The magnificent forts of Gujarat and splendid historical monuments are testaments to the majestic Indian architecture. There have been valid reasons why the terms history, heritage, culture, and traditions define the real glory of Gujarat. India’s fifth-largest state by area, Gujarat, has roughly 350 (approx.) protected monuments in the form of temples, ruined forts, palaces, museums, and more! Out of 200 (approx.) holds national importance. All of them are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Gujarat is a powerhouse of rich history, and when a state has its roots from the stone age settlement of Indus Valley Civilization, it is obvious that it has a vibrant past that glorifies the testimony of the erstwhile rulers of Gujarat. Several dynasties like Guptas, Chalukyas, Jadeja's, Palas, Marathas have commissioned their forts and palaces throughout Gujarat. All of these empires have left behind the mark as monuments and forts in Gujarat. Guess what? Only a few Indian states are well known for their forts, and Gujarat is amongst one of them.
From Dwarka to Junagadh, from Vadodara to Bhuj, this effervescent state of India is dipped in rich history. When you explore the best forts and monuments in Gujarat, every nook and corner speaks to the testimony to Gujarat's richness and royal grandeur. Gujarat forts and monuments constitute a very significant part of the several types of tourist attractions in Gujarat. In fact, it will not be an overstatement to say; with these in the backdrop, the beauty of Gujarat has reached a unique height.
Today, modern structures standing amidst the old ones appear to be exemplifying the concept of inheritance and moving ahead with time, carrying old values along. The combination of old and new has precisely beguiled every heart and mind. Truly speaking, this combination speaks about the grandeur of Gujarat and presents some of the sublime values of India, for which it is known in the entire world. On a very close look at Gujarat forts and monuments, you will find that the majority of these sites showcase a blend of Hindu, Islamic, and European architectural styles.
Here is the list of must-visit forts and monuments in Gujarat you can visit all the year round:
1. Statue Of Unity
Dubbed as Gujarat's tribute to the nation. Statute of Unity is hailed as the world’s tallest statue with a height of 597 feet (182 meters). This gigantic monument of Gujarat is dedicated to the statesman and independence activist Vallabhbhai Patel because he was the face behind uniting the 562 princely states to build the Republic of India. Statue of Unity is towered over the Narmada River and gives sweeping views of the Vindhyachal and Satpura Hills along with Sardar Sarovar Dam.
The height of this newly built monument in Gujarat is around 4 times of New York’s Statue of Liberty. Statue of Unity is divided into 5 sections, out of which only 3 sections are open for the public, including a museum, exhibition area, and Memorial Garden on the first floor. Zone 2 extends up to 149 meters to the statue’s thigh. While zone 3 has featured a viewing gallery at 153 m. Visitors must visit the galley at the chest of the statue located at 500 feet height via escalator.
One can also take in the helicopter ride to enjoy the bird-eye views of the Statue of Liberty, Vindyanchal, and Satpura Hills. Reach the observation deck via high-speed elevators to get a commanding view of the river, dam, and hills. The laser light and Sound Show after 7:30 PM, every day except Monday, invokes patriotism in visitors.
- Location: It is located on Sadhubet Island on the Narmada River
- Visiting Hours: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM from Tuesday to Sunday, Monday is closed
- Statue of Unity Ticket Price: ₹ 120 (approx.) for adults, ₹ 60 (approx.) for children
- Ideal Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
- Observation Deck Ticket Price: ₹ 300 for adults, ₹ 200 for children
- Helicopter Ride: ₹ 2,900 (approx.) per person for 10 minutes ride
2. Shree Dwarkadhish Temple
The list of most visited monuments in Gujarat couldn’t be completed without mentioning Shree Dwarkadhish Temple. It is dedicated to the King of Dwarka, Lord Krishna, and is visited annually by millions of visitors because this temple constitutes the Bada Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. Also called Jagat Mandir, the architecture of the Hindu Temple is inspired by the Chaulakhya and Solanki styles. Did we mention that Dwarkadhish Temple is home to one of the four Shankaracharya Peethas – Sharda Peetha?
The temple is located on the western tip where the River Gomti meets the Arabian Sea. This rare ancient monument has a daily rhythm with clockwork precision, but the vibes of celebration increase to 10X fold in August annually during Janmashtami. The temple height is imposing, which is around 25 stories of the modern building. One can enter the temple via the north and south entrance called Moksha Dwar and Swarg Dwar.
- Darshan Timings: 6:30 AM - 01:00 PM, 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
- Ideal Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
- Advice: The temple is no photography zone, and electronic gadgets are not allowed.
3. Laxmi Vilas Palace
This Indian Palace is four times the size of Buckingham Palace and is sprawled across 700 acres of land. Nestled in the heart of Vadodara, Laxmi Vilas Palace was commissioned by the commanding architect, Major Charles Mant, 126 years (approx.) back and is still proudly standing in its grandeur. This supreme monument in Vadodara in Ahmedabad was built under the rule of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890 and is now a royal residence of the Gaekwads of Baroda, which resides on the second floor.
Visit the Laxmi Vilas Palace and get enamored at the entrance with the big golf course. Upon the entrance, this swanky palace displays the stunning craftsmanship of Indo Saracenic architecture amalgamated with a fusion of Gothic elements on its minarets, arches, and domes. There are 8 main sections inside Laxmi Vilas Palace that allow you to explore the royalty and this magnificent piece of architecture in Vadodara in Gujarat.
- Location: Vadodara
- Distance from Ahmedabad: 111 kilometers/2.5 hours (approx.)
