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Gujarat is a mixed bag of hidden gems for travellers. Verdant ranges of Satpura-Vindhya-Aravalli, a 1300 km long coastline washed by the Arabian Sea, the Rann of Kutch (which sadly we couldn’t visit due to shortage of time), historical places some of which dates right back to the Harappan times, imposing temples and mosques, national parks and sanctuaries which serve as homes to Asiatic Lion, Blackbuck, Wild Ass, Flamingo and other diverse wildlife – Gujarat offers it all. So, here comes our 10-day itinerary for a memorable visit to the Land of Legends.

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The chhakra is a popular mode of transportation in rural Gujarat.

Day 1: Fly to Ahmedabad and move onto Somnath.

On this day, you will arrive at Sardar Ballavbhai Patel Airport of Ahmedabad. As you collect your luggage and exit the airport, book an app cab and head straight to the Ahmedabad Railway Station. From there, board the Somnath Express in the night, which will reach Veraval the next morning.

Alternatively, you may also start your journey from Dwarka. Many trains ply between Ahmedabad and Dwarka, like Saurashtra Mail and Okha Express.

Somnath and Dwarka can also be reached by road. Private cabs can be booked. Also, over-night buses run from Ahmedabad. However, we suggest opting for train for a more comfortable and less tedious journey.

Day 2: Reach Somnath and explore.

The train will reach Veraval around 6 in the morning. Take a shared auto-rickshaw ride to Somnath, which is just 5 kms away from Veraval.

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Get awestruck by the sheer grandeur of the Somnath Temple.

Accomodation in Somnath:

Shree Somnath Trust offers comfortable accommodation at reasonable rates in its four guest houses- Lilavathi Atithi Bhavan, Maheswari Atithi Bhavan, Sagar Darshan Guest House and Tanna Atithigruha. Rooms can be booked online from the official site of the trust (www.somnath.org). Delicious Gujarati meals are also available in the dining halls of the guest houses.

After checking-in and having breakfast, start exploring the holy city. Here are a couple of places we would recommend in Somnath:

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Munch on Thepla, Bhakri and Khakra along with hot chai!
  • Gita Mandir, which has 18 marble pillars with one chapter from the Bhagvat Gita inscribed on each one.
  • Baldev Gufa, a cave through which Lord Baldev disappeared to the netherworld.
  • Triveni Sangam, the confluence of Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati.
  • Bhalka Tirtha, where Jara had accidentally shot Lord Krishna with an arrow.
  • Prabhas Patan Museum, which is located inside a dingy lane beside the temple and houses a fascinating collection of the ruins and remnants of the old avatars of the temple.
  • Take an aimless stroll on the Somnath Beach during sunset.
  • Last but not the least, the majestic Somnath Temple, standing with all its glory on the shore of the Arabian Sea. The evening arati is not to be missed as it creates an electrifying ambiance inside the sanctum sanctorum. Afterwards, watch the light and sound show which narrates the myth and history of Somnath.
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Stop and admire random creativity in the streets like this!

Day 2: Take a day-trip to Diu.

Start your day with offering puja at Somnath Temple and watching the morning arati.

Afterwards, go to Diu, the sea-side Union Territory, which is 2-hour drive from Somnath. This erstwhile Portuguese colony has its fair share of pristine beaches lined with Hokka trees and imposing forts that dates back to 16th century. Drop by the following places for an exciting Diu trip:

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The iconic lighthouse of Fort Diu.
  • The colossal Diu Fort, which is surrounded by the sea and offers a commanding panoramic view of the town and sea.
  • The immaculate St. Paul’s Church, one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in India.
  • The spectacular Naida Caves, a labyrinth of orange colored caves and tunnels covered with network of aerial prop roots of age old banyan trees.
  • The INS Khukri Memorial, a memorial site of the Indian naval ship during the Indo-Pak war of 1971.
  • A journey to Diu remains incomplete without a visit to its beaches. There is the popular Nagoa beach, which is a horse shoe shaped beach with Hoka trees swaying on its shore. Ghoghla beach is another pleasing beach, which is the largest beach in Diu and located on the outskirts of the city. If you are looking for the luxury of solitude, we suggest the small and placid Jalandhar beach, which is situated en route of Naida caves and almost untouched by tourists.
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Lose yourself in the maze of Naida Caves.

Day 3: Date with Asiatic Lions in Gir.

