Top 15 Places to Visit in Gujarat
The vibrant and culturally-rich state of Gujarat has an exquisite charm, which makes it one of the best tourist destinations in India. The list of places to visit in Gujarat has myriad of options for the visitors. It has temple towns, beaches, exotic wildlife, splendid structures, colorful markets, rich art and crafts and more. Due to its various allures, it is fairly termed as the ‘Jewel of Western India’.
Here is the list of top 15 places to visit in Gujarat:
1. Dwarka- one of the revered Char dham destinations
One of the highly revered Char Dham destinations of India, Dwarka is known to be the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna. It is also one of the seven most ancient Sapta Puri religious cities in India. This sacred city needs no introduction and is visited by a huge number of devotees. Peaceful environment and the divine air sweeps you off your feet.
Dwarakadhish Temple and Bet Dwarka are the two most important attractions here. Go down towards the Gomti Ghat to enjoy a hot cup of tea, observe decorated camels and get your hands on seashell knick-knacks. Some other things that you can visit here are Jagat Mandir, Rukmini Devi temple, Okha and Shank Narayan temple.
Popular Attractions– Dwarakadhish Temple and Bet Dwarka
2. Gir National Park- Home of the mighty Asiatic Lions in India
One of the most popular attractions in Gujarat, the Gir National Park is the only place in India where the mighty Asiatic Lion resides. Other wildlife species that can be spotted here include chinkara, spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, striped hyena, jackal, black knapped Indian, rusty spotted car and porcupine etc. Wildlife safaris are offered twice a day. With 250 species of birds, bird watching is a popular activity here.
Latest statistics state that the park has 300 leopards and 523 lions. This jungle is the former hunting grounds of the Nawabs of Junagadh. The national park is close to Somnath and Junagarh. Its wealth comprises of 200 insect species, 38 species of mammals, and 37 reptiles’ species.
- Best time to visit Gir– December to March
- Popular Activities– Wildlife Safari, Bird Watching, Temple visit to Somnath temple and Kamleshwar Dham, Visit to Girnar Mountain and Nalsarovar Lake.
3. Great Rann of Kutch- India’s largest white salt desert
Superb art and craft and the expansive white salt desert are two prime features of the Great Rann of Kutch. Visiting this place is truly once in a lifetime experience. The nearby villages of Hodka and Dhordo offer eco-friendly accommodation. One of the best experiences here is camel safari under moonlit sky at the time of Rann Utsav, organized from December to March. Do not miss savoring lip-smacking local savory and sugary delights.
A visit to this place is calming and relaxing. Get your hands on some wonderful handicrafts made by Kutchhi people. This seasonal salt marshy land gets filled with water during the monsoon. Measuring about 10,000 square kilometers, it covers regions of India as well as Pakistan.
Popular Attractions- Rann Utsav festival, Camel Safari, art and craft items, Wildlife safari and Bird watching in Little Rann of Kutch, Visits to Bhuj and Dholavira, Viewing sunset at Kala Dungar, Leisure walk on Mandvi beach
4. Laxmi Vilas Palace- The Magnificent Palace Museum
One of the most popular attractions of Vadodara, Laxmi Vilas palace is a palace-cum-museum. Four times larger than the Buckingham Palace of England, it is still is the official residence of the Maharaja of Baroda and his family members. A part of it has been turned into a museum. The palace has an Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, spreads in 700 acres and also has a golf course as well as a zoo.
It was commissioned by Maharaja Sayaji Rao III between 1878 and 1890. The interiors of the palace are splendid with ornate fountains, Mosaic flooring, mosaic decorations, and stained-glass windows. The other artifacts are stunning too.
- Timings– 10:00 AM to 04:30 PM (closed on Mondays and public holidays)
- Entry Fees: Museum (INR 60 per person) and Palace (INR 170 per person)
5. Somnath- A holy city with Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlinga
One of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, the beautiful holy city of Somnath enjoys a wonderful location of being near the seaside. Visited by devotees and tourists alike in huge number, this place has the magnificent Somnath temple. The temple with Chalukya style of architecture is known for its intricate carvings and use of gemstones and gold. It also faced ransacking from Islamic invaders and has been reconstructed a number of time. However, its glory is absolutely intact.
Serene and peaceful scenery is another highlight of Somnath. This temple is the pride of Gujarat and is an important part of its tour and travel industry. It is believed that Soma or the Moon Lord had originally built the temple to appease Lord Shiva.
