Places to Learn About and Visit in Gujarat
Gujarat is a state in India with hot semi-arid climate and is very dry throughout the year. The most popular travel periods is May and June before the monsoon rain. If you prefer cool sunny weather then December, January and February would be the best months to visit. Or generally, avoid July and August, the monsoon months. Gujarat is located in the western part of India adjoining the Arabian Sea. The state is renowned for its art, textile and culture. It also has tremendous history and famous people who lived there such as Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.
In India, people refer Gujarat as the Land of the Lions. To be precise, it is referring to the Village of the Lions in an area called Sasan Gir. The place is located in the buffer zone of Gujarat between the ancient town of Junagadh and Gir National Park. It is home to the infamous Asiatic Lion which you'll read about more below
Gir National Park
Gir National Park is full of beautiful hills and forests. It is the last place in Gujarat where the Asiatic lion is sheltered and protected from danger. There are quite a few hundred of these great Asiatic lions in the Gir forest and are known to be seen around December to April. These lions are not seriously at risk of extinction so the sightings of these animals are well assured in the Gir forest.
Other animals you may encounter are the spotted deers (dainty chital), antelope (nilgais), hidden jaguars or the gazelles (chinkaras). They are mostly seen in the early mornings in the dense forests. Mugger crocodiles, striped hyenas, golden jackals and honey badgers etc are also lurking around the park and some are rarely seen. There is also plenty of other wildlife there, including many types of birds.
To gain entrance to Gir National Park, you must book in advance to make the exploration on a jeep. There are hotels and guest houses near the gates of the Park where they provide accommodation such as the Gir Birding Lodge or Asiatic Lion Lodge in the small town called Sasan (Talala Highway, Sasan Gir).
Sasan also has an eco-resort called Woods and is quite posh if you want a bit of luxury. The Woods of Sasan offers an all year-round spa facility, an outdoor swimming pool, table-tennis and a restaurant. The rooms of the hotel will have TV and air-conditioning as well as free internet service.
As mentioned above, you will require a safari ticket that needs booking in advance. If not, you can still enjoy the views and admire the Asiatic lions and jaguar in another nearby reserve called the Devalia Safari Park also known as Gir Interpretation Zone in Sasan.
Finally, Gir National Park is full of wild Asiatic animals, and apart from that, this dry forest has spectacular silk cotton trees and several flowering plants which adds more colourful atmosphere to the entire park.
Asiatic Lion King at Gir National Park
City of Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad (aka Amdavad) is the largest city in the Gujarat state and was once the capital city of the state. The famous Sabarmati River runs through the center of the city. Ahmedabad is India's first heritage city approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
If visiting the city, you'll be astonished by the amazing culture due to its ancient temples, mosques and mausoleums. This includes the wonderful historic museums and dining places. The best way to explore is to stay in the major part of Ahmedabad where all the history and great hotels are. There is so much to do in the city and it's best to relax and take your time and make a list of where you want to go.
As well as Ahmedabad being a famous tourist attraction city, it is also famous in many industries such as cotton textiles, diamond cutting-shaping and its street food bought from several markets. If you intend to buy traditional clothes on the street markets be sure to have a local guide with you who will assist you, and maybe even haggle with the prices with certain vendors, a good advantage too. Ahmedabad's popular markets are located at Ratan Pole, Dhalgarwad, Manek Chowk and Sarkhej. Those areas are mostly crowded in certain times of the day, and very crowded during the festive periods. Even though it's crowded you'll still find a variety of clothes which are good in quality, choice and price.
For more information on the Grand Bhagwati, please visit the KGB site.
If you're a person with a particular interest in food, you would love to visit the local sweet stores where traditional Gujarati sweets will make your tummy rumble and mouth water. There are several popular stores such as Jai Hind and Ras Ranjan etc. You could even choose to devour at street food markets like Ratri Bazaar or trying out Gujarati thalis at Gopi Dining Hall or checking out the cuisines at Vishalla. The choices and places to buy things are endless in Ahmedabad.
If time permits during the visit in Gujarat, be sure to explore the Calico Museum of Textiles, the amazing Hutheesing Temple, the Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi used to reside, as well as the beautiful Siddi Sayyed Mosque and Jama Mosque. Ahmedabad in Gujarat is one of the best places to visit to learn new things, enjoy the atmosphere and gain satisfactory experience from it all.
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Festivals of Gujarat
Gujarat has a wonderful reputation for celebrating numerous festivals in the state. The most famous one is the International Kite Festival (Uttarayan) which is held in January and lasts for a week. Next year's Kite Festival 2019 will start on the 6th January and end on the 14th. This kite celebration is an extraordinary sight when the skies are filled with kites flying around especially in Ahmedabad as well as other towns. The people usually fly the kites from dawn all the way to dusk. Everyone starts to get on the roof of their house or get on the streets to fly kites and compete with each other.
This festival is known as Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti in a time when the winter starts to turn to summer according to their Hindu calendar. The International Kite Festival has been organized in the late 1980's and is attended by several countries around the world. This kite festival has become a huge success in tourism due to spectators and kite flying experts filling the skies with amazing, colourful kites. It's an experience to be remembered for many years.