One of the highlights of Gujarat trip is definitely a visit to the Gir National Park, the only remaining natural habitat of the Asiatic Lions. Sprawled over an area of 1412 sq. km, the three hour long safari in an open gypsy through the depths of the forest for spotting lions is a fascinating experience. Apart from 523 lions, there are also Indian Leopards, Golden Jackal, Sambars, Chinkara, various birds, reptiles and insects. Don’t miss the Kamleswar Dam, which is known as the lifeline of Gir and where the water is infested with mugger crocodiles. Also, pay a visit to the villages of Maldhari and Sidhi tribes on the fringes of the forest who co-exist with the wildlife.

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Spotted deers are in abundance inside Gir.
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A Sambar busy with her lunch.

Important information for booking safari ride in Gir.

1.Bookings for Gir Jungle Trail can be done online from www.girlion.gujarat.gov.in.

2.Safaris are available everyday at 3 time slots – 6 AM to 9 AM, 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM.

3.Gypsy permit charges are INR 800 for weekdays and INR 1000 for weekends and holidays.

4.The Guide charge is INR 400, while Gypsy charge is INR 1700, both of which has to be paid separately to guides and vehicle owners.

5.Carry valid ID proofs.

6.Safari remains closed from 16th June to 15th October every year. So, plan accordingly.

7.Gypsy safari can also be done in Devaliya National Park, also known as Gir Interpretation Zone.

8.There are 6 safari slots everyday spanning for 55 minutes. Devaliya remains closed on every Wednesday.

9.Bus safari is also available in Devaliya.

10.For better chances of spotting wildlife, we suggest visiting between March and May. Also, try opting for the earliest safari.

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The Blue Bull or Nilgai continued staring at us.

Accomodation in Gir.

You can find large number of hotels and resorts in Sasan Gir catering to any type of budget. We stayed at the Asiatic Lion Lodge, a beautiful resort with 16 cottages located amidst sprawling greenery. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, provided with all the necessities. It has arrangement for bird-watching, nature-walk, cycling and indoor games. Check out the superb collection of books on the wildlife of Gir available in its reception. The restaurant of the resort serves delicious vegetarian preparations. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.

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Inside the lawn of Asiatic Lion Lodge.

Day 4: Enjoy a morning safari and proceed to Dwarka via Por Bandar.

Since we couldn’t spot a single Asiatic Lion the other day, we opted for a morning safari in Devaliya. Sadly, we managed to spot only a sleeping lion.
However, the safari was not a total dud. As we were left dejected for not spotting Asiatic Lions properly, a leopard suddenly made an appearance out of nowhere and left us speechless.

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What a glorious sight to behold!
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A Golden Jackal was spotted near the sleeping lion.

From Sasan Gir, we moved towards Por Bandar, which is 178 km. Watch out the giant wind turbines, which will provide ample entertainment on this long, tiring journey.

Por Bandar is best known as the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. The prime attraction of this crowded town is Kirti Mandir, a memorial temple built in the memory of Gandhi and his wife Kasturba. Check out the gallery of photographs depicting life of the Mahatma and the things used by him preserved in a room near the entrance. Visit the ancestral home of Gandhi, which is located just beside Kirti Mandir. The place where he was born has been marked by a swastika symbol. Explore the nook and corners of the house for a feel of the past.

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The facade of Kirti Mandir.
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Visiting the birth place of the Mahatma will surely give you goosebumps!
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The Swastika symbol marks the exact place where Gandhiji was born.

Dwarka is still 105 km away. It will be already evening as you reach Dwarka.

Accomodation in Dwarka.

We stayed at Kokila Dhiraj Dham, built by Reliance Industries. It offers comfortable stay at affordable cost. Bookings have to be done over phone. You can check www.pndwarka.com for the details. Rooms are in high demand here and you need to call them at least 2-3 months prior to your visit.

There are many other options for staying in Dwarka like VITS Devbhumi Hotel and Dwarkadhish Lords Eco Inn.

Day 5: Explore Dwarka and Beyt Dwarka.

Dwarka, better known as Devbhoomi Dwarka, is one of the Chardhams and Saptapuris. We have listed the things to do in Dwarka here.

