Ahmedabad – Dasada – Bhuj – Rajkot – Sasangir – Somnath – Diu – Bhavnagar – Palitana – Baroda (12nights and 13 days)
Aavo Padharo, words of welcome in the language of Gujarat because it is here that these words ring truely and the guest is 'God' and the people of Gujarat are gregariously friendly, inviting and will entice you to come again and again. Here in Gujarat you will discover centuries of history as spanning the geological core of the earth onto a fascinatingly vibrant future. Gujarat is unique in its geological and topographical landscape. From volcanic outpourings through bedrock to fossil fields of indegenous dinosaurs; from the art of the neolithic cave painter to the stone masterpieces of a series of civilized architecture. Ancient cave paintings to historic murals, natural and man made caves, Gujarat has it all. Art, history, music, culture, all dovetail within each other to form a wondrous matrix that is the cultural exuberance of the people of the state.
Day 01 :
Arrive Ahmedabad, largest city in Gujarat. This city offers the traveler a unique style of architecture, which is a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles (Indo-Saracenic style of architecture). The monuments of Ahmedabad mainly date back to the 15th century. Ahmedabad has been known for its industry since medieval times. Presently it is famous for its textile mills and is often referred to as the 'Manchester of the East'. On arrival you will be met, assisted and transferred to the hotel. Evening visit the Siddhi Sayed Masjid, known for its exquisite filigree stone carvings. The most interesting features of the mosque are the fabulous Jhali screens lining its upper walls and the magnificent and exclusive stone tracery. The screens are framed in ten semi-circular windows and are built in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. Later proceed to visit the Sabarmati Ashram (Gandhi Ashram) named after the holy river Sabarmati. This was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. This ashram is now a national monument by the Government of India due to its significance in the Indian independence movement. Overnight stay in Ahmedabad.
Day 02 :
Today morning, after breakfast proceed to the Swaminarayan Temple one of the first and the most prominent Swaminarayan Temples to be built. The interiors and exteriors of the temple have been adorned with the typical Gujarati designs that depict different aspects of the Gujarati culture and lifestyle. Later proceed to Gandhinagar (30 kms / 1hr one way) to visit the famous Akshardham Temple. The temple is a majestic, intricately carved stone structure built of pink sandstone. It has a huge complex covered with sprawling gardens and admirable fountains and is a perfect mix of modernity and ancient values. Drive back to Ahmedabad. Enroute visit the Adalaj Stepwell, an intricately carved and a five stories in depth step well. Such step wells were once integral to the semi arid regions of Gujarat as they provided basic water needs for drinking, washing and bathing. These wells were also venues for colorful festivals and sacred rituals. Overnight stay in Ahmedabad.
Day 03 :
This day after breakfast, drive to Dasada (110kms / 2hrs) a small village located a few minutes drive from the entrance of the Little Rann of Kutch Wild Ass Sanctuary. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Later enjoy an evening safari to the sanctuary and enjoy spotting the famous wild ass and migratory birds. Overnight stay in Dasada.
Day 04 :
Today after breakfast, drive to Bhuj (150kms / 4hrs), known for its small, meandering streets, palaces and temples. It also has the oldest museum in the state of Gujarat. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Later proceed to visit the Aina Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors, located in the old part of the city and houses a museum. Thereafter visit The Kutch Museum, the oldest Museum in Gujarat which has a good collection of artifacts, depicting the history and culture of Bhuj and its surroundings. Also visit the Swaminarayan temple and the Sharad Baugh Palace, residence of the last King of Kutch, now converted into a museum. Overnight stay in Bhuj.
Day 05 :
This day after breakfast, leave for a full day excursion to the traditional Bania villages (one needs to obtain permit to visit these villages). Some of the important villages are Bhujjodi, famous for weaving. Padhar and Dhaneti are famous for traditional Ahir embroidery. Dhamanka is known for block printing. Lilpur is known for its embroidery while the village of Anjar is famous for block printing, tie and dye items and traditional betel nut crackers. Overnight stay in Bhuj.
Day 06 :
This morning after breakfast, drive to Rajkot (260kms / 6hrs), a city that was once the capital of the princely state of Saurashtra and the headquarters of the British Government. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Evening visit the famous Watson Museum and Library, an introduction to Saurashtra’s cultural heritage and also visit Kaba Gandhi no Delo, the house where Mahatma Gandhi grew up. It now holds a permanent exhibition of Gandhian items. Overnight stay in Rajkot.
