Ahmedabad, the largest city and former capital of Gujarat, nurtures a striking blend of the glorious past and a vibrant present. Named after a Sultan who founded it in 1411, the city is associated with Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, whose simple ashram on the banks of river Sabarmati is now a site of national pilgrimage. Ahmedabad is a great textile and commercial centre and known as the "Manchester of India". The city is today the second largest prosperous city in Western India and a place where tradition and modernity coexist in perfect harmony.
What to see
Gandhi Ashram - On a quiet stretch of the Sabarmati river lies the Gandhi Ashram, established in 1920. During the lifetime of Mahatma Gandhi it was known as Satyagraha Ashram and was the centre of the struggle for Independence. It was from here, in 1930, that the Mahatma started on his famous "Dandi March" to the sea to protest against the Salt Tax imposed by the British. 'Hridaya Kunj', the simple cottage where he lived, is preserved as a National Monument. A Gandhi Memorial Centre, a Library and a Sound-and-Light show offer indepth insight into the Mahatma's life and work.
Hussain-Doshi's Gufa - It is a gallery housing the collaborative efforts of artist M. F. Hussain and the architect B. V. Doshi. Here, art and architecture fuse to become a unique experience, both complementing each other magnificently. Located in the campus of the Centre for Environment Planning and Technology, the Gufa is a configuration of cave-like structures buried under the ground. This marvel of contemporary architecture was constructed using computer aided design and tribal initiative.
Calico Museum - The Calico Museum of Textiles, widely regarded as one of the finest textile museums in the world was constructed in 1949. The Museum houses no less than five centuries of the finest fabrics spun, woven, printed and painted in different parts of India. It also has a collection of marble, sandstone and bronze icons and busts split in two thematic sections-gallery for religious textiles and historical textiles.
Jama Masjid - Built by Ahmad Shah in 1423, Jama Masjid is the principal mosque of the Islamic era, situated at the heart of the city. The mosque was built in the Indo- Saracenic architectural era and is said to be the most beautiful mosque in the East. The mosque has 260 pillars supporting 15 domes arranged symmetrically. A special feature of the mosque is the Muluk-Khana, or the Royal Gallery, which is a platform standing on pillars and enclosed upto the roof with beautiful stone work.
Siddi Bashir Mosque - Known as Shaking Minaret or Jhulta Minar. When one minaret is shaken the other one begins to vibrate. The mosque was obviously built by master craftsmen and the crucial mechanism that causes the vibration is still a mystery.
Rani Rupmati's Mosque - Named after the Hindu wife of Sultan Mohammed Beghara, this mosque was built between 1430 to 1440 A. D. It has three domes supported by pillars with the central dome slightly elevated so as to allow natural light into the mosque. The mosque has richly carved minarets, balcony windows and perforated stone lattices. Its three domes are linked together by a flat roof. However, the mosque and tomb of Rani Sipri at Astodia surpasses it for its planning and structural arrangement. Popularly known as Masjid-e-Nagina, this mosque is the most exquisite gem of Ahmedabad.
Hatheesing Jain Temples - Built outside Delhi Gate in 1850 by Sheth Hatheesing, a rich Jain Merchant, this is the best known of Ahmedabad's many ornate Jain Temples. Built of pure white marble, it has a paved courtyard surrounded by an imposing row of cloisters containing 52 shrines, each with an image of a tirthankara, profusely decorated with rich carvings, one containing the marble image of the 15th tirthankar. The temple is a two storied structure with elaborate porches on three sides and front porch crowned by a large dome. It was designed by Premchand Salat and is dedicated to Dharmanath, the fifteenth Jina or Jain apostle.
Kankaria Lake - A circular lake constructed in 1451 by Sultan Qutubub-Din. At the centre of the lake is an island garden with a summer palace, known as Nagina Wadi. The lake is a popular recreation centre surrounded by parks, 'Bal Vatika', an aquarium, a boat club, a natural history museum and a zoo.
Sidi Sayed Jhali - The Mosque of Sidi Sayed, near Lal Darwaja is world-renowned for its magnificent stone tracery, in particular, the splendid Jali screen, framed, in ten semi-circular windows. It is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture and its models in miniature are best known souvenirs of the city.
