The vibrant state of Gujarat is dotted with architectural marvels, which make it one of the most rewarding tourist destinations in India. From age-old stepwells to opulent palaces, splendid mosques and mighty forts, India’s westernmost state has it all. The list of Gujarat best places has a plethora of options for those deeply interested in beautiful architecture. I was lucky to visit this state quite a few times, so I just thought it would be a good idea to share my findings with you. The list I’ve put together reflects my own experiences and personal preferences, and most probably I’ll keep adding to it as I travel more.
Table of Contents
- 1 My architecture lover’s list of Gujarat best places
- 1.1 Adalaj Stepwell
- 1.2 Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad
- 1.3 Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad
- 1.4 Modhera Sun Temple
- 1.5 Rani Ki Vav in Patan
- 1.6 Jama Mosque, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
- 1.7 Kamani Mosque, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
- 1.8 Mahabat Maqbara, Junagadh
- 1.9 Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
- 1.10 Adi-Kadi Vav, Junagadh
- 2 Travel tips
My architecture lover’s list of Gujarat best places
Located 18 km from Ahmedabad, this five-storey stepwell is a wonderful introduction to the architecture of Gujarat for first-time visitors. Built in the 15th century by the Muslim conquerer Mahmud Begada in his attempt to win the local queen’s affections, the step well immediately sparks one’s interest in this architectural form.
I don’t think that architecture is only about shelter, is only about a very simple enclosure. It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think. ~ Zaha Hadid
Suggested read: Adalaj Stepwell near Ahmedabad – love at first step
Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad
Constructed of yellow sandstone, Jama Mosque in Ahmedabad is a prominent example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. A spacious courtyard with a basin for ablution, endless rows of beautiful columns, elegant domes, arches, and pillars will keep you mesmerized by their grandeur. With huge Arabic calligraphy on the walls, stone latticework on the windows and ornate carvings on the facade, this mosque is an interesting place to explore
Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness. ~ Frank Gehry
Recommended for you: One day in Ahmedabad – tips on things to do
Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad
Unlike the imposing Jama Mosque, the Sidi Saiyyed Masjid is rather plain and compact, but it doesn’t lessen its architectural significance. The attraction of this mosque lies within its exquisite stone latticework, widely known as “The Tree of life”. A series of jaali for the monument was designed in the 16th century by Sidi Saiyyed, an Abyssinian by birth who served the local ruler. Armed with forty five sculptors, he created magnificent stone screens, one of which later became an unofficial symbol of Ahmedabad. And yes, I would go as far as saying no trip to the city is complete without seeing “The Tree of Life”.
You may also like: The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad and its Famous Jaali
Modhera Sun Temple
The Sun Temple in the peaceful town of Modhera is one of the few shrines in India dedicated to Surya, the solar deity. It was built in the 11th century by Bhima I of the Solanki dynasty who believed himself to be the Sun god’s descendant, and its architectural patterns are nothing short of breathtaking. The complex consist of a stepwell, a shrine hall, and assembly hall, featuring intricate sculptures. The shrine is constructed in a way that the Sun god’s sculpture gets lit up by the first morning sunlight during the equinox.
Also read: The Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat
Rani Ki Vav in Patan
Constructed in the 11th century, the beautiful Rani ki Vav is often described as the queen of stepwells. Not only it’s one of Gujrat best places to visit for an inquisitive traveler, but it’s also rightfully included into the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The step well is 27 m deep, and every bit of it is covered with ornate stone designs and spectacular sculptures. Most of them depict Lord Vishnu in different avatars, but there are also sculptures of Parvati, Durga, Ganesha and less known deities.
Suggested for you: Rani ki Vav – the Stepwell of a Sorrowful Queen
Jama Mosque, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
An offbeat UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, the Champaner-Pavagadh archaeological park near Vadodara is home to 114 national monuments, including the spectacular Jama Mosque. From an opulent prayer hall to quaint porches, lovely arches, and ornate stone designs, the abandoned place of worship is a beautiful work of art.
To find out more, read this: Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park – my photo story of Gujarat’s UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kamani Mosque, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
The Kamani Mosque is another architectural gem within the premises of Chamapaner-Pavagadh archaeological park. The countless pillars and arches look absolutely surreal, especially if seen from above.
Mahabat Maqbara, Junagadh
Junagadh isn’t big on the tourist map, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeves.One of them is Mahabat Maqbara – a striking 19th century mausoleum complex. It consists of two structures – mausoleums of Nawab Mahabat Khan II and his vazir Bahauddin Bhar, and it’s hard to say which one is more astounding. Both of them represent a bold amalgam of architectural styles and feature lots of eye-catching details. Here you’ll find spiral staircases, encircling the minarets from top to bottom, clusters of domes of different sizes, French windows, elegant arches, beautiful Gothic columns and what not.
More on the subject: 25 photos to make you want to see the Mahabat Maqbara with your own eyes
Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Known as the largest private residence on the planet (4 times the size of Buckingham Palace), Laxmi Vilas Palace is undoubtedly an architectural centerpiece of Vadodara. The monument comprises numerous works of art and is an interesting fusion of Gothic Revival patterns, Hindu and Jain architectural traditions, Islamic motifs and self-expression of the talented designer Major Charles Man. Being a perfectionist, Mr. Man took his own life thinking his calculations were wrong and the palace would collapse shortly after completion. However, the awe-inspiring palace has been standing strong for more than 125 years, attracting visitors from all over India and other countries. And for the good reason!
Adi-Kadi Vav, Junagadh
Unlike the majority of stepwells in Gujarat, the Adi-Kadi Vav can hardly be called ornate. Carved out of solid rock, this massive structure features impressive geological strata along the walkway. It’s also believed to be one of the first step wells in India, dating back to the 10th century. The Adi-Kadi Vav is located in the Uparkot fort of Junagadh; apart from two stepwells, the fort is dotted with interesting monuments to explore.
~ Best time to visit Gujarat is from October to February. If you’re planning a trip in March to June, make sure to take sunblocks, lots of drinking water and a hat to protect your head and neck from the sun.
~ Many places in Gujarat offer the guided tours. Before hiring a guide, check in their identity card to make sure he or she is an authorized person. Also, make sure they speak English or another language you understand.
~ Gujarat is well connected by road, railway, and air with other states of India. Once in Gujarat, you can hire an autorickshaw or a cab to take you to desired destinations. I also used local buses a lot when traveling around the state.
~ To check out awesome activities and tours in Gujarat, click the picture below:
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