There are plenty many jokes on Gujaratis or our Gujju Bhais and Bens, but you cannot miss the fact that Gujarat is one of the most vibrant and hospitable states in this country. And although, it is a dry state (some of you are frowning at this!), there is so much to do (read as eat) that a visit to Gujjuland is a must! So, wait no more, take a Flying Rani (one of the most popular trains to Gujarat), set on a holiday like never before and experience the sights and sounds of Gujarat! As Amitabh Bachchan rightly says – “Breathe in a bit of Gujarat.”
#1. Visit the Rann of Kutch
A visit to the Great Rann of Kutch is a must between December and March. Apart from being the largest salt desert in the world, it is also famous for its annual festival, the Rann Utsav. Experience local culture and cuisine while you stay in tented accommodation or traditional houses. Kutch is also recognised for its famous embroidered handicrafts. You can visit a typical Kutchi village to experience the vibrant local life and also get an insight into the skill of handloom-making. The captivating and unusual landscape of Kutch has also attracted many Bollywood film-makers.
#2. Go Fly a Kite!
Makar Sankranti or the Kite Flying festival has enormous importance in Gujarat. It marks the transmigration of the sun into Makar Rash (the zodiac sign of Capricorn) on its celestial path. It is celebrated on the 14th of January every year and it also said to mark the beginning of the spring season. Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India with various local names – in Gujarat it is referred to Uttarayan. Kite Flying is the main activity during the festival where locals have friendly kite flying matches trying to playfully cut each other’s kites – Kaypo Che!
#3. Watch Birds
Gujarat is slowly evolving as a vital bird watching destination. The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is said to support 300 species of birds. The Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary which is a lake with shallow waters is a wintering ground for many migratory birds – pelicans, flamingos, various types of ducks and coots. The Vansda National park offers shelter to around 155 bird species such as Malabar Trogon, Jungle Babbler, Yellow Black Sunbird and so on. There are numerous other National Parks and Sanctuaries in Gujarat showcasing rare species of birds and animals.
#4. Eat. Sleep. Repeat
Gujarat is known for its delectable vegetarian cuisine and hospitality. Winter is the best season to get most of it! Come winter and all gujarati households will serve Undhiyo until they are sick of it! Undhiyo is a mix of seasonal vegetables with a particular seasoning. A variation to Undhiyo is Ubadyu. You will see many ‘Ubadyu’ signs on the highways of Gujarat. These road side stalls make fresh Ubadyu and serve hot. Ubadyu too like Undhiyo is made of mixed season veggies, but cooked in earthen pots in a pit of fire. It is flavoured with a specific leaf which is used to the cover the pots while cooking giving it a peculiar aroma. Of course and the ‘Fafda’ and ‘Jalebi’ combination is not to be missed on cold mornings. Don’t forget to drink some hot masala chai with it
#5. Sleep under the stars
Mumbaikars, this is one thing you should definitely give a try! Forget all your worries, wrap yourself warm, put on some mosquito repellent cream, gaze at the starry sky and doze off! Good Night!