Last Updated: July 23, 2019 Nidhi Singh
The Growth Engine in India, Gujarat is the most important business hub in the country. From gems and jewellery to gas and power, from biotech and pharma to engineering and auto, from information technology to food and agriculture, Gujarat provides the horsepower to all the sectors that lead India on the path to success. So, eventually, you can expect a state that sweats and bleed to achieve their targets and a state that focuses and works untiringly to bring out the best! Sounds too dramatic?? Well, it has to be! I mean why you would open any random blog about Gujarat Tourism and read till the end until and unless it doesn’t have something that catches your eyes! Right? Now that I have caught your attention, let me say just one last thing before we get to the list of popular weekend getaways in Gujarat… ‘Each one of us needs a break from our work and each one of us deserves it and believe it or not; travel is the best way to beat all your anxieties and stresses, it just revitalizes you and replenishes you with the energy to battle out challenges in life effectively!’ If you are planning a weekend trip to Gujarat then here is the detailed list of the best 32-weekend getaways in Gujarat.
Great Rann of Kutch
The White Salt Desert is definitely a place that one should visit in his lifetime. The Great Rann of Kutch is by far the largest white salt desert in India and is truly a magnificent destination to be at. One can enjoy camel safaris on a moonlit night (During the Rann Utsav in December-March). Accommodation is available at the nearby villages called Dhordo and Hodka. It is once in a lifetime experience to be at Great Rann, and is indeed one of the best weekend tours you will ever plan in your life!
Dwarka needs no introduction; this sacred city of Lord Krishna has unspoiled charm that draws a large number of Hindu devotees all year long. One of the four Dhams in India (Hindu Pilgrimage Destinations), Dwarka is nestled in the lap of Gujarat, offering divinity and abundant peace to everyone who visits it. Amongst the most important places to visit in Dwarka, Dwarkadhish Temple is a five-storied shrine believed to had been constructed 1400 years ago. Other than this, you would love to see Bet Dwarka, Okha (30kms from Dwarka) and different temples dedicated to Rukmini (Lord Krishna’s Wife), Mirabai, Narsinh Mehta and Shank Narayan.
A holy town in Junagadh district, Somnath is revered highly as one of the places where the Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva are kept. The temple is the centre point of all the local and tourists activities of the town. Although, Somnath Temple is the reason behind Somnath being a popular tourist attraction, another reason can be its scenic location near the coast. So, other than visiting temples and cleansing one’s soul, tourists can enjoy some good time at the beach as well. Junagadh Gate and Panch Pandav Gufa (Cave) are the famous tourist destinations in Somnath.
Thol Lake Bird Sanctuary
Do you fancy bird watching on a weekend in Gujarat? Well, Thol Lake Bird Sanctuary is the perfect place to be at! Situated about 40kms from Ahmedabad, Thol is a freshwater lake that is surrounded by marshland. The picture perfect setting has made this a home to about 100 species of birds and quite a popular place for bird watching in Gujarat. Cranes, geese, flamingoes, pelicans, egrets, herons, spoonbills, ducks, whistling teals and many other migratory birds nest and breed here. Thol Lake Bird Sanctuary also makes for a great getaway from the maddening rush of the city; the place is just so serene and beautiful that you would wish to stay a bit longer each time you visit here.
You can expect a SUN, SAND and BEACH holiday at Mandvi. Once, a famous port in Gujarat, Mandvi today is a popular tourist attraction in Gujarat. It was also an important shipbuilding centre; however, the art has been discontinued. Nevertheless, there are still some locals who make wooden ships by their hands on the bank of Rukmavati River. The beaches are clean and undoubtedly beautiful; the cacophony of the flamingos is the most obvious ones here. Other than the beaches, Vijay Vilas Palace is worth seeing in Mandvi.
