It's hard to believe that, until recently, Gujarat didn't
feature in many travel itineraries to India. One of the country's
most developed and diverse states, there's no shortage of things to
do in Gujarat: from a staggering number of historical sites to
inspired architecture, ancient culture and plentiful natural
Take Ahmedabad - Gujarat's biggest city, and once home to
Mahatma Gandhi. Or Gir Forest National Park, a huge deciduous
forest and wildlife sanctuary that happens to be home to the last
remaining population of endangered Asiatic Lions. Or the Great Rann
of Kutch, the world's largest salt desert. Or the myriad temples
and pilgrimage sights that rank among the most important landmarks
for Hindus, Jains, and Muslims. Whether your interest is nature or
culture, architecture or Indian history, Gujarat is one of India's
Gujarat is full of striking
religious and architectural monuments © eranyardeni/iStock/Thinkstock
For travellers seeking things to do in Gujarat, know that this
state has its own distinctive, thriving culture. Gujarati is the
majority language here, though Hindi and English are also spoken.
Given Gujarat's location on the western edge of the country, its
proximity to Pakistan and location between the Arabian Sea and the
Thar Desert of Rajasthan, the state falls at a natural crossroads.
Visitors should come expecting vibrant local culture that's at once
a blend of many influences and very much its own.
Visitors to Ahmedabad can
discover Gandhi's Ashram © bijendra/iStock/Thinkstock
Nowhere else is this better exemplified than in Ahmedabad, the
former capital city of Gujarat. Its labyrinthine old city stands
alongside modern constructions that are evidence of its thriving
diversity. Sights like the Jama Masjid mosque are captivating
architectural gems, while the Calico Museum houses a world-class textile
collection. And those interested in Indian history can even visit
Gandhi's Ashram for a glimpse into the guru's
But Ahmedabad isn't the only Gujarati city worth discovering.
Though damaged in the 2001 earthquake, ancient Bhuj is a
16th century Kutch city full of historic landmarks,
while Vadodara is famed for its rich culture.
Aside from the many interesting things to do in Gujarat's urban
centres, visitors should also venture beyond the state's colourful
cities, as the wildlife and natural landmarks here rank among
India's most captivating.
Gir Forest National Park is home
to the last population of Asiatic Lions © Dyan_k/iStock/Thinkstock
Perhaps most famous of all is the Gir Forest
National Park, which is one of the most important wildlife
sanctuaries in India, if not all of Asia. One major reason for the
distinction is the park's Asiatic Lion population, which is the
only one left in the world. Safaris bring guests up close and
personal (if they're lucky) to these majestic creatures, while
hundreds of bird species also draw nature spotters. Leopards,
cobras, civets, sloth bears, and a number of other animals also
call the park home.
The Rann of Kutch is an
incredible salt desert © Anurag Agnihotri/Flickr
Beyond Gir Forest National Park, the Great Rann of Kutch salt
desert is a striking sight, particularly by moonlight - though note
that during the monsoon season, this desert is covered with
rainwater. Nature lovers also won't want to miss the Indian Wild
Ass Sanctuary, India's largest wildlife sanctuary.
The Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary is
the largest wildlife preserve in India © sabirmallick/iStock/Thinkstock
But even still, these popular sights are only the beginning of
many things to do in Gujarat. With other populous cities, historic
religious landmarks, and abundant wildlife, you could spend years
in Gujarat and not experience it all.