Experience Gujarat’s culture and it’s amazing places

Walking down through centuries, eating your way through the state, and spending quality time with lions – all in a day’s work in Gujarat

1. Visit the king of the jungle

The Asiatic Lion once roamed an area that spanned the easternmost corner of India to Iran. Today, it’s been confined within the realms of the Gir National Forest, where hordes of tourists descend to catch a glimpse of its majesty. This means that the lions are very used to visitors and are untroubled by 4x4s packed with shrieking passengers. But the king of the jungle is not the only draw; Gir is also home to some of India’s most interesting indigenous tribes, like the Siddi, rumoured to have been brought from Africa to look after the lions. Don’t miss a chance to catch their tribal dance, said to be a surreal experience. Check out information on Sasan Gir hotels to get best deals.

2. Step down a step well

Gujarat is a state of contrasts – miles of seashore, lush corners of green, but also large expanse of harsh, arid regions. To counter this the locals constructed step wells— intricate, beautiful reservoirs that stored water much below surface temperature. The 15th-­‐century Adalaj ni Vav is one of the iconic monuments of Gujarat. It’s an elaborate piece of work, with intricate carvings that depict the animals and birds, as well as scenes from mythology. The oldest step well is the 500-­‐year-­‐old Dada Harir Vav at Asarwa. It’s a striking view—an octagonal formation of pillars and steps inscribed with Sanskrit and Arabic writing.

3. Pamper yourself better

Healing the natural way – what could be better than that? How about doing it in a five-­‐star property. The Naturopathy Centre at Madhuban Resort and Spa is a resort with rooms and villas perfectly suited for rest and recuperation. The programmes here are created to deal with illnesses like diabetes, psoriasis, asthma, arthritis, obesity and hypertension. This means regulated (but delicious meals), a schedule that will include yoga, hydrotherapy and massages with natural oils. These will be customised to your needs and specifications, but no one will stop you if you want to take a break and just sit by any one of the two pools. Here is all information regarding Madhuban Resort and Spa, its Rates and services.

4. Go fly a kite

Around mid-January, a spectacular sight unfolds over the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad. June 12­‐14 marks the Kite Flying Festival, or uttarayan, in Gujarat. It draws crowds and enthusiasts from around the world. Across the river you will find Japanese rokkaku kites fighting for space with giant American ones, while Chinese flying dragons float serenely. Makar Sankranti isn’t just for kite flyers – it’s an equally exciting spectator sport and there’s a fight for the best seats at the riverfront. Being a national festival, it comes amply supplied with celebratory food and drinks.

5. Shop till you drop

It’s no secret that Gujarat’s textile industry is among its greatest ambassadors. If you want your quota of vividly-­‐coloured, embroidered cloth, head to Law Garden Street in Ahmedabad. For best value, take a seasoned bargainer along. You can stock up on home décor and classics like kurtas and chaniya cholis. For a less frenzied approach, try the government emporium of Gurjari, where you’ll get the same stuff but without having to fight other shoppers over the last piece or the shopkeeper for the last ‘best price’. Have a great sightseeing experience here. Know about different Ahmedabad sightseeing options here if you are planning a trip.

6. Take the religious trail

Gujarat seems to have gotten a large share of India’s religious heritage. There’s the iconic Jama Masjid, which was established by the founder of Ahmedabad—Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century. On the other end of the city is the Jain temple of Hutheesing, and the Shri Swaminarayan Temple, with excellent examples of intricate carvings depicting stories from Jain and Hindu mythology. From Vadnagar to Dwarka, there’s plenty for those seeking a spiritual journey.

7. Design on demand

Ahmedabad is home to one of India’s most respected professional institutes – the National Institute of Design. This automatically makes the city an easy destination for cutting edge design, whether you’re looking for textiles or décor. Besides the odd exhibition, there are a number of small studios and stores selling work that is Indian but has global appeal. Head to Fanaas for cool updates on light fittings; Asif, for restored fabrics like marodi, chikankari or aari work; Aura for brilliantly coloured organic textiles; bandhej for handloom fabrics; TDW Furniture for avant-­‐garde pieces by local designers; Lime ‘n’ Ginger for neon Indian motifs; and Intelligent Idiots for contemporary Indian kitsch.

8. A day at the museum(s)

Gujarat has quite a few museums, but even here, it is the textiles that dominate. The
Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad displays 500-­‐year-­‐old pieces including Kashmiri shawls that took three years to make, where each thread was individually dyed. At the Watson Museum in Rajkot, taxidermy and intricately carved ivory finds eccentric breathing space. The Darbar Hall Museum at Junagadh has an exceptional collection of chandeliers and a gigantic carpet that was made at the Junagadh jail. Book a museum tour and enjoy your vacation with loved ones.

9. Follow the principles of Gandhi

The Sabarmati Ashram or Gandhi Ashram played an important role in India’s fight for freedom. The ashram served as Gandhi’s headquarters between 1917 and 1930 and it was also the starting point for the Dandi March, or the Salt March. It’s a humbling experience to wander through the museum that has preserved bits of his life. The physical reminders of what inspired him and what he surrounded himself with are a reminder for us – if only to honour the legacy that gave us our hard-­‐won freedom. Get a glimpse of the life of Mahatma, walk in Gandhi Ashram and gain some new insights into history.

10. Eat your way through

Gujarati food has trickled its way around the world and become an iconic example of home-­‐cooked Indian khana. So, how can it not be mentioned as an experience by iself! There’s Vishalla, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, a village-­‐style restaurant that serves authentic Gujarati fare on leaves, Green House at House of MG in the same city that doles out sweet sharbat; celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s Yellow Chilli at Bhuj that serves vegetarian Mughlai food; and Gabha’s Roti, a roadside stall at Mandvi that’s insanely famous for dabeli — bread stuffed with spicy mixes of potatoes, garlic and chutney. Enjoy some great breakfast and snacks with food tour here and get the true taste of Gujarat.

Insider Tip:

If you’re a golf enthusiast, Ahmedabad has some stellar courses. The Kalhaar Blues & Greens have been designed by the eminent American golf company Nicklaus Design (named after its founder golfer Jack Nicklaus) and is a fantastic spread with world-­‐class facilities. Also check out Kensville Golf and Country Club and Gulmohur Greens.