The huge western Indian state of Gujarat is dotted with innumerable sightseeing places that are much sought-after destinations for both domestic as well as international tourists. Gujarat has almost everything to offer to a tourist right from beaches to hillocks, temples to historical places, royal palaces to archaeological sites, national parks to amusement parks. A vacation at Gujarat, rightly metaphored as the ‘Jewel of Western India’ will give one memories of a lifetime.
The history of the state dates back to some 4500 years. The state is the birthplace of some renowned personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It is the sacred land of Lord Krishna and is home to two important Jyotirlingams of lord Shiva. Thus, traveling to Gujarat is something tourists wait for with great alacrity. Apart from the famed enough places of Gujarat, there are many lesser known, offbeat places in the state that demand your attention too. Read on to learn more about the top 10 offbeat places to visit in Gujarat:
01. Gopnath Beach
The scenic Gopnath beach located on the coastal belt of Gujarat’s Gulf of Khambhat is a not so popular beach of Gujarat. It falls within Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district and is a beach of pristine and diverse seaside beauty. The panoramic beauty of the extensive sea coastline coupled with soft sea breezes and breath-taking views of the limestone cliffs around makes Gopnath beach a much sought-after destination for nature lovers. The tranquil ambiance of the beach lets you escape from all the din and clamor of a humdrum chaotic life and relax in the midst of sand and surf. Swimming, surfing and long walks on the beach are activities you can undertake at Gopnath beach. The Gopnath Mahadev temple, King Gohilvad Fort and the heritage building constructed by Maharaja Krishna Kumar Singhji are the major tourist attractions at Gopnath beach.
The ancient historical city of Champaner-Pavagadh falls within Gujarat’s Panchmahal district and is an unusual world of unique archaeological treasures in the heart of Gujarat. The city dates back to the 8th century and is dotted with several old palatial buildings, mosques, forts and historical monuments. A visit to Champaner will take you back in time and you could well explore the city by walking the ancient lanes just as the natives of Champaner did nearly 5 centuries back. As per history, Champaner had been the ancient capital of the state and had been a major cultural and civilization hub, later lost to antiquity. Today Champaner’s historical importance and the need of preserving the aesthetic remains of an important city once lost to the ages has been realized by all and that has led to the rediscovery of Champaner anew. Some of the must-see places at Champaner include Pavagadh fort, Kalika Mata Temple, Lakulisa temple, Jami Masjid, Nagina Masjid, Lila Gumbaj Ki Masjid, Kevada Masjid, Jain temples. Champaner is an UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site today.
Saputara hill station is the only hill station in Gujarat allowing you to relax in the lap of nature far away from the chaos and congestion of cities. Nestled amid the Sahyadri ranges Saputara is a charming quaint hill station falling within Gujarat’s Dang district. Lush green woods, shimmering waterfalls, undulating hillocks, vivid landscapes, dreamy meandering pathways, vivid landscapes characterize the beauty of Saputara. Perched at an elevation of nearly 1000m above the sea level, Saputara is a region of unspoiled natural beauty, minimally commercialized. The region is inhabited by tribals who worship the serpent God. The name ‘Saputara’ stands for ‘abode of serpents’ and the nomenclature perhaps has come from the unique custom of the tribal people that causes them to worship snakes. Saputara may be visited at any time of the year. Summers at Saputara will let you escape the unbearable heat of the plains and enjoy the cool breeze as you stroll through the zigzag pathways and watch the sun dipping down into the pellucid Saputara Lake. Winters at Saputara are pleasant too. A wintry morning will greet you with a cool, misty ambiance and as you trek your way up to Gandhi Shikhar, the mesmerizing colors of dawn greet you with open arms. Monsoons in Saputara are truly romantic. Dark clouds heaving with rain drops cover the sky while the hills of Saputara turn greener than usual introducing you to the many shades of the hue ‘green’. Ropeway ride, boating in Saputara, exploring the tribal culture are some of the activities you could undertake at Saputara. Gira Falls, Botanical Gardens are the two major tourist attractions of Saputara.
