Archaeological Wonders of Gujarat 

Gujarat has been a hub of civilization for more than four millennia. From 2700-1600 BC, the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization thrived at sites like Lothal and Dholavira. The Harappan cities were known for their sophisticated town planning. From the 3rd century BC to the 7th century BC, Gujarat was a flourishing centre of Buddhism. The golden period of Gujarat’s architecture was during the reign of the Solanki Rajputs in the 11th and 12th centuries when superb Hindu and Jain temples were built. A noteworthy feature of the Solanki period was the creation of water-retaining structures like the step-wells stepped tanks and artificial lakes which were decorated like subterranean palaces with really fine carvings. Another unique feature of Gujarat is its Jain temple complexes sited on summits like those of Shatrunjaya Hill near Palitana and Mt Girnar near Junagadh.

The 15th century saw the development of a provincial Indo-Saracenic style of architecture during the reign of Sultan Ahmed Shah, the founder of Ahmedabad, with mosques and mausoleum complexes that blended Hindu and Islamic architectural elements.

The 17th to 19th century period saw much trade out of Gujarat’s ports and the state’s merchants commissioned remarkably Havelis with exquisite woodcarvings.

This itinerary has been designed to include a cross-section of these remarkable architectural styles characteristic of the state. The itinerary can also be modified to include impressive European works like the huge Portuguese fort of Diu, the exquisite churches of Daman, and the Dutch and British mausoleum complexes of Surat. 

The city of Ahmedabad is endowed with a rich architectural heritage that is vital to the local identity and continuity of the place. Along with the foremost heritage Indo-Islamic monuments of the 15th to 17th centuries, there are potential heritage precincts in the form of the Pols, the traditional residential clusters of the medieval period, which makes Ahmedabad exceptional. Combining these all, the historic walled city of Ahmedabad has it all to be the first city in India to be inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage City list of 2017.

Day 1. Arrive at Ahmedabad, assistance on arrival and transfers to the hotel. Post lunch enjoys the tour of the Sarkhej Roza {Sarkhej mausoleum complex} comprises one of the most elegant and unique architectural complexes of Ahmedabad. In its architecture, Sarkhej Roza is an example of the early Islamic architectural culture of the region, which fused Islamic stylistic influences from Persia with indigenous Hindu and Jain features to form a composite “Indo-Saracenic” architectural style. The architectural style of Sarkhej Roza is a precursor to the Mughal period in a true amalgamation of Hindu, Jain and Islamic styles. Hindu craftsmanship and construction know-how were overlaid on the Islamic sense of geometry and scale. The Roza Complex at Sarkhej was built at the advent of the Sultanate era. Later visit the Vishala Village complex with its superb Vechaar utensils museum. It is the only museum of its kind in the world, displaying such a precious collection of utensils. A walk around the hut-like museum makes one's heart skip a beat, marvelling at the inimitable beauty of these utensils of old. These utensils have been handed down through the changing seasons and times, over the years. They speak of the unmatched art and genius of humankind during the days of old when people did not have the modern facilities of our times. The designer could not let our rich heritage pass with these vessels being lost in the fire kilns! He was determined to preserve them, and today, his dream is a reality in the form of Vechaar. {the museum will be closed on Monday.} - Timings: The museum is open from 3 pm to 10:30 pm.

Stay at House of Mangaldas Girdhardas, a heritage hotel owned by a former textile industrialist family.

Day 2. Visit the Calico Museum of Textiles, one of India’s leading specialized museums { Closed on every Wednesday and Public Holiday}. The collections include textile swatches of Indian origin found at archaeological sites of Egypt, silk sarees from across India, double-ikat silk sarongs made in Patan for the Indonesian market, chintz and curtains made from Dutch, British and Portuguese colonial powers in Gujarat, floral embroidery from Punjab, shawls from Kashmir, 18th-century tie-and-dye, richly embroidered Mughal tent of Shah Jahan whose palace is nearby, royal wardrobes of Rajasthan, cloth paintings and manuscripts, religious narrative cloth paintings like Pichwais and Kalamkaris, etc.

