GUJ - 08
This 10 nights- 11 days tour to Gujarat is true to its name – classic. It covers all that Gujarat vacation package has to offer. It is a power-packed trip which covers the religious and cultural places of interests as well as the adventurous and wildlife wings of it and also includes a beach side location. The trip begins at Ahmedabad and spreads all over Little Rann of Kutch, Bhuj, Mandvi, Gondal, Ajrakhpur, Junagadh, Sasan Gir, Somnath, Diu and Bhavnagar.
Welcome to Ahmedabad, India for your trip ahead to Gujarat. You will be received by our representative who would take you to the hotel for check-in and other formalities. Ahmedabad is the largest city of Gujarat and is located at the banks of the Sabarmati River. The modern city has been selected as one of the hundred smart cities under Government of India's flagship Smart Cities Mission. On the other hand, the Historic City of Ahmadabad is declared as India's first UNESCO World Heritage City.
Start your trip with the visit to Mahatma Gandhi Sabarmati Ashram, also known as Harijan Ashram. It was the home to Mahatma Gandhi from 1917 to 1930 and was one of the main centers of the Indian freedom struggle. Sabarmati Ashram named for the river on which it sits River Sabarmati.
The Jama Masjid ofAhmedabad was probably the largest mosque in the subcontinent built in this period. Designed as part of a major plan desired by the Emperor Sultan Ahmed Shah, it is a must visit before heading towards the Mosque of Sidi Saiyyed.
Sidi Saiyyed Mosque is one of the most famous mosques of Ahmedabad and was built by Sidi Saiyyid in the retinue of Bilal Jhajar Khan. The mosque is entirely arcaded and is known for its ten intricately carved stone latticework windows (jalis) on the side and rear arches.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Ahmedabad.
Have your breakfast and depart for Little Rann of Kutch, via Modhera and Patan. Modhera is famous for its spectacular Sun Temple, built in the early 11th century by the Solanki dynasty. The Sun Temple is unique in that it has three separate but integrated elements, all aligned to a central axis – the Surya Kund, the Sabha Mandap and the Garbha Griha.
Patan is older than Modhera and was founded in 746 AD as an ancient Hind capital before Mahmud of Ghazni sacked it in 1024. Some monuments have survived including the spectacular Rani ni Vav stepwell which lay buried under earth until 1986, when it was cleared and restored as a World Heritage Site. It is entirely an underground structure, with seven storeys, each carved with amazing sculptures of gods and goddesses. As you go lower, it gets cooler and cooler. Patan is famous for its beautifully designed patola silk saris, you can visit the Museum of National award winner Salvi family to see the weaving of Patola sarees.
Reach Little Rann of Kutch which is a salt marsh part of Rann of Kutch. It is famous as the world's last refuge of the Indian wild ass (khur) for the conservation of which it has been declared as the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. Though a bleak landscape it is rich in biodiversity and is an ecologically important area for wildlife and many local and migratory water-birds like cranes, ducks, pelicans, flamingos and land birds like sandgrouse, francolins and the Indian bustards.
Stay overnight at Little Rann of Kutch.
Start your morning with a safari to the Wild Ass Sanctuary at Little Rann of Kutch. The sanctuary is known for wild ass which is found only in this region in India. It is also known for the marshy area where you will see a variety of birds such as pink flamingo, duck, crane, etc.
Have your breakfast after the safari and get started for a drive to Bhuj. The first spot to visit is the Aina Mahal which was built by Rao Lakhpatji in 1761. The chief architect and designer of Aina Mahal was Ram Singh Malam, who was assisted by local builder community (Mistris of Kutch) in construction. It was constructed with marble walls adorned with bronze lace and glass. The walls of the palace are of white marble and are covered with mirrors separated by gilded ornaments with shades of Venetian glass.
Prag Mahal is designed in the Italian Gothic style and built next to the Aina Mahal, Kutch Museum and local market. This is a palace commissioned by King Pragmalji in 1860’s designed by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins, and it might seem like a construction based in France and not India!
Overnight stay at Bhuj.
Have your breakfast in the hotel and get ready for a full day visit to the Banni Village known for its culture, handicrafts and textiles. Each of the villages has a distinct style of community that resides in the village - Rabari, Meghwal, Harijans, Mutwa Community. These different communities are known for different types of handicrafts like embroidery, rogan art, mirror work, wood work etc.
Stay overnight in Bhuj.
On this day, you would be taken to Bhujodi Village. Located as a small town 8 km southeast of Bhuj, Bhujodi is a major textile center of Kutch, with the vast majority of the 1200 inhabitants involved in textile handicraft production. Here you can meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of whom belong to the Vankar community.