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The glorious Dwarkadheesh Temple.
  • Start your day with offering pooja at the resplendent Dwarkadhish Temple, where Lord Krishna is worshipped as the King of Dwarka who rules over the universe. The temple opens at 6-30 in the morning. We suggest visiting it then, as the temple remains closed several times a day.
  • The Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple, located in the outskirts of Dwarka and which houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The spectacular feature of the temple is a 25 metre tall statue of a sitting Shiva.
  • Beyt Dwarka, which can be reached from Dwarka by a 15-minute boat ride across the Arabian Sea. Beyt Dwarka is where Lord Krishna lived. Archaeological remains found under the sea suggest existence of Late Harappan settlements and trade relations with the Roman Empire. The temple is 15-minute walk from the port. Similar to the Dwarkadhish Temple, here also the temple remains closed and re-opens a number of times. We advise checking the timings before visiting.
  • Rukshmani Devi Temple, located 20 km outside Dwarka.
  • Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Temple, which is built over a self-manifested Shiva linga found in the Arabian Sea and remains submerged in the sea every year during monsoon.
  • Cross the Sudama Bridge to catch a beautiful sunset on the Dwarka Beach.
  • After sunset, relax on the benches beside the Gomti ghat and watch the fishermen’s trawlers twinkling far in the sea.
  • For dinner, pop into Dayro Kathiyawadi Rasthal for enjoying delectable Kathiyawadi cuisine with Bajra Chapati, Dahi Tikhari and Ringan Bhartu.
  • Recently, the Gujarat Tourism has started “Dekho Dwarka Tour” . It is a city tour of Dwarka on a double decker bus and costs INR 600/- per person.
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The towering statue of Shiva at Nageshwar Temple.
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Enjoy the bhajan of Sadhus outside the Rukshmani Temple.
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Don’t forget to catch the sunset from the Gomti ghat.

Day 6: Transfer to Ahmedabad.

The 6th day will be spent entirely on train, as you will bid Dwarka adieu and head to Ahmedabad for the last leg of your travel. It will take around 8 hours to reach Ahmedabad.

Accomodation in Ahmedabad.

There is no dearth of hotels in Ahmedabad for every budget. We stayed in Hotel Accolade, which is situated in the beautiful locality of Ellisbridge.

Day 7: A day with history at Modhera and Patan.

Your first destination this day will be the magnificent Sun Temple of Modhera, which is about 100 km away from Ahmedabad. Try reaching the temple in the early morning and you will have it almost by yourself.

One of the few temples dedicated to the Sun God in India, the Solanki rule Bhima I is credited for building this opulent piece of architecture. You will surely fall head over heels at the very sight of this temple.

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Let the captivating Sun Temple enchant you with its beauty.

Descend down the geometric steps of the Surya Kund, located right in front of the temple. Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the 52 ornately decorated ‘toranas’ of the Sabhamandapa, which signify 52 weeks of a solar year. Check out the striking sculptures of 12 ‘adityas’ on the wall of the palatial Guramandapa, each representing 12 months of a solar year. Take your time in exploring every inch of this temple, which represents a perfect blend of ageless creativity and hard work.

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Steps towards the Surya Kund are perfect for stunning photographs!
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The ornately carved pillars inside the Sabhamandapa.

Afterwards, an hour drive from Modhera will bring you to Patan, the home of renowned Patola sarees. The centre of attraction is the Rani Ki Vav or Queen’s Stepwell. It was constructed in the 11th century by Queen Udayamati of Chalukyan dynasty. It is built in Maru-Gurjara style of architecture, with an inverted temple and 7 levels of stairs including 500 principal architectures, most of which are dedicated to Vishnu.

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Mesmerize yourself with the architectural brilliance of Rani Ki Vav.
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The stepwell has been preserved brilliantly.
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The sculptures are so lively!

The Rani Ki Vav is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most recently, it has been featured on the new INR 100 currency.

Later, you may visit and watch the weaving of the intricate Patola sarees, which will be a memorable experience.

In the evening, visit the vibrant Sabarmati River Front.

For dinner, enjoy a scrumptious Gujarati Thali at the famous Agashiye restaurant.

Day 8: Explore Lothal.

For this day, go to see Lothal, the once thriving port city of Harappan Civilization which dates back to 2400 BC. Located just 78 km away from Ahmedabad, it is regarded as the earliest known dock of the world, which connected the city to an ancient course of Sabarmati river.

