General Information about Patan
Patan is an ancient fortified town, situated about 130 kms. north west of Ahmedabad, on the banks of the sacred Saraswati river. This town was founded by the Vanraj Chavda in 746 AD and enjoyed a privileged status of the capital of Gujarat, for about 600 years, before being sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024.
The urban structure of the town is made of several places known as ‘Pols’. These towns contain old beautiful houses with carved wooden facades in traditional Gujarati architectural style.
Patan was destroyed several period of times. Today, one can barely find the traces of such a magnificent town. The most significant monuments in Patan are Rani ki Vav, Sahastralinga Talav and Khan Sarovar. Patan is a famous manufacturing centre of the beautiful Patola silk saris.
History of Patan
Patan was founded by the Vanraj Chavda in 746 AD. It enjoyed a privileged status of capital of Gujarat, for about 600 years from 746 AD to 1411 AD. In the 8th century, Under the name of Anahilvada, he was the capital of the Hindu kings of Gujarat. The major Rajput clans of Chavadas, Solankis and Vaghelas ruled Gujarat from Patan.
The glory of Patan reached its highest point during the Solanki period. During this period, the city was a great place of learning and a prosperous trading center. The rulers were great patrons of fine arts and architecture and thus constructed various religious and historical places in the city.
This town was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024 AD. Patan is also described in the Jain text “Kumarpala Rasa” as a prosperous fortified town, about 18 miles in circumference with 84 town squares, 52 bazaars, mints of gold and silver, well laid out gardens with fountains and trees, grammar school of Sanskrit and Prakrit, Hindu and Jain temples. After last Vaghela ruler, Karan Ghelo lost to Ulugh Khan in 1289 AD, the Muslims raided the town, destroyed various temples and ruined the entire city.
This city was also taken over by Alau-ud-din Khalji’s brother Alaf Khan in 1306. Today, one can barely find the traces of such a magnificent town. Since the rule of King Kumarpal, Patan was the only center of unique weaving craft of ‘Patola’, but even today, this traditional weaving craft is practiced by some of the families.
Shopping in Patan
Patan is also known for the unique weaving craft of ‘Patola’ silk sarees. These sarees are produced in a great vast process by the Ikat technique. Threads are tie-dyed to create the pattern before the weaving process begins.
How to reach Patan
The nearest airport is located at Ahmedabad which is about 125 km.
The railway station is located on the Ahmedabad – Patan line.
Patan is connected to the various cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad which is about 125 km, Siddhapur which is about 28 km and about 25 kms. from Mehsana
Tourist Attractions in Patan
Rani ki Vav
The Rani ki Vav, a step well in Patan is an excellent example of subterranean architecture in Gujarat and has steps that lead down to the water level. This Vav is situated about 134 km north-west of Ahmedabad, and about 57 km from Mehsana. The Rani ki Vav was built by Rani Udayamti of the Solanki dynasty, probably as a memorial for her husband Bhimdeva I (1022 – 1063 AD).
This Vav represents the finest of the Indian sculptures and architecture and forms the link between a kunda and the classical step-well. In addition to the straight staircase, it also has lateral staircases, along with very broad, stepped corridors.
The entrance of this Vav is situated in the east and the well in the west. The exquisitely carved side walls, pillars, steps and platforms lead to the elaborately carved water well. Although, this Vav is in a bad condition, but still the entrance, the side walls of the stepped corridor, some of the mandapas and the back wall of the well are still in a perfect condition.
Five lateral, staggered staircases attached to the side walls connect various storeys. Every surface of the well and levels are adorned with fine sculptures of Hindu deities, religious motifs and geometrical patterns. The lower most level has 37 niches with rudimentary images of Ganesha in the centre and images of the Sheshashayi Vishnu on the upper level.
On the upper levels, the impressive images of Laxmi-Narayana, Uma-Mahesh, Brahma-Brahmani, Kubera and Ganesha, with their respective consorts are also sculpted. On the lower levels, there are images of Vishnu’s incarnations and 24 forms but the Kufma and the Matsya avatars do not find a place in this Vav. No other Vav in India is so profusely adorned as the Rani ki Vav.
Sahastralinga Talav, an artificial tank, was built by the Siddhraj Jaisingh (1093 -1143 AD), the Chalukyan ruler of Gujarat in Patan. This tank is situated on the north-western part of Patan, on the banks of the Saraswati river. The architecture of this tank integrated the great sense of water management and sanctity of water in Hindu religion.
The tank used to receive water from a canal of the Saraswati river and had spread about five km with masonry embankments. About thousand of shrines dedicated to the Lord Shiva were constructed on the edge of the water tank, but now there are remains of only some shrines. Looking at the ruins, one can imagine the grandeur of this great water tank. An inscription found in the Shiva temple in Vyala Kua
Street of Patan indicates that the lake was part of a much larger work. At present, the Sahastralinga Talav is dry and the earth work are buried under the sands of the Saraswati river, the same river that was once filled with water. According to some local people the tank was dry to the curse given by the Jasma Oden.
A famous story of Siddhraj Jaisingh and Jasma Odan, a beautiful woman of the tank diggers’ community, revolves around this tank. She refused to marry the Siddhraj and committed Sati to protect her honour. It is believed that her curse made this tank waterless and the king without a heir to the kingdom of Gujarat.
The Sahastralinga Talav is pentagonal in shape, and marked by a series of mounds showing its shape. The earthworks circumscribe an area of several kilometers and about 1 km broad. The total area of the Talav is about 17 hectares. At its fullest, it would have contained about 4,206,500 cubic metres of water. In the centre of the Talav is a large earth heap, the Bakasthana.
On a raised platform over it, was built a rauza, an octagonal structure of Lakhori bricks. The most interesting of the relics are the channels, the well, steps and side elevation of the Talav, and a bridge. The channel runs from north to south and connected the lake to the Saraswati river.
Khan Sarovar is located outside South Gate. This is a water tank from Solanki period with stone steps and masonry. Mirza Aziz Kokah renovated this tank using the stones from ruined structures.
Hemachandracharya Gyan Mandir
Hemachandracharya Gyan Mandir contains thousands of rare ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit and Prakrit. Hemachandracharya was a great scholar and grammarian, the first one to formulate the grammar of the Gujarati language.
There are 100 Jain temples in Patan. The most important Jain temple is the Mahavir Swami Derasar in Dhandherwad with exquisitely carved wooden dome. The important Hindu temples are Kalika Mata, Sindhwai Mata, Harihareshwar Mahadev and Brahma Kund.
General Information about Junagadh
Junagadh was the capital of the Junagadh state under the Muslim rulers of Babi Nawabs. In Gujarati, “Junagadh” means an ancient fort. The town takes its name from the fort that enclosed the medieval town. It is situated in the Saurashtra region at the foothills of the Mount Girnar and occupies a special place in the history of Gujarat.
The town of Junagadh is beautiful with very wide streets, arches, shopping arcades and cool gardens. Its splendour is more like an English city rather than a city in the remote corner of Gujarat. Various ancient temples, museums, forts and palaces are the major interesting monuments located in Junagadh. History of Junagadh
The history of Junagadh can be known by the rule of the Mauryans, Kashatrapas, Guptas, Vallabhas, Babi Nawab, Chaudasamas, Gujarat Sultans. In the earlier periods, Junagadh was under the influence of four major religions mainly, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Muslims. Both, political powers and religious influences enriched the culture and created fantastic edifices leaving their mark on the architecture of Junagadh.
