Located on the western coast of India between Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Gujarat didn’t really feature on the tourist map until recent years. A very successful series of ad campaigns with Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and the addition of the Statue of Unity have changed this though.
The legacy of Gujarat’s heritage includes remarkable architecture, temples, palaces and mansions, and handicrafts. The state also has some rare wildlife and many bird-watching sites.
Let’s start with the destinations and popular tourist attractions in Gujarat:
#1. Ahmedabad Old City
Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat for many centuries, was declared to be India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City in 2017, beating both Delhi and Mumbai. Its walled Old City was founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century and is home to diverse Hindu, Islamic and Jain communities. It has some of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and Hindu Muslim art in India. You can explore the area on the fascinating tour called Ahmedabad Heritage Walk.
#2. Statue of Unity
The world’s tallest statue, dedicated to Indian independence activist Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), was completed in 2018. At 182 meters tall, it’s twice the size of the Statue of Liberty. The area around the statue has been developed as a comprehensive tourist destination for the whole family to enjoy, with enough activities and attractions to fill in at least three days. Apart from the statue, these include a sound and laser show, butterfly garden, cactus garden, Ayurvedic wellness center, valley of flowers, safari park and zoo, zip-lining, white water rafting and more.
#3. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
The little-known UNESCO World Heritage Site of Champaner and Pavagadh is laden with historical, architectural and archeological treasures from both Muslim and Hindu traditions, dating back to between the 8th and 14th centuries. These include a hill fortress, palaces, places of worship (Jama Masjid is one of the most spectacular mosques in Gujarat), residential areas, reservoirs and step wells.
#4. Sun Temple
One of the most significant sun temples in India is located in peaceful Modhera village. Built in the 11th century by Solanki dynasty rulers, the temple is dedicated to Surya the Sun God. It’s a substantial structure, consisting of a carved stepped tank, assembly hall, and main shrine. It’s covered in intricate stone sculptures.
#5. Rani ki Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell)
Rani ki Vav is an ancient abandoned stepwell dating back to the 11th century and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also constructed during the Solanki dynasty, said to be in memory of ruler Bhimdev I, by his widowed wife. The stepwell has stairs going down seven levels, and panels containing more than 500 main sculptures and over 1,000 minor ones. Only discovered relatively recently, the stepwell was flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s.
A town trapped in time, Sidhpur will delight architecture aficionados with its colourful century-old mansions belonging to the affluent Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Many of the houses are empty as their owners have moved abroad. Sidhpur sits alongside the holy Saraswati River and is also a Hindu pilgrim destination. It’s dotted with temples and water bodies.
The outfits and dresses worn by the local people of Gujarat are beautiful and unique. Here are some of them.
Chorno is a type of cotton pants that the Gujarati men wear. It looks like a stitched dhoti and is very loose and comfortable. Chorno either has a string to tie at the waist or have elastic.
Kediyu is a garment that is worn above the chorno to cover the top part of the body. A kediyu is frock type kurta with frills, worn by the men in Gujarat. Kediyu is also referred to as Angrakhu.
Dhotee or dhoti is a long piece of garment that is wrapped around the lower body of men. The garment is wrapped around the waist and tucked from between the legs. Gujarati men wore white or light coloured dhotis for normal wear.
#1. Ghagra Choli or Chaniya Choli
The traditional attire of Gujarati women is Chaniya Choli or Ghagra Choli; Women also wear an Odhni (dupatta or chunni) with it.
The Chaniyo or lehengas is a coloured petticoat or skirt-like garment worn by the women. The Chaniyo is designed with mirrors and thread work
The women wear Polku or Choli on the top. It is an embroidered short blouse.
Chunni, Odhni or dupatta is an elongated piece of cloth to complete the dress. The churn is worn diagonally and is used to cover their heads.
The women may also wear Kurtas instead of choli known as Zhabo and lehenga along with it.
Gujarati cuisine is one of the the oldest culinary treasures of India and is primarily vegetarian. It offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, each with its unique cooking style, different kinds of pickles, farsans, chutneys and foods that are always high on nutritional value. But the real essence of Gujarati food lies in the creative use of everyday vegetables and mild spices.
Let’s see a few of these:
One of the much-loved Gujarati snacks, khandvi is also known as Patuli or Dahivadi and made with gram flour. Khandvi is also a popular snack in Maharashtrian cuisine. This rolled, bright snack is tempered with coconut, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
#2. Aam Shrikhand with Mango Salad
Shrikhand is a simple and soothing Gujarati dessert made with hung curd. Mango with Shrikhand is a heavenly combination one can have in summers! Shrikhand being a creamy and luscious Indian dessert is paired with the king of fruits.
The ultimate Gujarati food, dhoklas just cannot be missed. Dhokla is one of the most loved Gujarati snack across the country and is made in multiple ways. This dhokla recipe is a quick and easy one that is delicious as well as healthy! A recipe that is steamed and made in just 30 minutes, using besan with a colorful, chili tempering.
You’ll be surprised by what there is to see and experience. Gujarat really is one of the most underrated destinations in India!
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