Move forward to Mandvi, one of the towns with the most beautiful beaches perfect to catch sunset at the backdrop of the Arabian Sea. Mandvi has one of the grandest palaces of Gujarat, which was the summer palace for the Maharaja of Kutch. It was eight km long, 2.7 meter broad and three meter high with five gates, three windows and seven bastions. However, after several demolitions between 1992 and 2001 by the Mandvi municipality, the fort wall was demolished in two phases except four gates and six bastions which were preserved as protected monuments.
Mandvi is also known for the boat-makers and their skills which you can see up close and personal.
Return to Bhuj for overnight stay.
After breakfast, start for Gondal as your next destination. On the way, visit Ajrakhpur to check out the astonishing art of Ajrakh, block printing uses colors derived from nature, such as indigo, henna, turmeric, pomegranate, iron and mud, and even camel dung.
The art has been preserved by the Khatri community of block-printers who have been practicing the art of Ajrakh since 3000 years traditionally in their family. The process is complex and involves 16 different processes. In some cases, the fabrics are washed up to 20 times.
Have lunch at Gondal, after which head towards Gondal Vintage Car Collection and the Navlakha Palace.
Visit the Royal Family Vintage car collection for a look at the extensive collection of Vintage and classic cars including a 1910 new engine, a Delage and a Daimler from the 1920s, a 1935 Mercedes, 1935 Packard 2 door convertible, 1941 & 1947 Cadillac, 1955 Cadillac Limousine, Jaguar XK 150, Chevrolet etc. Most of these cars are restored and some bear the original Gondal State number plates.
Up next, you will be taken to visit the Naulakha Palace which is the oldest existing palace in Gondal, dating back to the 17th century. It has stone carvings with jharokhas (enclosed balconies), a pillared courtyard, delicately carved arches, and a unique spiral staircase. The large chandelier-lit durbar (court) contains stuffed panthers, gilt wooden furniture, and antique mirrors.
Evening is at leisure. Stay overnight at Bhuj.
After breakfast, travel to Junagadh, located at the foot of the Girnar hills. Junagadh is famously known for the 2300 year old Uperkot Fort, Edicts of Ashoka which have inscription from the Buddhist era and the famous known architecture called the Mohabat ka Makbara.
From Junagadh, you will be driven to Sasan Gir National Park, which is the only home of the endangered mighty Asiatic Lions. Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most popular attractions of Gujarat. The National Park houses around 38 species of mammals, 300 avifauna species, 37 species of reptiles and over 2000 insect species. The Gir ecosystem with its diverse flora and fauna is protected as a result of the efforts of the government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs. Explore the sanctuary in an afternoon safari.
Overnight stay at Sasan Gir.
This morning, there is another safari scheduled up at Gir National Park. Once covered, get ready to travel to Somnath, one of the highly revered religion sites for the Hindus. Somnath is mainly visited for the Somnath Temple which is believed to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It has been attacked by Mahmud Ghazni and destroyed but stands as symbol of belief for all Hindus.
Reach Diu, check-in at hotel. Your rest of the day is at leisure at the mesmerizing and peaceful beach of Diu.
Overnight at Diu.
Wake up and have breakfast at Diu, one of the Portugal colonies in India which has left an imprint of its culture in the architecture and streets of Diu. The tiny island is perfect place to take enjoy the history and culture of European influence in India. Spend the day in local sightseeing and beach strolling till lunch.
After lunch, depart for Bhavnagar. Bhavnagar was founded in 1724 by Bhavsinhji Gohil and the city is an important place for trade with many large and small scale industries along with the world's largest ship-breaking yard, Alang located 50 km away. Bhavnagar is also famous for its version of the popular Gujarati snack 'Ganthiya’.
Arrive at Bhavnagar and spend overnight.
Have an early breakfast and head towards Velavadhar. On the way, visit Palitana mainly for the centre of Jain Pilgrimage atop Shatrunjay Hills. Palitana is the world’s only mountain that has more than 900 temples. The Palitana temples and whole mountain are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place (tirtha) by the Jain community, and is the world's largest Temple Complex. There are more than 3000 temples located on the Shatrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. The main temple on top of the hill, is dedicated to the first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha (Rishabhadeva).
Lunch will be served at Vijay Vilas Palace. Post lunch, start for Velavadar, which is mainly famous for Blackbuck National Park
Overnight at Velavadar.
Start your day with a morning safari at Velavadar National Park. It is a beautiful place, located in the Bhavnagar district of the state of Gujarat. This is a unique National Park with exclusive grassland habitat, shrub lands, saline plains and mud flats. More than 1,000 blackbucks exist on the open grasslands of Velavadar. The park embraces about over 140 species of birds, 14 species of mammals, 95 species of flowering plants, and many reptiles. Other than blackbucks we can also see Nilgai, wolf, wild cat, jackal, Indian fox and rodents in the park.
As your trip comes near the end, you will be driven to Ahmedabad for a drop at the airport to board your return or onwards flight.