The Nawab Mahobat Khan II beautified Junagadh and patronized the construction of several buildings and urban projects like Aina Mahal, Circle Chowk with clock tower and Dewan Chowk. Some of the other buildings of the Nawabi period are the Bahauddin College, Manoranjan Guest House, Mahobat Madarsa (Narsi Vidya Mandir) and the maqbaras (mausoleums) of the royal family. All the architectural elements are highly decorative and reminds one of the last phase of architecture of Lucknow.
The 14 rock edicts 256-57 BC of the great Emperor Ashoka, inscription by King Rudradaman and Skandagupta are the proof of importance of Junagadh from the ancient times. This city was also home of one of the great poets of India, Narsinh Mehta.
How to reach Junagadh
The nearest airport is located at Keshod and Porbandar which are about 40 and 113 kms. respectively.
The railway station is located on the Ahmedabad – Junagadh and Rajkot – Junagadh line.
Junagadh is connected with various major cities in Gujarat like Rajkot, Porbandar and Ahmedabad
Tourist Attractions in Junagadh
Mahabat Maqbara is a stunning mausoleum of one of the Nawabs of Junagadh. This mausoleum is one of the Gujarat’s most glorious examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. This mausoleum was built in 1892 and topped with silver doors and intricate architecture, including minarets encircled by spiraling stairways. This mosque is generally locked.
Narsinh Mehta’s Choro
Narsinh Mehta’s Choro is a great revered place where the great poet and saint Narsinh Mehta used to hold his assemblies, religious discourses and Bhajans in the 15th century. There is a small temple of Gopinath and the idol of Shri Damodar Raiji and Narsinh Mehta. Narsinh Mehta was one of the great poets of India. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and a scholar, philosopher and a social reformer.
Durbar Hall Museum
Durbar Hall Museum houses a large collection of silver chains, chandeliers, thrones, palanquins, weapons and armour from the days of the Nawabs. There is also a portrait gallery of the Nawabs. This museum was once the hall where the Nawabs held their Darbars (assemblies).
Mount Girnar is one of the hill in Ahmedabad which is most sacred to the Jain community. This hill rises to a height of more than 600 m, a climb marked by 10,000 stone-steps. On this hill various Hindu and five Jain temples are located. There is a group of 16 Jain temples on the hill. This sacred hill is visited by millions of Hindus and Jains.
The Amba Mata temple is situated on the top of the hill. The newly weds came here and worship the Amba Mata in order to ensure a happy marriage. One of the largest and the oldest Jain temple, dedicated to the Neminath, the 22nd Jain Tirthankar and the Mallinath, the 19th Jain Tirthankar are situated just below the Amba Mata temple.
There is an image of Neminath in each of the courtyard colonnade’s 70 cells. This temple was built in the 12th century. The corbelled domes, maidens and flying figures as decoration are typical of the Solanki period. A popular fair is also held here during the Kartika Purnima festival in November – December.
Besides this the Bhavnath temple of Hindus is also located on this hill. The Bhavnath temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The Mahashivaratri fair held here is attended by Nagasadhus and pilgrims from all over India. When a traveler to Gujarat, Joss Graham, climbed up the hill for the festival of Shivaratri, he slept there overnight.
He woke up on hearing the praying murmurs of the great mass of devotees, about 100,000 of them in their communities and tribal groups. There is also the temple of Samprati Raja, a fine example of the later period and the Melak Vasahi temple.
Damodar Kund is a holy water reservoir that marks the ascent to the Girnar temples. It is surrounded by a well-built ghat. It is believed that here Lord Krishna placed a flower garland around the neck of the great poet and saint Narsinh Mehta.
Ashoka’s Rock Edicts
Ashoka’s Rock Edicts are located on the route to the Mount Girnar hill. This rock edict is a huge boulder that is housed in a small roadside building. On the rock edicts the fourteen Edicts of Emperor Ashoka are inscribed. The inscriptions carry Brahmi script in Pali language and belongs to 250 BC. On the same rock the inscriptions in the Sanskrit language are also inscribed.
The Ashoka’s Rock Edicts incorporate moral lectures. The emperor Ashoka began the stone written history of Junagadh on this boulder. His 14 edicts in Pali states that he, the Beloved of the Gods, looks after all his subjects.
The Jama Masjid is built inside the Upperkot Fort in Junagadh. This mosque was built from a demolished Hindu temple and has an interior filled with columns. Upperkot Fort Upperkot Fort, also known as the Upper Fort is located on the eastern side of Junagadh.
This fort was built in 319 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, though it has been rebuilt and extended many times over the centuries. During the period, various enemies tried to capture the fort but it can not be captured by any of the king for a longer time. The king of Anhilwad Patan once attacked Junagadh to win the Raja’s wife. He won the battle only because one of the Raja’s ministers betrayed him, but he could not win the wife of the Raja as she committed Sati.
It was the stronghold of the Mauryans and Gupta empire and as such has survived for 16 sieges in the last 1000 years due to its strategic location and difficult access. The entrance to the fort is formed by an ornate triple gateway. This gateway is like the Hindu Toran, leading to flat land dotted with various archeological sites. In some of the places, the walls of this fort are as high as 70 feet.
The fort has many interesting exhibits like the canon guns placed on the western wall and believed to have been cast in Egypt. The two step wells (Adi-Kadi Vav and Navghan Kuvo), a tomb, mosque and some ancient Buddhist caves belonging to 200 BC to 200 AD are located within the fort premises. Now only, some of the ruins of the buildings, Jama Masjid and the Buddhist caves are located within the fort premises.
Adi-Kadi Vav and Navghan Kuvo are the two step wells which are located within the fort. These wells were built by the Chudasama Rajputs and are the unique water structures among the various step wells of Gujarat. Both these wells served as the main sources of drinking water for years and were the essential part of the basic need of the fort. The Adi-Kadi Vav has a long flight of 120 steps which lead to the water and was built in the 15th century.
While the Navghan Kuvo of 1026 AD is built from soft rock and is 52 meter deep, reached by a circular staircase winding around the shaft. The Buddhist caves are fine examples of rock cut architecture. These caves have ornamented pillars, carved entrances, water cisterns, chaitya hall, monastic cells for meditation and chaitya windows.
General Information about Jamnagar
Jamnagar is a small 16th century pearl fishing town was the capital of the former princely state of Nawanagar and was ruled by the Jadeja Rajput clan, who ruled the princely states of Kutch, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Gondal for more than 300 years. Jamnagar was founded by Jam Raval in 1540 AD. originally as a fortified town with several gateways, on the confluence of two rivers – Nagmati and Rangmati.
Jamnagar is built around the Ranmal lake, which has a small palace at its centre. The famous cricketer Ranjit Singhji was its ruler from 1907-33 and his successor, Jam Sahib became the President of Saurashtra until it was absorbed into Bombay state in 1956. When Ranjit Singhji became the ruler, he undertook the developments of new parts of the city on European town planning principles, under the guidance of Sir Edward Lutyens – architect of New Delhi.
The city was planned using the urban design elements of axial roads, arcades, markets, entrance gates, clock towers, town squares, parks, gardens and residential plots. Jamnagar is also known as the Chhoti Kashi as the whole town is dotted with several Hindu and Jain temples. Jamnagar is famous for its bandhani (tie-dyed) fabrics, embroidery and silver ware.
