Looking to explore Incredible India but want to avoid crowded tourist destinations? Choose the vibrant state of Gujarat for its incredible heritage, handlooms, handicrafts, culture, food and wildlife. Here are the 10 best places to visit in Gujarat in 2021 and beyond.
The majority of 2020 and almost half of 2021 was spent being locked up inside our homes. Thankfully COVID cases have gone down and vaccination up. Perhaps it is safe to venture out and explore our very own backyard. One state has it all to give you a memorable trip. Gujarat. Gujarat is easy to explore and presents a potpourri of many histories, cultures, food and landscapes. While the Ahmedabad Heritage City dazzled me with its stunning architecture and ancient culture, it was the countryside that took my heart away with its many treasures. I am no artist, but I couldn’t help appreciating the art found in tribal Kutchi villages. And, of course, the excellent national parks that are home to some really unique wildlife, including Asiatic lions, migratory birds, and wild asses. Through this post, you’ll get to know about famous places in Gujarat. Here’s a sneak peek of what to see in Gujarat and how much I miss the state.
But before you start dreaming about “Khusboo Gujarat Ki”, let me help you with the best places to visit in Gujarat. In this post, I’ll share unexplored places to visit in Gujarat, along with famous attractions. If you are a foodie or a culturephile like me, then you’d love the festivals and food markets of Vibrant Gujarat. But first, let me tell you some good news.
In January 2021, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani released the new tourism policy for the state for the next five years (Jan 2021- Dec 2025). The core vision of the new policy is to develop Tourism in a responsible, inclusive and sustainable manner in Gujarat. The state will promote as well as incentivise the adoption of e-vehicles and sustainability projects. Encouraging the vision of “Vocal for Local”, the state would increase the visibility of unique products made in India and demonstrate Gujarat’s native art and culture. Moreover, the tourist-centric infrastructure will be developed in both offbeat and tourist spots in Gujarat.
Gujarat Government is working towards one key project – making the Modhera Sun Temple and the Modhera village powered by solar energy. It will be the first of its kind in India.
So, you can definitely add this heritage site to your list of the famous places to visit in 2021 and beyond. If you wonder which tourist places are open now in Gujarat, then here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Gujarat with friends, family or couples.
10 Best places to visit in Gujarat recommended by BigB
Great Rann of Kutch
When somebody asks me a question about which is the coolest place in Gujarat, my answer is Kutch. The Indian version of Bolivia’s “Mirror of the Sky.” (Uyuni Salt Flats). A geographic phenomenon that takes your breath away every time you see it. The Rann of Kutch is named after the Kutch district where it is situated. The word Rann means “salt marsh”. The flat, tortoise-shaped land is a seasonal island. Except for the monsoon season, the Ranns (Greater Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch) remain as vast expanses of blinding-white salt and dried mud. The barrenness for miles is weirdly spectacular, with small oases of water bodies and shrubland attracting pink flamingos. Come the monsoon, these vast barren lands get flooded first by seawater, then by fresh river water.
Travel Tip: The best time to visit the Great Rann of Kutch is in winter (November to February) as the weather is pleasant at that time. The famous Rann Utsav takes place at Dhordo from 1st November to 20th February every year.
Also, if allowed, don’t forget to visit the tribal villages, where you’ll see some of India’s finest handicrafts and textiles dazzling with exquisite embroidery and mirror work. The region is the epicentre for Kutchi embroidery, tie and dye, leatherwork, pottery, bell metal craft and the famous Rogan painting.
Little Rann of Kutch
Approximately 200km east of the Great Rann of Kutch lies the Little Rann of Kutch. Unlike its elder sibling, it doesn’t get as many tourists as the former. However, I highly recommend you visit it, but if for nothing, then at least for its 4953sq m Wild Ass Sanctuary. The salt mudflats of the Little Rann of Kutch is the only place on earth where the endangered Indian Wild Ass still lives. Besides the wild asses, the Sanctuary is home to 32 species of mammals, two species of desert fox, jackals, caracals, nilgais, Indian wolves, blackbucks, and striped hyenas.
