Gujarat is a modern state lying in the Western part of India. It possesses one of the best infrastructures in the country and provides state-of-the-art facilities for tourists at affordable rates. The state was formed as an autonomous part of the Union of India in 1960.
The region was previously under Bombay Presidency. Gandhinagar is the state capital while Ahmedabad is the largest city. The state is one of the cleanest and well-planned in the country.
The state ranks seventh in the country with respect to geographical area. It borders the other states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, the Union Territories of Daman, Diu and Dadra, Nagar Haveli, and the Pakistan province of Sindh. It is also bordered by Arabian Sea on the western part. The state has the coastline of about 1600 km which is the largest in the country. The region is divided into 26 districts.
More than 7% of the state land is under forest cover. The major rivers here are Narmada, Sabarmati, Tapi, Daman Ganga, Vishwamitri, Banas, Ambika, Mahi, and Purna. In all, around 35 rivers flow through the territory of the state. The four important types of forest cover here are tropical moist deciduous, northern tropical thorn, tropical dry deciduous, and littoral and swamp. Banyan tree is recognized as the state symbol.
Climate is fairly stable and the three seasons here are winter, monsoon, and summer. Winters are cold and the temperature ranges between 12 degree Celsius to 29 degree Celsius. They occur in the months of October to January. Summer falls in the months of February to June and the temperature is around 29 degree Celsius to 41 degree Celsius. Monsoons are heavy in the southern part while moderate in the north-west. They are experienced in the months of June to September.
The state is dominated by Gujarati speaking people and the official language used here is Gujarati. Other languages like Hindi and English are also spoken to some extent. More than 89% people follow Hinduism while 9% are Muslims. Jains constitute about 1% of the population while other religions like Christianity, Buddhism, and Sikhism are practiced by a very small number of people.
The state ranks 10th in the country with respect to population and the average population density is 310 persons per sq km. It has a fair literacy rate of approximately 80%. The region has a sex ratio of 918 females per 1000 males.
Prime religious sites in Gujarat
Akshardham Mandir in Gandhinagar is a historical monument dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan. The main attraction of the site is the gold-leafed idol of the god. The temple is build using pink sandstone and is one of the best architectures in the world. Sri Swaminarayan Mandir of Ahmedabad is a major pilgrimage spot for Jain community and is one of the top-visited sites in Gujarat, India.
The main places of interest in the complex are Nar Narayan Temple, North Haveli, East Haveli, Akshar Bhavan, Temple for Women, and Rang Mahol. Dwarakadhish Temple in the city of Dwaraka, one of the most ancient cities in India, is popular for Dwarakadhish Temple, Dwaraka Pitha, and Nageshvara Jyotirlinga.
Dakor is known for the sites of Shri Ranchhodraiji. Ambaji Mata Temple in Ambaji is a major holy place for Hindus and is one of the 51 Shakti Pithas. The temple does not have any idol but only a gold plated Shree Yantra. Palitana in Bhavnagar is the most important pilgrimage destination for Jains and is the biggest temple complex in the world. The Shatrunjaya Hills here have more than 3000 temples with 27,000 idols carved exclusively from marble.
Somnath temple in Saurashtra is a legendary site dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Shri Ghantakarna Mahavir Temple in Mahudi and Shankareshwar Tirtha Kshetra in Patan are worth seeing. Sun temple at Modhera is a beautiful piece of architecture belonging to 1026 AD.
Its exterior walls depict sexual activities of the era and contain erotic sculptures. The renowned Mahakali Temple at Vadodara is highly appreciated by tourists and the location nearby is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pavagadh hill temple is another highly celebrated location.
Forts and Palaces in Gujarat
The prime forts in Gujarat are Bhujia (Bhuj), Dabhoi (Vadodara), Tera (Kutch), Kanthkot (Kutch), Jami Masjid (Champaner), Pavagadh (Panchmahal), Roha (Kutch), and Lakhpat (Kutch). Some of the top palaces in the state are Aina Mahal (Bhuj), Prag Mahal (Bhuj), Vijaya Vilas Palace (Kutch), Makarpura Palace (Vadodara), Nazarbaug Palace (Vadodara), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial (Ahmedabad), and Laxmi Vilas Palace (Vadodara).
Museums and Archaeological Sites in Gujarat
The prime museums appreciated by tourists worldwide are Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery (Baroda), Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum (Vadodara), Sabarmati Ashram (Ahmedabad), Calico Museum of Textiles (Ahmedabad), Kutch Museum (Bhuj), and Watson Museum (Rajkot). The prime sites reflecting the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi are Gandhi Ashram (Ahmedabad), Dandi (Surat), Gandhi Smriti (Bhavnagar), Kochrab Ashram (Ahmedabad), Bardoli (Surat), Rashtriyashala (Rajkot), Samal Das (Bhavnagar), Kaba Gandhi No Delo (Rajkot), and Kirti Mandir (Porbandar).
The state has more than 25 major archaeological sites. The noted ones are Lothal, Dholavira, Loteshwar, Babar Kot, Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park (UNESCO World Heritage Location), Sarkhej, Surkotada, Malwan, Dwaraka, Rangpur, Bhagatrav, and Desalpur. Some other sites are Gola Dhoro, Kuntasi, Hazira Maqbara, Kerala-No-Dhoro, Nagwada, Khirasara, Paburnath, Rojdi, Oriyo Timbo, Shikarpur, and Prabhas Patan.
Beaches and Buddhist Centers in Gujarat
The five main beaches in the region are Umbergaon, Gopnath, Ahmedpur Mandvi, Tithal, and Dumas. The major Buddhist sites here are Junagadh Caves, Taranga Hills, Kadia Dungar Caves, Ashoka Edicts, Vadnagar, Talaja Hills, Khambhalida Caves, Siyot Caves, and Devi Ni Mori.
National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Waterfalls in Gujarat
The three major waterfalls are Girmal, Dediapada, and Gira. There are around 30 national parks and sanctuaries in the state. Gir Forest National Park, Vansda National Park, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Marine National Park Porbandar Bird Sanctuary, Blackbuck National Park, Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, and Kutch Bustard Sanctuary are the main hot-spots for wildlife lovers.
Gujarat is a great tourist destination and provides you with a variety of tourism options depending upon your mood and liking. The state also scores well in the areas of hospitality and social security thus, making your tour pleasurable and peaceful.