It is an ideal city for exploring the surrounding coastline that stretches to Dwaraka, where rare birds flock to ankle deep islands and fine beaches are empty all year round. Jamnagar is best known for the India’s only Ayurvedic University where you can learn the techniques of ancient medicine and yoga and a temple that has hosted nonstop chanting since 1964.
How to reach Jamnagar
There are daily flights to Mumbai and Bhuj from Jamnagar. The aiport is situated 10 kms. west of the city.
There is a railway station at Jamnagar which is located on the Jamnagar – Ahmedabad line and connected with Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Jamnagar is connected with good roads from Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Porbandar.
Tourist Attractions in Jamnagar
Lakhota Palace and Ranmal Lake
The Lakhota Palace is situated on an island in the middle of the Ranmal lake in the shape of the large bastion. This palace once belonged to the Maharaja of Nawanagar. An arched stone bridge with balustrade connects the Lakhota Palace with the town. It was constructed as a famine relief work in 1839-45 AD.
The elaborate entrance gateway with carved jharokhas at upper level, overlooking the lake, the stark blank wall at the base, give it a look of invincible fortification. This palace now houses a museum and is a striking building with some fine woodcarving, good collection of sculptures, pottery found in the ruined medieval villages, coins, copper plates and inscriptions.
The walls are adorned with frescos depicting scenes of battle fought by Jadeja Rajputs against various enemies. The Renmal lake itself is a scenic breath of fresh air.
The Kotha bastion has an old well from which water can be drawn by blowing into a small hole in the floor.
Jam Ranjit Singhji constructed the Solarium under the supervision of the French Doctor Jean Saidman. The motorized movement was synchronized with the movement of the sun to provide maximum protection to the patients of TB, skin diseases and rheumatism.
Bala Hanuman Temple
At the Bala Hanuman Temple on the southeastern side of the Ranmal lake, there has been continuous chanting of the prayer Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram since 1 August, 1964. This devotion has earned the temple a place in the Guiness Book of World Records. Early evening is a good time to visit as the temple and whole lakeside gets busy.
In the thick of Chandi Bazaar are four beautiful Jain temples. The larger two, Shantinath Mandir and Adinath Mandir, dedicated to the 16th and first Tirthankaras, in front of the post office near the Darbar Gadh, explode with fine murals, mirrored domes and elaborate chandeliers. The Shantinath Mandir is particularly beautiful, with coloured columns and a gilt-edged dome of concentric circles.
Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary
The small Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary is unique bird sanctuary. This small bird sanctuary encompasses salt and freshwater marshlands. There are lots of cranes here from September to March. The best time to visit this sanctuary is during sunrise.
Marine National Park
The Marine National Park is situated offshore from the southern coast of the Gulf of Kutch in the Jamnagar district of Gujarat. The Gulf of Kutch, located on the west coast of India is an arm of the Arabian Sea, and separates the Saurashtra peninsula from the Great and Little Rann of Kutch. It is about 58 km wide on the seaward (western) side, and 170 km wide in the eastern side.
The Marine National Park was established in 1982 under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for the protection of threatened marine flora and fauna in the area. This park was declared as the first marine national park in India in 1982 and covers an area of 458 square kms. The Park consists of an archipelago of 42 islands. Some of the best known islands are Pirotan, Karubhar, Narara, Poshitra.
Wildlife attractions in the Marine National Park
Colourful coral reefs, mangrove swamp forests, mudflats, sea grass, sea weeds, Saag, Sesam, Kheru, Limda and rocky shoals form the landscape of the shallow waters of the Marine National Park. These plants prevent the land based predators from penetrating and also provides shelter to the birds for nesting and roosting purposes.
Coral lichen, Coral sponge, Green sponge, Puffer Fish, Crabs, Prawns, Sea anemones, Jelly Fishes, Octopus, Sea hare, Shelled mollusks, Sea slug, Star fish, Dolphins, Sea turtles and various coastal birds like painted storks, herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills, darters, flamingoes, avocets, ducks, terns, gulls, little cormorants and stints can be seen feeding on the mudflats and rocky shores, nesting on the mangrove canopies and wading in shallow coastal waters.
Dugong or sea cow, a marine mammal that looks like sea and breed in the Arabian sea and rare species of Bonnalia, an undivided worm, was also found here. During the monsoon season, 30 different species of migratory birds make their home among the mangrove forests. One of the most threatened birds, the great Indian bustard and Chowsingha, the world’s only four-horned antelope is also found in certain protected areas in this island.
In the Marine National Park, corals create fantasies in stone and are the master builders of the Park. Their limestone fortresses come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from the convoluted brain coral to corals that look like horns. There are some plants that look like animals and animals that look like plants.
There are various varieties of turtles, shrimp, sponge, eels, sea urchin lurk, fishes and octopuses that create a brilliance of colours that can be unknown, unseen and unimaginable to us. Gobies are also there which clean parasites from other fish and fishes who burrow so deep that only their eyes can seen. The Marine National Park also maintains a hatchery at Madhopur near Porbandar and also some temporary hatcheries on islands near Okha and Dwarka.
Best time to visit the Marine National Park
The best time to visit the Marine national park is from end of October till end of February. You can also hire boats at jetties near Jamnagar for a trip to the Marine national park.
How to reach Marine National Park
The nearest airport is located at Jamnagar, about 7 kms.
The nearest railway station are located at Jamnagar and Rajkot.
The nearest bus stand is located at Jamnagar.
The India’s only Ayurvedic University runs many courses in Ayurvedic medicines, including a full time 12 week introductory course teaching basic theory and medicine preparation, as well as diploma and degree courses. These courses are set up for foreign nationals with medical qualifications. Hatha Yoga, Massage, Steam bath and mud therapy can also be had here. It also has a good library and workshop and had been a place of research and international seminars on Ayurveda.
Bardar Sanctuary is situated 16 kms. south of Jamnagar. Bardar Sanctuary is a gentle mountain range filled with crumbling temples and ancient town settlements. It makes for a fabulously isolated, out of the way road trip.
The Darbargadh is the original residence of Jam Sahibs and has evolved over centuries. It reflects the fusion of Rajput and European architectural styles. Jam Rajit Singhji patronized two important urban design projects in front of the Darbargadh, namely Wellingdon Crescent and Chelmsford Market. The market in front of the Darbargadh – Wellingdon Crescent is a two storeyed arcade with semi-circular arches at both levels and decorative plasters terminating in balustradeRead More
Land of Gujarat
Gujarat is situated on the west coast of India. It is bounded in the west by the Arabian sea, in the north-west by Pakistan, in the north by Rajasthan, in the east by Madhya Pradesh and in the south and south-east by Maharashtra. The state of Gujarat occupies the northern extremity of the western sea-board of India. It has the longest coast line of 1290 kms. The state comprises of three geographical regions.
The peninsula, traditionally known as Saurashtra, is essentially a hilly tract sprinkled with low mountains. Kutch on the north-east is barren and rocky and contains the famous Rann (desert) of Kutch, the big Rann in the north and the little Rann in the east. The mainland extending from the Rann of Kutch and the Aravalli Hills to the river Damanganga is on the whole a level plain of alluvial soil.
Climate of Gujarat
The climate of Gujarat is moist in the southern districts and dry in the northern region. The Arabian sea and the Gulf of Cambay reduce the temperature and makes the climate more pleasant. The year can be divided into four seasons which are the winter season from November to February, the summer season from March to May, the south-west monsoon season from June to September and the intervening month of October.
