Hidden Gems of Gujarat
Updated: Nov 30, 2022
An extended coastline with seashores and estuaries, seaside temples and holy conferences, forts, and castles, some of India's outstanding wildlife reliefs and bird-watching locations, the extraordinary white desert of Kutch, bright and vivid handicrafts, tribal towns, and prospering cities, Gujarat is indeed a traveler's utopia.
Rani ki Vav in Patan is one of the best historical places in Gujarat and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site but everyone knows about this. Did you know that Gujarat is home to not 1 or 2 but 3 Indus Valley Civilization Cities that have been excavated? Today several initiatives are being undertaken by the government to highlight the authenticity and uniqueness of Gujarat and that tourism in Gujarat is broader than just Gir Forests or the Somnath Temple. Listed below are some of the best places to visit in Gujarat or one might call them the Hidden Gems of Gujarat.
In summers, when we wish to go to the mountains the first destination that comes to our minds is either Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand. A lot of people are oblivious to the fact that Gujarat has a little hill town of its own. Saputara, the only hill station of Gujarat, is snuggled in the Sahyadri range in the Dang district of Gujarat. Visitors consider it a tiny jewel and a haven of peace and tranquility. There are quite a few places to visit in Saputara and after reading this you would like to tour the place asap.
The stunning Gira waterfalls are one of the best places to visit in Saputara during monsoons. The focal point of this hill refuge is its lake, which has boating capacities and sporting activities. The best part is for all the animal and wildlife lovers out there as Saputara is home to Vansda National Park, Purna Sanctuary, and Honey Bees Center. Furthermore, Saputara also has a fort and a Tribal Museum of its own.
Amazing Fact: According to mythology, Lord Rama visited the place and spent 11 years of his banishment in Saputara.
The numerous historical places in Gujarat highlight the fact that it is indeed enriched with a deep-rooted history that dates back to the time of the Harappan Civilization. Gujarat has more than 200 Indus Valley Civilization sites. About 80km southwest of Ahmedabad, the city that lived at this archaeological site 4500 years ago-Lothal, was one of the most significant sites of the Indus Valley civilization, which extended into what is now Pakistan.
Excavations have disclosed the world’s ancientest known manufactured dock, which was attached to an obsolete course of the Sabarmati River. Some of the most fascinating elements include the Acropolis or the Citadel, the Lower Town, the Bead factory, the Warehouses, and the Drainage system. The site has also been proposed to be enrolled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tourist can see intriguing discoveries by archeologists like canals and dockyards that deduced the fact that Lothal was a vital trading city.
C. BOHRA VAD , SIDHPUR
Over 103 km north of Ahmedabad, lies the sacred city of Sidhpur. The town is an esteemed destination, flanked by temples, ashrams, and other religious structures. The township derives its name from Siddhraj Singh from the Solanki Dynasty who ruled Gujarat back in the 10th century. The town flourished and reached the pinnacle of glory under the reign of the Solankis.
The Sidhpur Camel Festival held annually is a traditional fair organized here during the Kartik month. The camels and horses are adorned brightly by their owners to exhibit or sell them during the fair.
The town also wields significance for the Bohra Muslims, a prosperous Muslim community dispersed all over the world. These aged Havelis and mansions, some over 100 years old, are constructed in such an outstanding way to reflect the European flavor. A stroll through the ‘Bohra Vad’ is like a stroll through England with the surplus of lamplighters at dusk. The architecture of these Havelis is emulating Victorian architecture. The screens are rich in assortment and aesthetic mood with sophisticated details in wood. Hence, these ‘Bohra Havelis’ exemplify a romantic visual right from a Dickenson novel.
D. HIDDEN GEM IN AHMEDABAD- THE VINTAGE CAR MUSEUM
Ahmedabad is such a vibrant city that has a perfect medley of old and new landmarks that allures thousands of visitors from across the globe. Regarded as the most important city of Gujarat this cosmopolitan has numerous places of interest. Keeping aside all the historical and aesthetic places, Ahmedabad also has some of the most unique places to visit in Gujarat.
To all the automobile, bike, and wheel lovers out there let me bring you to one of the biggest personal collections of vintage cars, bikes, carriages, and utility vehicles. Named Auto World, it was developed by Mr. Pranlal Bhogilal Patel because of his love for cars. Among the 300 plus mechanical extravaganzas, some distinguished ones that stand out are a Bentley, Lagonda, Rolls Royce, Cadillac, Austin, Jaguar, Mercedes a, and Auburns. The museum has also established a place for itself in the Guinness Book of World Records for this remarkable collection.