Gir National Park
The pride of Gujarat – the Gir National Park – is the last refuge of the Asiatic lions. Been a few years since I last visited this forested hilly Sanctuary. Once the restrictions are fully lifted, and the park is open for tourists, I’ll definitely visit it and enjoy the Gir Jungle Safari experience. Apart from 600 Asiatic Lions, the National Park is also home to 37 other mammal species, including spotted deer, large deer, large antelopes, four-horned antelopes, gazelles, jaguars, striped hyena, foxes, marsh Crocodiles, rarely seen leopards and more than 300 bird species.
Tip: The best time to visit Gir National Park is from 16th October to 15th June every year.
Satpura has been on my wish list for a long, and I definitely plan to visit it in 2021. Located at the height of 875 metres above sea level and nestled in the Sahyadris, Saputara is the only hill station of Gujarat. The surprising thing is that it is hardly known outside of the state. By seeing the pictures of Saputara, I have fallen in love with it and can’t wait to explore it soon. Imagine lush green forests, rolling green hills, gurgling waterfalls, serpentine mountain roads, livid landscapes and plenty of charming hideouts to spend time with your loved ones or even with oneself; the town is definitely worth a visit. The focal point of this hill station is its lake, which has several recreational activities, including boating.
Tip: Satpura looks highly gorgeous in monsoon but the best time to visit Saputara is between October to February. Make sure you carry a jacket as the temperature can dip to as low as 8 degrees Celsius.
Sun Temple, Modhera
The unmatched architectural legacy of the 11th–century Sun Temple of the Solanki dynasty at Modhera in northwest Gujarat can make even the non-architecture lovers fall in love with this architectural majesty. The sacred and stunning Sun Temple is a declared monument of national importance and a living testimony of the golden era of the Solanki dynasty. The exterior is intricately carved with mythological stories of demons and deities. You have to walk through a pillared pavilion to reach the main hall and shrine. It is quite a miracle that centuries of invasions and climatic weathering have not diminished the temple’s astounding grandeur.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site will be adding one more feather to its cap – the Sun Temple and the Modhera village will get 24X7 solar power.
Rani ki Vav
Located on the banks of the Saraswati River, Rani ki Vav or the Queen’s stepwell at Patan is one of the oldest and finest stepwells in Gujarat and is very well preserved. The seven-story structure is designed in the form of an inverted temple, and the levels are lined with carved pillars and more than 800 sculptures. It showcases superior craftsmanship of the era and the unique Maru-Gurjara architectural style and houses sculptures similar to the Sun temple at Modhera and the Vimalavasahi temple in Mount Abu. The stepwell has been listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites since 2014.
Note: You can book tickets using https://asi.payumoney.com/
Tip: If allowed, visit the nearby 11th-century village of Salvivad to meet the master weavers of “Double Ikat.”
Champaner and Pavagadh
A UNESCO World Heritage site of Champaner is often explored with Pavagadh, which unfortunately I couldn’t cover last time due to paucity of time. Pavagadh stands atop a hill overlooking Champaner at its base. The duo makes a rich heritage site lined with forts, monuments, mosques, tombs, temples, stepwells and fortresses from the 8th to 14th century. The Islamic-Mughal city of Champaner seems frozen in time, offering a wholesome architectural taste of that era. Juxtaposed to this is the Kalika Mata Temple on Pavagadh Hill, where thousands congregate during Navratri.
Statue of Unity
Since its inauguration, the world’s tallest Statue – Statue of Unity – has been the talk of the town. It recently crossed the landmark of 50 lakh visitors. While star attraction still remains the Statue itself, the area around the iconic Statue is further developed to add more attractions in its portfolio, such as the seaplane service from Ahmedabad to Kevadia, River Rafting on River Narmada, and Night Trekking in the wooded environs of Kevadia. Last year, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated Arogya Van (‘health forest’ with a wide range of medicinal plants), Children Nutrition Park (world’s first technology-driven theme park developed to make children understand the importance of nutritious food), and Ekta Mall (to buy handloom and handicraft products from various states)
I would really love to see these new attractions around the Statue of Unity soon.
