Get around this charismatic state of Gujrat
If you’re looking to learn more about Indian culture and heritage, to discover a destination that’s a little lower key than the hottest tourist destinations in India, then we recommend Gujarat.
We recommend visiting in the winter (Nov-Feb) where average daily temperatures in Gujarat are around 29°C and the evenings cool down to around 12°C.
Ahmedabad is Gujarat’s largest and most popular city that was once called home by one of the world’s most famous and inspiring citizens: Mahatma Gandhi. If you’re looking to learn more about Indian culture and heritage, to discover a destination that’s a little lower key than the hottest tourist destinations in India, then we recommend Gujarat.
Best Time to Visit / Weather in Gujarat
As with any Indian state, temperatures fluctuate dramatically. We recommend visiting in the winter (Nov-Feb) where average daily temperatures in Gujarat are around 29°C and the evenings cool down to around 12°C. March to May daytime temperatures can average around 41°C and 29°C in the evening. Monsoon season sees things cool down a bit to 35°C during the day and 27°C at night, but it will be raining quite heavily.
Places to Visit in Gujarat: Tourist Attractions
Gujarat’s rich history and copious number of leaders and rulers is reflected in the wondrous architecture of temples and palaces located throughout the state. But the quiet, inconspicuous nature of this state means that travellers have the rare opportunity to experience areas and communities who have resisted the influence of globalisation.
Ahmedabad was Gujarat’s capital until 1970, when the title was passed over to the newly built and pre-designed city of Gandhinagar, and its history is literally written on the walls, or rather in them. The buildings in the old quarter form a sort of maze of charm and intrigue; from old wooden colonial structures to looming stone temples, there are sights to see for days. The city is fairly vast and spread to its limits, thus getting around does take a bit of getting used to, but is well worth the extra bit of effort.
One of the most compelling reasons to visit this more peaceful Indian state is that it is the homeland of world-famous, human rights leader Mahatma Gandhi, whose teachings ebb and flow throughout the people and streets of Gujarat. Upon his return from South Africa in 1915, Gandhi set up his first Ashram in Ahmedabad; it served as a central hub of operations for his struggle for Indian Independence.
Luckily for us, the kind trustees of this establishment encourage visitors to come and visit the Ashram and participate in a guided tour, all for free. On top of that, the Ashram is open all year round, including public holidays, from 08.30 to 18.30, but we advise getting there as early as possible to avoid the heat of the afternoon.
In 1423 the Jama Masjid was built by Ahmed Shah I and is now considered to be one of the largest, most peaceful, mosques in India. Remnant of the religious patchwork that makes up Gujarat, this mosque used the parts of demolished Hindu and Jain temples to create its walls, thus is a perfect homage to Gujarat’s multi-faceted history. Its main prayer hall comprises of around 260 columns, but in 1819 it lost two minarets that once accentuated the main entrance to this grand room, visitors can still see the remains of these spindle-like towers.
This huge manmade lake was created in the 15th century, but in 2008 it was completely renovated and turned into an amazing attraction, especially for families looking for something to do. There’s a zoo, toy train, a water park with many rides and activities, food stalls and many more. If you find yourself in the area in the last week of December, then expect to stumble upon the Kankaria Carnival; this event celebrates the exciting renovations made in 2008 with cultural and artistic performances, lightshows and fireworks!
The Great Rann of Kutch is a sprawling, seasonal salt marsh deep within the Thar Desert; this incredible sight is believed to be the largest salt marsh in the world. But what exactly is it you may ask? Well, during monsoon season this vast area is nestled underwater, but for the rest of the year this water dries up leaving only its salty remnants behind.
The sheer wonder of this area is why it attracts so many visitors each year, but we recommend you go between October and March, either early in the morning or in the evening as the salt can be blindingly bright in the desert sun. Also, for the romantics out there, the salt marsh is magical in the moonlight, and will leave you awe-inspired and all warm on the inside.
Visitors should be aware though that owing to its proximity to Pakistan, you will need a permit to visit this sensational salt marsh. These can be obtained from the nearby village of Bhirandiyara, and cost 100 rupees per person and 50 rupees per vehicle.
While you’re in the area, nearby is the Wild Ass Sanctuary, located in the Little Rann of Kutch; this wildlife sanctuary is home to a huge array of species that you can expect to hear galloping, scuttling or flying over the scratchy, sandy desert. It is the only remaining home of the Indian Wild Ass, as well as species of antelopes, jackals, wolves, hyenas and so many more, including birds, underwater creatures and crocodiles that linger around the wetlands.
Sun Temple, Modhera
Delicately situated on the banks of the River Pushpavati in Mehsana, is the Sun Temple of Modhera, a structure dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya. Gujarat’s architecture varies throughout the state owing to its various rulers and religious leaders and this temple was built in 1026AD by King Bhimdev of the Hindu Solanki dynasty.
This astounding sight appears to be constructed so mathematically, but is really made up of intricate carvings of demons and deities of the Hindu religion. In January the temple transforms into a multi-coloured light stadium as it hosts the Modhera Dance Festival, a 3-day celebration of traditional dances.
Dwarka – Jagat Mandir (Dwarkadhish Temple)
Jagat Mandir is a Dwarkadhish Temple, built to honour the Hindu God Krishna. This structure was built over 2,500 years ago by the grandson of Lord Krishna himself; it has since been enlarged in the 14th and 15th century and remains one of the most exquisite pieces of architecture in Gujarat (and potentially all of India).
Situated on the banks of the River Gomti, in the region of Dwarka, visitors are able to marvel at the intricate carvings that adorn this vast temple, and crane their necks looking up at its 51.8m tower. The temple is open from 7am-12.30pm and 5pm-9.30pm; and make sure you also go inside this sacred building and explore the lashings of colour and bask in the sweet smell of incense.
The Marine National Park is located in the Gulf of Kutch if you’re seeking a different sort of wildlife to get up close and familiar with. There’s a range of quirky creatures to be discovered here, including octopuses that change colour! Gujarat is fairly large, so there are plenty of other cities for you to pilot your way through, including: Gandhinagar (the capital), Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot.