- Shivani Singh
Gujarat: The Land of Legends and Lions
A picture of vibrance that comes alive in various sparkling colours – Gujarat is not to be missed for countless reasons.
My recent trip to Gujarat has made me think about many things. Primarily why did I always had this urge to explore places outside India, when we have such incredible places in India? You may actually need an entire lifetime to explore the complete beauty of our country.
There are many places that are unbelievably gorgeous, incredibly breathtaking and are as good as any foreign location – infact better! Gujarat is one such place, with a rich culture and a number of beautiful attractions, this place is amongst the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Believe me, there is some magic in this place which will keep you wanting to come back again and again. My experience with this place was beyond belief.
Though my trip was a short one, I got to cover some of the most gorgeous, and unexplored places.
I cannot thank Gujarat Tourism enough for giving me this opportunity to explore so many beautifully carved, culturally rich, architecturally diversified and naturally gorgeous offbeat places in the state.
Now, without any further delay let me take you through my day-wise itinerary.
We landed in Ahmedabad. After getting some rest, we went out to explore Rani ki Vav, located on the banks of Saraswati river, it is the largest and one of the finest stepwells in Gujarat. It is the only glory of Patan’s former state which is situated about 125km from Ahmehdabad. Rani ki Vav has seven levels of stairs with lines of carved pillars and more than 500 sculptures of Gods, Goddesses and Deities. When you are in Gujarat, it should definitely be on your list.
In the evening, I went to the famous Sun temple: a temple built to honour the Sun God in Modhera village situated on the banks of river Pushpavati. The temple is divided into three parts – the shrine hall, the assembly hall and the reservior. It is built in a way that the first ray of the sun would fall on the diamond placed on the head of the Sun God which lights up the shrine hall. The assembly hall is built on 52 pillars with the carvings of the Sun on the walls which represents 52 weeks in a year. Here, no one worships anymore. It is believed that the walk from the shrine hall to the reservoir through the main temple is perceived as the journey from death to moksha.
Visiting the magnificent Sun temple will leave your mind astounded.
That evening, we stayed in a resort called Rann Riders Resort in Dasada located on the edge of little Rann of Kutch. After an amazing dinner, we had a cultural performance by the village dancers arranged for us. Enjoyed and Loved every moment of it.
We started our day with a safari in the Wild Ass Sanctuary, which lasted for three to four hours and the route covered a cross-section of habitats like salt flats, wetlands, scrublands and grasslands. The sanctuary is the last refuge for Indian Wild Ass. The wetlands near sanctuary are the ground for hordes of migratory birds like Greater and lesser flamingo, pelicans, ducks, etc.
Post that we left for Dholavira, located in the Kutch, 250 km from the Burj district. It is the most popular archeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization dating back to about 4,500 years ago.
Dholavira, a UNESCO site – declared in 2021, is surrounded by the Great Rann of Kutch and offers a unique insight into the Harappan civilization.
The journey from Dasada to Dholavira is breathtakingly beautiful, taking you through the beautiful patches of the Rann of Kutch which is a large area of salt marsh. The sunsets are the best at Rann and not to be missed. They are just magical and something that cannot be experienced and witnessed anywhere else! The reflection of the sun on the white dessert is absolutely mesmerising: the shades changing every 5-10 mins as you unbelievably keep on soaking the beauty of the site. You will see shades of red, blue, purple, green, yellow, pink, orange and many colours! For a min, your eyes will actually not believe what they are witnessing – that beautiful Rann is!
Dholavira is an archaeological site where a part of the Harappan culture exists. It is the second largest Harappan site in India and the fifth largest in the sub-continent. Dholavira became the fourth site from Gujarat and 40th from India to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place is a must-visit especially for those who want to know about history, culture and archaeology of the place.
We stayed at Dholavira Tourism Resort there.
Let’s move on to Day 3.
On the last day, we went to the fossil park and a place called Sunset point early morning, it is here you get a mesmerizing view of the Great Rann of Kutch. I haven’t witnessed anything this beautiful so far. Miles of nothingness, tranquility and serenity and the glittering desert during the sunrise promises to take your breath away.
The fossil park contains Jurassic age plant fossils and has been built by the Forest Department. It has fossils of a 16 million years old tree trunk. This park is also called a Jurassic Park in Kutch.
The northern boundary of the Rann forms the India-Pakistan International border. In the summers, Rann of kutch is a marshland and in the winters, it is transformed into a barren desert.
Our next stop was the one that I had been dreaming to see since I read about it in my history book in 6th standard! It was the Harappan civilization site, the world’s first great civilization. Around 2500 B.C, the Harappans started settling in the Kutch, brought their full culture and lived here for almost a full life till their civilization declined. What this site offers you, in the intense ambience that comes with being surrounded by the white lands of the Great Rann of Kutch, is a truely an unique insight into the great and advanced Harappan culture, with one of the world’s earliest and best planned water conservation systems and what might be the world’s first signboards, written in ancient Indus script.
The excavation of this site also tells the story of the 7 stages of civilization, from development to maturity to decay.
I was left mesmerized beyond words there. It was a dream come true for me and I just couldn’t hold my breath while the pictures from my History book were coming alive in front of my eyes!
In the evening, we went to Chippar point, located in Khadir. It is an uphill point from where you can get a clear top view of Rann of Kutch.
After that, we went back to the same point of Rann of Kutch that we stopped at while on the way to Dholavira. It was so beautiful that we couldn’t stop ourselves from visiting it and giving our eyes the pleasure of witnessing the absolutely astounding sunset once again.
We started early in the morning for Ahmedabad, which is a 7 hour drive from Dholavira. On our way back, we actually spotted a Hyena, many peacocks and other colorful and beautiful birds, and then we ate delicious Gujarati authentic food (mostly Fafda and Dhokla) at Avadh food Mall.
We reached Ahmedabad at noon and to experience the true glory of the city,, it is absolutely necessary to take the heritage walk which starts from Swaminarayan Temple and ends at Jumma Masjid. You get to experience the history, architecture and the fabulous mix of cultures during the walk. It will take you through narrow streets, usually terminating in a square with community wells and chabutaras for feeding birds, gates, numerous pols, self-contained neighborhoods, temples, and secret passages!!
During the walk, you will cover several Pols which are basically the gated neighbourhoods that were born out of a sense of community feeling and safety. Usually, every Pol was lived in by people belonging to the same caste, community or profession.
The City of Ahmedabad has some of the finest Indian, and Islamic monuments and exquisite Hindu and Jain temples. Its carved wooden houses are another unique architectural tradition. And they are beautiful beyond words!
No wonder In July 2017, the 600-year-old walled city of Ahmedabad became the first city in India, to win the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag. Well-Deserved!
So if you are in Gujarat, do not forget to take the walk – it will take you back to the pages of history and our rich glorious past! The heritage walk takes about two to three hours to cover around 20 places altogether and is organized by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. You cannot afford to miss this walk if you’re visiting Gujarat.
If you need any help planning your trip to any of these places in Gujarat, please feel free to comment or email me.
Thats all for today. See you next time in another post covering another beautiful place.
Till then, Goodbye and take care.
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