The land of legends and lions has a lot to offer to intrepid travellers keen to hit the road. The prosperous state may be off the routine tourist trail, but there’s plenty to dive into: varied landscapes, monumental architecture, rich culture, gorgeous textiles, and winsome flavours. The sixth largest, and the westernmost state in India, Gujarat is located alongside the Arabian Sea. The state derives its name from ‘Gujjar Rashtra’, translating into the land of the Gujjars, a migrant tribe that came to India following the Hun invasion in the 5th century. Here are 4 reasons why the state should be on your bucket list next:
For its history
The story of human habitation in Gujarat goes back nearly 4,500 years, when the Harappan ports of Lothal and Dholavira prospered. In the centuries that followed, Gujarat’s lucrative maritime trade attracted traders and colonial powers from across the world. The land welcomed migrant communities who made it their home and enriched its culture with their unique arts, crafts, and traditions. The state is mentioned in the Puranas and chronicles left behind by Greek explorers. Over centuries, Gujarat was controlled by many rulers, including the Mughals, Islamic dynasties, the Mauryans, Marathas, and Rajputs. The state—spread across a whopping 195,000 sq km—is a veritable melting pot.
For its rich inheritance
Gujarat is a kaleidoscope of history, arts, crafts, and natural wonders. The culture is a blend of varied arts, customs, traditions, and values, which are reflected in its people and cuisine, a cornucopia of colours, flavours, aromas, and tastes. It has India’s longest coastline, at 1,600km, and the diverse terrain supports a range of natural habitats, from marshes and dry riverbeds to vast grasslands, forests, and salt deserts. The state can be broadly segmented into Saurashtra, Kutch, Central Gujarat, North Gujarat, and South Gujarat, with each area having its own charms and attractions. Often ignored by travellers as they hurry from Maharashtra to Rajasthan or vice-versa, the state has something for everyone—the wildlife at Gir National Park, the architectural wonders of Champaner, the gorgeous beaches of Jamnagar, the iconic Sun temple at Modhera and the Somnath temple, believed to be the first among the 12 jyotirlinga shrines, the sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Dwarka, the home of Krishna, and the other-worldly Rann of Kutch. The state is also the last bastion of the Indian wild ass, and is home to the first marine national park in the country.
For the smooth journeys
The best part about a road trip isn’t arriving at the destination; it is the journey. And the journey doesn’t get smoother than in Gujarat. The state has one of the most extensive roads network in India, with a total road length of about 74,500 kilometres. This comprises the core network (national and state highways) while the non-core network includes certain state highways, and district, city, and village roads. The smooth roads are a driver’s dream, and the presence of fuel stations along the way will ensure that you’ll never be stranded or out of fuel. The fact that Gujarat is a safe state in comparison to umpteen others makes it easier to drive through—day or night. The friendly people invite you into their hearts and homes, offering advice and suggestions on what to do next.
For its festive fervour
Apart from the many architectural and natural wonders and the mouthwatering food, the vibrant state also offers umpteen other reasons to drop in round the year. These include the International Kite Festival (January), Modhera Dance Festival (January), Dang Darbar (February-March), Janmashtami (August), Saputara Monsoon Festival (August-September), Tarnetar Fair (September), Navratri (October-November), Girnar Lili Parikrama (November-Decem- ber), and Rann Utsav (November-February).
So, be it the call of the divine, the architectural splendours of the past, the kaleidoscope of colours and crafts, or the mouthwatering savouries and sweets, there are reasons aplenty to put Gujarat on your bucket list.