We travel to Gujarat. It has everything from the charming and lunar expanse of the Rann of Kutch, the tribal villages of Rabari and Chota Udepur, medieval temples of Patan, Modhera and the holy city of Palitana, and the Sasan Gir National Park, the only home of the endangered Asiatic lion.
Gujarat is a colorful state in western India, known for its liveliness and mystical appearance. Gujarat could also be described as the land of festivals and fairs. Thousands of small and large festivals are celebrated in the different parts of the state every year. These festivals, based on the Moon or Sun calendar, are the best opportunity to get to know the true tradition and culture of Gujarat. People of all castes and religions take part with great enthusiasm and fun.
We arrive in Bhavnagar and immediately move to our hotel. We have dinner and bid adieu for the night. Next morning after breakfast we visit the Takhteshwar temple, which is enhanced by its beautiful carvings on white marble, dedicated to Shiva and placed on a hill. Getting down we visit the Gandhi Smriti, an institution that preserved photos, documents and objects of life of Mahatma Gandhi and the British Museum with its collection of coins. We have dinner and bid adieu for the night.
Bhavnagar is an important center for trade in cotton products, for the disposal of old ships, and for the traditional diamond processing. The old part of the city of Bhavnagar has retained its face with the picturesque market area and its bazaars and in its projecting wooden balconies and the myriad of shops.
After a breakfast in the hotel we start for our excursion to Palitana to see the beautiful Jain and Hindu place of pilgrimage, with many of their holiest temples are situated in the hills and mountains around. We hike a trail of about 3 km interspersed with 3950 steps to admire in all its beauty. After a tiring trek, we return to Bhavnagar for dinner and bidding adieu for the night.
After breakfast we depart for Gondal in the Saurashtra peninsula, once known by the ancient name of Kathiawar. In the afternoon we see the strange collection of classic cars, and the Palace of Maharajah Bhagwat Singh, by the lake. We have dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast we visit the Swaminarayan Temple and Ayurvedic Library. It contains a number of natural medicines according to ancient traditional principles. At noon we start for Veraval. Along the way we stop at the Somnath temple, located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and surpasses all other Hindu temples for its astonishing number of members in the cult.
Three thousand priests pray in the temple every day and over three hundred dancers and sacred prostitutes devote themselves to the service of the idol, who take turns, to ensure that dances in his honor were performed without interruption. The legendary temple of Somnath is one of the 12 shrines dedicated to Shiva. It is said that it had been built in gold by Shiva and that the history of the place was marked for centuries by a continuous succession of destruction at the hands of invaders with several reconstructions.
We stay in Veraval and have dinner and bid adieu for the night. After breakfast, we drive to Dwarka. We stop in Porbandar for the visit to the Kirti Temple and the Sudama temple. Porbandar is famous as the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. We also visit the museum. We continue to Dwarka and move to a hotel. We have dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast we visit the lovely town of Dwarka, known in ancient texts such as the Dwarkadhish Temple and as a city of gold in the Gita and the Puranas. It is part of the legends connected with Krishna, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage center. The Dwarkadhish temple with its ghats, also known as Jagat Mandir, is the most famous of the city.
It has five floors, and is supported by sixty pillars called Sikhar and reaches a height of 170 feet. The other temples in Dwarka are Trikamji, the Kalyanrai, the Patrani, the Durva. Legend has it that Dwarka was submerged by the sea. Afternoon excursion by boat we visit the Nageshwar temple. We return to Dwarka for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast we move to Jamnagar. After arrival at the hotel, in the afternoon we visit the Bala Hanuman Temple. It appears in the Guinness Book of Records. In fact, since 1964 the religious song Shri ram Jai ram Jai Jai ram is constantly played. The local market is called Chandni Bazaar. A pair of magnificent temples with extraordinary frescoes stands here. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast we depart for Rajkot. In the afternoon we visit the Kaba Gandhi, No Delo museum. Here Mahatma Gandhi grew up. We follow with the visit to Raj Kumar College, where Gandhi completed his secondary education. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast on our way to Ahmedabad, we stop to visit the palace of Wankaner, a town situated in a bend of the river Machchhu. The city is known for the production of bricks and ceramics. Ranjit Vilas Palace is a building that looks like a harmony fusion of styles. Inside the palace, a museum displays a large collection of swords, daggers, spears and shields, dueling pistols, inlaid boxes, thrones, paintings, pieces of furniture and personal items of the royal family. We move to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast we visit the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi, followed by the visit to Sidi Saiyad mosque, one of the most beautiful buildings in Ahmedabad, famous for its windows (jali), with thin grooves like spider webs.
We then visit the Hutheesing Temple, place of Jain worship. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast in a car we move to Vadodara, also called Baroda, but before we get out of Ahmedabad we visit an interesting pit called Dada Hari Wav, which was built in 1501 by one of the women of the harem of Sultan Begada, that presents a series of steps that descend to various platforms of Laxmi Vilas Palace and end the end is a small octagonal well, and finally the singular bazaar in whose winding streets open houses with portals and finely carved balconies.
We continue to Vadodara, and after arrival at the hotel we start for the visit to the magnificent Laxmi Vilas Palace, the official residence of the Maharaja of Baroda, and the building still has impressive interiors made with Venetian glass, crystal chandeliers, Italian marble, mosaic, porcelain, and statues marble from Europe. After a visit to other interesting places, we return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast, we move to Surat, and along the way stop at Dandi, the place where Gandhi picked up a handful of salt for the Satyagraha. We drive to Surat, and on arrival check in at the hotel. In the afternoon we visit the famous market where diamonds are sold on the street and are the place where 90% of the world's diamonds are selected, cut and polished. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast, we depart by a car to Poshina. It is located in the beautiful valley between the Aravalli mountains. For the first time, we encounter a colorful bazaar filled with people coming from tribal villages of the surroundings. We follow the visit of villages and Gracia Bhil and the famous hill ponies votive terracotta. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast, we depart to Balaram with stops to visit villages of Rabari and Marwari. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast, we depart to Dasada. Along the way, we visit the village famous for Patola silk processing, and the walled city of Patan. We visit the very well maintained Rani-Ki-Vav and the Parsvnath Panchasara temple. We followed it with a visit to the sun temple at the end of Modhera. In my opinion, it is one of the best-kept temples of Gujarat. We continue to the Dasada Wildlife Sanctuary. Upon arrival, we stay in a resort for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast, we visit the Little Rann of Kutch to see the various types of birds like Flamingo, Duck, Crane. You can also see wild donkeys, blue bull, lunch at the resort and afternoon visit to the village to discover the Bharwad ethnicities. Rabari is a small village, which is also famous for the work of embroidered on traditional clothing of Calico, which you can buy directly from the homes and Rabari Bharwad tribes. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night.
After breakfast, we depart by car to Bhuj. Bhuj is a thriving walled city, the most important in the Kutch area. Bhuj was the capital of the state of Kutch and was chosen by Rao Khengarji I as its capital in 1549 and was twice destroyed by strong earthquakes in 1819 and in 2001. The name comes from Bhujio Dungar hill overlooking the city. This place is a paradise for lovers of crafts especially embroidery and quality of life.
After arrival at the hotel, in the afternoon we visit the local market. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the night. After breakfast at the hotel, our excursion of tribal villages begin. Here we see people from the Jat, Harijan, Meghwal, Mutwa communities in the villages as Hodka, Ludiya, and Dhordo. Taking photographs here was not easy as the Jats do not like to be photographed.
The final journey is around sunset. We move right to the edge of the desert to attend a ceremony that has been repeated for many years. It ends with the offering the food to a coyote who come whenever they hear the temple bell. We return to the hotel for dinner and bid adieu for the final night in the land of Gujarat.
We now introduce you to some festivals of Gujarat.
Tarnetar No Melo
The Tarnetar Fair is an exuberant celebration and a kind of marriage market held in the small and quiet town of Tarnetar, in the Panchal region of Gujarat. The annual Tarnetar Mela is very special due to its color diversity, exuberance, and rituals. It takes place around August/September).
Even today the unmarried men and women dress traditionally with ethnic ornaments and meet in the market to find each other. The men stand under noble embroidered Chartis to indicate their seeking status. While the women go around the Chartis. The weddings are held after the festival.
The Tarnetar market covers most of the city. In countless sales stands beautiful local art pieces, otherwise, not for sale, are offered. These include jewelry, statues of gods and traditional garments decorated with mirrors. The carousels, photographers' stands, magical shows, tattoo artists, etc. invite the visitors of all ages to celebrate the festivities cheerfully. Folk music and dances such as Hudo, Raas, and Garba are performed by Kodi and Maldhari dancers as one of the main attractions.
The folk tribes dressed in their typical embroidered robes dance to the rhythm of the drums, which increases the spirit of the religious festival. Men and women sway to the rhythm of the music, giving a glimpse into the rich Saurashtra culture.
Throughout the year, pilgrims come here to visit the holy temple of Trinetreshwar and bathe in the water of the Kund. Groups of wise men gather here and praise with religious and wondrous Bhajans dedicated to Shiva.
Although the traditions of the festival have changed over the years, the piety and spirituality that is still visible today is a unique experience. The Sadhus, Bhajan singers, dancers, different folk tribes and the offer of the artistic handicrafts make the Tarnetar Mela a very special festival, which is worthwhile to participate.
The Ravechi Fair is held at the historic Ravechi Mata Temple, dedicated to the goddess Ravechi. It is grandly decorated on the festival days. The temple is located in the village of Nana Raava in the Rapar district in the Kutch region. The rituals of thousands of believers in this temple create a wonderful spiritual atmosphere.
The Ravechi Festival offers you a unique opportunity to discover the culture of the faithful communities such as Rabaris and Ahirs. Here you can see the Vaghadia Rabaris of eastern Kutch in charming robes and their magnificent jewelry. There are also religious rituals, traditional music and dances of the Ahir, Charan, Rabaris, and other groups as well as a cheerful and joyful atmosphere.
Besides colorful carcass boxes, the Gaushala, a special accommodation for cows with over 2,500 cows are a further attraction. A ride on a camel or horse fascinates not only children but also adults and gives the feeling of traveling through some areas of the desert. In the evening different shows are presented.
In the market, the well-known Kutch handwork for women and men is offered in good quality at a good price-performance offer. Not only the embroidered fabrics but also bags and towels as well as self-made clothing are available for sale.
The local cuisine and the tasty preparation of the meals of the Kutch cuisine also contribute to the appreciation of the local people and travelers. Chhaas, a delicious buttermilk preparation is available here. The hospitality of the locals here is great. When guests are seen as messengers of God. The Ravechi festival takes place around September.