Popular Attractions– Somnath temple, Kamnath temple, Panch Pandav Gufa and Junagadh Gate, Suraj Mandir on Triveni Ghat
[You may also read about 7 Most Famous Hindu Temples in Gujarat]
6. Sun Temple, Modhera- An architectural masterpiece
Dedicated to the Sun God, the splendid Sun temple is one of the best attractions of Modhera village. The temple was constructed by the rulers of the Solanki Dynasty during the 11th century. Located on the banks of Pushpavati River, this magnificent piece of architecture comprises of the main shrine, an assembly hall and a beautifully carved flagged tank. Its architecture is known to be quite similar to the Sun temple of Konark.
One of the highlights of this temple is that the sanctum has built on such a position that the first rays of the sun fall at the equinox. The Modhera Sun Temple was commissioned by King Bhimdev way back in 1026. Modhera also finds its mention in holy books like Brahma Purana and Skanda Purana. It is believed to be blessed by Lord Rama and is also named as Dharmaranya, the forest of righteousness.
- Timings– 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Entry Fee- Citizens of India and SAARC and BIMSTEC countries- INR 15 per head
Others- INR 200 per head
Entry for children up to 15 years is free
7. Patan – An ancient fortified town
Located at a distance of 110 km from Gandhinagar, Patan is one of the top 15 places to visit in Gujarat. The traces of this ancient fortified town can be found from 746 AD when King Vanraj Chavda of Chavda kingdom founded it. Rani ki Vav, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit here. It is dotted with several other wonderful structures including lakes, step wells, and temples, which make it a special destination for history aficionados.
The local markets here sell some wonderful Patola saris. Take a walk through the busy bazaar and notice the locals busy in their daily work. Do not miss visiting the Hemachandracharya Jain Gnan library, housing ancient Hindu and Jain scripts.
Popular Attractions– Rani ki Vav (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Anand Sarovar or Gungadi Talav Sahastralinga Tank, Hingaraj Mandir, Panchasar Derasar, special Patola silk saris etc.
8. Gandhi’s Ashram, Ahmedabad- First ashram by Mahatama Gandhi
Gandhi Ashram, also known as Kochrab Ashram in Ahmedabad was the first ashram that was founded by Mahatama Gandhi in the year 1915. This ashram is a chance for the visitors who want to experience the way of life of Gandhi. The ashram was open to visitors on 2nd October, 2013. The ashram is managed by Gujarat Vidyapeeth University. It is visited by a number of students who wish to study Gandhian philosophies and principles.
This ashram is a part of the Gandhi Tourism Circuit, and is named as “Live like Gandhi for a Few Days”. If you wish to visit this place then Ahmedabad takes you to Palid where the ashram is located.
- Founded in– May, 1915
9. Saputara- the only hill station in Gujarat
Probably the only hill station of Gujarat, the beautiful Saputara lies amid the Sahyadari hills, offering riddance from humid and hot climate. The lush hills, cool air and wonderful scenery are simply alluring. The hill town is dotted with a number of attractions, which must be visited. It is located at a distance of 170 km from Surat. The monsoon rains make the place even more beautiful. If you are an adventurous soul, trek up to the Gandhi Shikhar for bird watching and enjoying stunning views.
Saputara is placed on the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat and is also quite popular amid the locals as a weekend getaway. This place can be visited all around the year. Not even a single moment is boring here. This place is also known to have a mythological connection as it is said that Lord Rama had spent 11 years of his exile here.
Popular attractions– Vansda National Park, Artist Village, Sunrise and Sunset point, Botanical Garden, Gira falls, Purna Sanctiary, Hatgad Fort, Saputara Tribal Museum, the Ropeway, and Boating in Saputara Lake.
10. Bhavnagar- Cultural hub of Gujarat
Known to be the cultural hub of Gujarat, the city of Bhavnagar offers its visitors a chance to get a peek inside the state’s rich history and culture. It is quite popular in the art circles because of its wonderful pottery and silversmiths. It is located at a distance of around 198 km from Gandhinagar. The place has historical monuments, temples, palaces and exotic wildlife. The city has something for the people of all age-groups.
Take a walk at the Gopnath beach and spend some free time here with your loved ones. Or, head towards Gaurishankar Lake for enjoying a picnic with friends and family. A day’s trip to Mahuva can also be planned. Due to its immensely beautiful scenery, this place is also known as ‘Kashmir of Saurashtra’.