The average rainfall in Gujarat varies from 33 to 152 cms. The southern region of the state has an average rainfall ranging from 76 to 152 cms, Dang district have the highest average of about 190 cms. The northern district have a rainfall ranging from 51 to 102 cms. The rainfall in the southern highlands of Saurashtra and the Gulf of Cambay is approximately 63 cms while the other parts of Saurashtra have a rainfall less than 63 cms.
The semi-desert area of Kutch has a very low average rainfall. Certain areas in Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Banaskantha, Panchmahal, Surendranagar, Jamnagar and Kutch districts receives very less or no rains. As the Tropic of Cancer passes through the northern border of Gujarat, the state has an intensely hot or cold climate. But the Arabian sea and the Gulf of Cambay in the west and the forest covered hills in the east soften the rigors of climatic extremes.
Rivers in Gujarat
The Banas in the north, originating in the Siranva hill in Sirohi in Rajasthan, flows by the foothills of Abu and disappears in the desert. The Saraswati takes its birth at Koteshvar near Ambaji, flows by Siddhpur and Patan and merges into the desert. The Sabarmati, one of the biggest rivers of north Gujarat, originates from the Dhebar lake in Rajasthan and flows towards the Gulf of Cambay.
The Hathmati, Vatrak, Mazam, Meshvo, Shedhi, Khari and the other rivulets also join it. The three virgin rivers of the north and the Sabarmati with its tributaries are the daughters of the Aravalli ranges, while the Mahi and Narmada with their families originate from Madhya Pradesh. The Narmada, one of the biggest and holiest river along with the only tributary, Karjan, meets the sea, about 16 kms. from Broach.
The Tapi takes its birth in the Satpura ranges near Betwa and enters Gujarat at Kakarapar. It flows around Surat and Rander and falls into the sea. The Mindhola, Purna, Ambika, Vanki, Auranga, Vapi, Par, Kolak and Damanganga are the rivers of south Gujarat, which originates in the Sahyadri. Most of the rivers of Saurashtra and Kutch dries up in the summer.
The rivers which originate in the central Saurashtra in the Chotila range flow to the south into the desert of Kutch. Only the Aji, Machhu and Brahmani are northward flowing rivers. The rivers originating in the Girnar and Gir namely, the Ojhat, Kamb, Surekh, Somal, Sangwada, Hirani, Kapila and Saraswati flow into the sea.
The Saraswati and Vastu are sacred rivers. Though Kutch has many rivers, they are small and do not have much water. The Khari flowing by Bhuj meets the desert and Magh and Tara empty their waters in the Gulf of Cambay. The Rudramata has been bunded for irrigation, providing the only irrigation project in Kutch.
Mountains in Gujarat
Gujarat’s mountains are rich in scenic beauty and have been closely associated with religious and historical aspects of the people. The northern and eastern borders are made up of mountains which are the tails or offshoots of outside ranges like the Aravallis, Vindhyas, Satpuras and Sahyadris. Saurashtra contains two parallel ranges, one stretching from east to west and the other from north-east to south-west.
The tracts of saline land of Kutch have three mountain ranges. The Aravalli which is the most ancient mountain range in Gujarat lies largely in Rajasthan and enters Gujarat at Abu and zigzagging up to the Pavagadh merges into the Vindhyas. The Taranga lies on the line from Mehsana to Visnagar. The Arasur branch of the Aravalli goes in the direction of Danta, Khedbrahma, Idar and Shamlaji and joins the Vindhyas.
Satpura National Park
The Satpura tail lies between the Narmada and Tapi with Rajpipla hills. The ranges of the Sahyadri lie across the Tapi with the highest rainfall and the densest forest in the state. The Saler Muler and the Parner form part of the Sahyadri range. The rocky region of Saurashtra has only two regular mountain ranges, the northern one having about a 357 metre peak in the Panchal region.
The Girnar which is the highest mountain in the state (1,145 metres) forms a part of the range south of the Bardo and is about 160 km in length. The highest peak is named after Guru Dattatreya. Garakhnath, Amba Mata, Kalika Mata are the names of the other peaks of Girnar. The small hill beside the Girnar, called the Jamial Shah Pir is a Muslim holy place.
The Shatrunjaya hill near Palitana is one of the five sacred hills of Jains. The hills of Talaja, Lor and Sana are known for their Buddhist caves. Kutch is a saline tract with three mountain ranges. The hills of Kutch are devoid of plant life. Among the three main ranges in Kutch, the northern one goes by Pachham, Khadir and Pranjal. The Kala Parvat forming a part of the ranges lies between Kutch and Sind. The southern range begins at Madh and goes up to Roha.
Fauna in Gujarat
Gujarat is very rich in animal life. The forest areas of the Gir in Saurashtra, Panchmahals and Dangs have herds of gazelles, black buck and spotted deer. The Asiatic lion is now localised in the Gir forest, which has also smaller mammals including langurs and blue bulls. Gujarat having an extensive coastline, perennial rivers and lakes and ponds are rich in a variety of fish. Besides Asiatic lion, tiger, panther, cheetah, wolf, jackal, fox, Civet, greyish langur, rabbit and porcupine are also found in the forest areas of the state.
The wild ass is a distinctive species found only in Gujarat, in the Rann of Kutch. The thick forests of Dang, which receive maximum rains and have abundant greenery, are the home of beautiful birds such as Trogon, hornbills, barbets, babblers, racket-tailed drongos and minivets. The Saras, pea-fowls, red-wattle lapwings, parakeets, babblers and mynas are mostly found in the plains.
The extensive coastal regions of the state give shelter to various birds like plovers, stints, sand pipers, curlews, lesser flamingoes, terns and gulls. During the winter, flocks of migratory birds came to Gujarat from faraway countries, like the pied-crested cuckoo, rosy pelicans, white storks, Brahmany duck, demoiselle cranes, common cranes, ducks, coots, snipes, moorhens, curlews and stints. During monsoons, the great and the little Rann of Kutch, serve as breeding ground for flamingoes, pelicans and avocets. While drier areas of Kutch and north Gujarat serve as haunt to grey partridges, larks, white-ear bulbuls, finch larks and sand-grouses.
Forests in Gujarat
The essential criteria for the growth of forests are suitable conditions of temperature and a heavy rainfall. In Gujarat, high rugged areas receive a higher rainfall than the plains. The rainfall in the state increases from the plains to the mountains and from north to south. The forests are therefore concentrated in the hilly parts of the state in the south-east and in the hills of Saurashtra. The hills of Kutch are bare because of low rainfall and the absence of any orographic features.
South, south-east and east Gujarat are the only areas which have a considerable forest cover. Gujarat has about 19.66 lakh hectares of land under forest. A large part of the forest cover which is economically exploitable is distributed in the districts of Dang, Panchmahal, Broach, Surat, Bulsar, Junagadh, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha. The south and south-eastern parts of the state support the growth of tropical deciduous forest typified by teak, Shorea Robusta for which the district of Bulsar is well known. Moist Deciduous Forests occur in Dang and parts of Vyara in Surat division.
These forests are not evergreen and shed their leaves during March and April. Dry deciduous forests with teak occur in north-east Gujarat, particularly in Sabarkantha district. The thorny forests which occur either in Kutch or north Saurashtra and Banaskantha district are characterized by Acacia Arabica, Acacia Leucophloea, Capparis Ophylla, Zizyphus Mauratiana etc. There are large stands of bamboo in South Gujarat than in the North.
