The Royal Review – All You Need To Know About Gujarat
Located in western India, Gujarat has been a place of strategic importance right from the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, when the country’s first port was established in the ancient city of Lothal in this region. The state thrived under different rulers in history, including the Mauryan regime, Solanki Dynasty, Muslim rule, the Marathas, and finally European powers till the Indian independence in 1947.
Today, Gujarat is India’s seventh-largest state and has a population of over 60 million. It has emerged as a major state with various industries, agricultural production, interesting and varied cultures, and a diverse topography that includes a long coastline and salt plains.
Places To Visit In Gujarat
Also known as the “Jewel of Western India”, Gujarat welcomes visitors with the words Aavo Padharo (meaning ‘welcome’ in English) and attracts about 20 million travellers every year. The state has myriad attractions from religious sites to museums and forests. Here are some of the must-visit ones.
A rich history and different cultural influences because of various rulers have today made Vadodara the Cultural Capital of Gujarat. The Gaekwads ruled the city for a long time and their reign is visible even now in landmarks like the Laxmi Vilas Palace, where the Royal Family continues to reside. Vadodara is also home to several renowned higher educational institutes and successful large-scale industries.
An important state of the Saurashtra region founded in the late 1100s, Palitana holds the distinction of being the mountain with the biggest cluster of temples on it. 900 temples of varying sizes adorn the Shatrunjaya Hill, considered the place where most Jain Tirthankars attained Nirvana. The city is a significant pilgrimage centre of the Jains. It also is unique in that it was the world’s first city to be to be legally declared as vegetarian.
3. Somnath Temple
Considered to be first and holiest of the 12 Jyotirlingas (shrines of Lord Shiva), this temple has an interesting history. It is said to have been built first out of gold by Soma, the Hindu moon god, then in silver, followed by wood and stone. The current structure has been standing tall from 1951 and has fascinating architecture.
4. Little Rann of Kutch
Little Rann of Kutch is the world’s largest salt marsh, covering a distance of 7500 sq. km. It is renowned for its Wild Ass Sanctuary. This is also the perfect place to see the local as well as migratory birds such as pelicans, flamingos, ducks, and cranes.
Fun Trivia About Gujarat
– Approximately 66 million people all over the world can speak Gujarati, which makes it the 26th most widely spoken native language on the planet.
-Gujarat has the world’s largest ship-breaking yard in Alang, Bhavnagar.
-80% of all diamonds sold across the globe are polished in Gujarat, and the city of Surat is next only to Antwerp, Belgium as a centre of diamond trade.
-Gandhinagar, the state’s capital, is counted among the greenest cities in the world.
-The state is home to the third-largest denim manufacturer in the world, Arvind Limited (formerly Arvind Mills) in Ahmedabad.
-The Father of the Nation for India (Mahatma Gandhi) as well as for Pakistan (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) were Gujarati.
Useful Gujarati Words & Phrases
Namaste or Jai Shree Krishna: Greeting to start a conversation
Kem cho: How are you?
Majja ma: Fine
Aabhar: Thank You
Manne maaf karo: Please forgive me/I’m sorry
Madad karo: Help
Aano su bhav chhe?: What does this cost?
Mane samjatoo nathi: I don’t understand
Travel Tips For Gujarat
-Gujarat is a dry state where alcohol is prohibited, but you can apply for a temporary liquor permit. However, beware of drinking spurious products. The best idea is to stay away from alcohol while in the state, particularly if you are visiting for a short duration.
-If you’re travelling during summers, keep yourself well-hydrated. Apply a good SPF sunscreen and wear shades.
-Famous, crowded tourist spots also attract pickpockets, so do not keep your wallet loaded and be careful.
-Carry all your prescribed medicines in ample quantities.
Local Cuisine in Gujarat
Mostly vegetarian and characterised by a hint of sweetness with some spice, Gujarati cuisine is best known for snacks like dhokla, ganthia, fafda, khandvi, and thepla.
Using Money in Gujarat
Gujarat uses the Indian Rupee, but the government’s demonetisation move in late 2016 has had an effect on cash transactions. Currency exchange is available in different cities at banks and exchange services. There are ATMs in most places to withdraw local currency, although you might be allowed only a certain number of free transactions.
Indian currency has both notes and coins, and it is recommended to use notes of higher denominations for purchases and keep small change available for tips, temple visits, and local travel to avoid a hassle. Most establishments accept credit cards, but it is wise to use those only at reputed brands or bigger stores. Carry extra cheque leaves as many places accept cheque payments, which is easier and safer than cash or credit card transactions.
Come explore Gujarat aboard the Deccan Odyssey.