Popular attractions– Nilambagh Palace, Velavadar Blackbuck National Park, Palitana Jain Temples, Takhteshwar Temple, Victoria Park, Gopinath Mahadev Temple, Mangalsinhji Mahal Palace and more.
11. Bhuj- a place of several wonders
Bhuj is that place where the rich heritage of the Gujarat state can be seen, imbibed with architecture and history. The capital of Kutch is a wonderful city, which strongly revived itself after it was destroyed during an earthquake in 2001. The local bazaars here sell some wonderful Kutchhi handicraft items. The uncanny beauty of Aina Mahal and Prag Mahal must be observed. Visit Swaminarayan Temple and admire its architecture.
If you love wildlife, you can head towards Khavda Natural Park. Bhuj was made the capital of the Kutch region, 29 years after the Jadeja Rajputs took over the control of this place. Since then, it has been a significant town of this region. Do not miss visiting the surrounding villages. Bhuj is quite popular for its textile tourism too.
Popular Attractions– Aina Mahal, Swaminarayan Temple, Baug Palace, Prag Mahal, Kutch Museum, Khavda Natural Park, Eco- tourism and bird watching at Chhari Dhandh.
12. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary- For Bird Watchers and Nature Lovers
Located 60 km south-westwards of Ahmedabad, Nalsarovar bird sanctuary is one of the best bird sanctuaries in Gujarat. Nalsarovar is a shallow lake that is enveloped by marshy lands. It is home to as many as 250 species of birds including black tailed godwit, brown and white wader, and Merops orientalis. It also attracts migratory birds such as flamingoes, herons, white storks, rosy pelicans etc. from Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia. During winter months, the place is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Endangered wild ass and the black buck are also spotted here occasionally. Nalsarovar is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in India and the largest one in the state. In April month of 1969, this lake was declared a bird sanctuary. Rent a boat during sunrise to enjoy bird watching here. It is the only lake of the country, which has been declared as a Ramsar site in India.
- Timings– 06:00 AM to 06:00 PM
- Best time to visit the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary– November to February
13. Palitana – Shatrunjaya- Splendid Jain temples on hills
A sacred city of the Jains, Palitana is located at a distance of just 51 km from Bhavnagar. One of the most important Jain pilgrimage sites in India, Palitana was originally capital of a small princely state, founded by Shahji, a Gohel Rajput. The place is also known for the horse-breeding. The temple site is around 3 km from main city.
Shatrunjaya Hills here have one of Gujarat’s grandest structures. There are around 863 Jain temple made from white marble, which was built in a span of 900 years in two phases. In order to reach these temple, you need to climb up for around 600 m on a steep path of 3000 stairs. Lift chairs and doli are also available, if you are not in a condition to walk. The temple are known for their architectural beauty with the Adishwar Temple, being the most popular. The views from the top are majestic.
Popular Attraction– Jain temples on Shatrunjaya Hills
14. Mandvi- Offering an unforgettable beach vacation
An hour’s drive away from Bhuj, Mandvi is one of the top places to visit in Gujarat. Once the summer retreat of the rulers of Kutch, Mandvi lets you enjoy a beach holiday. Earlier, it was also known to be a significant shipbuilding centre. However, you can still see locals making wooden ships with their hands on the banks of River Rukmavati. Enjoy a leisure walk at the clean Mandi beach, and admire the tranquil surroundings.
The beach town of Mandvi also offers activities like jet-skiing and boating. Visitors can catch a glimpse of Kutch culture here. Enjoy camel rides at the Kashivishvanath beach. You can also visit the Maharao’s private beach, which is behind Vijay Vilas Palace, just by paying a small fee.
Popular Attractions– Mandvi beach, Vijay Vilas Palace
15. Porbandar- A coastal city with a mix of old and new worlds
Porbandar is a serene coastal city, which offers its visitors an amalgamation of ancient and new world, making it an interesting option. It is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. Visit Kirti Mandir, his birth place that has now been turned into a museum. The city has a number of temples and stone buildings. River Asmavati merged into the Arabian Sea at Porbandar.
The city also finds its mention in the great Hindu epic of Mahabharata as the birth place of Sudama, the friend of Lord Krishna. Touches of late Harappa civilization can also be seen here. Enjoy bird watching at the Porbandar Bird Sanctuary.
Popular Attractions– Porbandar Beach, Miyani Beach, Kirti Mandir, Barda Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Sri Hari temple, Krishan –Sudama temple
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