Art Architecture & Culture of Gujarat

  • Itinerary

Before the medieval times, the main religion in Gujarat was Jainism and so a major portion of the architecture of this place comprises Jain temples. Hindu architecture had reached the peak of excellence and artistic brilliance between the 11th and 13th centuries as evidenced by some of the finest and most superb specimens of Gujarati architecture that flourished during the Solanki and Vaghela period. After the Muslim invasion the Hindu and Jain temples were destroyed and the materials were used to construct mosque. Some of the noteworthy monuments of Islamic architecture are seen in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Mosques in Ahmedabad are a model of Islamic architecture.

On the day one, arrive at Ahmedabad Airport, and transfers to the hotel are pre-booked.  Ahmedabad, also once known as the Manchester of India, is a major center of traditional and contemporary textiles, and many crafts flourish here. The first day, you’ll meet the only family engaged into Mata-ni-Pachedi narrative cloth paintings and block-printing. The night stay will be at Ahmedabad.

Your second day begins with breakfast and then we proceed ahead to Khambat, the old Cambay to see the elegant Jammi Mosque built in the 11th Century AD. It is one of the best examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture.  After visiting some nearby monuments, we also visit the Indus Valley Civilization Agate Jewelry workshop in Khambat. To know more about one of the earliest civilizations of the planet, we drive to Lothal, the golden port of bronze era, literally meaning “the mound of the dead” buried under the earth which was excavated a few decades back by the Archeological Survey of India.  Here, we will visit site museum and archaeological site offering an insight into the town planning of the IVC. The same day, we head to Palitana, the city of temples, located in the heart of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. The stay will be at a Heritage Hotel at Adpur Village of Palitana or Palace Hotel in Bhavnagar.

The day 3 will need quite workout to ascent the Shatrunjaya Hill near Palitana, but the elegant scenery and huge complex of about 863 Jain Temples crowning the two ridges of the summit will bring all your energy back. The remaining day’s relax time will be spend at the Vijay Vilas Palace at Adpur.

After taking the breakfast, on the fourth day, we head to Diu enroute visit Una Vegetable market and Shaking Minarets. At Diu, check into your pre-booked hotel and then post lunch, visit the Diu Fort, built in 1535 AD, with additions made in 1541 AD, this massive and well-preserved Portuguese fort with its double moat (one tidal) must once have been impregnable, but sea-erosion and neglect are leading to a slow collapse. Cannonballs litter the place, and the ramparts have a superb array of cannons. The lighthouse, which you can climb, is Diu’s highest point, with a beam that reaches 32kms. There are several small chapels, one of them holding engraved tombstone fragments. In the evening, we will visit the Fudam village fish & vegetable market and then explore the old city of Diu by walk. You can enjoy your dinner at Resort Hoka for sea food.

The day 5 will start with a breakfast and then visiting the wholesale dumping site of fish from Dhows near Vanakbara.  Then we will return to the town of Diu to visit St.Thomas Church. The Church of St. Thomas was constructed in 1598 AD, and it served as one of themajor churches of Portuguese India. The Church is one of the few churches in India that boasts of Gothic style architecture. Its whitewashed exteriors still bear the worn out and faded frescos of the Portuguese era. In 1998, the abandoned church of St. Thomas was converted into a museum.Another place we visit is the St. Paul Church, built in 1610AD. This impressive church is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Its baroque style of architecture and curiously treated volutes make it the most elaborate of all the Portuguese churches in India. This place of worship, with its white spires that seem to reach out to the skies, proclaims peace and divinity in the quite, little enclave of Diu. The evening will be at leisure at Goghla Beach and the overnight you will stay at Hotel / Resort.

