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Gujarat, India: Explore the Vast Land!

2015-07-09 Vicigo

Get ready to be impressed by the cultural diversity, the ancient architecture and the distinctive religions of India!

Since the last decade, India has been one of the main destinations for backpackers and travellers. Whoever travelled India, whether she liked it or not, India influenced her deeply. In fact, the joy got from that is unexplainable both for a westerner and for a local. This outlandish land will blow your mind with its original things. That’s why, be prepared to plan a trip to India even you have not had any intentions before.

Dedicated to travellers, Vicigo decided to write a blog which can be helpful for travel-lovers, including those who want to travel to India and those who need a little push for such a travel. Before your journey, you might need to know some important points about the country so that you enjoy the travel as much as possible.

It is an impossible task to cover the whole India in one article. It is so vast with the 1.25 billion population and having total 18 different official languages (many regional languages have not been included). So, we will present India regionally in a series of articles starting from Gujarat - one of the states in India and also my hometown.


Gujarat – not a simple State

Gujarat, India (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 1. Gujarat is located in the most Western part of India.


Gujarat is located in the Western part of India. The main language is Gujarati, but everybody can understand and speak Hindi. Many people can speak English as well, so no worries! Take me for instance!

Gujarat has one of the fastest developing economy in India, and also, in the world. Gujarat is a perfect region for doing business. It possibly owes this to the very long coastline (ports) that Gujarat has which was the reason for the state’s trading past that has contributed to the industry and development. Also it set up a business-oriented mindset among Gujarati people, which stays till the present. Even dumb and not educated persons here know the words stock market.

Besides, what is it that makes Gujarat really special?

One of the cities in Gujarat is Porbandar - a place where Mahatma Gandhi was born and spent most part of his adult life after he returned from Africa. Speaking of Gandhi, I should mention the importance of him for Indian people as he was the leader of India’s independence movement and affected all humanity with his non-violent freedom struggle.

Still, do not assume that the state has nothing more as it will offer you many other things that also make it exclusive. Here we begin with the things worth knowing about Ahmedabad and around it.

Ahmedabad – a city divided by Sabermati River

Gujarat, India (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 2. Vastrapur Lake situated in western part of Ahmedabad (Gujarat, India)


The first thing to advise about my home city is that you had better stay at least 3 days to see the whole Ahmedabad and the places around it. As for one of the most beneficial advice, you should visit it between 1-20th of January as the summer will be unbearable (it reaches sometimes almost 45°C!).

As it is one of the most modern cities of India, Ahmedabad will offer you everything you need but also cultural attractions in India such as lots of Gandhi, several historic buildings, a shopping street, a stepwell, a splendid temple of sun and other places around it.

By the way, I should underline that the transportation is totally safe in the city even though it is a bit more crowded comparing to Europe.

Now, it is time to take a look at the specific things to know about Ahmedabad.


Gandhi, Gandhi and Gandhi!

Mahatma Gandhi (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 3. Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India.


Well, the title explains it really well. During your stay in Ahmedabad, there are a few places that you should visit if you are curious about Gandhi.

The first place is Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatama Gandhi lived for more than 12 years. The simplicity of this place and the peaceful atmosphere will win your heart. The major attraction of this place is the Hridaya Kunj - Gandhi's home. Inside, you can see Gandhi's personal things which are still well-preserved. Next to that place you can visit the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya - a small museum being the memorial for Mahatma Gandhi.

Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, India (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 4. Sabarmati Ashram was one of the residences of Mahatma Gandhi, who lived there for about twelve years.



Discover the Old Ahmedabad!

The Old Ahmedabad will give you the chance to have a walk by several historic buildings. Along your 80 mins long walk you will see old buildings such as the Sidi-Saïd mosque and the Jama mosque, Ahmedabad's famous pols, Teen darwaja – the historical gateway – and the busy Gandhi road with its street market.

Teen Darwaja is a historical gateway on the east of Bhadra Fort, Ahmedabad, India (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 5. Open street market at Gandhi road, Ahmedabad in India.


teen-darwaja (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 6. Teen Darwaja is a historical gateway on the east of Bhadra Fort, Ahmedabad, India.



Somnath Temple - an Alternative Place near to Ahmedabad.

Somnath - the temple of Lord Shiva (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 6. Somnath - the temple of Lord Shiva.


Are you interested in Hinduism? So, how about culminating your faith by visiting Somnath - the statue of the power of faith?

The temple of Lord Shiva – supreme God in Shaivism - will amaze you with its architecture.

Likewise, the history of the temple is quite fascinating as it was destroyed four times by different rulers – Al-Junayd, Afghan ruler Muhammad of Ghazni, Alauddin Khilji and Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb - since its construction by King Vallabhi in 649 CE.

No worries, you will not encounter a destroyed temple anymore as in 1947 – after the independence – it was reconstructed by the order of Sardar Patel, the deputy Prime Minister of India. The fund for the reconstruction was collected mostly from the common people.

Adalaj Stepwell – UNESCO heritage place

Located 19 km from Ahmedabad, Adalaj is among the places that you should see.

The step well was designed in such a way that no direct sun ray can come to water so that one can have cold water.

Adalaj Stepwell - a unique Hindu 'water building' in the village of Adalaj, India (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 7. Adalaj Stepwell - a unique Hindu 'water building' in the village of Adalaj, India


Unique Experience – Street Shopping

Prepare yourself for the most unique experience of Ahmedabad.

The street shopping in the Law Garden will impress you with its colourful night market where you can buy traditional Gujarati dresses. Here you will find the most exotic traditional handicraft called Ghagra-choli (ghagra - flirty long skirt and the choli - a short blouse) that is worn during the dance festival Navaratri.

Garba dance in Ahmedabad, India during Navaratri festival (source:VICIGO.COM)
Figure 8. Garba dance in Ahmedabad, India during Navaratri festival (Source: wikipedia.org)


Other attractions around the city Ahmedabad, Gujarat

  • Gir: A national Park which might amuse the nature lovers and wildlife photographers.
  • Diu: An island which is the only place to drink alcohol as it is banned in Gujarat, India.
  • The Great Rann of Kutch: The largest salt desert in the world. Also, it hosts the famous three months long festival Rannutsav.
  • Sun Temple of Modhera: You can visit the temple dedicated to Hindu God Surya – the Sun which was made by sand stone.
  • Udavada: The centre for Zoroastrian(Parasi) – people from Iran – community who were settled in Udavada in 10th century.

You may also check out this article here:

What’s it like to travel these 5 Luxury Trains of India?


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