 

Afternoon visit to the exquisitely carved 15th century Adalaj stepwell. Early in the Evening visit Siddi Sayed Mosque - The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque built in 1573 is one of the most famous mosques of Ahmedabad. It was built by Sidi Saeed or Sidi Saiyyed, an Abyssinian in the retinue of Bilal Jhajar Khan, general in the army of the last Sultan Shams-ud-Din Muzaffar Shah III of the Gujarat Sultanate. The mosque was built in the last year of the existence of the Sultanate of Gujarat. The mosque is entirely arcuated and is famous for beautifully carved ten stone latticework windows (jaalis) on the side and rear arches. The delicate “tree of life” motif has become the distinguishing symbol of Ahmedabad. The central window arch of the mosque, where one would expect to see another intricate jaali, is instead walled with stone. This is possible because the mosque was not completed according to plan before the Mughals invaded Gujarat. Today after dinner you can enjoy a walk through the old walled city to see the Gujarati Dinning Culture at Manek Chowk - This bustling open square near the centre of the city functions as a vegetable market in the morning and a jewellery market in the afternoon, the second biggest in India. It is most famous, however, for its food stalls that start to emerge around 9:30 in the evening and continue till late night, with various local street snacks. Return to your hotel.

Day 3. Today after early breakfast by 7.15 am – Drive to Kalupur Swami Narayan Temple for a guided heritage walk in Ahmedabad. This walking tour offers an opportunity to see the old quarters of Ahmedabad lined with the beautifully carved wooden facades of Havelis. Check out from the hotel and Continue to Lothal {Closed on every Friday} to see the site museum and archaeological site offering an insight into the town planning of the Indus Valley Civilisation.


Proceed to Palitana. Stay at Vijay Vilas heritage hotel at Adpur village of Palitana.

Day 4.  Ascend the Shatrunjaya Hill near Palitana town to see the huge complex of about 863 temples crowning two ridges of the summit. Rest at Vijay Vilas Palace.

Day 5. Post early breakfast drive to Gondal. See the magnificent carvings and collections of the 1740s Naulakha Palace at Gondal. Stay at the Riverside Palace/Orchard Palace heritage hotel.

​Day 6.  After breakfast enjoy a day excursion to Junagadh to see the ancient Uparkot Fort, splendid Gothic palaces of the Nawabs and the flamboyant 19th-century mausoleum complex. Visit Girnar Temples by Ropeway and evening return to Gondal, calling in en route to see the 4th-century Buddhist caves of Khambalida.

Day 7. Early breakfast drive to Dholavira {Kutch} Dholavira is lesser-known probably due to its remote location in the salt desert and also it was not studied until recently by using modern scientific techniques. Stopover at Maliya for Tea/Coffee. Continue to Dholavira - Day free. Dinner and overnight at Dholavira Tourism Resort.

Day 8. Post breakfast guided tour of Dholavira, It is the largest excavated Harappan site in India which can be seen by tourists. All other sites were buried and covered up after the excavation was over. But Dholavira is unique because it records continuous settlement at one given place for over 1700 years from Pre‐Harappan to the Late Harappan period. It shows excellent city planning, wide roads, architecture with geometric precisions, and craftsmanship. More importantly, they adopted a very advanced water conservation and harvesting system from building series of connected reservoirs, stone and terracotta drainage pipes to wells. They also built dams on the two rivers Mansar and Manhar which flowed around this city during this time. The dry river beds of these rivers can be seen even today. During this long period, the climate changed severely from a good monsoon to a weak monsoon but they sustained these long years by adopting water conservation techniques suggesting their resilience and participatory nature of the society. The only thing that is yet to be studied is their burial history. There are burial mounds around but need to be excavated further by the Archaeological Survey of India and properly documented. Post early lunch drive to Little Rann of Kutch. Stay at Rann Riders Resort in Dasada.

Day 9. Drive to the 11th century Sun Temple of Modhera, one of the finest examples of Hindu temple architecture in western India. After seeing the temple, continue to Patan to see the magnificently carved 11th-century stepwell. Proceed to Balaram via Siddhpur known for its mansions and princely Palanpur. Stay at Balaram Palace Resort.

Day 10. Drive to see the 12th-century Taranga Jain Temples and to historic Vadnagar with many historic buildings. Continue to Ahmedabad.

Day 11. Drive from Ahmedabad to Champaner – Pavagadh archaeological park, which has magnificent works of Indo-Saracenic architecture. En route, see the palaces of Vadodara. Stay at the heritage home in Jambugodha.

Day 12. Post breakfast return to Ahmedabad / Vadodara for onward flight.