Tucked away on the west coast of India, the state of Gujarat is a treasure trove of unique experiences. The land ranges from paradise beaches to lush forests, vast salt flats and mountains soaring towards the clouds, while the ancient forts and palaces offer glimpses into bygone eras. There’s a wild side, too — world-famous animal sanctuaries, exotic birdwatching sites and remote desert outposts offer an unrivalled sense of adventure. Discover six of the state’s most unforgettable experiences:
Gir National Park: A lion’s share in conservation
Renowned as the home of the Asiatic lion, this iconic national park covers nearly 470sq miles in the south west of the region. In 1975, when the park was created, the Asiatic lion was on the brink of extinction. Now around 300 thrive in the sanctuary’s dusty, rugged terrain, dotted with open scrub and teak forests. Lions are, of course, the stars at Gir, but many other animals prosper in its forests. Keep your eyes peeled for the likes of leopards, chitals, sambar, wild boar, jackals, hyenas, pangolins, sloth bears and honey badgers.
Little Rann of Kutch: Exhilarating explorations
Largely unexplored and a haven for some of the region’s most colourful wildlife, the Little Rann of Kutch, in the north west of the state, is a salt marsh that appears bleak but is, in fact, richly biodiverse. Although there are a number of wildlife sanctuaries and reserves scattered throughout the desert, it’s perhaps best known as the only haven of the Asiatic wild ass and the favoured breeding ground of many rare bird species.
Navratri: Celebrating nine nights of rhythm, colour, dance and a vibrant culture
Navratri is, in its purest essence, a festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Meaning ‘nine nights’, the name refers to nine nights of prayer and festivities that retrace the fight between good (durga) and evil (mahishasura). Each night, people gather in open spaces across towns and villages to celebrate feminine divinity, referred to as Shakti. The festival of Navratri is known for its vibrant, colourful displays, when both men and women dressed in traditional attire put on stunning performances set to music. From 10-18 October 2018.
A handful of handicrafts
Gujarat’s people produce a wide variety of handicrafts and artisanship. When exploring the state, be sure to discover this thread of local culture, be it anything from hand block printing, puppet-making or leatherwork, to beadwork, embroidery, and woodwork — each skill is a careful preservation of Gujarat’s traditions and are all expressions of great taste, skill and artistry.
Rann Utsav: Unique thrills await
When the winter sets in, the curtain rises on Rann Utsav’s mystical, magical and memorable events and experiences. Under the full moon, the salt desert of Rann glows in the white light, when travellers are given a breathtaking glimpse into a land that brims with ethnic arts, crafts, music and dance. Folk performers with vibrant costumes, Sindhi bhajan recitals, and an array of stalls selling Kutchi embroidery, as well as camel riding, rifle shooting and paramotoring all go into making the carnival here a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Gandhi Circuit: Take a trailblazing path
Trace the remarkable journey of Mahatma Gandhi on The Gandhi Circuit, a trail that takes visitors to the major destinations of the activist’s life. From his birthplace in Porbandar to the various locations across Gujarat where his life’s philosophy was formed and put into practice, this special route allows you to follow in Gandhi’s footsteps and discover more about the man who helped to shape today’s India.
Discover more of Gujarat here.