Gujarat Road Trip – A perfect 9 Day's Itinerary.
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
I was always excited about a road trip but was skeptical about how it would work out. One night I was talking to my husband and asked his view about a road trip to Karnataka or Gujarat and he was all in for it. So here began my search for places to be explored in both the states and if anyone else would be willing to join us in the journey. We asked our travel partners Mohini and Ganesh Nabar if they can join in and they were more than willing to come along. Once we started reading about Gujarat we could not stop our excitement to visit the place. Some unseen places like Adalaj Step Well, Modhera Sun Temple, Rann of Kutch – White Desert and Dholavira - The Lost Harrappan City were waiting to be explored and I could not think of missing them out. So our destination was fixed and we also carved out an itinerary keeping in mind the places we wanted to visit.
The best mode of transport from Mumbai to Gujarat is roadways. Roads of Gujarat are well maintained, wide and convenient. If you don't wish to drive to Gujarat, you can either take a train or flight to Vadodara or rent a car from Vadodara. The best season to visit Gujarat is winter. While planning a road trip the most important thing is to calculate the distance, time it takes to travel (Google maps come in handy) and the time you would spend at the sight seeing place. The mistake that people make is they don't consider the waiting time at sight seeing places and therefore miss out on many places. It's also advisable to check the timings and days the sight seeing places are closed so that there is no disappointed in store.
So Gujarat can be seen in 2 parts or if you want to do the whole state in one trip you need minimum 2 weeks or more. I would recommend it doing it in parts. One route would be Vadodara- Ahemadabad-Bhuj. Another route would be Bharuch- Dwarka- Gir- Somnath- Diu-Girnar. We explored route one which can be done in 9 days at leisure, since we had less days on hand. Road trips are hectic and adventures but also cheap and fun if you are traveling with friends.
Places to stay :
Vadodara 1N, Ahemadabad 3N, Bhuj :1N, Rann of Kutch : 1N, Dholavira 1N, Vadodara : 2N.
Our road trip began at 7 a.m. from Mumbai and all of us were very excited as it was our first road trip outside Maharashtra. We packed our bags with less of clothes and more of snacks to munch on in the car. Leave the city as early as possible so that you can avoid the unnecessary traffic.
Statue of unity
On our way to Vadodara, the first sight seeing was Statue of Unity. The magnificent statue of India's Iron man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is the tallest statue in the world measuring 182 meters which took exactly 5 yrs to be completed and now made open to public. It takes around 8 hours from Mumbai to reach Statue of Unity plus one hour for lunch and other short breaks. So if you leave Mumbai by 6 am, you will reach by around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., depending on your speed of driving and breaks you take. You can have lunch on the way as there are many places where you would get good Kathiawadi Thalis to relish. You can see the huge statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel from far away and appreciate the architecture as the sun sets in. If you visit on weekends be ready to stand in long queue for ticket and entry. There are 2 types of ticket for the statue, one is of Rs. 150/- per person to reach till the foot of the statue and another one is of Rs. 350/- which would take you to the top of the statue in a lift.You would take around 2 hours to see the place, there is also a refreshment center inside the premise but it's too crowded so you can choose from the outside thela's and enjoy a hot cup of tea. It also has a tent city so you can also opt to stay here and watch the laser show at 7 pm. Continuous bus service is available to take you to valley of flowers, a beautiful landscaped garden with the statue in the backdrop. Entry to valley of flowers is included in statue of unity ticket. At around 3.5 kms from the statue of Unity is Sardar Sarovar Dam, which also can be visited in the cost of statue tickets. If you are the luxurious types you can also opt for a helicopter ride to get an aerial view of the statue of unity, which will cost you 2900/- per person for a 10 minutes ride. We did not wait for the laser show since we were tired and had to further drive to Vadodara. It would take around 1 hr 45 minutes to reach Vadodara from statue of unity so by the time we reached the hotel, it was late. So we just freshened up, had dinner in the hotel itself and hit the bed. Road trips are tiring, especially for the drivers.
Day 2 :
We Kept Vadodara sightseeing for later since we had to a take a stop between Bhuj and Mumbai while returning back. Today we checked out from Vadodara and headed for Ahemadabad.
