Gujarat sees fewer tourists than its neighbor to the north, Rajasthan, but its hard to see why. Gujarat is rich in culture and has something to offer any traveler.
Gujarat state is a fantastic travel destination in India not only for its incredibly friendly people, but for its abundant and rare wildlife, interesting tribal people, unique textiles and crafts, peaceful beaches, and important religious sites.
Most people visiting Gujarat will begin in the capital city of Ahmedabad. This city is cleaner and less chaotic than many in India. With helpful people and metered auto-rickshaws, the ease of visiting Ahmedabad can be a breath of fresh air. Ahmedabad has several interesting sites to see, including some impressive baolis and the column-filled Jama Masjid, as well as some worthwhile day trips.
Every January, Ahmedabad hosts an International Kite Festival. This coincides with the national holiday of Makar Sakranti on January 14th, when everyone in Ahmedabad heads to the rooftops for a day of kite-flying, kite wars, and all-around fun.
Rare Gujarat Wildlife – Indian Wild Ass and Asiatic Lion
Desert, lakes, beaches, and forest – Gujarat has a diverse ecosystem that attracts abundant and varied wildlife. Gujarat is a bird-lover’s dream, but it is also home to two species of animal not found anywhere else – Indian wild ass and Asiatic lion.
The desert landscape of the Little Rann of Kutch is the only place to find Indian wild ass, an incredible creature that has managed to thrive in this harsh terrain. Those who wish to see the wild ass and other creatures that reside in the Wild Ass Sanctuary can arrange a wildlife safari from the town of Zainabad.
To see wild Asiatic lions, Sasan Gir National Park in southern Gujarat is the place to go. This forested park is unfortunately the last home of this amazing animal. Many other forms of wildlife can also be seen in the park.
Kutch – Tribes and Textiles
The Kutch district is the largest in Gujarat State. While it is a great place to see unique wildlife, Kutch has much more to offer. The Kutch region is home to many different tribal groups, such as the Koli, Harijian, and Wada tribes. While some of these tribes live in small towns, others remain in tiny villages or family-based communities dotted throughout the region.
These tribes are also known for their beautiful crafts and textiles, and there are a variety of styles and specialties throughout the region. Those who wish to learn more about the tribes, see their way of life, or observe the making of crafts such as embroidery, weaving, wood-working, and tie-dye can do so throughout the Kutch region.
Gujarat has many coastal towns lining its western and southern borders along the Arabian Sea. A favorite beach destination for many travelers is the tiny ex-Portuguese island town of Diu. Diu’s beaches are far less crowded than the more popular Goa in southern India and the town provides a quiet and relaxing atmosphere for those who visit.
Important Religious Sites in Gujarat
Gujarat is home to hundreds of religious sites that draw devotees year-round. One of the most impressive religious sites in the region are the mountaintop Jain temples in Palitana. Only a five-hour bus ride from Ahmedabad, this site should top the list for any itinerary in Gujarat.
Some other sites of religious significance:
Dwarka – This town on the far eastern tip of the state is one of the four most holy Hindu sites in India and draws a variety of religious pilgrims.
Junagadh – The Jain and Hindu temples atop Girnar Hill are of significant spiritual importance, making this a prime location for the Bhavnath Fair in February. Junagadh also has Buddhist caves.