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The Colors of Gujrat

Gujarat is a vibrant land with a historical and cultural tradition dating back to the days of the Harrapan civilization. Prosperous and throbbing with life, this state offers colors of a million hues to the visitor.

Since the beginning of civilization, Gujarat has been witness to revolutionary changes that have left their mark on the face of time. This land of Lord Krishna and the great Mahatma Gandhi has been home to a multitude of cultures. Rich in crafts, arts and music, it has a culture that is vibrant and full of life.

Due to its close proximity to the sea, Gujarat has developed into a thriving economic state. Standing at the threshold of the 21st century, it has made giant leaps towards modernization. Predominantly a business class, the state is exploring newer areas like technology, infrastructure development and trade.

The arts and crafts too flourished due to the progress of trade and commerce in the past eight hundred years. Business persons largely patronized these crafts, helping them brave the vagaries of time. Even today, the traditional dress of Gujarat - the ghaghra-choli, and the famous tie and dye work is immensely popular throughout India. The folk dances of Guajrat, including the garba and dandia are so vibrant and graceful that it is no doubt captivating.

Gujarat is also a unique state with diverse habitats. Its varied land forms include the famous dry deciduous forests like the Gir (the only habitat of the Asiatic lion), majestic grass lands like those found at Velavadar and vast landscapes harboring rare animals in habitats like Rann of Kutch. Wetland habitats like Nalsarovar, marine ecosystems, are found near the Pirotan Islands and the rich moist deciduous forests of the Dangs are irresistible.

Other tourist attractions include, the sacred temples of Dwarka and Somnath; Palitana, the picturesque Mountain city of Jain temples at about 2,000 feet height on the Shetrunjaya hills; Udwada, the oldest place of the fire temple of the Parsis in India; the 5,000 years old archaeological finds in Lothal and the 11th century Sun temple at Modhera among the architectural wonders. The national shrine of Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad is the nation's pride.

Places to visit :

Kankaria Lake - This artificial lake was developed by Qutb-Ud-Din in 1451 and is a popular recreational spot in Ahmedabad. Surrounded by gardens, slopes, an aquarium and a Balvatika (Children's Park), an island palace completes the pretty picture. The palace has 34 sides, each side being 60 m long. During the Mughal period the palace was a frequent home of Nur Jahan and Jehangir. Besides the lake, there is also a zoo.

Kankaria Lake - This artificial lake was developed by Qutb-Ud-Din in 1451 and is a popular recreational spot in Ahmedabad. Surrounded by gardens, slopes, an aquarium and a Balvatika (Children's Park), an island palace completes the pretty picture. The palace has 34 sides, each side being 60 m long. During the Mughal period the palace was a frequent home of Nur Jahan and Jehangir. Besides the lake, there is also a zoo.

Somnath temple - This legendary shore temple at Somnath is one of the twelve most sacred Shiva shrines in India. As per legend, Somnath was built by none other than Soma, the Moon God himself. The temple was destroyed seven times, and rebuilt an equal number of times. Lured by stories of its fabulous treasure, Mohammed of Gazni raided it in 1026 and walked away with camel-loads of jewels and gold. The temple is situated at 79 km from Junagadh and 25 km from Chorwad. The nearest Airport at Keshod is well connected with Mumbai.

Hatheesing Jain Temple - Embellished with intricate carvings and built in white marble, the Hatheesing Jain temple is one of the best ornate Jain temples in Ahmedabad. This temple was built in the nineteenth century by a rich Jain merchant. The temple is dedicated to the 15th Jain tirthankar or Jain apostle, Dharmnath.

Gandhi Ashram - One of the places from where Gandhiji started the freedom movement was the Gandhi Ashram. In 1930 it was from here that Gandhiji started his Dandi Yatra to flout the salt laws of the British.The ashram, located on the banks of Sabarmati river was founded in 1915. Today it has been converted into a Gandhi memorial. A museum also stands near the ashram which displays some of his personal belongings. There is also a library here and the light and sound show in the evening is an added attraction for visitors to this place. Today the ashram has not left making handicrafts, handmade paper and spinning wheels.

Gir Lion Sanctuary - The last home of the Asiatic lion is 59 km from Junagadh. Covering an area of 1400 sq km, it was set up to protect the lion and its habitat. Apart from lions, there are 30 species of other animals, including panthers.

Teen Darwaza - These arched gateways were built by Sultan Ahmed Shah in Ahmedabad. These gateways were the royal entrances to the Maidan Shah or Royal Square. From here the Sultans used to watch processions from the palace to the Jama Masjid.

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary - 60 km from Ahmedabad is a 116 sq. km lake that is the home of a bird sanctuary. This lake attracts numerous migratory and indigenous birds that flock here throughout the year. One can take a taxi or bus to watch the ducks, geese, pelicans and flamingos at the sanctuary.

Lakhota Fort - In the centre of old Jamnagar, on an island in the middle of the lake, are two magnificent old structures : the Lakhota Fort and the Kotha Bastion. Lakhota Fort is Jamnagar's Museum and its terraces display a fine collection of sculpture that spans a period from the 9th to 18th Century. The Kotha Bastion is Jamnagar's prize possession. One of its most interesting sights is an old well, the water of which can be drawn by blowing into a small hole in the floor.