On the Day 6, after breakfast, you proceed to Gir enroute visit Somnath Temple is first among the twelve AadiJyotirlings of India. It has a strategic location on the western coast of India. Ancient Indian traditions maintain a close relationship of Somnath with release of Chandra (Moon God) from the curse of his father-in-law DakshaPrajapati. Moon was married to Twenty-Seven daughters of Daksha. However, he favouredRohini and neglected other queens. The aggrieved Daksha cursed Moon and the Moon lost power of light. With the advice of Prajapita Brahma, Moon arrived at the PrabhasTeerth and worshipped Bhagvan Shiva. Pleased with the great penance and devotion of Moon, Bhagvan Shiva blessed him and relieved him from the curse of darkness. Pauranic traditions maintain that Moon had built a golden temple, followed by a silver temple by Ravana, Bhagvan Shree Krishna is believed to have built Somnath temple with Sandalwood, Continue to Gir visiting Siddhi community clusters - Dinner and over Gir National Park

On the seventh day of your magnificent tour of Gujarat, you will have an early morning safari in Gir National Park to spot Asiatic Lions, Leopards, Spotted Deers, Peacocks, and various spicies of Birds, return to lodge for breakfast and proceed to Junagadh, Visit MohabbatMakbara, Upperkot Fort, Edicts of Ashoka and classic architecture of DiwanChowk. Proceeding to Gondal, the dinner and overnight will be there.

On the eighth day, after breakfast see the magnificent carvings and collections of the 1740s Naulakha Palace at Gondal & private collection of vintage and classic cars. The evening, we visit Swaminarayan Temple. Stay at the Riverside Palace/Orchard Palace heritage hotel.

The day 9 will again start with a breakfast, and then we continue to Bhuj enroute visit Rajkot, Visit Kaba Gandhi No Delo, Watson Museum. Before reaching Bhuj you will be visiting Dhamadka&Dhaneti Village for ethnic textile demonstrations of Indigo printing & embroidery. Check into your hotel pre-booked.

On the tenth day, take an early breakfast and drive to Banni region to see the colorful communities like Rabaris, Meghwals, Helapotra and Jats. You will also be visiting the White Desert and Black in evening. Banni region is also known for its textiles crafts, Rogan arts, Copper Platted Iron bells, Stay at a Rural Resort.

The Day 11, you will proceed to Bhuj after a breakfast and on arrival see (if time permit): Aina Mahal - The Aina Mahal, currently a museum, was built under RaoLakhpatji. It now stands as a storehouse of the culture and history of Kachchh. The building bears the mark of its architect, RamsangMalam, who was influenced by European style during his long stay in Holland. Pragmal Palace - The palace, on the other side of Aina Mahal, was built in 1797. The building displays a strong British influence through the floral patterns on its tower and Corinthian pillars. Kachchh Museum - Established in 1877, the Kachchh Museum is the oldest in Gujrat. It has the largest collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, and displays textiles, armoury, gold and silver ornaments and other exhibits belonging to the region. Continuing to Mandvi, you will have a post lunch visit to Vijay Vilas Palace and the evenings will be at leisure on a private beach. The dinner and night stay will be at Beach Camp.

The 12th day you will drive to Bajana covering an area of 4954 Km2, Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat State, India, is one of the most remarkable and unique landscapes of its kind in the entire world. Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in this Rann which harbors the last population of Wild Ass (Equushemionuskhur). It is a vast desiccated, unbroken bare surface of dark silt, encrusted with salts which transforms into a spectacular coastal wetland after the rains. Overnight stay will be at Hotel.

