Somnath is the first and most sacred of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. According to the legend the Hindu moon god known as Soma built a temple entirely of gold to pay reverence to the lord's glory and compassion and the temple came to be known as the Somnath Temple. As per the legends the same temple was reconstructed by Ravana in Silver, Krishna in wood, and by King Bhimdev from stone.
Lying on the shores of the Arabian Sea, this temple has been destroyed then reconstructed on number of occasion and finally after India got Independence.Each year millions of devotees seek the blessing of Lord Shiva at Somnath, rated one of the top temples in India when it comes to religious significance.
Bhuj city is the administrative headquarter of Kachchh District, the largest district of Gujarat in terms of geographical area. It is located in north-west part of Gujarat at a distance of around 400 Km from Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, the state capital. Being centrally situated in the district, and second largest city of Kachchh, Bhuj is of strategic importance for development of the region. Bhuj is well connected with other cities of Kachchh and Gujarat by road and rail. It serves as an important center for trade and commerce for the region.
On 21 July 1956 as well on 26 January 2001, the city was struck by a major earthquake, which caused a great deal of damage and loss of life and property. Many parts of Bhuj were demolished due to the extensive damage whilst others were repaired. There has been a great deal of progress in the city since 2001 earthquake with considerable improvements to transportation and various other infrastructures.
The town actually had a rich and vibrant history. Since it was a walled city, at its prime in history, there were 35 feet high walls and towers that surrounded the city with 51 guns to boot. There was a hill for that was strategically located in such a manner, that the soldier would be able to espy on enemies and alert their defenses. Bhuj has its name from the fortress called Bhujiyo that overlooks the city from this nearby hill.
The city of Bhuj was established by Rao Hamirji in 1510 and was made the state capital by Rao Khengarji I in 1549. Its foundation stone as state capital laid formally on Vikram Samvat 1604 Maagha 5th (Approx. 25 January 1548). From 1947 to 1956 Bhuj was Capital of Kachchh State. After 1960, Kachchh became part of Gujarat state.
Gir National Park
Gir, the royal kingdom of the Asiatic lions is the perfect dwelling place for most of the wildlife creatures and with the presence of great environs and topography thronging along this region, the area has really got its true importance. Also known as Sasan-Gir, or Gir forest, this is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, established in 1965. By covering the total area of 1412 sq km (about 258 sq km for the fully protected area (the national park) and 1153 kms for the Sanctuary), the park is placed at a distance of 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh and 60 km to south west of Amreli.
The land of the Asiatic lion is the ideal reserve for the tremendous varieties of wild creatures to roam freely and safely. To make a royal journey towards the grand rugged hills of Sasan Gir, the wildlife lovers can get a fabulous opportunity to witness around 2,375 distinct fauna species of Gir to include around 38 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects.
The group of the carnivores in Gir is truly comprised of the presence of Asiatic lions, Indian Leopards, Indian Cobras, Sloth bears, Jungle cats, Golden Jackals, Indian Palm Civets, Striped Hyenas, Indian Mongoose and Ratels. Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats exist but can be rarely seen.
The main herbivores genres of the residents of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Blue bull), Antelope, Sambar, Four-horned Chinkara and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area can be occasionally identified in the sanctuary.
The group of smaller mammals will also include Porcupine and Hare where Pangolin is rare in Gir sanctuary. The reptiles are represented by the Marsh crocodile hir Tortoise and the Monitor Lizard in the water areas of the sanctuary. Snakes and Pythons too can be found in the lush bushes and along the streams. Being adopted under the Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977, the Gujarat State Forest Department has used the reserve area where the area is also flourished with more than 300 species of birds. The scavenger group of birds has 6 recorded species of Vultures. Some of the typical species of Gir include Crested Serpent Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Crested Hawk-eagle, endangered Bonelli's Eagle, Rock Bush-Quail, Indian Eagle-Owl, Black-headed Oriole, Pygmy Woodpecker, Crested Treeswift and Indian Pitta.
Kankaria Lake was constructed by Sultan Qutb-ud-Din in the year 1451. Situated in Ahmedabad, this is one of the biggest lakes in the city. Nagina Wadi, a summer palace is seen in the island garden, which is at the center of Kankaria Lake.
The lake would be a natural choice of tourists as it has something to offer for all age groups. Parks, children's gardens, recreational center, boat club, zoo and a museum are the top attractions here. Kankaria Zoo is spread over a massive 21-acre land and it houses various animals like tigers, elephants, anaconda, python and a lot more.
