Top 16 Places to Visit in Gujarat

Top 16 Places to Visit in Gujarat

By CarolUpdated Dec. 3, 2021

Located in the westernmost part of India, Gujarat is the fifth-largest and the ninth most populated state in the country. It is a mixture of different cultures and traditions, showcasing the unique traditions of India.

Gujarat offers some of the most unique destinations in India. One can visit Gir National Park, which is the only place in the world when you can see the endangered Asiatic lion. It is also home to the world’s tallest statue — the Statue of Unity in Kevadia.

Highlights

  • The Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Ahmedabad incorporates Marathi, Rajasthani, and British styles of architecture.
  • The Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara is the largest private residence in India.
  • The Statue of Unity in Kevadia is the tallest in the world.
  • The Sun Temple in Modhera is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya.
  • The Rani ki Vav, or Queen's Stepwell, in Patan is India's latest entry to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

1. Ahmedabad

Recommended duration of visit: 2–3 days

Located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, Ahmedabad was the former capital of Gujarat for many centuries and was declared India's first UNESCO World Heritage City in 2017. This historic city has rapidly grown into a tourist destination, an industrial hub, and an educational hotspot.

Ahmedabad is home to many temples, the most famous one being the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir. This temple is an architectural marvel with the central gateway combining local, Marathi, Rajasthani, and British designs, and the pavilion depicting Mughal architecture. The idols inside are decorated with bright accessories and rich fabrics.

Travelers may also visit the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi, the Sabarmati Ashram. Located 5 km (3.1 miles) north of Ahmedabad's center, this was where Mahatma Gandhi started the Salt March for the Indian Independence Movement. There is also a Gandhi Memorial Museum, where visitors can learn more about the Father of the Nation.

Perfect for:History lovers

Insider tip: Travelers should dress conservatively when visiting the Shree Swaminarayan Temple.

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2. Vadodara

Recommended duration of visit: 2–3 days

Vadodara, previously known as Baroda, is a cosmopolitan city located about 111 km (69 miles) southeast of Ahmedabad. Built across the banks of Vishwamitri River, it is known for being an industrial center for cotton textiles, homespun cloth, chemicals, matches, machinery, and furniture.

Travelers come to Vadodara to visit the Laxmi Vilas Palace. This expansive palace is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and is the largest private residence in India. Travelers can visit the Coronation Room, the Gaddi Hall, which contains the throne of past kings, the Darbar Hall, and the Royal Armory inside.

Another popular attraction is theVadodara Museum and Picture Gallery. Here, travelers can look at artifacts, such as Indian musical instruments and Mughal miniatures. The museum also houses a few of Maharaja Sayajirao III's collection pieces and a Persian version of the Mahabharata, which was specially commissioned by Emperor Akbar.

Perfect for: History lovers

Insider tip: The attractions inside the Laxmi Vilas Palace are open on all days except on Mondays.

3. Statue of Unity

Recommended duration of visit: 2–3 hours

Being 597 feet tall (182 meters) and twice the size of the Statue of Liberty, the Statue of Unity in Kevadia is the world's tallest statue dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, an Indian freedom fighter.

Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of independent India. He was nicknamed “the Founding Father of the Republic of India”, as he was instrumental in bringing the 562 princely states of the country together.

This bronze statue, spread across 20,000 square meters, was completed in 2018. It is surrounded by a 12-km (7 mi) artificial lake. For the convenience of visitors, the statue is well connected via expressways, enhanced rail systems, and helipads.

Apart from the statue itself, travelers can also enjoy a sound and laser show, a butterfly garden, a cactus garden, an Ayurvedic wellness center, and many other attractions in the surrounding area.

Perfect for: History lovers and families on vacation

Insider tip: There are many luxury tents, hotels, and local homestays in the surrounding area.

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4. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Being one of the lesser-known UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is located in the heart of the city of Champaner, set amidst the Pavagadh Hills. It is located around an hour northeast of Vadodara.

The park holds a lot of historical significance in terms of both Hindu and Muslim traditions. It features many historical, architectural, and archeological treasures from both traditions, including a hill fortress, palaces, and places of worship.

One of the attractions is the oldest and most celebrated temple in the vicinity, the Kalika Mata Temple. As it is located on a cliff, one will have to climb a long flight of stairs to reach the temple. There are three large representations of Goddess Kalika Mata, Bahucharamata, and Kali here.

Located about 46 m (150 feet) east of the city walls, the 15th-century Jama Masjid of Champaner is widely considered as one of the finest mosques in western India. The two-story structure features both Islamic and Hindu styles of architecture, with the presence of two towering octagonal minarets.

Perfect for: People interested in culture

Insider tip: Travelers are advised to wear conservative clothing when visiting places of worship.

5. Modhera

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Modhera is an ancient town located on the bank of Pushpavati River. It is believed to be the site where Lord Rama performed a yagna (sacrifice) to cleanse himself of his sin of killing Ravana, the great king of Lanka.