Marine National Park
If you have been to enough wildlife reserves and this weekend looking for something new to explore, then it’s time that you should be introduced to India’s first Marine National Park, which is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Kutch. This national park is one of its kinds as it conserves the marine life that consist of coral, Dugong and smaller cetaceans (Finless Porpoise, Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin), large whales like Blue Whales, Sei Whales, Humpback Whales, and Sperm Whales. At this marine park, coral reefs are the prime tourist attraction. In fact it is the only place in the world where one can view the reefs without diving into the water.
Take special time out to visit the Northwest Kutch, for this region is aloof from the maddening crowd and thronging tourists. The four important sites to explore here are Narayan Sarovar, which is one of the holiest lakes for Hindus; Koteshwar Temple, which is connected to the legends of Lord Shiva and Ravana; Lakhpat, which was a major port city but now it is a ghost town; and the Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to many birds species and chinkara and gazelle, along with other wildlife. Bhuj is connected to Northwest Kutch by road. It is recommended that you take a tour of all these destinations together in order to have one memorable trip in Gujarat!
Velavadar Blackbuck National Park
Another fantastic wildlife tourism park in Gujarat, as the name suggests, this national park is home to a rare species of blackbuck. Situated in Bhal region, this national park is a treat for the wildlife enthusiasts, as along with spotting the whimsical blackbucks, they can even sight sizable amount of bird species that consider the small wetland in the park their home. The best part is that you have the option to explore Velavadar Blackbuck National Park on foot as well.
Perhaps the only hill station in Gujarat, Saputara is unlike any other places that you would visit in the state. Nestled amidst the Sahyadris, Saputara offers respite from the hot and humid climate. Surrounded by green rolling hills, this hill station is quite picturesque. The soothing air and the charming people add to the reasons as to why one should visit Saputara. The main attractions here include Hatgad Fort, Sunrise point, The Ropeway, Boating in Lake Saputara and Artist Village. This beautiful town is situated about 170kms from Surat.
Vansda National Park
This thick woodland is amongst the best wildlife reserves in Gujarat. Situated in Navsari district, Vansda National Park is the home to many wildlife species. There are about 443 species of flowering plants, 115 species of birds and more than 100 species of animals in the park. National Parks are always a gateway to adventure and thrill and Vansda is no exception, as there is so much that you can learn here about the eco-system and conservation other than spotting animals and birds.
A quaint little town, Ambaji is located in Banaskantha district in Gujarat. We are more familiar with Ambaji as one of the important Shaktipeeths in India. Ambaji is situated about 180kms from Ahmedabad and can be an ideal place for a weekend break for those who want to pay homage to the Goddess Sati or Shakti. A small town with the beautiful backdrop of Arasur Hills and surrounded by thick forests, Ambaji is away from the confines of the bustles of city life and thus offers a peaceful time to unwind and get drenched in spirituality. Gabbar Hill, Kamakshi Mandir, Kailash Hill Sunset, Koteshwar, Kumbhariya and Mansarovar are the major attractions in Ambaji.
If water adventure is what you are looking for on a weekend, then Blues Adventure in Surat is the perfect place for you. This water-cum-theme park is an excellent place to rejuvenate your abused body and soul. Take your friends or family here and spend some quality time with them! There are many water sports like Jet-Ski, Kayaking, Speed Boating and Bumper Ride available here that you can choose from OR may be give them a try. You can also set out for a romantic sail on a pedal boat with a loved one and also enjoy a number of rides in the open-sky amusement park. Dining in Blues adventure is also an exhilarating experience; you can opt for eating at Halka-Fulka, which is a multi-cuisine restaurant or can go for fine dining at Eat:Ri, which has a deck facing the River Tapti. Along with the romantic environs you are served some of the most delicious food here.
