Exploring Gujarat, Great Itineraries
If You Have 2 Days
Spend one day sampling the sights and culture of 77 Ahmedabad. The next day, venture out to the ruined capital of the Solanki dynasty at Patan and the ornately carved sun temple at nearby Modhera, a structure that predates the more famous sun temple at Konark, Orissa, and rivals it in beauty if not in scale. Alternately, take a fast train to Vadodara and visit the palace and excellent museums of the maharaja as well as the charming ghost town of Champaner nearby.
If You Have 4 Days
Visit Ahmedabad, then venture south onto the Kathiawar Peninsula. Leave Ahmedabad early so as to arrive at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in time for a late-afternoon game drive. The next morning, take another game drive just after dawn and end the day on the beach at II Diu. Alternately, if you leave II Ahmedabad in the late afternoon, spend the night at the delightful Palace Utelia, near 7 Lothal, and arrange for transport the next morning to Velavadar Wildlife Sanctuary in the morning and Palitana in the afternoon. Spend the night at 7 Bhavnagar before flying out to Mumbai.
You can also spend half a week in Kutch, accessible by a short flight from Bombay to 7 Bhuj or an overnight train ride from Ahmedabad. Wander the charming walled city of Bhuj, and then spend a long day traveling to 7 Dhola Vira. The chance to wander around ruins more than 4,000 years old outlining a once-prosperous city larger than Bhuj, and to see the tremendous salt pans of the Rann of Kutch; is worth every bit of the effort it takes to get here. Spend a day visiting crafts villages north of Bhuj, and another relaxing on the beach in Mandvi.
If You Have 7 Days
Fly into Bhuj and wander around Kutch for three days as outlined above. Then hire a car to drive you to Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and the Saurashtra coastline. From Diu you can drive up to Palitana, Velavadar Wildlife Sanctuary, and 7′ Ahmedabad.
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When to Tour Gujarat
As in much of India, the months between October and March are the best times to come here. In Kutch, the strong sea breeze can make January very cold, but it also extends the period of comfortable drj, weather into early April. A very light monsoon comes to Kutch in rare years, causing the desert to bloom.
Ahmedabad and Environs
Gujarat’s richness and variety are apparent in the immediate region of its capital. The ruins at Patan and Modhera bear striking testament to the classical Hindu period, and Ahmedabad itself shows how a winning sense of style persisted through eras of Muslim rule and the modern period. At the Little Rann of Kutch, the state’s natural beauty is on display, as well as rural Gujarati crafts and traditions.
545 km (338 miles ) north of Mumbai
Founded in AD 1411 by the Muslim Sultan Ahmed Shah, Ahmedabad flourished under the Gujarat dynasty and subsequently became the seat of the Mogul governors of. Gujarat—Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb—all of whom later became emperors. At one time it was said that Ahmedabad hung on three threads: gold, silk, and cotton. The city’s present prominence is due largely to one family of textile magnates, the Sarabhais, who were patrons of the arts (they invited Le Corbusier to build here) and supporters of Mahatma Gandhi. Members of the family are still active in the city’s cultural life. Although textiles are still a principal industry in Ahmedabad, today the city is also a booming national and international center for the mineral, power, agribusiness, petro-chemical, and scientific-development, computer-software, and pharmaceuticals industries.
Ahmedabad is divided into old and new by the Sabarmati River, a now mostly dry riverbed; most of the new development is on the west side of the river. The pace and scope of the development are amazing: Brand-new towering office complexes, designed by well-known Indian architects, are going up everywhere, particularly along C. G. Road, the up-and-coming business and shopping strip where real-estate prices al-ready challenge those of Mumbai.
In some ways, Ahmedabad doesn’t quite look the part of a major international business hub. Ashram and C. G. roads, the city’s main streets, lined with exclusive shopping complexes and office buildings, are perpetually under construction, with deep, dusty shoulders instead of sidewalks and a constant crowd of camels, cows, and monkeys. Amid this turmoil is a self-confident city full of cultural attractions and intellectual life, accessible and welcoming.
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