Another well known festival is the Navratri which is held in September and October. The Hindu people celebrate the Navratri Festival by performing large groups of dances to respect the nine incarnations of their goddess Durga. In fact, Navratri is celebrated in whole of India. Navrati means 'nine nights' because the festival lasts for 9 nights and 10 days. It is very massive and colourful in Gujarat and you'll see the Garba dance wherever you go in Gujarat.
City of Gandhinagar
Gandhinagar is the administrative capital city of Gujarat and is on the western land area of the Sabarmati River. Gandhinagar was named after Mahatma Gandhi meaning ‘Gandhi City’. The city is one of the cleanest and greenest in Asia and is abundant in parks, gardens, monuments, famous buildings and temples. It is also a great sightseeing city very similar to Ahmedabad.
Many tourists who visit Gandhi’s City will make that extra effort to visit the Akshardham Temple, ornated with coloured stone and gorgeous carvings surrounding it. If you’re embarking on a pilgrim tour then you should also pay a visit to the Brahmani Ma Temple and Hanuman Ji Temple. The gardens of Ganghinagar are well trimmed, which makes it a great attraction for kids. The city is very prosperous, unique and serene and has a cool blend of history and culture.
As we know, Gujarat is popular for lots of things but what about DINOSAURS? Are you shocked? Yes, because this state (as well as a few other states in India) has all the wealth of dinosaur fossils and eggs and the best place to see them is in Gandhinagar. They have their own version of Jurassic Park in the city. If you want to go on this adventure then you’ll need to visit the Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park.
Indroda Dinosaur & Fossil Park
This is India’s Jurassic Park and most fossils are from the Cretacious period. The park is divided into two parts, the western side is known as Indroda Nature Park and the eastern side of the Sabarmati River is known as the Wilderness Park. The park is around a huge 400 to 420 hectares of land. The preferred times to visit the park is between October and end of February. It is great fun for the kids, a great family day out for an unforgettable adventure and experience.
This wonderful park is built in a forest with different tree plantations, flowers and even bamboos. The fossil park is home to the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs in the world. It is managed by the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation(GEER).
The Wilderness Park on the other side is home to several species of birds, reptiles, antelopes (nilgais), long-tailed monkeys (langurs) and peafowls in its enormous forest. The park also has a zoo, botanical garden, camping facilities and you will see huge skeletons of sea mammals like the whales for example. The tigers, leopards, deers and peacocks are also good attractions in the zoo. Other sections of the entire park are the marines, plants, reptiles, avifauna (birds) including an aviary and of course the dinosaurs.
The dinosaur eggs displayed in the park are all of different sizes, ranging from chicken egg to cannon ball sizes. The eggs can weigh more than a person and it may be possible that these 60 to 70 million year old eggs could be a sign that dinosaurs played around these areas of the park. The dinosaur fossils on display in the park’s museum are the T-Rex, Titanosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, Antarctosaurus and the roofed lizard called the Stegasaurus. There are life-sized models of the dinosaurs around the park also. As a visitor, you are permitted to take photos or videos of the dinosaur fossils and eggs but you are not allowed to touch them.
Other Popular Attractions in Gujarat
1. Children’s Park – A very beautiful garden and amusement park for the kids and tourists in the state capital. The mini-train tour and the lake makes it a nice addition to the park. You can enjoy boating in the lake and the kids can enjoy the train tour. The Children’s Park is very peaceful and tranquil and you can always go for a walk, sit or relax at dusk with friends or family. The park in general, adds beauty and life to the city. It has floral plants of several types which makes the park attractive, especially in the blossoming season.
2. Capital Complex – A monumental building and a tourist attraction, with excellent architecture. The complex houses government offices and its legislative people. It’s situated in the heart of Gandhinagar in the middle of a lake. You will need special permission to gain access to the complex if you’re planning on visiting.
3. Aalloa Hills Resort & Golf Course – Various activities are available at this resort and golf course. If you’re a nature lover then this is the place to explore. It also borders the Sabarmati River. The surrounding is quiet and serene with wide open space. If you like golf, then there’s your excuse to visit and play golf as well as several other outdoor games at this resort.
4. Adalaj Stepwell (Adalaj ni Vav) - This is a famous stepwell situated about 11 miles (18 km) away from the main city of Gandhinagar and very close to Ahmedabad. This well is located in the Adalaj Village and is popular among tourists for its finely detailed carvings of kings, dancers, musicians and other things as well. It was built in 1499 by Queen Rudabai and was used for the pilgrims for resting. There are three entrances that leads to the stairs of the well to explore all angles of this remarkable construction.
5. Velavadar National Park - This place is also known as Blackbuck National Park as the name suggests. It is situated in the city of Bhavnagar in Gujarat. The park is renowned for breeding blackbucks (Indian antelope), another endangered species of animals. It is an important tourist attraction of Gujarat and visitors can also expect to see other animals such as porcupines, wild boars, jackals, wolves, hares and plenty more. There are species of birds in the region like the pelicans, flamingos, harriers, cranes, storks and so on, great for visitors who are keen on birdwatching. The best way of exploring the park is going on a jeep safari rather than being on foot. In general, this park is great for nature lovers and wildlife fanatics. It is recommended to avoid visiting the park in the monsoon period due to flooding.