Offering an insight into the history and culture of Gujarat, Bhavnagar is amongst the most popular cities in Gujarat. The city is at the distance of about 198kms from Gandhinagar; thus anybody seeking a heritage tour can easily reach Bhavnagar from the capital of Gujarat. There are a number of historical monuments in Bhavanagar including Brahma Kund, Nilambag Palace, Takhteshwar Temple, Palitana Jain Temples, Gopinath Mahadev Temple, the Khodiyar Temple and the Ganga Devi Mandir, Alang Braking Site and Victoria Park which make up the list of major attractions in Bhavnagar. Other than these, Velavadar Blackbuck National Park is in proximity to the city. It wouldn’t be incorrect if we call Bhavnagar the authentic face of Gujarat.
Gujarat’s rich heritage can be rightly seen in Bhuj and if you are someone who takes keen interest in history and architecture, then there is no place better than Bhuj for you to visit. You are guaranteed an amazing weekend in Bhuj with lots to explore and learn from; visit Sharad Baug Palace, Aina Mahal, Prag Mahal and Swaminarayan Temple that display excellent architecture. Make sure to visit Kutch Museum that preserves 2000 years old Kshatrapa inscriptions. At about 72kms from Bhuj is Khavda, which is famous for eco-tourism; so all you nature lovers, it is a good idea to visit this place. Also, Khavda Natural Park is the departure point of one of the world’s largest Flamingo colony. Jamkundaliya is a lake in Khavda Desert, which is home to a sizable number of flamingo birds. Another good destination for eco-tourism in Bhuj is Chhari Dhand, which situated 80kms from Bhuj and is a wet salty land. About 370 bird species can be spotted here.
Champaner – Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Visit Champaner to relive the golden era of Gujarat, witness the splendid architecture and appreciate the workmanship. Champaner is about 50kms from Vadodara and hence is one of the best places for weekend holidays in Gujarat. Champaner-Pavagadh is studded with palaces, mosques, residential complexes, natural heritage, step-wells and tanks that are extended between Pavagadh hill and Champaner city, so one can expect an excellent sightseeing opportunity. Jama Masjid, Nagina Masjid, Sikandar Shah’s Tomb, Sakar Khan Dargah, Makai Kothar, Helica Step-well, Pavagadh Fort, Kalika Mata Temple and Brick Tomb are some of the places of interest in Champaner. Other than these exquisite places, one can visit the Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary (20kms from Champaner) and Dhanpari and Kevdi Eco Sites.
Known for its prominent Ranchhodrai Dakor Temple, Dakor is more of a pilgrimage than a holiday destination. Once a quiet little village in Kheda district, Dakor became a bustling centre for Hindu devotees after the establishment of the Ranchhodrai Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who according to legends walked back from Dwarka to Dakor with his ardent devotee named Bodana. Dakor is a lovely place to visit on a weekend as it offers the opportunity to soak in the devotion of Lord Krishna and forget about everything else. Dakor is also known as the place where Rishi Dank (after whom the city is named) had his hermitage. It is believed that Lord Shiva was so pleased with his devotion that he granted his wish of staying in his hermitage in the form of a Linga. This Linga is believed to be presiding in the Danknath Mahadev Temple on the bank of the holy pond of Gomti.
History lovers, this is your chance to go back in the time of the Harappan Civilization. Dholavira is amongst the largest Harappan sites in the Indian sub-continent and is a perfect getaway for those looking for something different on a weekend. Rustic as it is, Dholavira is also an ideal getaway for people seeking peace and thrill simultaneously. Walk through the ancient paths and view the ancient water conservation systems, pass through the citadels’ ruins that were made of sun-dried bricks, also witness a large stadium with organized seating arrangements. One can’t help but get awestruck by the extraordinary workmanship! Dholavira is also one of the two places in India that has ruins from all stages of Harappan culture, the other one being Lothal in Gujarat. Please note that there are no options for accommodation in Dholavira, and one has to find hotels in nearby places like Gandhidham and Bhuj.
Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary is one with a difference! Situated in Jasdan in Rajkot district, Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary not only conserves wildlife but also organizes camps to create awareness. These camps are for both adults and kids; the camps focus on wildlife, eco-system and their preservation. Housing animals like Chinkara, Leopard, and Flying fox, Hyena and Wolf, Hingogadh is a great place for visiting in the weekend; attending the camp and watching the wildlife closely will indeed make your weekend a well-spent one.
Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary
Bird watchers would love this place as it is home to one of the rare Indian birds called Great Indian Bustard. These birds are considered to be amongst the heaviest flying birds in the world. Also, this bird sanctuary is considered to be the smallest wildlife sanctuary in India as it is spread over a 2 sq km area. The Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is situated near Nalia in Kutch district of Gujarat and has a convenient railhead and bus station. The best time to be here is during the monsoon, when the Great Bustards can be spotted easily.
Like Dholavira, Lothal is known for preserving the relics of the Harappan Civilization. Located near the village of Saragawala in Ahmedabad district, Lothal is amongst the best offbeat destinations in Gujarat. Like Dholavira, Lothal also has remnants of all the stages of the Harappan culture, out of which few can still be witnessed. There is even a local museum that helps you understand better about the relics. When you visit Lothal, a queer sense of excitement takes over you, it’s like you have taken a leap in the past and the world has yet again become a beautiful and peaceful place.
Mehsana is a beautiful town and is ideal for a family vacation. The town is famous for its massive water park, which is apparently the largest water park in Gujarat. A large number of temples dot Mehasana town, thus elderly people also have something to look forward to here. Mehsana is at a short distance from Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, so a weekend visit here is definitely a good idea. The most famous temples to visit here are Modhera’s Sun temple, Simandhar Swami Jain Temple, Hinglaj Mata’s Temple, Mulnayak Jain Temple, and Swaminarayan Temple. Thol Lake Bird Sanctuary is also quite near this beautiful town.
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
Nature lovers, this place is for you! Nalsarovar is a shallow yet beautiful lake with marshy lands around it. Gradually with time, Nalsarovar has become a favourite haunt of many migratory birds that come from Central Asia, Siberia and Europe. One can see as many as 250 species of birds here. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is situated about 64kms from Ahmedabad and thus offers a wonderful opportunity to the city people to enjoy the charm of nature and wildlife.
Palitana – Shatrunjaya
At Shatrunjaya Hills, you are about to witness one of the most majestic structures in Gujarat. The hill is among the most revered places in the state and comprises of about 108 large Jain temples and 872 small shrines with about 7000 images in total. If you are planning a weekend outing with your family, then Shatrunjaya in Palitana city in Bhavnagar district is worth visiting. The splendid craftsmanship truly deserves appreciation as each temple is carved and designed differently. The most beautiful of all is the Adishwar Temple.
Here’s how you know Patan better, recently one of its massive structures called Rani Ki Vav has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Patan is a small historical town which is situated in Patan district; it is about 110kms from Gandhinagar. This fortified town has lot of historical importance and the best places to visit here can be Forts, Vavs (Step Wells), Talavs (Lakes) and temples. Rani-ki-Vav, Trikam Barot ni Vav, Sahastralinga Tank, Anand Sarovar (Gungadi Talav), Khan Sarovar, Old Kalka Mandir, Panchmukhi Hanuman, Jasma Odan ni Deri, Old Mahalaxmi Mandir, Sindhavai Mata nu Mandir, Hingaraj Mandir, Panchasar Derasar and Sheikh Farid no Rojo are some of the other major attractions in Patan. Do not forget to buy a hand-woven Patola Saree from here.
Polo Monument and Vijaynagar Forest
This is one of the offbeat destinations in Gujarat as not many people are aware of its beauty. So, if you are an adventurous soul and like to spend a weekend exploring something unique, Polo and Vijaynagar Forest is the best place to hit. Vijaynagar is about 160kms from Ahmedabad and is covered with thick forest; amidst which one can find the ruins of ancient temples. Seems like one of those thrilling movie locations right? Well indeed it is! (Except for the unnecessary drama of being lost or hunted down that one sees in the films). Polo is a city and today all one can see here are ruins of Hindu and Jain Temples. Despite their gradually dilapidating condition, these temples make for some good clicks. Therefore, if you seek a refreshing weekend in Gujarat, Polo and Vijaynagar Forest is the place you should visit.
