When planning for my backpacking trip I Googled every Gujarat travel guide to get an idea about top tourist places in Gujarat and how to best travel there.
People suggested that backpacking here, particularly inside Kutch, won’t be a good idea. But it wasn’t the backpacking or travelling on my own, that I was worried about. Limited travel information available online and the availability of very few Gujarat travel guides (s) was the biggest challenge, forget the idea of visiting the top tourist places in Gujarat.
Other than its few historical sites, a couple of national parks and the over-promoted Kutch festival (or the Rann Utsav), very little has been written or spoken about tourism in Gujarat. A piece of Gujarat travel guide on Tripadvisor moreover left me discouraged mentioning the state’s poor public transportation system. To fulfill the gap today, I am writing all that I have learned in this travel guide…
Gujarat Travel Guide
The state of Gujarat has been divided into three parts: Saurashtra, Magadh and Kutch. Saurashtra and Magadh, do not have much to travel, at least if speaking for the not-so-religious travel community. Other than Gir National Park (popular for spotting Asiatic Lion) all you’ll find here are a few historical sites including Somnath and Dwarka, and a few bustling cities, like Ahmedabad and Baroda. This leaves us to Kutch. It is in Kutch, where you will find amazing natural phenomena like the White Desert and is more popular as a tourist place in Gujarat. If you will read any Gujarat travel guide you will see mentions of Kutch in it. Kutch has recently gained popularity among motorbikers, backpackers and honeymooners.
Speaking of our Gujarat travel guide, here are a few things to keep in mind…
- Travelling without a private vehicle can be demanding, particularly in Kutch – due to its unbelievably long distances and poor public transportation. So having your own mode of transportation is always a better idea. Moreover, from big cities to unfamiliar towns, roads inside Gujarat are super-smooth and of top quality – making driving an exceptionally amazing experience. (Read: A backpacker’s guide to travel in Kutch)
- Almost across the state, and particularly inside Kutch, people are very friendly and helpful – making solo travelling a fairly easier and safer deal.
- Travelling in Gujarat can be unbelievably expensive or undeniably cheap, depending on how you travel. If you end up travelling the hotspots you’re going to get ripped off, literally. However, stay off the beaten path, and Gujarat will come to embrace you as one of the cheapest destinations to travel in India. Avoid Somnath. Avoid Gir. Avoid Rann Utsav. Avoid any other place that has been over-promoted and you’re going to be okay. This particularly applies in the Kutch region, where even the basic accommodation (during the peak tourist season in winter) can cost more than a couple of thousand Rupees per night. You stay in Dhordo Tent city, and you end up paying as much as 10 thousand rupees for a night. Stay 10 kilometres away, and you won’t have to spend more than 500.
- Travel Gujarat for 6 major experiences: 1) Spotting Wildlife/migratory birds, 2) Experiencing white desert in the great Rann of Kutch, 3) Exploring crack land and salt farms in Little Rann of Kutch 4) Chaotic old towns (old Ahmedabad, old-Baroda etc) 5) A few major religious sites (if you’re into it at all)
- Don’t read every Gujarat travel guide you find online. They may confuse you!
Now, coming back to the most frequently asked question…
Top Tourist Places In Gujarat
First in the list of top tourist places in Gujarat is Dholavira.
Located in the Northeast corner of Kutch, Dholavira is a UNESCO world heritage site where you can find ruins belonging to the time of the Harappan civilization. But to tell you the truth, the site, on its own, is quite a lame place to visit.
There is no information available on-site, and the guides who work there as your only source of information make the experience even worse because of their limited knowledge and poor work ethics (speaking from my experience in 2017).
So in my Gujarat travel guide, I suggest you visit Dholavira, not for the original Dholavira UNESCO heritage site, but to enjoy the drive to Dholavira, which takes you through a stretch of 7-kilometer smooth road that passes right through the sparkling White Desert.
Ekal Ka Rann
There are quite a few top tourist places in Gujarat and Ekal ka Rann is certainly not one of them. So if you are looking for an offbeat destination to sightsee the White Desert in Kutch, Ekal ka Rann is the place to visit. I explored a few White Rann areas, including the White Desert near the tent city of Dhordo but loved Ekal ka Rann the most.
Located a few kilometres away from Chobari Village, Ekal Ka Rann is a hidden tourist place in Gujarat.
