Gujarat today offers a wide range of the most spectacular
attractions, which includes breathtaking locations and
scenic landscapes. Gujarat is also a vibrant land with
ancient historical and cultural traditions. It is also home
to various archeological sites and historical monuments.
Nature has bestowed on Gujarat some of the most breathtaking
locations and scenic landscapes. A sea coast, 1650 km long,
the longest in India encloses Gujarat from three sides like
a girdle. The state is dotted with some really fine beaches
like those of Ahmedpur-Mandvi, Kutch-Mandvi, Chorwad and
Gopnath. The coast was also a historical centre with
interesting Portugese forts, shore temples, princely port
cities and beach palaces. The fascinating handicrafts,
mouth-watering cuisine and colourful lifestyle of the people
of Gujarat, are renowned all over the country.
The recently excavated ancient port of Lothal, near
Ahmedabad, bears testimony to Gujarat's 4,500 years of
history. An important trade centre of the pre-Aryan Harappan
civilization, Lothal had trade links with the ancient
civilizations of Sumer, Babylon and Egypt.
With the Arabian Sea lapping its western frontier, Gujarat
has been exposed to a succession of alien races. In the
process, it has imbibed elements of a variety of cultures,
and yet retained its cultural individuality. Gujarat is the
stronghold of Jainism and is also known for the home of
Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of tolerance and
Ahmedabad was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah on the banks of
river Sabarmati in 1411 A.D. He decided to build the capital
at Ahmedabad because he saw a rabbit attacking one of his
hunter dogs. It occurred to him that if the rabbits of the
region were so brave, the people must be even braver. Sultan
Ahmed Shah graced his kingdom with splendid monuments,
mosques, pavilions and mausoleums, marking the beginning of
the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. Modern day
Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat state is the largest city
and a leading industrial centre in the country. Ahmedabad
has a lot more to offer visitors. Popularly known as the
Manchester of the East, Ahmedabad boasts of the largest
denim production in the world. It is also home to several
interesting museums. Many of Ahmedabad's buildings bear the
signatures of world-renowned architects like Le Corbusier,
Louis Khan, Doshi and Correa. It is from the austere habitat
of Sabarmati at Ahmedabad, that the 'Father of the Nation' -
Mahatma Gandhi took on the mighty British Empire, and gave
human race one of its most enduring ideologies.
Jumma Masjid: Described by some as the most beautiful
mosque in India, the congregational mosque was built by the
city's founder, Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1423. Built in yellow
sandstone, it combines the best of Hindu and Muslim styles
of architecture. It stands on 260 pillars supporting 15
domes at varying elevations. The mosque is located in the
centre of the old city.
Shaking Minarets: The shaking minarets are two
minarets located at the Siddhi Bashir mosque. They are
uniquely designed in a way that when one minaret is shaken
the other one shakes too.
Siddi Sayed Mosque: One part of the wall in the old
citadel of the mosque built by Ahmed Shah's slave, Sidi
Sayed, is celebrated all over the world for its exquisite
stone window tracery - a superb example of delicate carving
that transforms stone into filigree.
Sabarmati Ashram: On a quiet stretch of the river
Sabarmati, 7 kms north of the city, Mahatma Gandhi set up a
simple retreat in 1915. This was his first Satyagraha Ashram
and for many it was the nerve centre of India's freedom
movement. Hridaya Kunj, the cottage where he lived is
preserved as it was in the Mahatma's lifetime. The Gandhi
Ashram has a memorial centre, library and a sound and light
spectacle to offer its visitors.
The Pols: The Pols, integral parts of old Ahmedabad
are residential units dating back to 1714 with intricately
carved facades, which line the streets. It nurtures within
its folds, pages of history, a breath of harmony and a
showcase of exquisite architecture. Notable in the present
day Pols are Mhurat Pol, Mandvi-ni-Pol, and Lakha Patel-ni-Pol.
Sarkhej Roza: About 8 kms. from the city, Sarkhej
comprises one of the most elegant architectural complexes of
Ahmedabad. Grouped around a great stepped tank is the tomb
to the saint, Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh (1445), the mosque,
the tombs of Mehmud Shah Begada and his queen, and the
palace and pavilions. The buildings are remarkable for the
complete absence of arches and the use of pierced stone
Teen Darwaja: The triple-arched gateway was built by
Sultan Ahmed Shah to serve as the royal entrance to the
Maidan Shahi or the Royal Square. It is an imposing monument
of perfect proportions and highly ornate buttresses.
Shah Alam Roza: The tomb and mosque of saint Shah
Alam are said to have been built by the brother of the
Empress Noorjehan. The brass doors are set in carved marble
frames and the floor tiled in black and white marble.
Kankaria Lake: A polygonal lake almost a mile in
circumference, it was constructed in 1451 by Sultan
Qutb-ud-Din. In the centre of the lake is an island-garden
with a summer palace known as Nagina Wadi. The lake is now a
popular recreational centre and is surrounded by parks, 'Bal
Vatika', children's gardens, a boat club, natural history
museum and a zoo.
Hatheesing Jain Temple: Built outside Delhi Gate in
1850 by a rich Jain merchant, the Hatheesing Temple is the
best known of Ahmedabad's many ornate Jain temples. Built of
pure white marble and profusely decorated with rich
carvings, the Hatheesing Temple is dedicated to Dharamnath,
the 15th Jain apostle. Within the city there are many other
Jain temples with remarkable carvings in stone and wood.