Head first to the famous dockyard, where once ships from as far as West Asia used to harbor. Beside it, remains of a warehouse can be seen. Then there is the acropolis or upper town, where drains, pot furnaces, wells etc can be spotted. Move towards the lower town through the cemetery and bead factory. You will be amazed by the brilliance of town planning of Harappan people.

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Standing on the renowned dockyard of Lothal!
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A Pot Furnace in Upper Town.
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One of the wells in Lothal.

Lastly, pay a visit to the well curated Lothal Archaeological Museum, which displays a huge collection of pottery, seals, beads, animal figurines, terracotta objects, skeleton remains and an array of diverse articles unearthed from various corners of Lothal. The museum as well as the site remains closed on Friday.

Afterwards, you may visit the Blackbuck National Park in Velavadar, which is 70 km away from Lothal. The park remains open from 7 AM – 6 PM. Along with hordes of blackbucks, you may also see blue bulls, Indian Hyena, jackals etc. If you are visiting during winter months, you may spot different kinds of migratory birds here.

Alternatively, you may go to Balasinor, some 140 km away from Lothal, which is known as India’s Jurassic Park. Excavations have unearthed large number of fossilized eggs, bones and skeletons of at least 13 species of dinosaurs. Princess Aaliya of the Babi dynasty is an enthusiast of the emerging “Dinosaur Tourism” and she herself conducts tour of the fossil park.

Day 9: Tour through Ahmedabad.

The last day of the trip is stored for Ahmedabad, the first UNESCO World Heritage City of India. The green city is dotted with a number of heritage spots and here we have listed the best ones:

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Bask in the serenity of Sarkhez Roza.
  • 1. Sabarmati Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi lived for 12 years and started the Dandi March in March, 1930.
  • 2. Sidi Syeed Mosque, which is widely known for the intricately carved 10 stone latticework windows.
  • 3. Hutheesing Temple, one of the best known Jain temples of Gujarat with exquisite sculptures.
  • 4. Sarkhez Roza, a brilliant specimen of early Islamic architecture which once was a prominent centre of Sufism.
  • 5. Adalaj Ni Vav, the 5-stories stepwell built in 1498 which is one of the finest specimens of Indo-Islamic architecture with Islamic geometric pattern blending with Hindu symbols and Jain gods.
  • 6. Dada Hari Ni Vav, another spectacular piece of octagonal stepwell made in Solanki style.
  • 7. Akshardham Temple of Gandhinagar, the fabulous and palatial temple of the Swaminarayan sect made of pink sandstone.
  • 8. Teen Darwaza, the gateway of Bhadra Fort, where the ‘firman’ of Chimmaji Raghunath regarding equal rights of women in inheritance of ancestral property has been inscribed.
  • 9. Jhulta Minar of Sidi Bashir Mosque.
  • 10. Manek Chowk, the bustling square of old Ahmedabad which is famous for its late night food stalls.
  • 11. Law Garden market near Ellisbridge, which is known for the sale of local handicrafts.
  • For city tour, you can also opt for “Dekho Amdavad” package of Gujarat Tourism. It provides city tour on a double decker bus.
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Delve into the life and teachings of the Mahatma at Sabarmati Ashram.
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The intricacy of lattice work in Sidi Syeed mosque will stun you.
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The splendid Adalaj Ni Vav.

Day 10: Returning home.

So here the epic 10-day trip to Gujarat ends. It’s time to return home and plan the next venture while cuddling the loads of memories made in Gujarat.

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Stop midway for enjoying scenes like this!

Some tips for visiting Gujarat.

1.For getting around in Gujarat, we suggest hiring private cabs as it would save lots of time and energy. For our Somnath to Dwarka road trip, we had booked Sitaram Taxi Service of Somnath after reading several good reviews on Tripadvisor. They were prompt in communication and provided us with excellent car and reliable driver. For travelling around Ahmedabad, we suggest booking an app cab for all day long.

2.Best time for visiting Gujarat is October – March. For Gir, we suggest visiting in the summer months of April-May.

3.Gujarat is mostly a vegetarian state. Also, alcohol is strictly prohibited.

4.The weather will mostly be sunny and sultry. Therefore, always arm yourself with ample water and umbrellas.

5.Gujarat offers diverse food. From the regular Dhokla-Khakra-Thepla to the exotic Doodhpak-Bharela Ringan-Undhiyu, we suggest gorging on all local offerings.

6.Please respect the local culture and environment.

7.For more details, visit the official website of Gujarat Tourism.

The Floating Pebbles