Gujarat is not just the land of Gandhi , Patel and Modi , it’s a lot more than that , and is actually a treasure trove for tourists. With lots to offer , it could actually rival neighbouring Rajasthan as a hot spot for tourist arrivals.
With numerous tourist attractions, varying Landscapes, Wildlife Reserves , World Heritage Monuments, Arts and Crafts , etc , the state of Gujarat could well be a stand alone 8 or 10 day destination.
I traveled to Gujarat earlier this week, after several years , and actually only touched the proverbial tip of the iceberg . Our first stop just after landing at Ahmedabad airport was the Gandhi Ashram , the place where Mahatma Gandhi , the father of our nation, spent several years . The exhibits are interesting and have a lot of Indian Independence related history, but as a tourist attraction, it could do with a bit of upgrading. On to our destination, the Little Rann of Kutch , which is a huge ( huge as in almost 4000 sq kms ) expanse of flat land , a white salt desert expanse that stretches from horizon to horizon, home to unique animal and bird life , the Indian Wild Ass as well as thousands and thousands of Flamingos and other migratory birds . Using the beautiful Rann Riders Camp as our base , we did excursions to the Modhera Sun Temple and the Patan Stepwell . The Patan Stepwell , a UNESCO World Heritage Site , set in beautiful gardens is spectacular, as is the Modhera Sun Temple .
Post a couple of excellent Safaris in the Little Rann of Kutch, where we had very knowledgeable naturalists from the Rann Riders Camp driving us through the vast plains of the Rann, and pointing out its unique flora and fauna , our next stop in Gujarat was the mighty and collosal “ Statue of Unity “ .
Standing an extremely tall 182 meters , the Statue of Unity is the world’s highest statue ( by a mile , since the next highest is actually only about 130 meters ) of India’s iron man Sardar Patel , one of the leaders of India’s independence movement, and also one of the architects of the modern Indian Republic. The Statue of Unity was actually unveiled during late 2018 , and ever since then , visiting it was on top of my agenda. Then came Covid, all plans going awry , so just as soon as I could plan this , I did .. and I’m so glad I did ! Hearing the stories or reading about its size, doesn’t really give you any idea of how big the statue is ! It’s only when you get there , that you actually appreciate its size and other attributes. The Gujarat government has actually outdone itself , when it comes to the museum ( comparable with anything at the Smithsonian) and the facilities and attractions around the statue . It’s only a two hour drive from Baroda ( or Vadodara as it is now called ) and about a 4 hour drive from Ahmedabad, so very very accessible and at the risk of repeating myself, well worth a visit . Excellent accommodation and other facilities, actually far exceeded my expectations.
Next stop , Baroda , or Vadodara as it is now called , another destination that deserves a place on the tourism map , even if it’s just for a day . The piece de resistance of Baroda is the Laxmi Vilas Palace , said to be the world’s largest residence. Spread over 700 acres , it is said to be four times the size of Buckingham Palace . The erstwhile Royal family of Baroda still resides in a part of the Palace , and a section of it is open as a museum. Well worth the visit !
We did all of this in four days , and in conclusion, Vibrant Gujarat is certainly an Incredible part of Incredible India .