Gujarat is one of the diverse and most beautiful state in India. Thousand of small and big fairs and festivals are celebrated in different parts of Gujarat every year. The festivals are based on the lunar or solar calendar. These festivals are observed with great enthusiasm and fun in which the people of all caste and religion participate.Today, these festivals are perhaps the only occasion that represents the true tradition and culture of Gujarat.
International Kite Festival
The International Kite Festival is celebrated on 14th January, that coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. The festival is celebrated to mark the end of winter. On this day, the kites flew all over Gujarat, including Ahmedabad and Baroda. The people eat the special food on this day in the open field or in the park or in the garden of one’s home. This festival marks the movement of the sun into the northern hemisphere.
The gods who are believed to have gone in a long sleep for six long months awake and the portals of heaven are thrown open. The visitors visit the temples and alms are distributed freely. The kite- flying starts at dawn and continues without a pause throughout the day. Friends, neighbours and total strangers battle one another for supremacy and cries of triumph fill the air when they cut each other kites.
The thread which is used to fly the kites are specially prepared by experts before the final day. Special mixtures of glue and ground glass cover the thread which is dried and then rolled onto reels known as firkees. In the night, various illuminated box kites, known as tukkals, fly in the sky. Today, the International Kite Festival is famous all over the world. This festival enables the people of Ahmedabad to see the unusual kites brought by the visitors, some of which are truly works of art.
Modhera Dance Festival
The Modhera Dance Festival is held during the third week of January every year, after the festival of Uttarayan. This festival is celebrated at the Sun Temple in Modhera. The style in which the temple was built bears a strong resemblance to that of the Jain temples at Mount Abu.
The decision to celebrate the annual festival of Indian classical dances was taken by the Department of Culture, Gujarat, and the West Zone Cultural Centre at the Sun Temple. The idea was to present classical dances in an atmosphere similar to that in which these were originally presented.
The Kutch Mahotsava is usually organized during February and March each year. This mahotsava is organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited in order to promote tourism in Kutch. In this festival, the visitors are taken on a six day tour of Kutch. This tour is known as a mahotsava, or great festival, because of the great variety of sights and scenes that are offered to visitors. Kutch has everything to offer to its visitors like the colourful people, historic towns and remarkable handicrafts.
Bhavnath Mahadev Fair
The Bhavnath Mahadev Fair is held for five days during Mahashivratri in the month of February. This fair is held at the Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, located at the foot of Girnar hill in Junagadh. The events which are associated with the fair are very colourful. The Mahapuja of Lord Shiva is held in this temple at midnight, on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Magh.
When the puja starts, naga bavas (naked sages) living nearby move towards the fair on elephants, holding flags and blow conch shells, that sound tungis and turis. It is also believed that Lord Shiva himself visits the shrine on this occasion. During this fair, the visitors are served free meals by the organizers.
In the fair there are special stalls that sell idols, sarees brought by vendors from Ayodhya and Mathura, utensils of brass and copper, sweets and fruits.
The spring festival of Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna. While Diwali marks the end of the monsoon and therefore the agricultural season of the Kharif crop, Holi marks the agricultural season of the Rabi crop. The next day after Holi is celebrated as Dhuleti (Dhuli Padvo) when people throw colour powder at each other and make merry.
On the festival of Balev or Raksha Bandhan, the Brahmins change their sacred threads. On the same day sisters tie Rakhi on their brother’s wrist wishing them a happy life. The day is also celebrated as Nariyeli Poonam in the coastal areas of the State, where people worship the sea offering coconuts.
Saptak Music Festival
Saptak Music Festival of Indian classical music is usually conducted on the first week of January in Ahmedabad every year. This festival was inaugurated by Pandit Ravi Shankar in 1980. The musical event is organised by a public charitable trust which runs the Saptak School of Music. This festival which spans the first 11 days of January, showcases the best talent of more than hundred musicians.
Janmashtami, the birthday of Shri Krishna, is celebrated with great splendour in Dwaraka. The main deity of Dwaraka is Shri Krishna. During the festival, the pilgrims visit the temple in Dwaraka from all parts of India and abroad. In this festival, the rows of lights are lit everywhere, kirtans and bhajans are sung, sermons are delivered and Krishna is worshipped in his infant form. After visiting the main temple, devotees visit the Shankhoddhar Beyt.
Bhadra Purnima Fair
The Bhadra Purnima Fair is held for three days in the month of September, every year. This fair is held on the full moon of Bhadrapad at the temple of the goddess Ambaji in Ambaji. Ambaji is the principal shrine of the goddess Ambaji in Gujarat. The deity is represented by a triangular Vishwa yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable ‘Shree’ in the centre and there is no idol.
This fact testifies the temple’s antiquity that the tourists visit the temple during the fair as an essential part of their lives. On this day, the various agriculturists and general public visit the temple. In the evening the Bhavai and garba dances are performed. The devotee attend readings of the Sapatashati, the seven hundred verses in praise of the goddess, and visit the temple for an auspicious view of the deity.
The Shamlaji Fair, also known as the Kartik Purnima Fair is held during the month of November, every year. This fair is held in Shamlaji, about 80 kms from Ahmedabad. The Shamlaji Temple is a renowned Vaishnav shrine, and the deity housed therein is known by various names as Gadadhar, bearer of the mace and Shaksi Gopal.
The Shamlaji Fair is celebrated for about two weeks. About 200,000 people of all communities and castes including the Garasia and Bhil tribes visit the fair. The visitors come here from the adjoining districts and from Rajasthan. Besides visiting the deity in the temple, they also take a bath in the river Meshwo. The visitors usually come in groups, and sing devotional songs, carrying religious banners.
The Tarnetar Fair, also known as the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair is held at Tarnetar, near the industrial town of Thangadh, Saurashtra. This fair is one of the most important fair of Gujarat. The local as well as the tribal people gather from all over Gujarat to participate in the various activities that take place at the fair. It is believed that the fair is held on this ancient site since antiquity.
The fair is also one of the most important matchmaking melas as the tribal youths visit Tarnetar to find a suitable match. Its association with the Mahabharat is underlined by the fact that the area was known as Panchal Pradesh, the land to which Draupadi belonged. The fair is linked with the story of Draupadi’s Swayamvar and it is said that it was at this place that the great archer Arjuna performed the difficult task that won him his bride.
Over 300 stalls are set up in the fair, that sell numerous objects and offer various types of food and refreshments. There are exhibitions of embroidery, a cattle show, competitive sports, family planning stall, merry-go-rounds and photographer’s stall. The folk music and dances like the Garba ras and hodo are the main features of the fair.
Navratri, that means ‘nine nights’ is an ancient, colourful and religious festival of Gujarat. This festival is celebrated to honour the one Divine Shakti or Force which supports the entire universe and is personified as the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess protects her worshippers, destroys evil and grants boons to her children.
Navratri is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm throughout the Gujarat, but in Ahmedabad and Baroda, Garba and Dandia dances are performed. This festival is celebrated with true devotion in the various temples which are dedicated to the Mother Goddess. In this festival, the women perform the Garba dance or the circular dance around an earthenware pot called a garbo which is filled with water. A betel nut and a silver coin are placed within the pot, on the top of which a coconut is placed. As the dancers whirl around the pot, a singer and a drummer also accompanies them.