- Opening Hours of Laxmi Vilas Palace: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM (approx.)
- Entry Ticket of Laxmi Vilas Palace: ₹ 225 (approx.) per person for Indians, and ₹ 400 (approx.) per person for foreigners
- Attractions of Laxmi Vilas Palace: Darbar Hall, Elephant Hall/Hathi Hall, NavLakhi Step Well, Italian Patio, Armoury Hall, The Royal Staircase, Royal Gardens, Golf Course.
4. Adalaj Stepwell
One of the best historical landmarks of Gujarat near Ahmedabad in Adalaj Village, this stepwell showcases the fine Indian craftsmanship work. Commissioned in 1498 in the memory of Rana Veer Singh by his beloved wife, this five-story stepwell is an impressive example of Islamic architecture with carvings of Hindu deities on the walls. One can enter via three entrances of this stepwell. You can reach the bottom of the stepwell via three staircases from the first floor and watch the octagonal shape of the Adalaj Stepwell from the grounds while looking up above your head.
- Location: Adalaj Village
- Distance from Ahmedabad: 19 kilometers/30 minutes (approx.)
- Opening Timings: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Entry Fee: Free of cost for all
- Ideal Duration: 1 hour (approx.)
Another fascinating historical site of Gujarat is Lother. It has ancient ruins dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization period. On a day trip from Ahmedabad, tourists will love touring the ruins of the Lothal, which were discovered back in 1964. Stroll through the residential complexes, dockyards, and burial ground to get a sneak peek into the living environment of the Indus Valley Civilization. There is one archeological museum to visit, which houses painted pottery, bronze objects, and terracotta ornaments.
- Location: Bhāl region of Gujarat near Ahmedabad
- Distance from Ahmedabad: 79 kilometers/2 hours (approx.)
- Ideal Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
- Best Time to Visit: Winters, early summers, monsoon
6. Bhadra Fort
Bhadra Fort in Ahmedabad is one of the most visited forts by international travelers coming to Gujarat. The fort sprawls over 44 acres of lush green landscape and houses Bhadrakali Temple. Located on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati River, Bhadra Fort houses the popular Siddi Syed Mosque. This magnificent fort in Gujarat was built by Ahmad Shah I in 1411 A.D. and was commissioned in the old walled city of Ahmedabad.
Inside the Bhadra Fort, explore Nagina Baugh, and visit the east side of the fort to explore Maidan-Shah. The Indo-Saracenic architecture is the hallmark of the excellence of Bhadra Fort, which has 14 towers, 8 gates.
- Location: Old Walled City, on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad
- Ideal Duration: 2 hours (approx.)
- Entry Fee: Free for all
7. Uparkot Fort
Uparkot Fort in Junagadh district of Gujarat displays remnants dating to 2,300 years back. Thus, Uparkot Fort is one of the must-visit forts in Gujarat. Legends of this fort say that it was built by Mauryan emperor Chandragupta in 319 BC. The fort is besieged around 16 times, and since it is located on Girnar Hill, tourists get superb selfie backdrops. Inside the walls of this fort are a mosque, old Buddhist caves, and two step-wells made from solid rock.
- Location: Junagadh
- Visiting Hours: 6 AM - 7 PM
- Entry Fee: ₹ 5 (approx.) per person for Indians, and ₹ 100 (approx.) per person for foreigners
- Guide Fee: ₹ 200 (approx.) for a few minutes
8. Songadh Fort
Visit this trekking fort in Gujarat’s Songadh town while traversing through mud trails or forests. Songadh Fort is situated at an elevation of 112 m (approx.) above sea level, and therefore, easy trekking to the fort is rewarding as the summit gives tourists sweeping views of the lush greenery and town.
Songadh Fort is a lesser-known trek but a must-visit one if you want to get respite from the city’s madness and go through the flora and fauna enriched trek on weekends. Inside the fort, there is Dargah and Mata Durga Temple. Those tourists living in and around Surat must plan a day trip to Songadh Fort on weekends.
- Location: Songadh near Surat
- Songadh Trek distance: 2 kilometers (approx.)
- SongadhTrek duration: 30-35 minutes (approx.)
- Best Time to Visit: Through the year but be careful in monsoon because of the leeches
- Ideal Duration to Explore Fort: 2 hours (approx.)
9. Pavagadh Fort
Pavagadh Fort is a hilltop fort located in Champaner and was once the royal ground of Solanki Kings. It was Vanraj Chavada, the Rajput King, who laid the foundation of this 13th-century fort. Now, most of the fort is in ruins, but still, some sections exhibit Nagara-style architecture. One can enter Pavagadh Fort via three main gates, including Atak Gate, Machi Gate, and Budhiya Gate, without any entry fee all year round.
- Distance from Ahmedabad: 146 kilometers/2.5 hours (approx.)
- Ideal Duration: 1 hour (approx.)
- Nearby Attractions to Explore: Mahakali Temple, Jami Masjid, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
10. Bhujia Fort
Positioned on the Bhujia Dungar Hill, Bhujia Fort was commissioned by Rao Goji in 1715 to ward off the Mughals and Rajput in order to protect their own territory. The fort is well known for its Bhujang Nag Temple. This ancient hill fort of Gujarat is in the Kutch region, sliced outside a few kilometers from Bhuj. There is no entry fee to reach the fort, and the best day hours to hike the 200 steps to reach the summit are sunrise and sunset.
- Visiting Hours: 6 AM - 6 PM
- Trek Difficulty: Easy
- Ideal Duration: 1.5 hours