On the way we visited Pavagad and Champaner Archaeological Park. It took us around 1 hour to reach the park from Vadodara, so we left at leisure. Pavagad (One Fourth Hill) is a small hill and Mahakali temple is situated at the top of the hill beckoning number of pilgrims. You can opt to climb the mountain or take a cable car to reach the top. Cable car will cost about Rs 150/- per person, which is reasonable enough to save the time and effort to climb the mountain.
Champaner Pavagad Archaeological Park
Our next stop was Champaner Pavagad Archaeological Park which is situated at the foothill of Pavagad. It is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a charm of its own. The park is spread over a large area showcasing its enticing architecture. The area consists of masjids, temples, tombs, step wells and more, prominently dominated by Saher ki Masjid. You can spend easily 3-4 hours here going through the magnificent structures and click pictures. Once you are done you can leave for Ahemadabad and on the way have your lunch. Note that there is no good places to have food around Champaner so it’s better you have lunch on the way to Ahemadabad. We reached Ahmedabad at around 3 pm and had late lunch. If you have more time in hand and you are a bird lover don't miss to visit Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary. Timings for the boat Safari are 6 am and 4 pm, make it a point to call and confirm with the sanctuary about the timings since you need to take a detour to reach this place and you don't want to waste your time if the same is closed.
After our lunch we rested for some time and in the evening left to visit Veechar Museum. This is a beautiful old utensils museum which is open for people from 3 pm till 10:30 p.m., yet I would suggest you to visit only in the evening after the sun sets. The whole place is lit with innumerable diyas which gives you a feel of peace and tranquility. The mud house and village like setting makes it more appealing, utensils in all sizes and varieties can be seen here. Entry fee for an adult is only Rs. 30/- and you can also have dinner here at an extra cost. Extra charges for Photography at this museum. After dinner we called it a day.
Day 3 :
Today we visited Sabarmati Ashram situated on the banks of river Sabarmati. Since we visited in winters, the cool breeze flowing from the river gave me goosebumps. The Ashram was one of the residences of Gandhiji, father of the nation and his wife Kasturba. The location of the Ashram is peaceful and serene. The museum situated in the ashram shows us the freedom struggle of India and the same is depicted beautifully by way of miniature settings. Handwritten letters and photos of Gandhiji are also on display. There is also a book store situated inside the Ashram where you cab buy books on Indian freedom fighters. We could not spend much time inside the ashram since we skipped our breakfast in the morning and all of us were famished. So we left to fill our tummy's and from there we went to our next stop.
Adalaj Ni Vaav
This compact and beautiful stepwell has a tragic history attached to it. Hindu King Rana Veer Singh started construction of the step well of Adalaj to provide water to the people of his region. However, before the step well was completed, he got into a war with a neighboring Muslim King Mehmud Begada. King Rana Veer Singh was killed in the battle and King Mehmud Begada fell in love with his widow, the beautiful Queen Rudabai. The Queen was asked to marry King Mehmud Begada, she agreed to do so provided he would finish the step well started by her husband. King Mehmud Begada agreed, which is why the step well design built with Hindu architecture also shows Islamic influences. When the step well was complete, Queen Rudabai threw herself in to the well, and died. You have to visit this place to experience the beauty it has to offer, don't miss out on this one.
Once you overcome the beauty of Adalaj Ni Vaav, head towards the magnificent Akshardham temple. The term Akshardham means the divine abode of God. The temple was built in honor of Swaminarayan by BAPS Swaminaryan Sanstha, inspired by the fourth successor of Swaminarayan, Yogiji Maharaj. We missed visiting it since it was a Monday and the temple was closed. Before going kindly check the timings and working days on Google. The temple is closed on Monday and on rest of the days it is open from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, plan accordingly.
Day 4 :
Modhera Sun Temple
We checked out from Ahemadabad today and our next stop was Bhuj, so we left early in the morning by 6 a.m. On the way the first stop was Modhera Sun Temple. It takes around 2 hrs to reach Modhera from Ahemadabad. I would recommend you to take a guide here who will explain you the details of the history of the temple of Sun God which was destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni. Your heart sinks as you watch the beautiful carvings being destroyed. Fortunately the government is in process of rebuilding the vandalized part and maybe in times to come we will see a stunning temple with no sign of destruction.
The best part explained by our guide was at the equinox i.e. when the center of the sun is directly above the equator, which happens twice a year, the sun rays would hit the diamond placed above the sun god and the whole temple would illuminate in its light. The temple depicts Ramayan, Mahabharat and Kamasutra in its carvings and is a vision to behold.
