Gujarat, a multi-cultural splendour, is worthy of visit. It has extreme diversities and a lot to offer for everyone.
Gujarat is a land of extreme diversity with dry arid desert of Kutch in the North-west of the State a perfect counterpoint to the wet lush forests of Dangs in the South. It is also an intermingling of cultures, reflected in dresses, traditions and foods all of which come together notably at festival times.
Festival Darshan of Gujarat
One of the best Gujarat Darshan Tours would be to take in festivals of Gujarat but it may not be possible because they occur at various times of the year. Still, you could plan to attend a few.
- The Modhera Dance Festival: Held at Modhera Sun Temple in the third week of January, it is an occasion to enjoy dance performed at night under open skies in front of the temple, much like the Khajuraho dance festival. You can undertake a side trip to Patan Ran ki Vav and also visit a few weavers engaged in making the fabulous Patola.
- Kutch Mahotsav:Organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, the Rann Mahotsav held in the white arid a sand of Kutch is an unending fiesta of celebrations of Kutchchi lifestyle and culture. You can undertake a trip to Bhuj, Koteshwar mahadev temple and Narayan Sarovar Lake alive with migratory birds during February and March when the festival is held. There is more to Kutch than Kutchchi dabeli, this region’s famous burger.
- Kite Festival: January 14th is the day to be in Gujarat when people simply go crazy. You will see rooftops choc-a-block with people flying kites with frenzy and trying to cut strings of other kite flyers, whooping with joy when they succeed. It is a time to enjoy Undhiyu, a concoction of winter vegetables, jalebi, til laddu and just have an exhilarating time anywhere in Gujarat.
- Religious Fairs: There are quite a few such as the shamlaji Fair held at the Shamlaji temple in North Gujarat, about 80 km from Ahmedabad. Shamlaji is a vaishnav pilgrimage spot and the place comes alive during November. Celebrate Diwali in Gujarat and visit this temple. A couple of months earlier, in September, there is the Bhadra Purnima fair at Ambaji temple, one of the shakteepeeths in Gujarat, when lakhs congregate and have a fun time. Gokulashtami or Janmashtami is the time when you should be in Dwarka to witness the religious fervor and enjoy a day or two of fun on the beach.
- Unusual Fairs: A wedding fair? This is what Tarnetar fair is all about. Usually held in the first week of September or last week of August, this is when local guys and girls make a beeling to this mela and select their future life partners. Equally unusual and interesting is the donkey fair at Vautha, a place of confluence of holy rivers and where donkeys are traded during the day and folk celebrations at night.
- Navratri: This is undoubtedly the queen of Gujarat festivals occurring in end of September-October. For nine nights each village, town and city and its streets come alive with girls and boys in traditional attire dancing the garba and raas till the late hours of the night. Enjoy fafda gathiya and jalebi on Dussehra!
Religious Darshan Tours of Gujarat
Here is a secret to getting to know Gujarat is, their culture and traditions in a very affordable way: join religious tours organized by local Gujarat tour operators. There are Jain tours that take you to Jain destinations like Girnar, the exquisite Palitana collection of temples, Kothara, Naliya, Songadh and Taranga. You sample pure Jain food, get to stay in dharamshalas and travel to various destinations. It is the same with Swaminarayan tours of Gujarat that take you to Swaminarayan temples in Baladia, Kutch, Swaminarayan temples of Bhuj, Gadhada and Rajkot in Saurashtra, Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Swaminarayan temples of Shahibaug and Kalupur in Ahmedabad. Food is available in most temples and the conducted tour is cheap as well as enlightening as you get to know the way of life of people of this sect. For Hindus too, Gujarat is of prime importance with Dwarka and Somnath temples the most important.
There is still more to Gujarat. If you love nature then the Marine National Park off Jamnagar coast and the deep forests of Dangs will appeal to you. If it is palaces and forts you want, Gujarat has its share. Just pack your bags and go.