The participants clap in a steady rhythm. The dance usually starts slowly and gets fast with the music. In large public areas, group of musicians sing the traditional garba songs. The Dandia ras or ‘stick’ dance is also performed during Navratri. Both the men and women perform the dance in circle, holding small polished sticks or dandies. As per the rhythm of the dance, men and women strike the dandies together, adding to the joyous atmosphere.
These dances are so popular that sometimes competitions are held and prizes are given to the best dancer. The dancers worn the traditional costumes, alive with colour. The dances usually commence late in the night and continue until early morning. A Bhavai dance is also performed in the Ambaji temple at Baroda, during Navratri.
Vautha Fair is a magnificent fair that is held every year at Vautha, where two rivers, Sabarmati and Vatrak meet. This fair is considered to be one of the largest fairs in Gujarat. According to the legends the Kartik Swami or Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva, visited the site.
This fair is held during Kartika Purnima, the full moon night of the month of Kartik, corresponding to the month of November for 2 to 3 days. The pilgrims who visit Vautha during the fair come from several communities and include farmers, laborers and people belonging to several castes. This fair is visited by Hindus and Muslims in very large numbers. This fair is also one of the major animal trading fair in Gujarat. In this fair, about 4000 donkeys are brought every year for sale, usually by Banjara traders.
Madhavrai Fair at Madhavpur near Porbandar is held to celebrate the marriage of Lord Krishna and Rukmini, on the 9th day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra (March/April).
The Urs at Shah Alam Roza in Ahmedabad and at Miran Datar in the Mehsana district are most important fairs for Muslims.
Diwali, the festival of lights is a four-day festival celebrated in the month of Asvina, which marks the end of the harvesting season. The first day of the festival starts with the Lakshmi Puja. The second day is considered as the day of casting off evils. The third day is the main Diwali day. On this day every home is illuminated with earthen lamps and the courtyards are decorated with Rangoli designs. The fourth and the last day is the New year day for the Gujarati’s when people visit temples in colourful costumes and greet each other.
The day following the new year day is called the Bhai bij day when brothers are invited by their sisters to partake of sweets with them. The full moon day of the Kartika month, with its preceding eleventh (ekadashi) day is called the Dev-Diwali. On these days the marriage of the Tulsi plant with the Shaligram, symbolising Lord Vishnu, is celebrated in every Hindu home in Gujarat.
It also marks the end of the fast, observed for the four months of rainy season, during which Hindus, mostly ladies, miss a meal on every Ekadashi day
General Information about Gondal
Gondal, a fortified town is located on the River Gondali was the capital of the former princely state of Gondal and was ruled by the Jadeja Rajput clan, who ruled the princely states of Kutch, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Gondal for more than 300 years. But in the late 19th century and early 20th century the present state of Gondal saw various developments under the rule of Maharaja Bhagwat Singhji.
Maharaja Bhagwat Singhji introduced various social reforms and planned the development of the Gondal town. Due to his reforms, the town of Gondal grow into one of the most progressive princely states in the region with an efficient system of roads, railways, schools, hospitals, highways, sanitary drainage, irrigation and free compulsory education.
How to reach Gondal
The nearest airport is located at Rajkot which is about 39 kms.
There is a railway station at Gondal which is located on the Rajkot – Veraval line.
Gondal is located about 39 kms. from Rajkot and 264 kms. from Ahmedabad.
Tourist Attractions in Gondal
The Riverside Palace was built in 1875 AD by Maharaja Bhagwat Sinhji for his son Yuvraj Bhojraji. The palace is set in lawns and gardens beside the river Gondal. There are various sitting arrangements which are furnished in typical colonial style with antique wooden furniture and many pleasant sit-outs are also located on the terraces and galleries overlooking either the river or the garden.
The Orchard Palace is located in a huge complex of fruit orchards, lawns and gardens. This palace is a wing of the Huzoor Palace, where the ruling family of Gondal entertained guests. The ‘room of miniatures’ is a splendid sitting room with a collection of miniature paintings, brass and antique furniture.
The Royal Garages have an extensive collection of vintage and classic cars from 1910 to 1955, limousine and sports cars from 1950 and 1960, American cars from 1940 and 1950, and a fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles from the World War II and post-war period. Most of these cars are restored and some bear the original Gondal State number plates.
Naulakha Darbargadh Palace was built during the 17th century is one of the oldest and the most beautiful palace in Gondal. This palace is situated on the banks of the river on a grand masonry base, rising about 30 meter above the river bed and was built in about nine lakhs and thus named so. The palace is approached by the high gateway with the clock tower from the town side.
The entrance leads to a huge open space with administrative blocks on the right and a grand staircase on the extreme left corner leading to the intricately carved pavilions on the open terrace. There are stone carvings with exquisite balconies, fabulous pillared courtyard, delicately carved arches, and a unique spiral staircase in the palace.
The grand Darbar Hall has series of huge windows which open into long balcony supported by intricately carved brackets. The Darbar Hall has large chandeliers, stuffed panthers, wooden furniture and antique Belgian mirrors. The private palace museum displays artifacts and gifts received by Maharaja Bhagwat Sinhji as a ruler of Gondal, on his 50th birthday and various other relics.
General Information about Gandhinagar
Gandhinagar is situated about 32 kms. north of Ahmedabad on the west banks of the Sabarmati river. It is the new state capital of Gujarat after Ahmedabad. Gandhinagar forms a striking contrast to Ahmedabad, with big broad avenues and lots of greenery.
When the old state of Bombay was divided along the linguistic lines into Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960, Bombay city fell to the share of Mahrashtra. It was then decided to build an entirely new capital for Gujarat. Ahmedabad became the capital of Gujarat and later a new capital city was planned for Gujarat.
In the spirit of independence, this new administrative centre was named after the state’s most famous son, Mahatma Gandhi as Gandhinagar. As with Chandigarh, Le Corbusier was instrumental in design. The numbered sectors are similarly impersonal. Its construction began in 1965 and the secretariat was moved here in 1970. It is the India’s second largest city after Chandigarh.
This is where state politicians live in large well fortified houses. Gandhinagar presents the spacious, well-organised look of an architecturally integrated city.
How to reach Gandhinagar
The nearest airport is Ahmedabad.
The nearest railway station are Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad.
Gandhinagar is connected to the various cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Baroda, Patan
Tourist Attraction in Gandhinagar
The Akshardam temple is one of the famous temple in Gandhinagar. This temple belongs to the wealthy Hindu Swaminarayan Group, the richest sect in the world. This temple was built by nearly 1000 artisans. It is an elaborately carved building constructed out of 6000 tonnes of pink sandstone with beautiful carvings and surrounded by the manicured lawns, perfect trees and admirable fountains. In September 2002, this temple was attacked by the terrorists.
In the heart of the capital, in Sector 10, is the well laid out complex of buildings housing the legislature and government offices. Vithalbhai Patel Bhavan, a magnificent domed building, stands majestically on a high podium in the centre of a circular lake and houses the Vidhan Sabha and the legislature offices.
Flanking it, and linked by hanging corridors, are two modern multi-storeyed buildings. Sardar Bhavan, which houses the various departments of the State Secretariat, and Narmada Bhavan, where the offices of all the heads of departments are situated. The Secretariat along with the offices of the heads of various departments are now located in a complex of three-storeyed buildings constructed to house the district offices, in sector 9.
Located near Gandhinagar, on the Sabarmati river back, is Pethapur village, only 7 kms from the capital. Once famous for its colourful `Bandhani’ saris, the village also used to export wooden printing blocks to Singapore. The wooden blocks, with exquisite patterns carved on them, are used for the hand-printing of cloth. They are still in demand among the people. Some of the printing centres in India are Ahmedabad, Bombay, Jetpur and Rajkot. The Pethapur craftsmen are mainly Gujjar Suthars.