Tip: Don’t forget to visit the Cactus Garden with 6 lacs plants of 450 species.
When somebody asks me which is the most beautiful city in Gujarat, I say Ahmedabad. The capital of Gujarat is India’s first UNESCO World Heritage city with 2700 listed UNESCO buildings. I really loved the town for its centuries-old heritage, culture and superb food scene. Once it’s safe to travel freely, I highly recommend doing the Heritage Walk in Ahmedabad to showcase some of the most exquisite Hindu and Jain temples standing along with the finest Islamic monuments. The carved wooden houses are another architectural marvel in the heritage city.
Route: The Ahmedabad Heritage City walk starts daily from Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple at 07:45 am and culminates at Jumma Masjid at 10.30 am. For more updates or booking, visit https://heritagewalkahmedabad.com/
And, if you are a foodie or want to see Ahmedabad’s version of nightlife, you just can’t miss Manek Chowk. Located in the heart of the old city of Ahmedabad with iconic structures all around, it will surely satiate all your tastebuds. In less than Rs 200, you’ll have a full stomach. Interestingly, the market is a vegetable hub in the morning, a bullion market at noon and a street food hotspot at night.
Gujarat and Gandhi are inseparable, and your trip to Gujarat will be incomplete without visiting Dandi Kutir – India’s largest & only museum dedicated to the life and teachings of the father of the nation – Mahatma Gandhi. This is the historical place where Gandhi started the Satyagraha Movement. The museum showcases snippets from India’s freedom movement and captures other significant milestones from Gandhi’s life.
Besides the above places, you could also visit Bet Dwarka, ‘the City of Lord Krishna’ for its Dwarkadhish temple, Souvenir hunting, boating, marine life, sea excursions, camping and picnics. Besides that, Vadodara is an excellent place to visit street food and Navratri celebrations (if allowed this year), and Rajkot for the Jubliee garden.
So, these are my 10 must-visit places in Gujarat in 2021 and beyond. Needless to say, there are many more incredible tourist attractions in Gujarat. Still, these places are safe and good enough to give you a real taste of khusboo Gujarat ki (fragrance of Gujarat). Whether you are looking for places to visit in Gujarat for 7 days, 4 days or a 2-days weekend trip, there’s a lot here to keep you busy. So, ready to book your tickets?
Looking for more inspiration, read these:
Things to keep in mind before visiting Gujarat
When to visit
The best time to visit Gujarat is when the temperature averages between 25 to 35 degrees Celsius from October to March. However, bear in mind that during this period you can expect more tourists at popular hotspots.
How to reach Gujarat?
You can fly to Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bhavnagar or any other operational airport to reach Gujarat. Alternatively, you can also arrive using trains (check train availability and schedule on the IRCTC website before booking.), or you can simply travel to Gujarat by road.
Travel Guidelines for tourists arriving in Gujarat
Is Gujarat Open for Tourists in 2021? Yes, it is. However, the state Government is following specific COVID protocols to avoid the second wave like situation.
- There will be temperature screenings at certain checkpoints, and you must wear your mask at all times until you reach your destination.
- All passengers travelling to Gujarat from other states or UT mandatorily need to carry a vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR report, not older than 72 hours, from an ICMR approved laboratory.
- All passengers need to download the Aarogya Setu app.
- Passengers travelling to Surat have to fill the Novel Corona Self Reporting Form and download the SMC Covid-19 Tracker app.
Travel checklist and What To Pack
- Pack cotton clothing as it’s best suited for Gujarat’s hot and humid weather, and don’t forget to carry comfortable footwear.
- COVID Kit – abundant face masks, hand sanitisers, and a pair of disposable gloves for flight, train, or any kind of commute.
- Always mask up in public spaces and maintain social distancing. Avoid crowded places for outdoor spaces where social distancing is naturally possible.
- Book your travel and accommodation in advance, and do check if they have amenities and staff in place to follow all COVID protocols.