Rani Ni Vaav
Just 30-40mins from Modhera is Rani Ni Vaav, another step well huge in size as compared to Adalaj. This 900 yrs old step well is situated in the village of Patan and is a declared UNESCO World Heritage site. This step well was built by the Solanki dynasty’s queen Udayamati in the 11th century in memory of her deceased husband Bhimdev I. Over the years, as the Saraswati River changed its course, the structure was flooded and lay buried until its excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India in the late 1980s. The theme of this seven storied step well is the Dasavataras (ten incarnations of lord Vishnu) along with other sculptures. It is undoubtedly worth to be depicted on our new hundred rupee note.
One more place to visit is the Village of Patan, if you wish to buy the famous Patola Silk Sarees. We had a brief stop just to have a look at the sarees at the Patola Silk Saree Museum and shopping centre, which were beyond our budget for the trip. Actually we need full day to see and understand both the historical places at length but since we were short on time we left the place early as headed straight to Bhuj. Bhuj is approximately 290 kms from Ravi ki Vaav and would take nearly 6 to 7 hrs with small tea break in between. Bhuj is freezing in winter, so don't forget to carry warm woolen clothes.
We stayed in Bhuj for 3 nights but I would suggest you to split it and stay 1 night in Bhuj, 1 night in Rann of Kutch and 1 night in Dholavira. You can pack some yummy and lip smacking mithais from the local Khavda sweet mart. They have particular sweet that they make only in winters named Gundarpak, it's a must try.
Rann of Kutch
Today we are going to visit the Dhordo tent city to watch the Rann of Kutch. Raan of Kutch festival start in November and goes on till February for 4 months in the winters. I personally feel Rann of Kutch is a bit over hyped; all you get to see in the white desert is salt till the horizon. If you are staying at Rann of Kutch, the tent city holds various cultural programs to keep you entertained after the sun sets. I would suggest you stay here one night possibly on a full moon night to experience the beauty of Rann in moonlight. Also if you have time, definitely visit the Kala Dungar the highest point of Kutch from where you can get a panaromic view of the Rann of Kutch. We did not visit the same since one of us was not feeling well.
Kalo Dungar or Black Mountain
Kalo Dungar magnetic hill or Kalo Dungar Anti Gravity slope is a hill road with optical illusion of a gravity hill where vehicle seems to defy the gravity and roll from down slope to up the slope. A strange phenomenon was observed at Kalo Dungar, when some visitors noticed that their vehicles would attain speeds over 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) driving down the hill even with the ignition switched off, a much higher velocity than descending other nearby peaks. A team of experts from the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA); Institute of Seismological Research, Gandhinagar; and Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur studied the phenomenon. It was concluded that the vehicles pick up speed because the slope is steeper than it appears to the traveler.
We came back early to our hotel and headed out for dinner at a nearby food squad. The continuous traffic of fighter planes over our heads and the falling temperature sent chills down our body.
Dholavira - The Lost Harappan Civilization
Today's sight seeing was unique and worth visiting. We left from Bhuj in the morning at around 7:30-8 A.M. after breakfast and reached Dholavira at around 1P.M., the lunch served here is simple, local Thali but lip smacking and fulfilling. We got our guide, Nagji Parmar at the hotel itself and we were directed to visit the museum before we visited the site. As we enter the museum we are directed towards a hall where they show us a documentary about the whole Harrappan civilization and the details of the site and all of us were awestruck and were excited to visit the site. Dholavira, an ancient harrapan civilization that was excavated in the year 1990 when the locals who use to go to hills for cattle grazing started findings articles such as bangles, coins, etc. The said articles where sent to the archaeological department and the place was excavated.
Dholavira is the most spectacular Indus valley civilization site in India. Dholavira is unique because it records continuous settlement at one given place for over 1700 years from Pre‐Harappan to Late Harappan period. It shows excellent city planning, wide roads, architecture with geometric precision, and craftsmanship. More importantly they adopted very advanced water conservation and harvesting system from building series of connected reservoirs, stone and terracotta drainage pipes to wells. Engaging a guide is must when you go to this place as they explain the whole site beautifully and in detail. Around 15-20 minutes away from the main site are the fossils of the remains of the Harrappan civilization. When we visited, we had no idea that this place also has accommodation facility, so I would suggest you to stay here as the place is around 220 kms from Bhuj and takes 4-5 hrs one way. So if you are staying at Bhuj, it gets a little bit hectic and exhausting.