04. Girmal Waterfall
Girmal Waterfall located amid the dense wildernesses of Dang forests in vicinity to Ahwah is a popular tourist attraction for nature lovers. Water falling from a height of about 100ft generates a roaring sound and enough of fog. Verdant greenery surrounds the place and serves as an ideal venue for picnics. Often one can visualize a rainbow over the fog formed from gushing waters. Such visual treats and picturesque landscapes around will keep your camera busy all the time once you are at Girmal Falls.
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Patan is an ancient city of Northern Gujarat positioned between Gulf of Khambhat and Aravalli hill ranges. This fortified old city of Gujarat came into being around the 8th century under the initiative of Vanaraja, the Chapotkata king. The city boasts of many historical treasures that form a true delight for its visitors. Amazing monuments, lakes, step wells and temples dot the city of Patan. The top tourist attractions of Patan are Rani ki Vav step well, Sahastralinga Talav, Khan Sarovar, Hemchandracharya Gyan Mandir, Jain temples, Baha Behi, Durbar Square, Harishankar Temple, Jagan Narayan Temple, Bhimsen Temple. Also, tourists to Patan can visit the weaving centre of the world famous Patola sarees that have Patan as their birthplace.
06. Pirotan and Narara Island
Narara islands and Pirotan islands off the coast of Jamnagar are great places to explore some exotic marine life and indulge in the most thrilling coral walks. The Narara Island covers an area of 3 sq km and features exquisite mangroves such as Rhizophora, Avicennia, and Ceriops. The two major tourist attractions of Narara Island are a Khwaja Khizar Rahmatullah Alaih shrine and a lighthouse rising to 25m in height. To reach Narara Islands you need to get a special permit as it is a reserved marine zone. During high tides, don’t dare to swim in the waters as it may quite perilous. Pirotan Island houses the famed Marine National Park where you could catch a glimpse of some of the most exotic coral species such as finger coral, brain coral, star coral, moon coral etc.
07. Rann of Kutch
Splendors of Gujarat are many and the Rann of Kutch, located in Gujarat’s Kutch district, is one of those. The shimmering white sand of the Rann looks simply ethereal on a full moon night. An extravaganza of myriad hues and designs, cornucopia of music, art and dance, variedness of culture all join together to add up to the unique beauty of the vast expanses of the Rann of Kutch. The ideal time to visit the Rann is between months October and March. The otherwise desolate Rann turns sonorous and bustling during the winter season when the very gorgeous Rann Utsav is held around the months of December, January and February. Rann Utsav is a celebration of life indeed. Tents for staying are put up everywhere on the Rann during the festive times and several cultural programs are organized. Tourists from every corner of the country and globe visit the Rann during the festival of Rann Utsav.
08. Navlakha Temple
This is one of the most ancient temples of Gujarat located atop Barda hills in the village of Ghumli in Gujarat. It was constructed around 11th century and is a magnificent temple, now in total ruins. The temple dates back to the era of the Solankis and has Sun God or Surya dev as its presiding deity. The temple has an enormous foundation base, perhaps the largest among all other temples of Gujarat. The temple reflects the very typical Solanki architectural style. The walls and pillars of the temple, though now in ruins, exhibit remarkably intricate specimens of rare architectural beauty. The interiors of the temple are strewn with several marvelous sculptures of Gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. 9 lacs was spent in building this enormous and gorgeous temple which is why it has been named as ‘Navalakha’.
09. Kite Museum
Kite Museum is the first of its kinds in the whole of the country and second of its kinds in the whole of the world. The concept of a Kite museum came from Shri Bhanubhai Shah who donated his personal and most astounding kite collection to Ahmadabad Municipal Corporation. The collection started to grow ever since and today there are more than 100 kites in the museum extending across a wide range of patterns and varieties each of which stand out as an amazing artistic masterpiece. The museum is housed in the famous Sanskar Kendra Bhavan of Ahmadabad. Visiting this unique museum is both an entertaining as well as educative experience.
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