One of India's most colourful states
Grossly underrated and often completely overlooked by travellers, Gujarat is an ideal tourist destination offering a little bit of everything.
Fascinating archeological sites, Jain, Hindu and Islamic architecture, a wide variety of scenery, exquisite crafts, rare wildlife, and some beautiful beaches are among Gujarat's attractions.
In the crisscrossing lanes of 's Old City, hundred year old carved wooden doorways, colourful bird feeders, and a plethora of mosques represent some of the many different facets of this city.
A short drive from Ahmedabad is the Little Rann of Kutch, a salty marsh, which was at one time an area completely submerged under the Arabian Sea. Its unique eco-system is home to the gentle Asiatic Wild Ass as well as hundreds of migratory birds including flamingos. Accommodation in the nearby village of consists of traditional mud houses and stone cottages that reveal a glimpse of a truly tribal culture.
Further to the west is the Great Rann of Kutch. is another major town in this area, known for created by master weavers who use centuries-old methods and designs to create masterpieces of embroidery and block printed fabrics.
Just north of Bhuj is the village of . You can stay here at the Sham-e-Sarhad Resort which was designed to provide employment to locals as well as to preserve and showcase local handicrafts, cuisine and music.
For true birders there cannot be a more rewarding place than the Great Rann of Kutch, with its varied landscapes of thorn jungles, grassy bets, and the golden sandstone beds of seasonal rivers. The Grey Hypocolius visits here as do other 350 species of birds. Simple accommodation is available at .
Driving down the coast you reach . Smooth sand beaches stretch without interruption, and in the distance hand made wooden boats set their course for distant lands, just as they have for hundreds of years. Here, you can stay in luxury tented accommodation.
In the centre of the Saurashtra peninsula, you can experience the lifestyle of the Maharajas circa the 1800's by staying in the palaces of and . The immense influence that the royalty had on the life of the common people here is still visible.
Just south of Gondal is the National Park where you can on safari in search of the Asiatic Lion, one of the last refuges of this magnificent beast.
Finally, you can take the 3,500 steps up to the pilgrimage site of which is surely one of the world's most exquisite temple complexes. Accommodation options include two beautifully restored palaces, one in Palitana and one in the nearby .