Modhera is best known for housing the Sun Temple. It was built in the 11th century and is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya. The temple’s premises are divided into three main parts: the Gudhamandapa (main shrine), Sabhamandapa (assembly hall), and Kunda (stepped tank).

After visiting the Sun Temple, one can also visit Modheshwari Mata Mandir. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Modheshwari, an avatar (incarnation) of Goddess Parvati who defeated the demon Kanar. The idol inside the temple portrays the deity as having 18 arms, each bearing a weapon.

Perfect for: History lovers

Insider tip: Visit the Sun Temple in January around the festival of Makar Sankranti, when a dance festival called “Uttarardha Mahotsav” is held.

6. Rani ki Vav

Recommended duration of visit: 2–3 hours

The Rani ki Vav, or the Queen's Stepwell, in Patan is India's latest entry to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is a historic abandoned stepwell built during the Solanki Dynasty in the 11th century.

Rani ki Vav was believed to be constructed by the widowed queen Udaymati to honor the death of her husband, Bhimdev I. It was flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and was only discovered in the 1980s.

This stepwell is designed in the shape of an inverted temple and reflects the Maru-Gurjara style of architecture. It is separated into seven levels of stairs with many sculptural panels surrounding it. The panels contain more than 500 principal sculptures and over 1,000 inferior ones.

Perfect for: History lovers

Insider tip: The best time to visit Rani ki Vav is during the morning.

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7. Kutch

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

The Kutch region in Gujarat is the largest district in India. The region is a large stretch of barren and harsh desert, spanning more than 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles). Nicknamed India's "Wild West", Kutch is one of India’s most stunning yet bizarre places.

A large part of Kutch is made up of seasonal wetlands called the Great Rann of Kutch. The area is a salt marshland famous for its massive salt deposits, which are known for producing a mirage. After exploring the area, travelers can also enjoy beautiful sunsets in the evening.

After exploring the Great Rann of Kutch, one can make a stop at theKutch Museum. Located in the heart of the Bhuj district, it was established in 1877 and is one of the oldest museums in Gujarat. The museum houses a collection of extinct Kutchi script, ancient coins, and other objects.

Perfect for: Adventurous people

Insider tip: Visit Kutch during the winter months from December to February, when the Rann Festival is held. There will be cultural programs and adventure activities like hot-air ballooning.

8. Dwarka

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

The city of Dwarka is famous for being one of the char dham, the four sacred pilgrimage sites of Hinduism, and one of the seven most religious cities in India. Popularly known as the “ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna”, Dwarka is believed to have been the first capital of Gujarat.

The Dwarkadhish Temple is Dwarka's best-known attraction. Also known as the Jagat Mandir, the temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and features the Chalukya style of architecture. Aside from Lord Krishna, the temple also houses shrines to other deities like Subhadra, Balarama, and Revathy.

Dwarka is home to one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or devotional representation of Lord Shiva, which is located in the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple. The main attraction here is the 25 m (82 feet) tall statue of Lord Shiva, which never fails to mesmerize visitors and pilgrims.

Perfect for: People interested in culture

Insider tip: Travelers are advised to wear conservative clothing when visiting these places of worship.

9. Narara Marine National Park

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Located in the Gulf of Kutch, the Narara Marine National Park was established in 1982, as the first marine conservatory in India. The park is divided into 42 separate islands and is home to many different species of marine creatures and birdlife.

In this park, travelers can walk along the islands, some of which are surrounded by coral reefs, and see hundreds of different species of marine animals. Some of the common ones are starfishes, jellyfishes, sea snakes, and some species of fish. On rare occasions, one can also spot dolphins at a distance.

Not only is the park home to marine animals, it is also inhabited by animals like the common monitor lizard, jungle cats, and jackals. A large colony of flamingos, 94 species of aquatic birds, and 78 species of terrestrial birds can also be found in the park.

Perfect for: Animal lovers

Insider tip: Travelers are advised to wear shorts as they will have to walk through ankle-deep water.

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10. Somnath

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Somnath, also known as Prabhas Patan or Somnath Patan, is an ancient city located 7 hours away from Ahmedabad. It is a popular pilgrimage destination surrounded by many temples, museums, beaches, and other attractions.

The city’s most prized attraction is the Somnath Temple. It is believed to be the first of the 12 jyotirlingas (devotional representation) of Lord Shiva in India. The temple is considered a great example of Chalukya architecture with intricate carvings on its sandstone structure.

After visiting the Somnath Temple, one can stroll around the Somnath Beach on which the temple is located. Travelers can relax here after a long day with the beautiful sea views accompanied by some fresh coconut water and corn.

Perfect for: Families on vacation

Insider tip: Swimming is not recommended at Somnath Beach.