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary: Just 65 kms. Southwest of
Ahmedabad, is the delightful bird sanctuary of Nalsarovar
nestling around the Nal Lake, extending over 11,500
hectares. Established in 1969 A.D., it is known to harbour
over 250 species of wetland birds. Nalsarovar sees winter
migrants from the north that includes Rosy Pelicans,
Flamingoes, White Storks, Brahminy Ducks and Herons.
Rani Roopmati Mosque: The Queen's mosque in Mirzapur,
built between 1430 and 1440 is more representative of the
pattern of mosque building in the 15th century Ahmedabad.
Three domes stand on twelve pillars each with the central
part raised to let in natural light without direct sunlight.
The interior is richly ornamented with carvings and finely
perforated stone screens.
Vadodara is a graceful city of palaces, parks, temples and
museums and considered by many as the de-facto cultural
capital of Gujarat. Once the capital of the Gaekwads, the
former rulers of Vadodara, it is also known as Baroda and
rises from the banks of River Vishwarmurti. It is also the
industrial capital of Gujarat. Archaeological findings
indicate that human habitations existed here since
prehistoric times. Vadodara passed through the hands of, the
Guptas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakubas, Solankis, the Sultans of
Delhi and the Mughals before passing on to the Marathas. It
owes its present day grandeur to Maharaja Sayajirao, a great
patron of art, architecture and music.
Once the capital of Gujarat, Bhavnagar was founded in 1743
by Bhavsinhji Gohil is now a flourishing port on the Gulf of
Khambhat. It is a convenient base for visits to Jain temples
at Palitana on the sacred hill of Shatrunjaya hills and the
Velvadar Sanctuary, home of the famous Indian Black buck.
Bhavnagar is also home to several lakes and temples. Today,
however the only activities related to the sea near
Bhavnagar take place at the port of Ghogha and at Alang,
which is also, Asia's largest ship breaking facility.
Surat, the capital of South Gujarat, was India's most
prosperous port and ancient trading centres in the 17th and
18th centuries. Located on the southern bank of Tapti, Surat
is renowned for its fine silk and exquisite brocades like
the Tanchoi, Gajee and Kinkhab styles sometimes woven with
gold and silver threads. It is also famous for spices and
its diamond market as well as ivory and wood artwork of rare
beauty. Surat has the distinction of being the first
European settlement in India besides being host to the Dutch
and the Portuguese, a fact reflected in its little streets,
which are charmingly European. The East India Company
established its initial warehousing facility here in 1612
A.D. Sir Thomas Roe landed at the port of Surat before
proceeding to the court of Emperor Jahangir to present his
credentials as the Ambassador of England. Surat is popularly
believed to have been founded by Gopi, a Nagar Brahmin, who
rose to be the Prime Minister in the Sultanate of Gujarat
under Mahmud I and Muzaffar II. On account of this belief,
Gopi is generally called the patron of Gujarat. In ancient
days, Surat was the main port for Muslim pilgrims travelling
to Mecca for Haj. Vir Narmad one of the great literary and
social reformers hailed from Surat. Historically Surat is
intimately connected to the freedom struggle.
Founded in 1540 A.D. Jamnagar, also known as the 'Jewel of
Kathiawad', is a coastal town about 300 kms west of
Ahmedabad and 92 kms. from Rajkot. Present day Jamnagar is a
charming blend of the old and the new with its ancient
monuments and broad streets, imposing facades, and squares
which make it one of the most beautiful cities in the
Saurashtra peninsula. Built by Jam Raval, a Jadeja Rajput
leader who migrated from Kutch, Jamnagar was the capital for
four centuries of the prosperous princely state of Nawanagar.
Jamnagar is the hometown of the world famous cricketers
Ranjit Sinh and Duleep Sinh after whom the Ranji and Duleep
Trophies are named in domestic Indian cricket tournaments.
Jamnagar is renowned for its silk, gold embroidery, silver
ware, bandhani (tie-and-dye) fabrics that are renowned the
world over. Nutcrackers (especially the ones made for betel
nuts) made in Jamnagar are in great demand all over India.
The sacred town of Dwarka situated 145 kms from Jamnagar,
sits on the western most tip of the Gujarat peninsula, a
sentinel overlooking the Arabian Sea. The inner sanctum of
the main Dwarkadhish Temple known as the Nij Mandir - dates
back 2,500 years. Legend has it, Lord Krishna left Mathura
and settled in the Western part of India with his Yadava
clan and built a golden city and named it Dwarka and made
this a capital of his kingdom. Dwarka is one of the four
most important pilgrim places. Dwarkanath, the main temple
here, is dedicated to lord Krishna. Architecture of the old
Dwarka temple of Shri Krishna is majestic.
An ancient fortified city rich in myth and legend, Junagadh
lies at the foot of the temple-studded Girnar hill. It
derives its name from the 'old fort', which circles the
medieval town. The Girnar hills that landscape Junagadh are
a holy sanctuary to the Jains. The history of Mount Girnar
dates back to the awesome empire of Ashoka, one of India's
greatest emperors. Ashoka inscribed 14 edicts on a huge
boulder en-route to Mt. Girnar peak. Junagadh's main feature
is the Uperkot fort (upper fort), a somber and inaccessible
The state's biggest district and its most sparsely populated
one is a sandy, barren area over half of which is desert and
marshland. Like so many other regions of Gujarat, Kutch has
its own distinctive character. It has a remarkably
heterogeneous population belonging to 18 different tribes,
each with its own language and culture. The Bandhani (tie
and dye) hand printed sarees, embroidery and exquisite gold
and silver ornaments are some of the traditional crafts of
this region. The language dialects of Kutch and the manners
of people are highly pleasing and musical to the ear.