The Day 13, you will drive to Patan Rani Ki Vav: Patan has over 100 beautifully carved Jain temples & many attractive traditional carved wooden houses. Rani Ki Vav is the oldest and the grandest step well in the state of Gujarat. It is situated at Patan and is believed to have been built during 1022 to 1063 AD. The construction was completed by the widowed queen Udayamati. It is the center for fine textiles particularly silk Patolasarees produced by the characteristic 'ikat' technique. Later precede to Modhera Sun Temple the sun Temple of Modhera is one of the finest example of Indian temple architecture of its period. Built in 1026 A.D. the temple is dedicated to the Sun Goa, Surya and stands high on a plinth overlooking a deep stone- steeped tank. Every inch of the edifice, both inside and outside is magnificently carved with Gods and Goddesses, birds, beasts and flower, the sun temple at Modhera is magnificent. The first view of the sun temple is breath-taking, with the pillared portico of the sabhamandap reflected in the massive tank. The weathered golden brown stone of the edifice has an overpowering grandeur. There is no worship offered here now. There is no shikhara either. The temple has a sanctum, a pradakshinapatha and a sabhamandap in front. The exterior of the sanctum has many carved images of the Sun God, portrayed as wearing a belt and long shoes. The mandapa in front of the sanctum has beautifully carved pillars with exquisite toranas adorning the entrance. Stay at a Heritage Home Stay or a Palace Hotel.

After having a breakfast on the day 14th, drive to Ambaji - Visit Ambaji Temple and Kumbhariyaji Jain Temple, and Koteshwar to see the sculpture workshops on marble and granite. In the Evenin, you can freely visit tribal villages of Garasia Tribes. The night stay will be at a Heritage Hotel.

The day 15th, you proceed to Mount Abu - Check into your hotel pre-booked. Later visit Delwara Temple. These Jain temples were built by Vastupal-Tejpal, Jain laymen between the 11th and 13th centuries AD and are world famous for their stunning use of marble. The five legendary marble temples of Delwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. The marble temples have an opulent entranceway, the simplicity in architecture reflecting Jain values like honesty and frugality. The temples are in the midst of a range of forested hills. A high wall shrouds the temple complex. Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan, some believe that none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spreading over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvelous. Evening visit local markets of Abu Hill station and evening enjoy a walk at Nakki Lake. Dinner and overnight will be at Hotel.

On the day 16th, breakfast will be at Hotel and we ahead to Udaipur, the city of lakes. Check into your hotel prebooked. Later visit Crystal Museum, City Palace, and Saheliyon Ki Bari. Evening enjoy boat ride at Pichola Lake with dinner and overnight at Hotel.

The 17th day will be a beautiful morning in the hotel in Udaipur, later visit school of miniature paintings and proceed to Dungarpur. Lunch at Udaibilas Palace. Take some light-meal before heading onto visit Juna Mahal Palace, GaibSagar Lake, DeoSomnath Temple, Dungarpur Fort and Sabela Lake. Return back to hotel for dinner and night stay.

On the eighteenth day, take a breakfast and proceed to Santrampur {Friday} - Santrampur is a culturally heightened township that has moved into the urbanity of modern civilization yet doesn’t forget its rich roots bound in heritage. Between the serenity of nature and the wisdom of ethnic tribal history, ShriJoraver Vilas has a stimulating range of excursions to offer for the mind as well as the body. Evening enjoy the walk in the town. Dinner and stay at ShriJoraver Vilas Palace.

The 19th day will start with an early breakfast and then visit the Tribal Market in Fatehpura {Saturday} where one watch local tribes Damor, Machar, Dindore, Bhamat, Pargi’s engaged in selling Goats, Sheep’s, Wild Chicken, Bamboo Baskets, Turmeric Spices, Vegetables, Imitation Jewellery, etc. The tribal Haat near Santrampur gives a thrilling experience of tribal culture of this area of Eastern Gujarat. Post Lunch drive to Champaner having dinner and overnight at Champaner Heritage Hotel.

