North West India Tour Itineraries - The charming multi faces of Gujarat

The influence of various cultures and ethnicities have made Gujarat an influential magnet for travellers.

The buzzing old and new cities of Ahmedabad, fabulous monuments of Patan and Modhera, Art and Craft of Banni region, wildlife of Gir and Velavader, the ruins of Champaner and Lothal are the few "must see" places. This comprehensive itinerary explores the vibrant state of Gujarat in an in-depth manner including some of our latest discoveries. In a 3 weeks period one can explore this fantastic region in a more laidback fashion.

Day 1 : Arrive Ahmedabad

When you arrive at the Ahmedabad airport you will be met & received by our representatives in Gujarat, later you can get transferred to your hotel in Ahmedabad. According to the time of your arrival, you can either choose to relax yourself in the hotel or after a brief break, in the evening you can go to the Vishalla Restaurant to enjoy a delicious Gujarati dinner which would give you a fabulous intro to the cuisine, you will also be able to visit the interesting utensil museum which is located in the same campus (museum closed on Mondays). Overnight stay in Ahmedabad.

Day 2 : Ahmedabad

Today morning you can visit the Calico Museum which has one of the finest collections of fabrics from the Gujarat Region & around India, The collections include textile swatches of Indian origin found at archaeological sites of Egypt, silk sarees from across India, double-ikat silk sarongs made in Patan for the Indonesian market, chintz and curtains made from Dutch, British and Portuguese colonial powers in Gujarat, floral embroidery from Punjab, shawls from Kashmir, 18th century tie-and-dye, richly embroidered Mughal tent of Shah Jahan whose palace is nearby, royal wardrobes of Rajasthan, cloth paintings and manuscripts, religious narrative cloth paintings like Pichwais and Kalamkaris, etc. As a contrast with the chaotic city of Ahmedabad, the army style museum would give you a different perspective of the city.

Later in the day you can visit the some of the other less appealing but significant monuments of the city such as Rani Rupvati’s Mosque, Rani no Hajiro, Siddi Sayid Mosque and the later visit the fantastic Hutheesing Jain Temple which would give you an excellent introduction to the Jain architecture in Gujarat.

In the evening you can go to Sabarmathi Gandhi Ashram where Gandhi spent most of his time while he was in Ahmedabad, This site no longer functions as a working ashram but as a museum and an institution whose aim is to preserve and propagate the legacy of Mahatma. You can spend time at the museum & walk through the wooded area and observe the peaceful energy at this place. Stay in Ahmedabad.

Day 3 : Ahmedabad

Today morning around 7h30 you can have a guided heritage walk tour in the old city of Ahmedabad, which would begin in the Swami Narayan Temple and you will get the opportunity to walk through the narrow streets and various “pols” in the city observing the day-today life of the people here, anything & everything here has a reason to exist and it is amazing to find people living in such a cramped spaces. It also would give you an insight about the overall life in India, how it looks chaotic from outside but it is so organized from inside!

After ending your heritage walk in the Jama Masjid, later you can go to the administrative capital of Gandhinagar to visit the Akshardam temple (closed on Mondays) & the adalaj step well.

Later in the afternoon you can take an excursion to Sarkhej Roza which is a massive mosque & palace complex which has many tombs and mausoleums, there is also a lousy looking museum with old pictures, you can walk around the complex observe the ruins.

Later in the evening you can visit the colorful roadside night markets of Ahmedabad where you can purchase many art & craft material from all over Gujarat, if you have a tendency to bargain, you can expect discounts of 50-75%.

Day 4 : Poshina

Today morning take a drive towards (120kms,3.5hrs) the village of Poshina, which is known for its Garasia & Bhils tribes. Here you can stay in a Darbargarh Poshina Royal Estate which is a simple homestay accommodation run by the royal family here, staying in this place will give you an exclusive access to the tribes, you will be able to visit them & talk with them you can also visit one of the interesting tribal shrines which is surrounded by more than 2000 terracotta horses which is offered to the tribal god as an offering, there are a number of temples such as Parshvanath & Neminath temples and the royal cenotaphs are the notable places to visit in and around poshina. The village market of poshina is an interesting place to visit, the tribes here are known for their skills in terracotta making, arrow making and for their silver ornaments, stay in Poshina.

Day 5 : Poshina - Siddhpur - Patan - Modhera - Dasada

Today morning you can take the road towards Dasada, en route visit the interesting little town of Siddhpur which is known for its fabulous “haveli” style buildings built by the Muslim community here, you can also enjoy a walk around the colorful & lovely market here. Another interesting place to visit here would be the ruins of Rudra Mahalaya temple.

Later you can further proceed to Patan, which is known for its step well Ranki Vav or “Queen’s Step well” which is one of the best step wells in whole of India which was recently “found” and excavated in the 1980s. Even if it was covered completely in the mud for many years the 800 exquisite sculptures are surprisingly in a good shape, it will take a long time for you to observe & appreciate the beauty of this place. Later you can proceed to famous Patola saree weavers of Patan, this vibrant fabric is woven with a combination silk & cotton, there are only 2 families who are still practicing the traditional way of weaving which is a highly complex & painstaking process.