The part of the road is also not very safe and goes through country side and barren land without any sign of human existence around, so it is better that you pass that patch of road and touch the highway before the sun sets in, though we got so engrossed exploring Dholavira that we got late and had to cross that patch of road in darkness and the only light we could see was the headlights of our car. Our car got stuck at one place in middle of nowhere and it took us 10 minutes to get it on the road, those ten minutes got all of us perspiring even in a chilly weather. Now when we look back and think about it, it makes us all have a good laugh.
Note: You can also visit our Guide Nagji Parmar’s website – www.dholavieratouristguide.com for more details on Dholavira Tourism
No sightseeing on this day as the whole day would be spend in traveling from Bhuj to Vadodara, which will take around 9 to 10 hrs including lunch and tea breaks. We started from Bhuj at around 7:30 and reached Vadodara at 5 pm. Checked into our hotel and had our much needed cup of tea. After resting for some time we went out in search of more snacks for dinner. As we were staying in Ginger there are many eateries nearby to choose. Mohini and Ganesh had some prior commitments and had to leave early, so we dropped them at Vadodara railway station at around 9:45 P.M. and they went back to Mumbai by Vadodara Express.
Lakshmi Vilas Palace
Today we went for Vadodara sight seeing which can be done in a day since all of them are nearby and in the city itself. We missed visiting the extravagant Lakshmi Vilas palace since the same was closed for a wedding but it is one of the main attractions of Vadodara. Lakshmi Vilas Palace is spread over 500 acres of land and the uniqueness of the palace is that it is the largest palace built for private residence for any Royalty, and is four times the size of Buckhimgam Palace, England. Vadodara was ruled by Gaekwad Family and you will find many people speaking in Marathi in the city. The Palace was constructed in the year 1890 having 150 rooms out of which the royal family uses 2nd floor of the palace; rest of the palace is open for the public and for various events like weddings.
Later we visited the EME temple which is situated inside a military school campus and photography is strictly prohibited...though you can click some pictures in the temple but not in the campus. At the entry the guard would ask for your Aadhar card and make an entry. You can take your vehicle and park it inside or you can walk till the temple which is just 5 minutes from the main gate. The EME temple or “Dakshinmurthy” Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple was built and maintained by the Indian Army and you can feel the discipline in every part of the temple and campus. The structure of the temple is very unique and is covered with aluminum sheets. The Temple is symbol of secularism and it displays various features of major religions in its structure. The Kalasha represents Hinduism, dome represents Islam, the tower represents Christianity, the golden tower top represents Buddhism, entrance of the temple represents Jainism and fire in the temple represents Zoroastrianism. The temple also worships a Idol of Lord Ganapati, brought from Mahabalipuram. We sat inside the temple for 5 minutes and the peace and tranquility of the place is overwhelming, it just gets over you.
Sayaji Baug and Baroda museum
Our next stop was the famous Sayaji Baug and Baroda museum and picture gallery. Note that the museum and Zoo are inside the campus of Sayaji Baug. Sayaji Baug is huge, spread across 113 acres of land and you can spend a complete day inside. It has something for all age group from toy trains, zoo, planetarium and museums.
After the Sayaji baug we went to visit the Kirti Mandir which was also closed since the manager was out of town. The temple is run by a trust and therefore is run by the trust manager and when he is not around the temple is closed. The temple was built in memory of the Gaekwad Family members who ruled Vadodara. Though we could not enter the temple we clicked some pictures in the campus, the architecture of the temple is beautiful and worth visiting. In the evening we had planned to catch on a movie in a nearby theater and therefore went back to our hotel and rested for a while before movie time. After watching the Movie we went to a nearby pizza place and called a day off.
Our last day in Gujarat, we had our buffet breakfast in the hotel and left at around 10 A.M. for our journey back home. It takes around 8 hrs including the lunch break and we reached home at around 7 pm after being stuck in infamous Mumbai traffic for an hour.
Gujarat is culturally much enriched state and there is a lot to see and explore. Roads of Gujarat are superb for a road trip and tourism is very well maintained by the government. We thoroughly enjoyed our first ever road trip and wish to have many more. Maybe road trip to another option i.e. Karnataka will take place soon and I can write another blog soon too. Till then stay home stay safe. Happy Lockdown.