porbandar, a coastal city in Gujarat state. He was the leader of India’s non-violent movement against the British government. The Kirti Mandir is the memorial house and a museum dedicated to the life of Mahatma Gandhi. The museum is open between 7:30 AM and 7 PM and there is no entrance fee.
The museum is crowded and there are usually long lines to see the interiors of the house.
Because Gujarat serves the best food
Gujarat is the state where I had the best food. The state is famous for its Indian snacks, like Dabeli, Misal pav and farsans. Farsan in Gujarati language refers to salty snacks. The street food in Gujarat is a must and it has been till date the most delicious food I have eaten. At least for the food, I want to go back to Gujarat!
Gujarati is the official language of Gujarat state.
Because Gujarat has one of the Jyotirlinga temples
The Somnath temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Completed in 1951, the present temple was reconstructed in the Chaulukya architectural style. Jyotirlingas take the name of a different manifestation of Lord Shiva and it is believed that Lord Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light at Somnath temple. There is no entrance fee and the temple is open in three time slots every day, 7:30 AM to 11 AM, 12:30 PM to 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM to 10 PM. The best times to visit the temple is in the morning and evening.
One of my best memories of Gujarat is from my visit to the Somnath temple. The temple has a tradition where devotees light a lamp, make a wish and let go of it on River Sarasvati. Now imagine that moment with a full moon! My best friend and I visited the temple in the evening and decided to take part in the tradition. We lit the lamp together and let the lamp go by on the river. And for our luck, it was a full moon. The backdrop of that scene was perfect and surely magical.
Because Gujarat has lions
The only place in India where you can see lions in the wild is in Gujarat state. Gir National Park, also known as Sasan Gir, is famous and the only habitat in the world for the Asiatic lions. The national park is open for visitors between 6 AM and 5 PM. The best way to see these amazing big cats is by taking a 3 hours jeep safari. Even though the jeep safari is expensive, it is totally worth every rupee. The safari costs about INR 4500 for Indian and INR 13800 for Foreign nationals. Up to date information for booking and price can be found on Gir’s official website.
Visit in the morning as the lions are a bit more active during the time.
Because Gujarat has the most pretty handicrafts
Gujarat has the most vibrant and colourful handicrafts. Everything is beautiful including the toys, fabrics, souvenirs and the local handmade products. I spent a lot of money buying their pretty fabrics especially the ghagra (long skirt) choli (blouse), and the unique and colourful souvenirs from Kutch.
Make sure to haggle when you visit the local shops!
Because Gujarat has warm and polite people
Gujaratis (people of Gujarat) are cute and the most friendly people I have met. They are polite and usually mind their own business. I really enjoyed talking to the locals and capturing the candid moments during my travel in Gujarat. The best thing about them is they feed you good food.
Because Gujarat has many unique festivals
Gujarat has many unique festivals and the most famous one is the Navratri festival that happens in the month of October. Navratri festival is a Hindu festival that symbolises good over evil. The festival is celebrated for 9 days and it is the most important festival and there are huge celebrations throughout the state. Dandiya Raas or just Raas is the folk dance that is danced by all Gujaratis during the Navratri festival. This form of dance is a social event and it was originated from Gujarat.
Because Gujarat has Amul
We, Indians, have all grown up watching Amul advertisements. The brand has been the household and trusted brand in India. Formed in 1946, Amul is a diary cooperative brand in India. They are headquartered in Anand district of Gujarat. Amul is the brand that propagated India’s White Revolution, making India the world’s largest producer of milk and diary products.
Because Gujarat has salt lakes
The Rann of Kutch is a salt marsh in the Thar desert and is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. It is one of the hottest areas in India and hence it is best visited during the winter season.
Gujarat also has Rann Utsav, a desert festival in Kutch district. It is a 3 months long festival celebrated in the winter season. One can stay at the festival grounds and get involved in the local traditions and culture.
Because Gujarat has the best sunsets
Lastly, but definitely not the least, Gujarat has spectacular sunsets. There are plenty of places where one can easily enjoy and soak in for a perfect ending of the day.
Bonus – Because Gujarat is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Gujarat is home to not one but four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each one of these heritage and historical monuments have a story to tell. The four sites are:
- Rani Ki Vav
- Champaner Pavagadh Archeological Park
- Historical City of Ahmedabad
How to get to Gujarat?
Gujarat is accessible by all modes of transport.
- By Air – There are around 19 airports in the state. The capital city Gandhinagar has the biggest airport, Sardar Vallabhai Patel airport. All flight providers, including Air India and Go Air run frequent flights between major cities and Gandhinagar.
- By Train – There are many trains between the major cities in other states and to the cities in Gujarat. Up to date information on trains can be found on IRCTC website.
- By Bus – The cities and towns in Gujarat are well connected by buses and there are many government and public buses that run between places. The fare on the government buses operated by Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) are paid by cash only and ensure to have the exact change.
Safety for solo female travelers
I felt Gujarat was relatively safe for solo female travelers. Even though I traveled with a friend, I still felt the people and the state were safe for solo travelers. However, if I travel solo to Gujarat, I would stay at good and reputed hotels, take trusted taxis (suggested by the hotel reception or other travelers) and not venture out at nights or to isolated places.
I am in love with Gujarat. It is one state that I would love to go back and spend more time. The people, wildlife and the landscapes are truly stunning and the state has everything that a traveler needs.
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