Day 07 :
Today after breakfast, drive to Sasan Gir National Park (190kms / 5hrs), is the sole home besides Africa where Asiatic Lions can be seen in their natural habitat. It is also considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Evening proceed for a game drive to the national park. Gir is also home to one of the largest leopard populations in any park in India and especially in the hotter season they can sometimes be seen at night close to the lodges. Other wildlife to look out for are the Four-Horned Antelope (which is the only four-horned ungulate in the world), wild boar, wolf, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, chinkara, blue bull, marsh muggers as well as a wonderful variety of bird species. Overnight stay in Sasan Gir.
Day 08 :
This early morning proceed for another game drive. Later drive to Diu (80 kms / 2hrs). Enroute visit Somnath Temple also known as the ”Shrine Eternal” and one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of the Lord Shiva. The temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture and reflects the skills of the Gujarat's master masons. Diu, a beautiful blend of sea, sand and sun, is a God's gift to those in quest of a blessed land where the weary weight of this unintelligible world can, for a while, be lightened and the waking soul can hear the music of the nature. This tiny island of breeze, beauty and serenity situated off the southern tip of Saurashtra (Kathiawad) peninsula of Gujarat, lapped by the Arabian Sea, is a picture of calmness with superb beaches and a fascinating history. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Evening at leisure to enjoy the pristine beaches of Diu. Overnight stay in Diu.
Day 09 :
Today after breakfast, proceed for a half-day city tour exploring St. Thomas Church, a huge edifice in gothic architecture, part of it now converted into a museum which houses antique statues, various stone inscriptions of the earlier rulers, wooden carvings and idols. In the evening multicolored fountains and special lighting of the imposing building fascinates everyone. Later proceed to visit the Diu Fort, an expansive and imposing structure, situated on the coast of the island. The fort commands a magnificent view of sea and overwhelms you with the gaunt majesty of the ancient stone work which transports you to a bygone era of gallant soldiers where time stands still. Thereafter visit the Sea Shell Museum, first of its kind in the world where various sizes of sea shells are displayed in magnifying glasses. Evening at leisure. Overnight stay in Diu.
Day 10 :
This day, after breakfast drive to Bhavnagar (200kms / 4hrs), first princely state to merge with the democratic Indian Union and is also known as the cultural capital of Saurashtra. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Later proceed to visit the famous Takhteshwar Temple, built on a small hillock overlooking the city by the local royal family, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It not only offers a great view of the city and the adjacent Gulf of Cambay but is also an important pilgrim center. Thereafter visit the Nilambagh Palace, this relic of the past, home to the ruling Gohil dynasty of Bhavnagar, now stands as a Heritage Hotel. Overnight stay in Bhavnagar.
Day 11 :
Today morning, after breakfast drive to Baroda (340kms / 6hrs). Enroute visit Palitana, a major pilgrimage centre for Jains. This is the place where millions of Jain sadhus and munis got salvation. There are more than 1300 temples located on the Shatrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. The main temple on top of the hill, is dedicated to the first Tirthankar, Lord Adinath (Rishabdeva). From the foot of the hill to the top there are 3,800 and odd stone steps cut to facilitate climbing. Baroda is the capital city of the erstwhile Gaekwad rulers and is an important cultural center of India. It is known for its art galleries and museums, palaces and well-laid parks. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Overnight stay in Baroda.
Day 12 :
This day, after breakfast proceed for a city tour visiting the Sayaji Museum that has a good collection of artifacts, which not only includes Indian sculptures and ancient manuscripts, but also houses collection of Egyptian antiquities, while the art gallery has Mughal miniatures and some works of European masters. Thereafter visit the Laxmi Vilas Palace, an extravagant building of the Indo-Saracenic school. It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built in the nineteenth century and four times the size of The Buckingham Palace in London. The palace remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda. Overnight stay in Baroda.
Day 13 :
Today you will be transferred to the airport for flight to Mumbai. Arrive Mumbai and connect flight to your onward destination, leaving with fond memories of this “Colourful Gujarat” tour.