Descending from the marshmallow of clouds, the aircraft lands into the urban centre of Gujarat-Ahmedabad. A moment of admiration at Rani Ki Vav’s miniature at the airport will give you a quick glimpse into the cultural and historic celebration that awaits you in Gujarat.
While Gujarat exemplifies colour and cheer all around the year, there’s a magnetism to the vibrant festival of Navratri which is bound to make you embrace everything about it. Whether it’s the feet-tapping music, the colour pop ensemble, the sheer happiness on everyone’s faces or the beautiful grace of the Garba and Dandiya Raas. It takes one visit to Gujarat during Navratri to find yourself head in heels love with the longest dancing festival.
So, what does a trip to Gujarat look like? Read on as I take you through a virtual trip to wander, indulge and repeat in the soil of Gujarat…
-Feast your eyes: A trip to Gujarat during Navratri is no short of a visual treat as myriad colours blossom at the official inauguration of the festival at the enormous GMDC ground in Ahmedabad. Gracing this occasion are a bunch of cultural performances opening a door into the beautiful diversity of Indian culture and the religious significance of Navratri (Read- Meant to sweep you off your feet.)
While the on-stage performances are bound to win your heart and applauses, the on-ground participation of attendees in the traditional Garba and Dandiya will have you catch the contagious energy and offer an example of amassed synergy under a single roof. We had a chance to witness one of the most magnificent spectacles at United Way of Baroda gathering lakhs with the same zest on their faces and adornments on their beautiful ethnic outfits.
Exuding elegance in their persona and performances, women in Gujarat walked about stress-free in the best of their attire as they exited the grounds post-midnight (A notably safe environment is sensed in Gujarat through the year)
-Munch into scrumptious bites: There’s no visiting Gujarat unless you’ve had a mouthful of Jalebis, crisp fafdas and masala sprinkled Chora-Fali. The latter was a major favourite on our visit to Gujarat this time. This fluffy fried snack topped with sour and spicy chilli seasoning and dry mango powder is a must-have on your visit. It is a popular delicacy in Gujarati households during Diwali (A trip during the festival of lights could mean endless munching on these)
-Shop a bag full of colour and content: A walk through some of the popular markets like Law Garden in Ahmedabad, Mangal Bazar and Alkapuri in Vadodara will fill your heart and bags with colour and content. The best part though? Some of the most intricate accessories and outfits are suited to give you the perfect ethnic/fusion look at pocket-friendly prices. We were on a major bag shopping spree (Picking from all those beautiful designs is not an easy task after all 😀 The shopkeepers shared that the markets offer an even more extensive variety of outfits, home décor products among other things during Diwali giving us yet another reason to plan a trip during Diwali)
Urbanisation has transformed many cities in Gujarat into cosmopolitan hubs, yet it leaves room for iconic monuments tracing back to its roots. A trip to these heritage sites and architectural marvels is highly recommended.
-Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad
Popularly known as the architectural beauty of Ahmedabad, Sidi Saiyyed Mosque is a living symbolic representation of the last Sultanate regime in Gujarat in the 16th Century. The well-crafted ornate window (Jali) is a splendid slight to witness for its use of trees as its design inspiration giving birth to Tree of Life. Prayer gatherings and Namaz readings are a common sight here.
–Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad
We’ve all read multiple stories about the Father of the Nation, but a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram evokes a dreamlike feeling of being closer to his ideology and witnessing his journey from Mohan to Mahatma.
The Charkha or spinning wheel, an integral aspect of Gandhiji’s Swadeshi movement is also spotted here. We were pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon a female practitioner of the Charkha all the way from Holland.
Having spent the last 3 years working with the spinning wheel she shared that it helped her establish a higher hand-mind coordination. “It’s like an insight into Bapu’s mind, he always had solutions for every problem, and I’ve began to realise how the Charkha is not just a physical exercise but a mental practice that balances one internally,”she said.
-Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara
During our last trip to Gujarat, we made our maiden visit to the Laxmi Vilas Palace, home to the Royal Gaekwad family, the grandeur of its structure and larger than life feel had us revisiting the enormous palace exhibiting architectural goals in every stone laid.
-Rani Ki Vav in Patan
Built as a memorial to the 11th century King, Bhima, Rani Ki Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell) is a unique subterranean water architectural structure with a fascinating stepwell located by the banks of the Saraswati River. Designed in the form of an inverted temple highlighting the holiness of water, the varied levels depict artistic mastery in its structure and design details.
We’ve often enamoured the Patola saree reflecting detail donned with grace by eminent personalities, but ever wondered what goes behind the scenes for the making of an Ikat Patola saree? A visit to Patan Patola helped us understand that it takes a team of 4 craftsmen for 6 constant months to weave an authentic Double Ikat Patan Patola saree that costs at least Rs. 1.5 lakhs
-Sun Temple in Modhera
Dedicated to the solar deity, Sun Temple is home to the Maru Gujara style of architecture. Located in the Modhera village, every moulding, and iconography at Sun Temple tells a tale in itself.
Take a trip to Gujarat again so you can explore more hidden gems, get a step closer to the culture and come back with more stories to tell.
P.S: I intend to go ahead with the last step i.e- Repeat with yet another trip to Gujarat soon, why don’t you do the same? Or better even take the first trip if you haven’t visited Gujarat already! Until next time, #StayCurious 😊