Later in the afternoon you can proceed to the impressive temple complex of Sun Temple of Modhera which is a world heritage site, with its massive “kund” style step well & amazing sculptures it is a fantastic monument which stands beyond the rust & dust of time since 11th century.

Further you can proceed to Dasada, and stay in Rann Riders, which is a resort look alike of a village.

Day 6 : Dasada

Today morning you can take a jeep safari in the little Rann of Kutch which is a vast salt-marsh known for its Indian Wild Ass (khur) there is a wild range of birds here such as cranes, ducks, pelicans & flamingoes.

Later in the day you can visit the nearby villages of semi-nomadic Rabari tribles who travel through the deserts of Gujarat with their camel carts, you can visit the craftspeople in their villages and observe their life up-close.

In the afternoon you can once again take a Jeep Safari in LRK to further observe the animals there. Stay at Rann Riders.

Day 7 : Dasada - Bhuj

Today you will take a long ride towards Bhuj for about 6hrs, after your arrival you can explore the city of Bhuj which was completely devastated by the 2001 earthquake which claimed the lives of many thousands of people, the city came back alive with a vibrancy like never before, you will find this city relatively “new” comparing to the other cities in Gujarat because of the relentless effort by the Government to reconstruct this region.

The Pragmahal Palace, the ruins of Aina Mahal Palace, The Kutch Museum & the massive swaminarayan temple are the most prominent places to visit in Bhuj, you can also walk around the colorful vegetable market and the majestic Hamirsar lake which is an interesting way to explore the city. Overnight stay Prince Hotel.

Day 8 & 9 : Banni Villages

You can spend these days in exploring the area nearby the Greater Rann of Kutch, a special permit is required to enter in to this region. The unforgiving landscape of this region is dominated by the scrub & thorn bush. You will find many villages & small communities of camel & goat herders scattered around this place. The communities here have found ways to survive in this harsh terrain and they have also developed unique skills in craft works such as embroidery, painting, leather work, wood carving & mud work. You can also have a glimpse of the White Desert of Greater Rann of Kutch which is a massive salt marsh located along the border of Pakistan. During these days you could stay in the lovely Shaam-E-Sarhad which is a wonderful place to stay with its traditional “Bhunga” style accommodation.

Day 10 & 11 : Mandvi

From the Banni Region you can travel to the peaceful beach side of Mandvi, where you can stay in a nice tented accommodation called The Beach at Mandvi, the serene beach here is a best place to break the journey where you can relax and energize. You can also visit the nearby Vijay Vilas Palace which is a fabulous place to visit, part of the palace is a museum and the peaceful atmosphere of the palace and the woods of the immense forest area would give you an awakening moment here! It is a wonderful place to be & practice meditation. You can also visit some of the ship building places in Mandvi town where the ships are constructed in a traditional way.

Day 12 : Mandvi - Morbi

Today morning take a 5hrs drive towards the little known town of Morbi which is a fantastic place that could give a rather lavish introduction to the Sourashtra region. This planned city sits in the banks of Machhu River, the green chowk (the town square) gives a splendid insight of the life here, morbi is known for its clock makers you will find many clock makers working tediously on their creation, a walk around the buzzing market area would be the excellent way to explore the town.

The Mani Mandir which was once used as queen’s residence & secretariat is partly open to the public, it’s known for its exquisite Rajput architecture. Here you can stay in Darbargadh Palace, which is one of the finest heritage hotels in Gujarat, the enormous rooms with high ceiling and walls covered with rich fabric, furniture’s of the by gone era would give a wonderful feel about the royal living here.

Day 13 : Gondal

Take the road towards the historic town of Gondal, en route visit the Watson Museum in the city of Rajkot which has a notable collection of textiles, paintings and artifacts from the region. Further proceed to Gondal, which was a princely state ruled by the Jadeja Rajputs, here you will be staying Orchard Palace, which is partly occupied by the royal family, this palace has a vintage car museum which is open for public.

Later you can visit the Navlakha Palace which is a palace turned museum; it has a large collection of toy cars, brassware, books & silver crafts used by the royal family. You would need few hours to explore this mammoth complex in a detailed manner. Stay at Orchard Palace.

Day 14: Sasan Gir

Today morning you can start your journey towards the Gir national park, en route you can visit the charming town of Junagadh which is known for its number of monuments, buildings, mosques & cave temples. Every corner of Junagadh is steeped in history with a heavy Indo-Islamic influence.

The most important part of the town is the Uparkot which means upper fort, houses a number of monuments, the most important one is the Jama Masjid, strangely many mosques in Gujarat has the influence of hindu, jain & muslim architecture, you can also visit a number step wells here, there a number of Buddhist caves and rock edicts belong to the emperor Ashoka.

The Darbar Hall Museum and Mahabat Maqbara are the must visit places in the old town of Junagadh. It will take almost the entire day to visit all the monuments here, later you can proceed to the Gir national park and stay in Gir Birding Lodge.