Gandhinagar, named after the Father of the Nation, is the capital city of Gujarat. Built on the river Sabarmati it is just 32 kms away from Ahmedabad. In 1960 when the old Bombay state was partitioned into Maharashtra and Gujarat, the city of Bombay went to Maharashtra. It was then decided to construct a new capital for Gujarat. Thus came into being Gandhinagar, the second planned city in India after Chandigarh. It presents a spacious, well designed look of an architecturally integrated city. It has 30 sectors with each sector having its own shopping, health, community center and housing colonies. Extensive planting of trees and large recreational areas along the river gives the city a fresh, green garden city atmosphere. The famous temple of Swaminarayan is also built in Gandhinagar.
Akshardham is a unique cultural complex built in Gandhinagar in memory of Lord Swaminarayan. Inspired by H. D. Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Akshardham is a miracle worked by the service and devotion of thousands of volunteers. It is an intricately carved, majestic monument of 6000 tons of pink sand stone. The entire monument was built without the use of steel. Besides a 7 feet gold leafed idol of Lord Swaminarayan and his holy relics, there are three exhibitions on Indian Culture with light and sound shows, a multimedia show and an animatronic show. Games, rides and food refreshments are other attractions of Akshardham.
Baroda is known as the garden city of Gujarat. Once the capital of the princely Gaekwad Family, Vadodara is a graceful city of palaces, parks, temples, and museums. Places to visit are : Nazarbaug Palace - Built in old classical style, the palace was used on ceremonial occasions by the Gaekwads. The royal family heirlooms are on display. Lakshmi Vilas Palace - The Royal Family's residence is an extravagant building in Indo- Saracenic style. Pratap Vilas Palace - Built as the residence of the royal family, the Pratap Vilas is a magnificent building in the Indo - Sarcenic style. The Palace houses a collection of old armory and sculptures in bronze, marble & terra-cotta. The Baroda museum and art gallery and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum - The museums boast of an excellent art collection of works by Indian artists and European Masters, of Mughal miniatures and valuable palm leaf manuscripts of Buddhist and Jain origin.
Situated on the banks of river Tapi, Surat was a great port city during the Mughal era. Today, it is a major industrial center with many textile mills. It is also famous for its zari and brocades and is also an important diamond cutting centre. Surat was one of the most prosperous cities of India in the 17th and 18th century. The East India Company established its first warehouse in Surat in 1612. During the Mughal period, Surat was the main port from which pilgrims sailed to Mecca. One can also make short trips to Dumas, Hajira, Ubharat, Tithal, Bardoli and Ukai, all resorts a few kilometres away from Surat.
Rajkot was once the capital of the princely state of Saurashtra. It was also the headquarters of the British Government. Rajkot is famous for its jewellery market. Mahatma Gandhi did his schooling from Alfred High School, now known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi High School. Places of interest are Kaba Gandhi No Delo, Royal Watson Museum and Library, Lal Pari Lake, Aji Dam, Rajkumar College, Rashtriya Shala, Ram Krishna Paramhansa Temple and Race Course. Rajkot is about 220 kms from Ahmedabad.
Porbander is Saurashtra's end - a picturesque sea port on the Arabian Sea. It is situated 395 Kms from Ahmedabad. It is also known as "White City" because of its white stone construction. It is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. Porbander has a pleasant beach with beach villas. Other places of interests are Gandhiji's Kirti Mandir, Sudama Mandir, Bharat Mandir, Planetarium, Chowpati etc. Its ancient maritime activities - trade with Arabia, Africa and Persia have given way to a thriving industry of cement and chemical units.
This is one of the most picturesque places of pilgrimage in India, located on Shatrunjaya hills. There are 863 temples, exquisitely carved in marble, built over a span of 900 years. Amongst all the Jain temples, Palitana temples are considered to be the most sacred. The most important temple is that of the first Tirthankara. The earliest temple was built by Kuwarpal Solanki, a great Jain patron. It has a fabulous collection of jewels, which can be seen with special permission. Pilgrims and even priests are not allowed to stay overnight because the temple city has been built as an abode for the Gods. Tourists cannot carry any leather item.
An ancient fortified city rich in myth and legend, Junagadh lies at the foot of Girnar Hill and takes its name from the 'Old Fort' which encircles the medieval town. Founded in 1540, it was the capital of Jamthe Jadeja, the Rajput ruler of Nawanagar. It was built around Rammol Lake. At the centre of the lake is a small palace reached by a causeway. It is famous for pearl fisheries, tie & dye fabrics and bandhini work. Places of interest are Lakhota Fort which is a museum with collections of sculptures from 9th to 18th century; an old well in Kotha Bastion where the water can be drawn by blowing into a small hole in the floor; Solarium, Jansahed's Palace and Rozi and Bedi Ports. Jamnagar is 310 kms from Ahmedabad via Rajkot.