11. Gir National Park

Recommended duration of visit: Half a day

For animal lovers, one of the best places to visit is Gir National Park. Located 43 km (27 miles) north-east of Somnath, the park was established in 1965 and stretches for over 1,400 square kilometers (540 square miles).

The park is famed for being the largest dry deciduous forest in western India and the only place in the world to see the endangered Asiatic lion. Not only can visitors see Asiatic lions, they can also spot over 300 species of resident birds, jackals, crocodiles, leopards, antelopes, and deer.

Travelers can visit the park from mid-October to mid-June. They can also go on jeep safaris around the park, which occurs three times a day, starting from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entry fees tend to vary, ranging from INR 5,600 to INR 7,000.

Perfect for: Animal lovers

Insider tip: Visitors must first obtain an e-permit to visit Gir National Park and camera fees cost from INR 2,400 to INR 3,000.

12. Junagadh

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

The city of Junagadh is located at the foot of the Girnar Hills, 355 km (220 miles) southwest of Ahmedabad. It was once the capital of the princely state of Junagadh, and is the seventh-largest city in Gujarat.

The Mahabat Maqbara is a mausoleum complex that houses the tombs of the previous rulers of Junagadh like Mohabbat Khanji and Bahaduddin Hasainbhai. This structure displays an amazing example of Indo-Islamic and Gothic architecture with arches, stone carvings on the walls and windows, winding staircases, and an onion-shaped dome.

One can also visit the ruins of Uparkot Fort. This ancient fort, built in 319 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, has some interesting structures inside such as stepwells, walls up to 20 meters high in some places, and Buddhist rock-cut caves.

Perfect for: People interested in architecture

Insider tip: Rajkot is the nearest airport from Junagadh.

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13. Gandhinagar

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, about 23 km (14 miles) north of Ahmadabad, Gandhinagar is the capital city of Gujarat. Dubbed the cleanest city in Asia, Gandhinagar offers a rich cultural heritage and a peaceful environment for its visitors.

The city’s most famous attraction is the Akshardham Temple. Built by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the temple is one of the biggest in India and is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan. The temple holds 97 carved pillars, 17 ornamental domes, 8 balconies, 220 stone beams, and 264 sculpted figures.

Located around 3–4 km (approx. 2 miles) south-west of Gandhinagar, Adalaj Stepwell is also a place you must not miss. The structure was built in 1498 to provide access to groundwater. It is an architectural marvel due to its strength, layout, and intricate carvings.

Perfect for: People interested in architecture

Insider tip: When visiting the Adalaj Stepwell, travelers are advised to wear a hat and carry enough water to keep hydrated.

14. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary

Recommended duration of visit: Half a day

The city of Vadla is a haven for migratory birds making their way to the swampy wetlands of Gujarat. The Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, located around 20 km (12 miles) from the city, is the perfect place to go bird watching.

The sanctuary is the stopping place for migratory birds during the winter and spring. There are over 250 species of birds here, such as the rosy pelicans, flamingos, white storks, brahminy ducks, and herons. It is also home to a few mammals like the wild ass and black buck.

Here, travelers can go for a boat ride which takes you to the middle of an expansive lake in the sanctuary. You can see flocks of the migratory birds and take in scenic views of the lake, which offers a sense of calm and tranquility.

Perfect for: Animal lovers

Insider tip: The entrance fee to the sanctuary is INR 800.

15. Saputara

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Saputara, meaning "Abode of Serpents", is a popular hill station located on a forested plateau on top of the Sahyadri mountain range in the Dang district. It is a popular weekend getaway for families, with its lavish green forests, vivid landscapes, waterfalls, winding roads, and mountains.

Gira Falls is one of the best places to visit in Saputara. This 46-meter-tall (150-feet-tall) waterfall offers picturesque panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The place is also a great spot for picnics with your family, as it is relatively less crowded than other tourist hotspots.

The Vansda National Park, also known as Bansda National Park, is a wildlife park that spans about 24 square kilometers (9 square miles). Here, travelers can spot over 443 species of flowering plants and a variety of animals, such as the Indian leopard, four-horned antelope, Indian porcupine, hyena, and flying squirrel.

Perfect for: Animal lovers

Insider tip: Food is not available inside the Vansda National Park, and travelers are advised to bring binoculars to get better views of the animals inside.

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16. Porbandar

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Porbandar is a city located in the western part of the Kathiawar Peninsula, on the Arabian Sea coast. This beautiful beach town filled with temples and dams is most famous for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama, the childhood friend of Lord Krishna.

The Kirti Mandir is a temple which was the ancestral home of Mahatma Gandhi. The architecture is a combination of Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian styles. Here, travelers can walk through the corridors and see oil paintings as well as black and white paintings of the Founding Father of India.

The Nehru Planetarium, also known as Tara Mandir, is one of the two planetariums established by Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Here, travelers can learn about the planets, stars, and celestial bodies present in the solar system.

Perfect for: Families on vacation

Insider tip: Shoes are not allowed inside the Kirti Mandir.

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