The land of colors- Gujarat! The land of Asiatic lions- Gujarat! The land of royal Rajputs- Gujarat! The land of Harappan history- Gujarat! The jewel of the West- Gujarat! Vibrant and vivacious, it will leave you mesmerized. Gujarat is situated in the west of India, having its southern boundaries contoured by the Arabian Sea. The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the north, Maharashtra to the south, Madhya Pradesh to the east, as well as the Pakistani province of Sindh on the west. Its capital city is Gandhinagar, whilst its largest city is Ahmedabad. Gujarat is one of the most diverse States in India. Its history stretches over a long years from the age old Harappan Civilization to the Mughal period.
It is also the home of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the nation and houses several of souvenirs in his fond memory. The beautiful state had also given us the Man of Iron, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of the independent India, along with many others who fought the freedom struggle, infusing the qualities of tolerance, brotherhood, non-violence and patriotism into Indians. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, revered in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam, the Great Leader or Baba-e-Qaum, meaning the Father of the Nation and first Governor General of Pakistan was from a Gujarati Muslim family in Rajkot. Vikram Sarabhai, considered “Father of the Indian Space Programme” originated from a family of Jain industrialists from Ahmedabad. Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded the Reliance Industries was from Chorvad, Gujarat. Azim Premji, software magnate and chairman of Wipro Limited is ethnically Gujarati, whilst pioneer industrialist Jamsetji Tata, the founder of the famous Tata Group, hailed from a Parsi Zoroastrian family in Navsari, and is widely regarded the legendary “Father of Indian Industry”. With a literacy rate of above 80% Gujarat is amongst the most developed states of the country. It is the most industrialized state of India, and has a per capita GDP above the national average.
The state has a super wide, 72 mm celluloid of views and places and tourist attractions to display. Religious and recreational spots are savoured alike by the people of Gujarat.
A major religious magnet is the Akshardham at Gandhinagar. It is one of the largest temples in the state. The temple complex combines devotions, art, architecture, education, exhibitions and research at one place. The monument which is set in a 23-acre plot at Gandhinagar is built in pink sandstone and is 108 feet tall and 6000 tons of stone has gone into its making. A point worth noting is that this modern monument to Hinduism was built as per the injunctions of Vastu Shastra. An interesting fact about the temple is that not a bit of steel has been used.
Another famous temple is the Ambaji shrine is the principal shrine of the goddess Amba situated at Gabbar. The Temple of Ambaji is recognized as one of the original Shakti Pithas where, according to the ancient Scriptures, the heart of the goddess Ambaji fell to earth when her body was dismembered. A triangular Vishwa Yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable ‘Shree’ in the centre, represents the deity.
Then there is Dwarka, situated amidst the sea, in ancient Anarta in Saurashtra. It was the capital of Lord Krishna’s terrestrial kingdom. He shifted to Kusasthali which was the old name of the region to escape the harassing raids of Kansa’s father-in-law Jarasandha on Mathura after Krishna had killed Kansa. Kusasthali was Krishna’s ancestral place on his mother’s side. It was founded by Raivata, his Yadava ancestor after he had lost his kingdom to Punyajanas and migrated to Mathura for safety; then he came back to found Kusasthali. Dwarka which was known as Suvarna Dwarka had been very prosperous and hence got the name. The Dwarkadhish temple honours Krishna Bhagwan and attracts thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country. The Dwarka of Krishna’s time lies submerged under the Arabian Sea. Tradition has it that Krishna’s residence was at Bhentt Dwarka which is just a few kilometers away via sea route from the mainland Dwarka.
Apart from the religious attractions, the state hosts a variety of historical monuments as well. One such site is Uparkot, or, the Upper Citadel, in Junagarh where the so very famous Ashoka’s Rock Edicts are located. These belong to 250 BC and, around 14 edicts of the great Hindu turned Buddhist King are located on the route to the Mount Girnar Hills. This rock edict is a huge stone and the carving in Brahmi script in Pali language mention the resistance to greed and animal sacrifice and also moralize the principles of purity of thought, secularism in thinking, kindness and gratitude.
And not to forget is the Gir National Park. While it is the most famous for its Asiatic Lions, the park is one of the most diverse places in Gujarat, both in terms of flora and fauna. It also houses, other than lions, deers, monkeys, peacocks, several breeds of reptiles, and many many others animal species.
For recreation, there are several other places like, the Nalasarovar Bird Sanctuary, Kankaria Lake in Ahmedabad, et cetera.
In the past few years, Gujarat has witnessed many changes and is furthermore developing. It enchants you even in its crudest state. The warm-hearted hospitable people will not let you be homesick throughout your visit. It’s a must visit for once and twice and several times.