Adalaj Step Well
Adalaj Step Well, the architectural marvel, is situated about 15 kms from the capital on the National Highway. This well is famous for its unique architecture with a huge artistic edifice and a flight of steps that enables one to reach the water, whatever be its level. The Adalaj Step Well is considered to be the best of all step wells in Gujarat.
Children’s Park is a major attraction for children and holiday makers. The Children’s Park has a mini train and a lake with boating facilities.
In sector 9 and along the river front is the lovely Sarita Udyan, an ideal spot for picnickers. The entire area is being developed to provide full recreational facilities. Deer Park – Adjacent to Sarita Udyan, at Indroda village, on the outskirts of the capital city, is the sprawling deer park, a big draw for both children and adults.
General Information about Dwaraka
Dwaraka is located on the extreme western end of Kathiawar peninsula, where the River Gomti meets the Arabian Sea. This is one of the four most important holy places of the Hindus and attracts tourists from all over the world. The Lord Krishna also established his capital at Dwaraka after he left Mathura.
The importance, foundation, planning and glory of Dwaraka as the golden city is described in various Hindu epics like Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Sijupdlavadha, Bhagvad Gita, Skand Purana, Vishnu Purana and Mahabharat. The architecture of the old Dwaraka city was majestic and wonderful.
History of Dwaraka
The city of Dwaraka has a very large and old traditional history. Dwaraka was the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra, was a large, well fortified and the prosperous city due to the sea trade which prevailed in this city. This region was full of flowering and fruit-bearing trees. Due to fear of the attack by Jarasangh and Kaalayvan on Mathura, Shri Krishna and Yadavas left Mathura and arrived at the coast of Saurashtra.
They decided to build their capital in the coastal region and invoke the Vishwakarma, the deity of construction. However, Vishwakarma said that the task can be completed only if Samudradev, the Lord of the sea provide some land. Shri Krishna worshipped Samudradev, who pleased by the prayers decided to gave them the land measuring 12 yojans from the sea near the western shores of Saurashtra and thus the Lord Vishwakarma laid the foundation of Dwaraka.
Lord Krishna later set up his capital at Dwaraka, on the banks of river Gomti. This beautiful city was also known as Dwaramati, Dwarawati and Kushsthali. It was a well planned city and had well organized six sectors, residential and commercial zones, wide roads, palaces and many public utilities. A hall called “Sudharma Sabha” was built to hold public meetings.
The city was one of the busiest ports during the Mahabharata period. After the end of the war of Mahabharata, Shri Krishna lived for 36 years at Dwaraka. It was also the land of the Ekalavya and the saint Dronacharya. According to the legends, the Dwaraka city met a sudden end due to the fury of the sea.
According to some other legends, immediately after the death of the Lord Krishna, Dwaraka disappeared into the sea. Attempts are being still made to rediscover the lost Dwaraka from the sea. In the early eighties, an important archaeological site was found at Dwaraka.
How to reach Dwaraka
The nearest airport is located at Ahmedabad which is about 216 kms from Dwaraka.
Dwaraka is connected with direct trains with Ahmedabad on the western railway.
Dwaraka is easily connected with various cities of Gujarat. It is about 216 kms from Ahmedabad and 798 kms. from Mumbai via Ahmedabad
Tourist Attractions in Dwaraka
Jagat Mandir Dwaraka is known all over the world for the Dwarkadhish temple, the ‘Lord of Dwarka’, also known as the Jagat Mandir or the temple of the world. This temple was constructed over 1400 years ago and houses the image of Lord Krishna, is one of the most famous pilgrimage place for the Hindus and attracts pilgrims from all over the world.
This temple is magnificently built on the traditional lines and has five floors supported by 60 columns. It is profusely carved from the base to the pinnacle. The interior is simple while the exterior is covered with elaborate carvings.
Some of the major festivals of Janmashtami and Navratri are celebrated with great enthusiasm and rejoicing in the Dwarka. After visiting the main temple, some of the devotees visit the Shankhoddhar Beyt or Beyt Dwaraka.
Besides the Dwarkadhish temple, there is a popular temple dedicated to Rukmini, the Lord Krishna’s wife, who is also considered as an incarnation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and beauty. There are various other temples which are dedicated to Mirabai and Narsinh Mehta and Shank Narayan. There is also a temple which is dedicated to the Matsyavatar, the incarnation of Vishnu as a fish.
A pilgrimage to Dwaraka is not complete until a visit has been made to the Beyt Dwaraka. It is a Hindu temple on the island off the coast. The temple dates from the 19th century and contains a series of shrines and images of Krishna and his 56 consorts. The archaeological excavations have revealed Harappan artifacts dating from the 2nd millennium BC.
Okha is a small port at the head of the Gulf of Kutch and is about 30 kms north of Dwaraka. The island nearby is connected with the legend of Vishnu slaying the demon.
General Information about Diu
Daman and Diu are the two tiny union territories which were the Portuguese enclaves. Geographically, Daman and Diu are the part of the state of Gujarat and connected to the mainland of Gujarat by a causeway.
Diu is a tiny island in the Arabian Sea, about 11 kms. long and 3 kms. wide, separated from the coast by a narrow channel running through the swamp and two tiny mainland enclaves. It is very difficult to reach here so one has to travel through the town of UNA. The northern side of the island facing Gujarat is tidal marsh and salt pans, while the southern coast alternates between limestone cliffs, rocky coves and sandy beaches.
The island’s main industries are fishing, tourism, booze and salt. This beautiful island has excellent golden beaches, whitewashed churches, bazaar, colourful Lisboa streets, gorgeous climate, huge Portuguese fort, lush seafood and Gujarati weekenders who flock for the cheap booze and sunshine. Gujarati, Hindi, English and Portuguese are the main languages which are spoken in Diu. The best time to visit Diu is from September to May.
History of Diu
Diu has a very long and glorious history that stretches back into legends and mythology. It was believed that Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata spent a part of their fourteen years exile in Diu. According to the legends, Diu was once ruled by the great king Jallandhar who was a demon and was killed by the Lord Vishnu with his Sudarshan Chakra.
Diu was the first settlement in India of the Parsis who came from Persia in the 7th century. Hi is was also ruled by the Mauryans during 320-322 BC and was the main trade center on the Saurashtra Coast. Between the 14th and 16th centuries It is was an important trading post and naval base from which the Ottomans controlled the northern Arabian Sea shipping routes.
Portugal made a unsuccessful attempt to capture the island in 1531, during which the Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat was assisted by the Turkish navy. The Portuguese finally secured control in 1535 by taking advantage of the war between the Sultan and Mughal emperor, Humayun. When the Humayun attacked the Sultan of Gujarat, the Gujarat Sultan entered into a treaty with the Portuguese in 1535 for their help against him and give them control over the Diu Port.
The treaty was soon ignored and although both Bahadur Shah and his successor, Sultan Mahmud III, attempted to contest the issue, the peace treaty that was eventually signed in 1539 ceded the island of Diu and the mainland enclave of Ghoghla to Portugal. The city was also rewarded to the Portuguese governor Nuno De Cunha, who constructed a fort in Diu and raised his arsenal.