Chorwad is a delightful resort on the sunny coast of Gujarat. The only beach in India where you can live in the timeless splendour of a palace built amidst soft golden sand facing the beach. It was built by the former Nawabs of Junagadh. It is 400 kms south west of Ahmedabad and 66 kms from Junagadh. The nearest Airport is Keshod.
Kandla is a major sea port 380 kms from Ahmedabad. It has single point mooring facilities with a free trade zone. The places of interest are a monument of Mahatma Gandhi and Nirva Siteshwar Mahadev Temple.
Gujarat's picturesque hill station is perched on a plateau in the Dang forest area of the Sahyadri Range. It has a cool bracing climate, the highest temperature even in the summer months not exceeding 28 Degree celcius. The abode of serpents, at a height of 1000 metres, Saputara is a cool, pleasant hill resort. Saputara is in south eastern part of the state, and is surrounded by the Adivasi villages. People visiting Saputara can enjoy the local adivasi folk music and dance. An artificial lake and shady walks make Saputara an ideal get-away. At the distance of 60 Kms is the Bardipara Wildlife Sanctuary which is worth a visit. Gira waterfalls are at distance of 52 kms.
The second largest district in India and sparsely populated, Kachchh is a dry belt with Great Rann to the north and Little Rann to the east. Kachchh produces exquisite handicrafts like embroidery, tie-dye fabrics, enameled silverware and other handicrafts. Kachchh is well known for its wild ass sanctuary. The great Rann of Kachchh is also a breeding ground for the flamingo, pelican and avocet species of birds.
Gir Forest & Sanctuary
380 kms south-west of Ahmedabad and 50 kms from Junagadh is the Gir Forest, sprawling on 1412 sq kms. It has dry deciduous forest and a luxuriantly rich eco system endowed with fauna aplenty. Gir is the last home of the Asiatic lion. In this sanctuary one can see lions roaming freely. This rare sight can be enjoyed on a guided jeep tour. While driving one can see animals like chital, nilgai, sambar, black buck, chinkara, wild pig, jackal etc. Guides and vehicles are available for hire. Tulsishyam, a temple dedicated to Bhim and his mother Kunti is located in the heart of Gir, which is a scenic spot because of its hot water springs.
The temple of Somnath is one of the twelve sacred Shiva shrines in India. According to legend, Somnath was built by Some, the moon God. Constantly washed by the Arabian sea, the temples of Somnath were destroyed seven times but were rebuilt each time. The majestic monument as it stands today is a replica of the earlier construction. The present temple Maha Meru Prasad was recently rebuilt on the exact location of the original shrine in accordance with the ancient plants. Somnath is 5 kms from Veraval.
The Sun Temple of Modhera is one of the finest
examples of Indian temple architecture of its period. Built in 1026 A.D
the temple is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya and stands high on a plinth
overlooking a deep stone-steeped tank. Every inch of the edifice, both
inside and outside is magnificently carved with Gods and Goddesses, birds,
beasts and flowers.
Air - Nearest airport is Ahmedabad.
This small village near Kalol 78 kms from Ahmedabad is famous for Jinalaya of Ghantakarna Mahavir and Kotyark temple. Besides Jains devotees, there are thousands of people from different religions offering prayers. The shrine is unique in that the temple's prasad-Sukhadi is not allowed to be taken outside the temple.
Dakor is a temple town dedicated to Lord Krishna. The famous temple with a striking image of Lord Krishna is the temple of Ranchodare, and belongs to the golden period of Dwarks. On Sharad Purnima night every year a fair is held in the temple compound which attracts thousands of people.
The temple of Lord Krishna Dwarkadesh dates back 2500 years. The present day Dwarka is the 6th city on the same site. According to archaeological findings, the earlier five have been submerged in the sea.
198 km. from Ahmedabad on Arasur mountain is the famous temple of goddess Ambaji. Folk artists, farmers and the rural tribes have immense faith in Ambaji.
It is about 190 kms from Ahmedabad. It is situated in the Halol on Panchmahal district, historically linked with the Chavda and Chauhan King's era. The hills of Pavagadh rise in three stages from Champaner. The plateau at an altitude of 1471 ft is known as machi Haveli. The two points on the hill are named after goddess Bhadrakali and Mahakali. Considering the natural beauty and fresh atmosphere. the Gujarat government has developed Pavagadh as a hill resort. It is also the birthplace of a famous musician Baiju.