White Desert Full Moon
The original fascination of visiting the White Desert lies in its captivating sunsets and full moons. As the sun slowly reaches the horizon, it leaves a shade of red and blue and pink, almost making a panoramic distinction across the sky. Full moon nights are moreover no less romantic. It is such a top popular tourist place in Gujarat that you will find every travel guide on Gujarat promoting this experience.
If however you miss the full moon and end up around twilight, a million bright stars and clear skies will work together to make your experience no less memorable. So yea, spotting the moon and clicking some Instagram-worthy pictures remains one of the top tourist things to do in Gujarat.
Little Rann of Kutch
Spread around an area of five thousand square kilometres, also known as The Wild Ass Sanctuary, LRK gives you an exceptional landscape – of a barren crack land.
In LRK in Gujarat, you can also learn about the process of salt farming, and even spot some beautiful migratory birds. It’s to LRK where Mahatma Gandhi moreover started his ‘Dandi Yatra’ during British Raj. No wonder, LRK deserves a place in the list of top tourist places in Gujarat.
Getting into LRK is, however, restricted, as it comes under the jurisdiction of Indian wildlife, and one requires to obtain a permit to trespass. But if you’re visiting one of the few temples located inside LRK, one of which is VacchRaj temple, you can pretty much access LRK without having a need to obtain any forest permits.
If you are a budget backpacker visiting Gujarat, read this blog on how to travel Little Rann of Kutch
Useful info? Don’t forget to share this Gujarat travel Guide with friends and help them too. Now, carry on…
Local Art Forms
If you’re looking to explore a few local art forms in Kutch, Nirona village is the place to visit.
In Nirona you’ll find three different art forms, one of which even made its way to The White House. The advantage of visiting Nirona is that all the artisans moreover give you a private demo of how the respective art is originally done, before offering you to buy their work.
I have written a complete travel guide on how to visit Nirona in another article on Gujarat. Check the link here: Nirona village in Gujarat.
Located just a few kilometres away from the Pakistan border, Lakhpat is the next suggested place in this travel guide and one of the top tourist places in Gujarat. It was once Gujarat’s richest town and home to India’s one of the most significant trade routes. But after the earthquake of 1819, which also changed the course of the Indus River, it turned into a mere ghost town.
It’s amazing to look into Lakhpat’s history while exploring the town’s abandoned old houses. Read more, here: Lakhpat village in Gujarat
Though I often find chaotic Indian towns too tough to handle, the old town of Ahmedabad, on the contrary, appeared rather charming – despite being a total madhouse. Its vibrant and frenzied streets were too colorful and vibrant to dislike.
So yea, Old Ahmedabad remains an exception in this Gujarat Travel guide. I have written a few articles on various places in Ahmedabad worth seeing. For example this Old Ahmedabad travel blog.
The are many stepwells too in Ahmedabad that is worth seeing. This includes Rani ki Vav and Adalaj ni Vav as two popular highlights.
That was all for top tourist places in Gujarat in our Gujarat travel guide. Next on the list is the cost of travelling in Gujarat. So here we go…
What Is The Cost of Travelling In Gujarat
Gujarat is super cheap, definitely a bit cheaper than many other Indian states. Even in top cities like Ahmedabad you can eat a full meal, in a local restaurant, for under 50 Rupees. Invest a little more (around 100 Rupees) and you can eat in a good quality restaurant.
Accommodation in Gujarat can be dirt cheaper as well as unbearably expensive, depending upon which part you visit, and during what time of the year. For big towns like Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, you can expect to find something between 500 to 1500 (more if you want a luxury experience) throughout the year. For other tourist places, for example for places Kutch, expect to pay at least a thousand rupees during the peak season (between November and February). In the west, around Somnath consider cheap guesthouses are available for no lesser than 600 or 800 per night during the season time.
Except for travelling between big cities and inside them, public transport in Gujarat barely exists.
That was all for the cost of travelling in Gujarat. Next up in this Gujarat travel guide is the best time to travel…
What Is The Best Time To Travel Gujarat
Without any doubt, the best time to visit Gujarat is during winter (between the months of November and March) because the unbearably hot weather and the tiring heat waves during the rest of the year make it too impossible to enjoy.
Also, never visit during monsoon, as many places – particularly the great and little Rann of Kutch – become an inaccessible water-body.
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