Governor Joao de Castro finally seized Diu in 1546 and it remained a Portuguese enclave till its liberation in 1961 along with Daman and Goa. Seven Rajput soldiers and a few civilians were killed in the Operation Vijay, which ended Portuguese rule in 1961. Diu was taken over by India in 1961. With Daman, it is still governed from Delhi as a Union Territory.
Festivals in Diu
A grand festival of culture and sporting activities is held for 5 days from 19 to 23 December every year to commemorate Diu’s Liberation Day. In this festival various folk performers and traditional craftsmen expose their talents in order to keep the heritage of Diu alive.
How to reach Diu
Diu is easily connected by air and has regular flights to Mumbai.
Diu has excellent all weather road links with the major cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Baroda.
The nearest railway station is located at Delwada, between Una and Ghoghla and is only about 8 kms. from Diu.
Tourist Attractions in Diu
Fort is a very large and imposing structure, situated on the coast of the island. This fort was constructed between 1535 and 1541 AD after the treaty signed between the Sultan of Gujarat and the Portuguese. The fort is surrounded by the sea on the three sides and a canal on the fourth side. The fort offers a magnificent view of sea. On the fort stands a giant structure which now houses a Light House and the Diu jail.
The beam from the lighthouse reaches to about 32 kms. Several canons are still located on the top of the fort and peep out of the holes on the walls of this gigantic structure. Fortress of Panikota Fortress of Panikota is a magnificent stone structure in the sea, built right at the mouth of the creek.
This fortress can be reached only by a canoe or a motor launch. This fortress has a light house and small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea. The fortress offers a very beautiful view whether seen from the jetty, from the Fort, from the village of Ghoghla or from Diu proper.
Gangeshwar Temple is situated 3 kms away from the Diu town in Fudam village. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are five lingas which are located in the middle of the rocks on the seashore, and are washed by the waves of the sea. It is believed that these lingas were established here by the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata during their exile.
St. Paul’s Church
St. Paul’s Church is dedicated to the Lady of Immaculate Conception. This church was built during the 17th century and the most elaborate of all Portuguese churches in India. St. Paul’s Church was founded by Jesuits in 1600 and then rebuilt in 1807. Inside it is a great barn, filled with heavy dark wood, with a small cloister, next door. The main entrance of the church is adorned with volutes and shell-like motifs.
Jallandhar Shrine is located on a hill close to the beach. This small shrine crowned with a dome, contains a niche where a stone carved face of the demon Jallandhar can be seen. Near to this shrine, the temple of Goddess Chandrika is located.
Earlier there was no building in Diu to house the antique statues and various stone inscriptions, so the old St. Thomas Church was converted into Diu museum. Diu Museum houses wooden carvings, statues, idols, shadow clocks and other important artifacts collected from various sites.
St. Thomas Church
St. Thomas Church is a lovely simple building housing the Diu Museum. There is a spooky, evocative collection of worn Catholic statues. Once a year, on 1 November, this is used for a packed out mass. There are also some remains of the Jain temple. There is a guest house upstairs and you can also climb the roof for amazing views.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi has been converted into a hospital, but is also sometimes used for services. The Portuguese descended population mostly live in this area, still called the foreigner’s quarter. Naida Caves
The Naida Caves are situated outside the city wall. These caves have an intriguing, overgrown network of square hewn hollows and steps leading off into nowhere. This is where the Portuguese hacked out their building materials.
The Shell Museum contains the shells collected by Captain Devjibhai Fulbaria. Captain Devjibhai Fulbaria, a merchant navy captain collected shells for almost 50 years. The amazing shells range from the silver abalone to folding shells.
Vanakbara is a fascinating little fishing village. It is great to wander around the port, packed with colorful fishing boats and bustling activity. It is best to watch this place at 9 AM when the fishing fleet returns and sells off its catch.
Ghoghla Beach is one of the most beautiful beach in Diu. This beach also offers various water sports facilities like parasailing etc.
Nagoa Beach is located in the Nagoa hamlet of the Bucharwada village. This beach stretches about 2 km from one end to the other. This long, palm-fringed beach is very beautiful and quiet and is in the horse-shoe shape. This beach is very safe for swimming.
Gomtimata Beach is located on the western end of the island. This is one of the best beaches of the region, long and secluded and spread with natural white sand.
Some of the other beaches within the easy reach of the Diu Town are Jallandhar, Chakratirth and the stunning Sunset Point. These beaches are very popular among the foreign tourists and a small, gentle curve is good for swimming and hassle free.
General Information about Daman
Daman is the tiny union territory which was the Portuguese enclave and situated on the southern side of the Gulf of Cambay. Geographically, Daman and Diu are the part of the state of Gujarat and connected to the mainland of Gujarat by a causeway. The small town of Daman is like Diu which is a tiny island in the Arabian Sea and covers an area of 380 square km.
This beautiful island has excellent golden beaches, forts and churches, bazaars, and a booze soaked whimsy that attracts Gujarati and Mumbai weekenders who flock for the cheap booze and sunshine on the Devka beach. Gujarati, Hindi, English and Portuguese are the main languages which are spoken in Daman.
The best time to visit Daman is from September to May.
History of Daman
Daman developed as the Portuguese trading centre from 1531. Much of its early commerce was with the Portuguese territories in East Africa. Later from 1817 to 1837, it was a link in the opium trade chain until this was broken by the British. The Portuguese officially ceded Daman from the Bahadur Shah, the last major Gujarati Sultan, in 1559. Along with Diu and Goa, Daman was taken in 1961 from the Portuguese, who had seized in 1531. With Diu and Goa, it is still governed from Delhi as a Union Territory.
How to reach Daman
Daman has excellent all weather roads linked with the major cities of Gujarat like Diu, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Baroda and even Mumbai.
The nearest railway station is located at Vapi, on the main railway line and is only about 10 kms. from Daman.
Tourist Attractions in Daman
St. Jerome Fort
The St. Jerome Fort offers views of the colourful fishing fleet. This fort on the northern banks encloses a church and cemetery with still a few cannons on the walls. The nearby bridge often tumbles in monsoon season. The fort has a magnificent gateway facing the river to impress incoming traffic. The Church of Our Lady of the Sea inside the walls is worth visiting place inside the fort.
The Old Fort contains the ruins of a monastery, Governor’s Palace, barracks, hospital and two churches. The eastern side has a moat and drawbridge.
The Jain Temple is located to the north of the church. This temple has 18th century murals depicting the life of Mahavira, who lived around 500 BC.
The Fort is situated in the Moti Daman area and dates back to 1559. The walls, divided by 10 bastions, encircle the 30 square km of land. Inside are sleepy, leafy streets reminiscent of the Portuguese era and there are relaxing views across the river to Nani Daman form the ramparts near he lighthouse. Moti Daman once housed the Portuguese gentry and near the fort gate is the sometime home of the 18th century Portuguese poet Bocage.
Church of Bom Jesus
The Church of Bom Jesus was built in 1603 and is a piece of Iberia in India, with elaborate woodcarving.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, across the overgrown square has ancient Portuguese tombstones set into its cool, damp floor. Light filters through the dusty windows, illuminating the altar, a masterpiece of furiously detailed, gold-painted woodcarving.
The grubby, rocky shores of the Devka Beach is located about 3 kms. north of the Nani Daman. But the ambience of the place is quiet and easy. The bars and hotels dot the quiet beachside road.
The palm-shaded Jampore Beach is located about 23 kms. south of Moti Daman. This beach is better, but not good for swimming.