As the Rann Utsav is in full swing, the country is witnessing more and more tourists flocking to Gujarat to attend this beautiful cultural revelry for a holistic experience. From adventure activities to traditional dance performances and puppetry, spa centers to living in tents, the Rann Utsav allows a visitor to take on a diverse range of experiences all at once. But should the Rann Utsav be the only reason to visit the beautiful state of Gujarat? Not at all! The land of garba, gathiya and Gujjus welcomes tourists throughout the year now, owing to the amazing attractions that are a part of this state. It is safe to say that Gujarat is a fine concoction of structures of historical significance, wildlife areas, museums and natural attractions. Evenly dispersed in all of its 33 districts, these attractions are one-of-their-kind; some leaving you mesmerized while the others intriguing you with their stories of the past.
So here’s a list of all the places that you must visit in Gujarat, beyond attending the glorious Rann Utsav.
The Kutch Desert Sanctuary & The Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary
Did you know that the Rann of Kutch area in Gujarat is also home to the Flamingo City of India because it is the largest flamingo breeding sight in the country? Better known as Surkhab Nagar, this area in Gujarat was named so by India’s first known ‘bird man,’ Dr. Salim Ali in 1945 after he saw around half-a-million flamingos here. The Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary will give you ample chances to spot the bird that breeds here.
With the tag of being one of the last places on earth being home to the Indian Wild Ass (Khur), the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary in Little Rann is very well protected and a must-visit for tourists. It is a splendid sight and as you maneuver into this sanctuary in a desert, expecting nothing but a vast mass of barren land, you’re surprised by the verdant landscape ahead of you- hidden away in the depths of the desert! And to keep this gorgeous place preserved, the Forest Department has nominated it to become a biosphere reserve under the framework of the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme.
The White Rann
The one Gujarati wonder that needs no introduction is the White Rann. It is one of the main highlights of the Rann Utsav and definitely cannot be missed. A sight to behold, this land of white sand goes as far as your eyes can see and keeps changing colours - from dusk to dawn- a new shade every time.
Also, ahead of the White Rann, an hour away, is Kala Dungar, the highest point in Kutch giving you the greatest view of the area. The panoramas from this stop surpass the beauty of any other viewpoint and show you Gujarat in a different light and a splendid one at it.
The Iconic Step-wells
Gujarat is chock-full of step-wells, a feature common to the rich, historical past of the state. Most of them are even UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of how beautifully they are constructed. Attracting history buffs and architecture lovers, some of the finest vavs in Gujarat are Rani Ki Vav, Dada Harir Vav, Adalaj Vav and Adi-Kadi Vav. If you stop at the most prominent cities in Gujarat, like Bhuj, Junagadh, Ahmedabad or Vadodara, you will find a stepwell at each place, steeped in interesting stories.
The Mahals of Bhuj
Two of the most popular palaces in Bhuj, the Prag Mahal and the Aina Mahal are 19th and 18th-century structures that are placed right next to each other. The Aina Mahal is known as the Hall of The Mirrors and was built during the rule of Lakhpatji. The flamboyant structure was built by the fine craftsman, Ramsinh Malam and is known for its intricate glassworks. On the other hand, the Prag Mahal stands out due to its contemporary architecture, making it look like a French structure, more than the kingdom of an Indian ruler. Built in Gothic style by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins, the mahal also has a bell tower offering a beautiful view of the entire city.
Very close to the two structures is the Hamirsar Lake, which can be called the heart of Bhuj. This is at a walk-able distance from the Aina Mahal, and one will often find tourists walking around the lake or just relaxing under a tree.
Pro Tip: After covering the Bhuj Mahals, you can spend the rest of the day visiting the Kutch Museum, another interesting tourist spot throwing light on the history of Kutch.
For more information on Rann Utsav, visit Gujarat Tourism