A beautiful coastal city, Porbandar is perfect for a short vacation in Gujarat. The city is the perfect blend of both ancient and modern world. One can walk in the past with a visit to numerous stone buildings and temples. Miyani Beach, Barda Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Kirti Mandir, Porbandar Beach are some of the important places to visit in Porbandar. Also, what marks the popularity of Porbandar other than its architecture and natural beauty is the fact that it is the hometown of Mahatama Gandhi and Sudama (Lord Krishna’s Friend).
Purna Wildlife Sanctuary
Named after Purna River which passes through the reserve, Purna Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Dang district. Unlike other wildlife parks in the state, Purna has a thick forest cover and is amongst the few places that receive heavy rainfall. Leopard, rhesus macaque, bonnet macaque, common mongoose, Indian civet cat, Indian porcupine, four-horned antelope, barking deer, sambar, chital, hyena, jungle cat, flying squirrel, python, and lizards are the amongst the commonly spotted animals in the park. At Purna Wildlife Sanctuary one can enjoy the pristine beauty of nature and simultaneously learn about the importance of wildlife.
Well, you can easily use your weekend to do a pilgrimage. Visit Shamlaji in Modasa city in Aravalli district and you will be glad to learn that you have made the right choice. This is one of those holy places in Gujarat, where you can soak yourself completely in the worship of Lord Krishna. Shamlaji is amongst the most popular pilgrimages in Gujarat and if you haven’t visited this sacred place, it’s time that you should! The main attraction here is the Shamlaji Temple where the deity of Lord Krishna presides; this deity has diamond embossed in the chin. Most of us are looking for a break from our hectic life in cities during weekdays and I believe places like Shamlaji are perfect to unwind and attain peace of mind. There is a Shamlaji Fair held annually during the month of November, which is attended by devotees from around the globe. Make sure you plan your vacation around this time so that you get the best experience!
Another set of majestic temples standing on the top of the Taranga Hills in Gujarat. Taranga is situated about 20kms from Vadnagar and is the named after Devi Taranamata. The undulating hills are home to Jain Temples that back to 12th century AD. Taranga is a lovely place to invest your weekend on; not only does it allow you to witness some of the most magnificent structures but also offers you some pleasant time and views from atop the hill. You can watch the gorgeous cascading rivers from here like Sabarmati and Rupen. What makes this place even more pleasing is that fact that 35,000,000 munis, including Vardutt and Sagardutt, attained moksha/nirvana here.
This city is believed to have been standing on the mound of many bygone eras. Situated in Mehsana district at a distance of about 111kms from Ahmedabad, it is a historical town that may incite an urge in you to dig deeper into the history of India. Ancient temples, sites and edifices make Vadnagar truly a delight to visit. Lake Sharmishtha, Chamatkarpur – The Magical Palace, Saptarishi and Toranas or the Victory Arches are amongst the major places of interests in Vadnagar. AND yes, Vadnagar is also the hometown of the 15th Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
Wild Ass Sanctuary
Situated in what is called the Little Rann, Wild Ass Sanctuary is the only one of its kind. The picturesque landscape makes the expedition here all the more interesting. Along with being the home of the rare Indian Wild Ass, this sanctuary attracts many international threatened birds like houbara bustard, dalmatian pelicans, hawks, harriers and falcons. Wild Ass Sanctuary is a perfect choice for a weekend outing if going wild is in your head this time!
Gujarat is indeed replete with a number of places to relax and rejuvenate and all you have to do is step outside the threshold of your home. I reckon this blog have served some good purpose of encouraging you to go out on a weekend and explore something new or spend a leisure time at a nice and beautiful place with family and friends. Hope you have a great weekend!!
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Published: 01 Oct, 2014