The land of lions and legends is much more than what Mr. Bachchan tells us in the Incredible India ads. Thoroughfare is the greatest way to experience a culture different from ours. The best thing about car journeys is that you genuinely get to see the transition in culture along the way. The clothes change, colours change, turbans change, the way a sari is draped changes and so does the scenery. From cattle to chirography, everything converts to a different scheme. The kine of cows with their marshal in Haryana changes to flock of goats with their shepherd in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
They say “To travel is to take a journey into yourself” so stop and inhale the novelty at every step. The stark contrast between the greys of Delhi and the blues of Gujarat will be enough to take you by surprise. Smoothness of the pitch black roads without any potholes to encumber the steer will definitely make your car happy (Yes! PM Modi did get something right!). So take a week off and disentangle yourself with a trip to the Saurashtra.
What I took from this trip would be very different from the one sitting next to me. When our GPS decided to ditch us and started talking gibberish, we had no other choice than to turn to the locals and it is then that I realised that Guajarati’s are the helpful kinds, although I was surprised how most of them didn’t speak Hindi at all; but we were able to commune in a sign language created on the spot by both the parties. The 9 day long trip ended with a bucketful of memories and a yearning to go back and experience it all over again. Here is what Gujarat has to offer to every exploratory soul out there!
If you have decided to experience everything along the way and finally chosen to drive down to Gujarat, here is how you can reach there.
Noida-Bijainagar (474 kms. Dist. Ajmer)
Bijainagar-Ahmadabad (500 kms.)
Ahmadabad-Diu (436 kms.)
Diu-Somnath-Dwarka (313 kms.)
Dwarka-Jamnagar (102 kms.)
Jamnagar-Ahmdabad (310 kms.)
Ahmedabad-Ajmer (587 kms.)
Ajmer-Noida (417 kms.)
Breeze through the cotton farms and those sunshine yellow mustard fields along the way. These commercial crops make for pretty epic sceneries too!
When to visit?
The best time to visit Gujarat is during the winters; considering that the winters are not that severe in Gujarat and you can comfortably live through it in a single jumper. What is more luring for a Delhiite than to holiday in a warm sunny weather whilst the spine chilling cold engulfs north of India. The union territory of Daman and Diu offers a number of festivals for those interested. One of the biggest that Diu hosts is the ‘Festa de Diu.’ It is Asia’s longest beach festival that starts in the month of December and draws out till February. Tents are pitched along the sandy beaches and the fun begins.
Gujarat for scenic splendour
Coastal Gujarat is a photographer’s paradise. An 8 hour drive to Diu from Ahmadabad seems to be worth it once the Arabic Ocean comes in to view. The drive itself is a breathtaking one, tall swaying palm trees lined on both sides of the road immediately takes off the tiredness of a long drive. It is advisable to halt for at least two days in Diu to cover all the touristy spots. Just hire a taxi while there and you are good to go! Diu is famous for its Portuguese architecture and cathedrals. What grabbed my attention were the extraordinary colour combinations of the houses. Pink with Purple, Red and Yellow, Blue and Yellow. Every house had a different colour with a different character.
It is considered to be the best of Diu. Nagoa beach offers a range of recreational activities from parasailing to jet skiing. I suggest catching the sunrise at Nagoa and you will have a bomb instagram account for days!
This one is a rocky beach, nonetheless breathtaking. The navy blue of the ocean complements the treacherous rocks in more than one way!
It is called ‘the best of the west’ for a reason! You have to be there to understand the unusualness of this stretch. The bright blue of the sky with the sun kissed sandy beach contrasted by the pitch black roads is something that many a travellers solely look forward to!
While travelling from Dwarka to Jamnagar you will come across salt plains with painted pelicans and storks that dot the gulf. Keep an eye out for such patches!
Gujarat for food and shopping: Jamnagar
Head to Jamnagar to sample lip smacking authentic Gujarati food. Food truly bridge cultures in a way nothing else can. Order an unlimited thali if you (like me) have the fear to miss out on authenticity and food! Although Gujarat has an extensive coastline the state is predominantly vegetarian.
Jamnagar also houses stores that retail in Bandhej Saris, which are typical to Gujarat.
For distinctive Gujarati sweets stop at the very famous H.J. Vyas. You won’t be disappointed!
Gujarat for the religiously inclined
Located on the western coast, Somnath is an important pilgrimage for worshippers of lord Shiva. Even if you are not the religious kind, I would still suggest to stopover and step in. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the premises of the temple but the panoramic view you earn is something you will reminisce every now and again.
It is one of the ‘Char Dhams’ that are widely revered by Hindus. Dwarkadheesh is a Vaishnava temple. There is proper parking space allotted not far off from the temple so it is convenient for all.
Tips for a road trip
- Start early to avoid traffic: It is always advisable to get a head start so that you beat the rush hours on weekdays.
- Don’t keep a strict time to reach your destination. It only builds up pressure. Keep loose time slots.
- Carry food (lot of it! esp. for long travels)
- Top up wherever possible.
So travel for travel’s sake! Journeys teach us to turn our eyes inwards. There is always so much talked about the kutch region that many assume that it is the soul thing that defines Gujarat. From what I experienced during this soul satisfying trip, Gujarat is beyond kutch and much more.