Day 15 : Gir

Today you can spend the day by taking morning & afternoon safari in the dry jungles of Gir which is known for its Asiatic Lion population; apart from the lions you can also find a large number of spotted deer, nilgai, leopards, jackal and a huge number of bird species. Even though there is about 360 lions in the region, spotting one during the safari is a rare occasion, so I would recommend you to keep your expectations low. Stay in Gir.

Day 16 : Diu

Today you can take the road towards Diu en route visit the massive temple of Somnath which is one of the most important pilgrimage centers for the Hindus.

Later you can proceed to the union territory of Diu which is a very small island with less than 2 sq. kms of land, there are few monuments here which are worth visiting, such as the Diu Fort & the Church, and this island has a kind of “hippy” feel. Many Guajarati’s fill up this place in the weekends to enjoy the unrestricted access to acid. You can stay in Radhika Beach resort which is a nice resort with all the comforts.

Day 17 : Palitana

Today travel towards the picturesque town of Talaja, Best known as the birthplace of the poet Narsinh Mehta, Talaja also houses important sites for Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Also, this place holds the importance to Buddhists as there are around 30 ancient Buddhist caves cut into rocks, with fine carving of Boddhisatva. The Ebhala Mandapa, a large hall with four octagonal pillars is the most impressive structure.

There is a notable Jain temple on a hill alongside the town. The same hill has 13 Buddhist caves carved into solid rock. The caves are around 2000 years old, and require about a 15-20 min. walk up the hill to reach them. They are of the 4th stage of Buddhist cave architecture, noticeably earlier than the famous Buddhist caves of Maharashtra. The Hindu temple of Khodiad Mata is on the same hill, placing holy sites of three religions on the same site. You can also visit Narsinh Mehta’s house in town, though there is little of obvious note other than a marker signaling it as the house of his birth.

After your visit to Talaja you can arrive in Palitana where you will stay in Vijay Vilas Palace which a humble homestay, with basic facilities.

Day 18 : Palitana - Velavadar

Today morning you need to be awake very early in the morning to climb the 3500 steps of Shatrunjaya mountain which is the Mecca for the Jain people, the mountain hosts more than 900 Jain temples of varying sizes, it’s been said that 1 temple is built for every year, and for more than 900 years the temples are being built. It will be a daunting task to climb the hill but it is really worth all the effort, it is advisable to take a lot of water and some biscuits and fruits with you as there are no shops in the middle.

If you are skeptical about climbing the hill you can hire a “dholi” in which you will be carried by the porters. After you return from the hill top you can proceed to Velavadar, and stay in Blackbuck Lodge which is a fantastic wildlife resort with a lot of charm & character, after a long day of visits you could rest in the resort for the remaining day.

Day 19 : Velavadar - Vadodara

Today morning you can take an early walk around the blackbuck lodge to explore the fauna of the region, since you are in the middle of the wildlife sanctuary you will find a lot of blackbucks, spotted deer & nilgai roaming around the resort even around your cottage.

Later you can proceed to visit the archeological site of Lothal, unlike any other places in Gujarat you will not find any exquisite carvings or lavish paintings at this place, but the historical importance of the ruins found here go many thousands of years back. You can further proceed to Vadodara stay in Express Towers Hotel.

Day 20 : Vadodara - Champaner - Jambugodha/h5>

Today you can spend the morning visiting various places in Vadodara (baroda), the prominent places here are the Kamatibaug park which is home to Baroda Museum & art gallery, it has a rich collection of sculptures, antiques & paintings. You can also visit the impressive Laxmi Vilas Palace, which is the residence of the Gaekwads Dynasty, the 2nd richest royal family in India. The fantastic architecture & the fabulous interiors of the palace are simply amazing. The palace complex hosts 2 museums which has the private collection of paintings by the royal family and their memorabilia which is worth visiting.

Later in the afternoon you can proceed to Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary known for a large number of bird species, panthers, blue bulls, hyenas, wild hare & pythons. The sanctuary has many settlements of Rathwa & Nayak tribes, the Rathwas are known for their colorful pithora paintings which are painted during the best harvesting season.

As per your interest you can either go for a cycle ride or have nature walk or horse riding or visit the house of local tribes. You will be staying in a home for nature lovers, which is the residence of the royal family of Jambugodha, this is a very simple homestay with basic facilities, but it is very nice to spend time in the nature, or have a walk with the royal family along with their pet animals.

Day 21 : Jambugodha - Champaner - Jambugodha

Today you can take an excursion to Champaner which is a world heritage site; here you will be visiting the ruins of many grand monuments, mosques, water bodies & step wells which are scattered around a large area. Since it has been announced as a world heritage site, excavations are going on simultaneously to bring back this once thriving city back to light, as per your interest you can either spend half or full day here visiting various ruins, it gives a feel that you are in Hampi, Karnataka.

You can drive back to Jambugodha, and spend the remaining day with your own activities.

Day 22 : Departure from Ahmedabad

As per your international flight schedule you can start your journey back to Ahmedabad which would take you around 4.5hrs, you can get transferred to the Ahmedabad airport to take your flight back home.