E. THE GREAT RANN OF KUTCH
The Great Rann of Kutch is a huge spectrum of cracked earth and many would say that it's not a hidden gem. Well obviously but this desert, which is supposedly the largest salt desert on the planet, is so dynamic and colorful that it will surely take your breath away. The emptiness for miles is both nerve-wracking and extraordinary. Tribal communities with cylindrical mud bhungas (huts) are the nucleus for Kutchi embroidery, tie and dye, leatherwork, ceramics, bell metal craft, and the famous Rogan painting by the sole surviving proficient family.
Rann of Kutch is a highly protected biodiversity hotspot and is known for housing many wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves. These are the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve, and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.
F. HIDDEN GEMS IN SURAT
Nicknamed as 'the diamond city of India', Surat is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world currently and is known for its textile and diamond cutting industries. But what many people don't know about Surat is that it has a very long and significant historical context. The places listed below are some not-so-famous places in Surat but can make for a nice one-day picnic place in Surat.
1) Surat Castle
The Surat Castle was constructed between 1540 and 1546, by Sultan Mahmud III for protection against frequent attacks and Portuguese raids. It is now a government office, but tourists can go to the top for a fabulous view of the city and the Tapi river.
2) The Dutch Cemetery
The Dutch and the Armenian cemeteries at Surat, are placed in a neighborhood known as 'Gulam Falia'. The most magnificent Dutch tomb is the luxurious crypt of Baron Adrian Van Reede. The cemeteries have been acknowledged as protected monuments, but they reflect signs of damage, both from natural weathering and from human intervention.
3) British Cemetery
The competition between the Dutch and the British was so tough that it continues even past their death. They built dramatic mausoleums instead of the normal headstones, like in Europe, heavily influenced, by Hindu and Islamic components just to prove their superiority over others to their colonized subjects.
Tip:- Photography is forbidden at these cemeteries.
4) Anglican Church
The Anglican Church in Surat was designed in 1824 following the Victorian style of architecture. The construction was commissioned under the windfalls of Mountstuart Elphinstone, once Governor of Bombay. The major interests of this church are its 10 feet long Cross and the 300-year-old Bible.
G. MARINE NATIONAL PARK
India’s first Marine Wildlife Sanctuary and first Marine National Park were created in the Gulf of Kutch in the years 1980 and 1982, respectively. The area lies in an intertidal zone which gives us a chance to distinguish the richest diversity of maritime environments in the country, including saltish grasses, marshy regions, rocky beaches, mudflats, brooks, estuaries, sandy shores, coral reefs, and mangroves.
Some of the excellent coral reef barrier islands are found at Pirotan, Narula, Ajad, and Positara, always a wonder even to Gujaratis. The amount of fauna found here is just mind-blowing. From corals to 90 species of birds, from Jellyfish to Lobsters, Prawns, Crabs, Octopus, Pearl Oysters, Sea Slugs, and of course 7 species of Mangroves anything you name it, you can find them here.
H. RODA GROUP OF TEMPLES, HIMATNAGAR
Himmatnagar is located in the Sabarkantha region in the Indian province of Gujarat. The town is on the bank of the river Hathmati which originates from Aravallis. Himmatnagar was inaugurated in 1426 by Ahmed Shah I of Gujarat Sultanate and named it Ahmednagar after himself. Historical beliefs identify that he was so enamored with the place that he thought of making it, rather than Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat Sultanate.
The Roda group of temples, 18km from Himmatnagar are Monuments considered of National importance and are maintained by ASI. The entire city is a beautiful and mesmerizing specimen of Muslim architecture. There are a total six temples at the site and the photographic record of seventh exists. These temples are primarily devoted to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Lord Surya, a Goddess and one of the temples is called Pakshi Mandir containing carvings of birds.
Gujarat is a splendid land in all respects. The state has the longest coastline in the country, dinosaur fossils, prehistoric cave architecture, a huge number of places with historical significance, a wide variety of flora and fauna, aesthetic and picturesque beaches, a vibrant desert, an adventurous and thrilling hill station, and several places of religious and spiritual importance. The delectable cuisine will attract all foodies and the Gujarati bazaars and handicrafts will enthrall all shopaholics. Gujarat has so much to offer and all you need is to pack your bags and set out on a memorable trip!