The children's park has various entertainments for children such as boathouse, mirror house, planetarium and toy house. Toy trains are available to take you round the lake. Balloon safari near Kankaria Lake attracts tourists in great numbers.
Laxmi Vilas Palace
Built between the years 1878 and 1890 by Maharaja Sayaji Rao, the Third, Laxmi Vilas Palace is a glorious example of architectural brilliance of the past. The palace is situated in a massive 700 acre of land.
The stunning interiors of the palace and the opulent furnishings are awe-inspiring. The museum in the palace has a rare collection of sculptures, artworks, armory and many more. Some of Raja Ravi Varma's famous paintings are seen here. The zoo in the palace houses peacocks and crocodiles.
Nestled in between the Veraval and Dwarka, Porbandar beach lies towards the southwest coast of the state of Gujarat. It is mostly known across the country for its various tourist attractions. It has an ancient port that enhances its beauty and implication. Porbandar is the birth place of Mahatama Gandhi, the father of the nation. Other than this, this place is also believed to be the birth place of Sudama, who was a close friend and devotee of Lord Krishna. Earlier during the British rule in India, this place was a part of the opulent states. The remains of ancient seawalls and ports along the Porbandar brook certify that the city was earlier a center of marine activities.
Porbandar was earlier a flourishing trade center for centuries and merchandized with Arab, Persian and East African countries under the rule of British, Mughals and Marathas. And today there are lots of chemical and cement factories located on the outskirts of the town. The history of this place is linked with many great historical personalities.
Travel explorers can go for sightseeing activities as there are many monuments and temple of popular historical importance like Kirti Mandir, a memorial to the Father of the nation. So, come and escape to the secluded beauty of beautiful paradise, Porbandar beach
Rani Ka Van
One of the rare monuments erected by a queen for her beloved king, Rani Ka Vav is a spectacular step well in very well preserved condition. It was commissioned by Rani Udayamati in memory of her deceased husband King Bhimdev I in the year 1063.
Soon after completion, the step well got flooded by water and silt from the nearby Saraswati River. It was only in 1980s that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated this Vav and desilting was undertaken.
The structure that was uncovered was a majestic specimen of carved sculptures, niches and compartmented pavilions with pillars. Rani ka Vav is one of the largest and finest and unique step wells and is currently in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This subterranean step well leads down through stepped corridors which are marked by pillared pavilions. The central motif of the intricately carved sculptures is the Dasavataras, or the 10 incarnations of Hindu god Vishnu. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras.
The sculpture of apsaras painting their lips and adorning themselves in different style represents the 'solah shringar' or the 16 ways to make up to look more attractive. In total there are four hundred niches on the walls displaying carvings in this vav.
Rann Of kutch
There's a saying that goes in Gujarat. "Kutch Nahin dekha to kuchh nahin dekha" which translates to "you haven't seen anything if you haven't seen Kutch." Kutch is the deserving top desination to visit in Gujarat especially when the Rann Mahotsav is in full swing.
Wedged between the Arabian Sea and the boundless Thar Desert, Rann of Kutch is mesmerizing symphony of salt and sand. This white symphony reaches its crescendo on a full moon night. What makes Kutch even more surreal is that during the monsoon, it gets submerged in the water.
For the remaining eight months of the year, it's a gigantic stretch of white salt lending it the look of white desert. During full moon nights cultural programs celebrating Gujarat'ss rich culture and traditions are usually held at Dhordo. A moon light camel safari is the Rann of a Kutch is one of the must to do things.
When winter arrives, the Great Flamingoes arrive at the Great Rann of Kutch all the way from Siberia for breeding lending the white desert a pinkish hue. Many other migratory bird species such as the Busturds, Blue Tailed Bee Eater, Ceraneous Vulture and Demoiselle Cranes also arrive here in large number.
Yet another thing to do in Kutch is to visit the Wild Ass Sanctuary. Located in Little Rann of Kutch, Wild Ass Sanctuary in Gujarat is the only place in the world where the endangered Indian Wild Ass could be found.
For History buffs Dholvira is yet another must visit archaeological site in Gujarat. It is considered to be one of the modern cities dating back to the period of Indus Valley Civilization. It is situated near Bhachau Taluka of Kutch.