The western state of Gujarat is often overlooked in favor of Rajasthan to the north, but travelers who make the effort find an incredibly beautiful and diverse culture and landscape awaiting them. On this 12-day trip, you'll visit places that showcase the best of Gujarat. From its ancient archaeological sites to vibrant modern cities, open wildlife-filled plains and deeply religious buildings, Gujarat is colorful, historic, and interesting at every turn.

Highlights

  • Spot wild asses on safari in the Little Rann of Kutch
  • Climb Shatrunjaya Hill, sacred to Jain people
  • Be dazzled by hand-made textiles around Bhuj
  • Admire the Islamic architecture at UNESCO-listed Champaner

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Ahmedabad Ahmedabad
Day 2 Walking Tour of Ahmedabad - Modhera & Patan Ahmedabad
Day 3 Baroda & Champaner Day Trip Ahmedabad
Day 4 Ahmedabad to Dasada Dasada
Day 5 Little Rann of Kutch: Jeep Safari & Village Visit Gujarat
Day 6 Dasada to Palitana, via Lothal Palitana
Day 7 Climb Shatrunjaya Hill – Drive to Gondal Gondal
Day 8 Tour Gondal Gondal
Day 9 Gondal to Bhuj Bhuj
Day 10 Day Trip to Dholavira Bhuj
Day 11 Explore Villages Near Bhuj, including Mandvi Bhuj
Day 12 Bhuj to Mumbai - Depart India  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Ahmedabad

Jama Mosque, Ahmedabad
Jama Mosque, Ahmedabad

Arrive in Ahmedabad. You'll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. 

Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 and is known as the "Manchester of the East". It's situated on the banks of the river Sabarmati, and is full of architectural delights, including exquisite wooden mansions, havelis, and labyrinthine lanes.

Day 2: Walking Tour of Ahmedabad - Modhera & Patan

Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad
Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad

This morning, take a heritage walking tour of Ahmedabad for 2-3 hours, visiting some of its amazing cultural and heritage sites. The walk commences from Swaminarayan Temple Kalupur, includes 20 main spots, and concludes at the 15th-century Jama Masjid. The Ahmedabad heritage walk model is being replicated throughout India as a way to preserve heritage. 

Later in the morning, take an excursion to Modhera and Patan. Check out the architectural beauty of the Sun Temple at Modhera, the Rani-ki-vav at Patan, and the step-well at Adalaj.

The Sun Temple of Modhera was built in 1026 C.E., and is one of the finest examples of Indian architecture of its period. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to the sun god, Surya, and stands high on a platform overlooking a stone-stepped tank. It's brilliantly carved with gods and goddesses, birds, beasts and flowers.

Patan is a beautiful old town with Jain temples and carved wooden houses. The step-well here is an excellent example of Gujarati architecture, with carved walls, pillars, steps, and platforms featuring maidens and Hindu deities, religious themes and geometrical patterns.

The Adalaj step-well is another fine example of magnificent Gujarati architecture and carving.

Day 3: Baroda & Champaner Day Trip

Champaner
Champaner

This morning, drive to the city of Vadodara and visit the Laxmi Vilas Palace, the official residence of the erstwhile Maharajahs of Baroda. Although now a bit run down, the palace still has impressive interiors done up with Venetian glass, crystal chandeliers, Italian marble and mosaic, and European porcelain and marble statues. Near the palace there's also an impressive tiered step-well, the Naulakhi Baoli, which can store nine million gallons of water.

Later, continue on to Champaner, an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 15th-century town consists of 114 monuments of historical and archaeological interest. The most famous is the Jama Masjid, with an impressive interior courtyard, porches, arches, and slender minarets. There are other Islamic buildings in the vicinity that are worth checking out, too.

Return to Ahmedabad later in the afternoon.

Day 4: Ahmedabad to Dasada

Wild asses on the Rann of Kutch
Wild asses on the Rann of Kutch

After breakfast, drive to Dasada, about 2-3 hours away. Check in to your eco-resort, set among wetlands and agricultural fields. The resort has creatively designed cottages that blend with the countryside.

Day 5: Little Rann of Kutch: Jeep Safari & Village Visit

Nilgai antelopes
Nilgai antelopes

Take a morning Jeep safari in search for the indigenous Indian wild ass, as well as other animals and birds. These beautiful creatures can be found in herds running across the desert, or placidly eating their food. The plains also provide a haven for the endangered Indian wolf, desert cats, striped hyenas and birds of prey.

In the afternoon, visit nearby villages where the women are expert embroiderers, creating dazzling traditional dress and other items.

Day 6: Dasada to Palitana, via Lothal

Palitana
Palitana

Leave your eco-camp after breakfast and drive to Lothal, one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. The most popular site at Lothal is the massive ship dockyard. Ancient Lothal was also famous for its arterial streets; gold, ivory, and coppersmiths' workshops; pottery; and underground sanitary drainage. You can see remnants of these when touring the archaeological site.

Later, continue driving to Palitana, where you'll stop for the night.

Day 7: Climb Shatrunjaya Hill - Drive to Gondal

Gondal
Gondal

Palitana is an important place of worship in Jainism. It's famous for its hand-woven bamboo products as well as its beautiful temples. The city has around 1300 temples, with intricate carvings and architecture, constructed over millennia.

This morning, walk to the top of Shatrunjaya Hill to visit the temples and enjoy the view. Visit the Jain Temple dedicated to Shri Adishwara, the first Jain Tirthankara (apostle), and one of the most magnificent and sacred temples on Shatrunjaya Hill. Also visit the Chaumukha, or four-sided temple, with a picture of Adinath facing in the four cardinal directions. They were built at different times but most belong to the 16th century and bear many common architectural features. The climb will take about two hours each way, so be sure to carry water and a sun hat with you.

Later, continue driving to Gondal, about four hours away, for your overnight stop.

Day 8: Tour Gondal

Swaminarayan Temple, Gondal
Swaminarayan Temple, Gondal

Gondal is a picturesque town with plenty of gracious architecture, wide tree-lined roads, and even European lampposts. Today, see the sights of Gondal, including Bharwad and other pastoral villages just outside town, as well as the Riverside Palace, Royal Garages, Naulakha Palace, and the Vintage Car Museum.

Day 9: Gondal to Bhuj

Aina Mahal, Bhuj
Aina Mahal, Bhuj

Leave Gondal today for Bhuj, a journey of about 5-6 hours. Bhuj has an ancient history. It got its name from Bhujia Fortress, which can still be seen atop a hill with great views of the city. A settlement around Bhuj existed during the Indus Valley Civilization, but the city itself was founded in 1510. During the British rule of India, the city was an independent part of the princely states, and after independence became a part of the Republic of India.

In the afternoon, visit the 18th-century Aina Mahal, 19th-century Prag Mahal and the Kutch Museum, Gujarat's oldest museum. On the banks of Hamirsar Lake, the museum houses an eclectic collection of archaeological objects, weaponry, and crafts from the Kutch region.

Day 10: Day Trip to Dholavira

Driving through the Rann of Kutch
Driving through the Rann of Kutch

Early this morning, set out for a day trip to Dholavira. This is an archaeologically important site, as excavations trace the town to the early Indus Valley Civilization and Harappan culture, 4500 years ago. Although now it appears to be a fortified quadrangular city set in a harsh and arid land, Dholavira was a thriving metropolis for over 1200 years (3000 B.C.E. to 1800 B.C.E.) and had access to the sea, which was much higher then. It presents one of the world's earliest and best-planned water conservation systems, and what might be the world's first signboards, written in the ancient Indus script.

Day 11: Explore Villages Near Bhuj, including Mandvi

Women sewing traditional clothes in Bhuj
Women sewing traditional clothes in Bhuj

Spend today touring villages around Bhuj, where distinctive styles of embroidery, tie-dye, weaving, and block printing are practiced and part of everyday life. You'll visit the villages of Niroma (famous for its painting) and Bhujodi (with traditional weaving practices).

Continue on to Mandvi, a town on the banks of the Rukmavati River and on the Arabian Sea in the Gulf of Kutch. Visit Vijay Vilas Palace, a royal abode from 1920 set in the middle of well-laid gardens. The architect and craftsmen were from Jaipur, and the building is an example of the traditional skill of craftsmen in the early 20th century.

Day 12: Bhuj to Mumbai - Depart India

Farewell India!
Farewell India!

Today it's time to say farewell to Gujarat. You'll be transferred to the airport in Bhuj for your flight to Mumbai, and then home or to your next destination in India or Asia.

Map

Map of Diverse Beauty of Gujarat: Ahmedabad, Little Rann, Bhuj & More - 12 Days
Map of Diverse Beauty of Gujarat: Ahmedabad, Little Rann, Bhuj & More - 12 Days