Unfairly overlooked by many travellers scurrying between Mumbai and Rajasthan, Gujarat is an easy side-step off the well-beaten tourist trail. While the capital, Ahmedabad, can draw you in with its remarkable architecture and excellent dining scene that transcends its chaos, the countryside holds most of this state’s many treasures. Traditional artisans in tribal villages weave, embroider, dye and print some of India’s finest textiles, and pristine parks harbour unique wildlife, including migratory birds, wild asses and the last remaining prides of Asiatic lions. For the spiritually inclined, sacred Jain and Hindu pilgrimage sites sit atop mountains that rise dramatically from vast flatlands. And colourful festivals burst with a cornucopia of culture.
Falling among the top 10 regions in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel for 2019, Gujarat is bound to attract a large number of tourists. If you too are looking at exploring the place, this itinerary will be useful.
Kick off the Gujarati odyssey in Ahmedabad, enjoying its museums, mosques and mausoleums. Some significant places to visit are- Calico Museum of Textiles, Sabarmati Ashram, Adalaj Vav Step-Well, Hutheesingh Temple and Jama Masjid. Pause to sup on delectable Gujarati street food in the alleyways of Bhatiyar Gali.
Take the bus north to Patan, to feast your eyes on the architectural wonder that is the Rani-ki- Vav stepwell. The little town is famed, far and wide, for its beautiful Patola silk textiles, produced by the torturously laborious double-ikat method.
Kutch, India’s wild west, is a geographic phenomenon. The flat, tortoise-shaped land, edged by the Gulf of Kutch and Great and Little Ranns, is a seasonal island. During the dry season, the Ranns are vast expanses of dried mud and blinding-white salt. Come the monsoon, they’re flooded first by seawater, then by fresh river water. The salt in the soil makes the low-lying marsh area almost completely barren.
Encounter tribal culture in colourful Kutch, where villagers cover everything that isn’t nailed down with miniature mirrors and embroidery.
The last refuge of the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) is this forested, hilly, 1412-sq-km sanctuary about halfway between Veraval and Junagadh. Taking a safari through the thick, undisturbed forests would be a joy even if there wasn’t the excitement of lions and other wildlife to spot. The sanctuary access point is Sasan Gir village, on a minor road and railway between Veraval and Junagadh (about 40km from each). The best time to visit is from December to April.