The Day 20 will start with a breakfast at Hotel and later visit UNESCO declared World Heritage Site of Champaner and Pavagadh Archaeological Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004 and is now a popular tourist destination in the Panchmahal district of Gujarat. The present day Champaner is a walled town, located on the foothills of the Pavagarh hill. In the past it was once briefly the capital of Gujarat too, and looking at the ruins it’s not difficult to imagine that. It was also known as Muhammadabad for a while when the Sultan of Gujarat attacked and captured the town. The ruins of this majestic town are scattered all around, and they are all highly impressive. However, there are five mosques which especially stand out, none of these are functional though. Later visit Kevda Masjid - The best place to see was reserved for the end - Kevda Masjid. This is located a short distance behind the Jami Masjid and one can easily walk down to it. Later visit Nagina Masjid - Nagina Masjid (meaning ‘Jewel Mosque’) is a mosque in Champaner, Gujarat state, western India. As were several other masjids, such as the Kevda, Bawaman, EkMinar, Jama, Khajuri, and Shahar Ki. It has minarets, globe-like domes, and narrow stairs. It is part of the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Initial restoration works were carried out in the 1890s. Saat Kaman is visited by many a tourist while going uphill from Champaner to Machi. The monument is constructed from yellow sandstone in arch form, which appears to be at a military wise crucial spot. Continue to Jambugodha – Stay at A Home For Nature Lovers.

On the day 21, after breakfast visit the surrounding Tribal Markets of Southern area of ChottaUdepur. At these Haat you can see the Tribal Temple Paintings, Tribes such as Bhil - Bhilala, Rathwa s, Tadvi, Nayaka. These Tribal clusters can be seen and interacted with the local communities with help of experts. You can see Tribal Hero Memorials which are worshipped as Temples along with Terra Cota Horses. Return to Resort. Post Lunch drive to Baroda with dinner and overnight at Hotel.

After breakfast, on the 22nd day, visit Vegetable market which takes you through Maratha Architecture. Later visit Laxmi Vilas Palace the term Maharaja Palace actually refers to a series of palaces in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, constructed since the Gaikwad, a prominent Maratha family, started ruling the Baroda State. The first one was a building known as the Sarkar Wada. This Building, not really a palace, was given up for the Nazarbaug Palace built in old classical style. Post Lunch visit Tambekar Wada - Tambekar Wada is located at Tambekar no Khancho, Raopura Area, Vadodara (Baroda). It is a three-storeyed building which is a typical Maratha Mansion, which was once the residence of BhauTambekar. Inside of Wada, there are some of the most beautiful but decaying 19th Century murals. The Building is almost 140+ Years Old. Tambekar Wada is a spacious, four-storey building that has been constructed in an oblong fashion. It is originally the former residence of the Baroda State Diwan or Minister, BhauTambekar, who owned the responsibility of the administration of the state. The walls, doors and ceilings on the first and second floors of this old fashion building are adorned with the best specimens of mural paintings dating back to 17th and 18th centuries. Other wall paintings dating back to the first half of the 19th century represent epic scenes depicting the life of the people. The paintings are in poly-chrome and are of Maratha style of paintings of 19th century A.D. They are the best specimen of mural paintings in Gujarat. Most of the paintings have been restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The ASI still attend to the chemical treatments of these paintings on a frequent basis. There are Paintings of Lord Krishna in childhood breaking Pot, Lord Krishna doing Raas with Gopi’s, Lord Ganesha in childhood etc. Also it has British-Maratha Fight Paintings. Post Lunch visit Government museum and enjoy the heritage walk of the old walled city of Vadodara in Mandvi and Nyay Mandir area of Baroda. This will take about 3 hours. Return to Hotel for Dinner.

The 23rd day will have a drive to Ahmedabad via Vaso, which is a village near Nadiad which has lovely wood carving mansions {Haveli’s} of 1850. Continue to Ahmedabad visiting a private museum of vintage and classic cars “Vintage Village “. Post Lunch – Evening free on your own to walk around old city of Ahmedabad. Visit Utensil Museums and Dinner at Vishala – A Village Theme Restaurant serving pure veg Gujarati Thali. The dinner and overnight will be at Hotel.

After enjoying the beautiful journey of art, architecture and culture of Gujarat, after a breakfast on the last day of the tour, proceed to Ahmedabad Airport for onward journey.

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