Temples and Religious Places in Gujarat
A tribute to Lord Swaminarayan, Arkshardham is built in pink sandstone. This intricately carved monument holds a 7 foot gold-plated idol of Lord Swaminarayan. Tourists can take in all three exhibitions on Indian culture with the light and sound show, multimedia show, and an animation show.
Considered the seat of Ambe Mata(mother goddess), who is celebrated during Navrati. Ambaji is situated on the Arasen Hill in the Aravale Range and is made of marble. It does not contain any idol, only a yantra engraved in a niche. Nearby is the Gabbar Hill, where it is said the goddess revealed herself, leaving behind her footprints.
The Krishna idol of Dakor is believed to have originated from Dwarka. Legend tells how Krishna, moved by the journey of a devotee from Dakor to Dwarka, walked the devotee back to Dakor and remained there.
The Dwarkhadish Temple honors Krishna Bhagwan. The five-storey high building stands on 60 pillars and is filled with rich carvings. The pilgrims enter through the Swarg Dwar(Gateway to Heaven) and exit through the Moksh Dwar(Gateway of Salvation).
This sacred hill is the Pinnacle of Faith. Pilgrims must climb 4000 steps to reach the top. There are five important Jain temples and several Hindu shrines along the way.
Known as the Gallery of Temples, this picturesque place of pilgrimage sits atop the Shatrunjay Hill and holds 900 temples graced with beautiful sculptures. Of all Jain temples, those located at Palitana, are the most sacred. Idols of Tirthankars are exquisitely carved with jeweled eyes. The most famous of these temples are the Adinath, Kumarpal, Vimalshah, Samprati Raja, and Chomukh.
"The Shrine Eternal". Constantly washed by the Arabian Sea, this temple was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. The present and seventh temple, was constructed in the solank style. The temple commemorates Lord Somnath. According to legend, Soma(the moon god) built the temple in gold, Ravan in silver, Krishna in wood, and King Bhimdev in stone.
"The Sun Temple". Despite its somewhat dilapidated look, the beauty of this temple's artistry and architecture is apparent. The canvas on the wall and pillars depict the legends of Gods and Goddesses in ancient times.
Located here are an amusement park, a museum, a cafeteria, picture gallery, and library for tourists and visitors.
Festivals and Fairs
Held at the Trinetrshwar Temple, this beautiful matchmaking festival is based on the legend of Draupadi, who held her Swayamvara(ceremony where an Indian princess chooses her husband) at this very place. Tribal youth appear elegantly dressed. The young men hold colorful umbrellas on which they have embroidered decoration, revealing their bachelor status, in hopes of attracting the attention of unmarried girls. The fair is held for three days between August and September.
Navrati, meaning nine nights, is a vibrant festival that honors the Divine Mother Goddess and her numerous manifestations. Celebration starts late at night and ends in the early morning. One of the dances performed is the Dandia-Ras. Men and women, donning extremely colorful costumes, join the dance circle holding small polished sticks or dandies. They strike them together as they whirl to the rhythm of the music.
This celebration is held in Dwarka, the city of gold and the abode of Krishna. Janmastami is the birth of Shri Krishna. Lights are lit everywhere, devotional songs are sung, and sermons are delivered. All worshipping Krishna in his infant form.
Other Places to Visit in Gujarat
Gir National Park
Laid out across 1412 sq kms is Gir National Park. Gir is a wildlife sanctuary that, besides Africa, is the only natural habitat of the lion. The best way to view Gir's animals is on a jeep safari. Guides and vehicles are available for hire. Amongst the hot water springs in the heart of Gir is the Tulsishyam Temple, which is dedicated to Bhim and his mother Kunti.
Animals living here include the Langur Monkey, the Sambar and Chital(spotted) Deer, the Nilgai(blue bull), Chowisinha(four-horned antelope), and the Chinkara Gazelle.
Also one of the finest bird sanctuaries in India, Gir is home to such birds as the Paradise Flycatcher, Bonneli's Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Pygmy Woodpecker, and Jungle Quail.
Gujarat's Science City offers an exciting combination of education and entertainment. Some current attractions are the Hall of Science, the Thrill Rider Simulator, the Dancing Musical fountain, the Energy Education Park, Amphitheatre and an IMAX.
Located in Ahmedabad, the Calico textile Museum is one of the finest textile museums in the world. It houses five centuries of the finest fabrics spun, woven, printed, and painted throughout India. Other Gujarat museums include the Shreyas Museum, Vishalla Vichar Museum, Sandar Patel Museum, and the Kite Museum.
Beaches in Gujarat include Gopnath Beach, on the coast of the Gulf of Khambhat, Hajira and Tithal Beaches, and Diu. Diu is an island off the west coast, it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. Chorwad Beach is part of a beautiful resort where tourists live in a palace facing the golden sand of the private beach.
Places to visit in Ahmedabad: