Gujarat is vastly underrated region of India and it's a mystery to us why the region isn’t more well-known as a tourist destination. There are a variety of temples and palaces, some of the world’s best textiles, and the surreal landscapes and wildlife of the Rann of Kutch. What’s more, with 29 different recognised tribes, it is a perfect destination for those interested in culture and tribal encounters.
There are many reasons to visit this beautiful region and we have put together the top 10 places to visit in Gujarat.
1. Wildlife Sanctuaries: The wildlife in the little Rann of Kutch is simply amazing. It’s particularly famous for its flocks of flamingos, wild asses and varied birdlife. The world's only Asiatic lions can be found in Gir Forest, whilst Jessore Sanctuary principally offers protection for sloth bears.
2. Palitana Temples: The Jain temples at Palitana are fascinating and not to be missed. With more than 3000 temples exquisitely carved from marble, it is the largest temple complex on earth and one of the most interesting places to visit in Gujarat.
3. Laxmi Vilas Palace: Baroda’s huge palace is reputed to be the largest private dwelling ever built. Along with Kashmir, Hyderabad, Gwalior and Mysore, in British times Baroda was a ‘21 gun salute’ state. The exquisite and extravagant Laxmi Vilas Palace illustrates Baroda’s wealth and status.
4. Tribal Areas: Gujarat’s people are some of the most diverse in India and a great reason to visit Gujarat. The range of ethnic groups are often living in tribal villages such as the Garacia, Adivacyi & Bharad tribes, as well as in the Rann of Kutch. The women of the Mihir, Rabari and Bajania tribes in the Little Rann of Kutch are also famous for creating some of the most remarkable textiles in the country.
5. Scenic Landscapes: The incredible landscape of the Rann of Kutch is famed for its wildlife, but this seasonal salt marsh in the Thar Desert offers far more. Its radically arid area bordering Pakistan is also home to a number of different tribal groups, several wildlife sanctuaries and the nightly occurrence of a strange dancing light phenomena, known as Chir Batti.
6. Extensive Coastline: With a 1600km coastline there are plenty of opportunities to stay in luxury tented camps on private beaches and you can also watch the building of the iconic and impressive giant wooden dhows.
7. Old Towns: Ahmedabad is one of the most exciting and picturesque old towns in all of India. As well as being India’s sixth largest city and one of the most important economic hubs in the country, its historic old city offers countless narrow streets, havelis and monuments to explore.
8. Textile Villages and Museums: Gujarat’s textiles are world renowned. Gujarat has a rich tradition of high quality weaving, unique Kutch embroidery and hand-block printing – the most common being tie-and-dye fabrics. Hand-painted cloths are also available in traditional black, red, maroon and ochre colours. The Patola silk sarees are another famous item of Gujarat, made by master craftsmen at Patan. Surat is known for silk sarees and zari or gold thread embroidery, whilst a large number of woollen shawls, blankets and rugs are created in Jamnagar. Ahmedabad has a textile museum with a huge calico collection which is a fantastic place to visit in Gujarat.
9. Isolated Areas: As Gujarat is still relatively off the tourist radar, it gets far fewer visitors than most other parts of India. Gujarat is perfect for an Indophile looking for somewhere unspoilt by tourism and will appeal to those who like travelling off the beaten track.
10. Traditional Indian Cultural Sights: Gujarat comes closer than anywhere else to epitomising India within one state. Its royal palaces are as impressive as those in Rajasthan and there are plenty you can stay in. It has some amazing temples, old forts and palaces, and colourfully-dressed locals as well as extraordinary geological formations such as the salt flats at the Rann of Kutch.
While these may be the top 10 places to visit in Gujarat, the region has far more to offer and we could write a whole book on the beauty of this area. If you would like to visit Gujarat please join us on our two-week Gujarat group tour.