Pack, Set & Go
FROM PRINCELY SOJOURNS IN HERITAGE MANSIONS TO ADRENALINE-BOOSTING ADVENTURE SPORTS, HERE ARE A VARIETY OF EXPERIENCES FOR A QUICK GETAWAY IN AND AROUND THE REGION
Find the best getaways in and around the region.
UNDER THE STARS RANN OF KUTCH While the Rannutsav is drawing to a close, the Rann of Kutch continues to be a top pick as a getaway destination especially before the summers set in. Aptly described by the state tourism department as a “symphony of salt and stones cuddled on one side by the sea and the other by desert”, the Rann of Kutch is much more than admiring the white salt flatlands in the moonlight. The few thousand kilometers offer a variety of geographical landscapes and sights—large flocks of flamingoes and migratory birds that visit during winters, the wild ass sanctuary and pristine white stretch of salt. Go up the watch tower to see the expanse of the Rann or trek up Kalo Dungar to watch the magical sunset.
Getting there 82 km from Bhuj
GO GREEN RETHAL GREENS
Watch the birds walk along rows of fruit trees or curl up with a book on the lawns—that’s what you can look forward to when you visit Rethal Greens, a lavishly developed holiday destination where you can even buy
plots to build your vacation home. Named after the Gujarati word for sand, Rethal Greens is a sprawling space created out of a sandy expanse of land near the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary by bSafal, real estate developers in Ahmedabad. They have 14 tastefully designed rooms at the resort for holiday makers, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, restaurants, gardens and a host of outdoor activities like a cricket pitch, badminton, basketball and tennis courts and jogging and skating tracks. With the Nalsarovar bird sanctuary just 20 km away, the décor here is obviously inspired by the winged species with bird figurines carved from stone, dotting the landscape. Enjoy the multi cuisine spread and traditional Gujarati delicacies at Song Bird, the tastefully done up restaurant, play a game of cricket or take a dip in the pool at this picturesque resort that is a short drive from Ahmedabad.
Getting there Near Rethal Village, Sanand-Nalsarovar Road, Sanand
GOLFING GLORY KENSVILLE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
Whether you want to tee off or simply unwind amidst an expanse of green, the Kensville Golf and Country Club is the perfect pick for your next getaway. The sprawling 18 hole golf course has a resort with 53 luxurious rooms, recreation activities and restaurants set in a colonial-style structure. Their interestingly named restaurant, The 19th Hole, which overlooks the golf course offers a multi-cuisine dining experience. With play areas and a recreation centre, there are ample options to keep the children busy while you unwind with a relaxing spa massage at their ayurveda centre. The fully equipped golf academy has a floodlit range, practice putting greens and state-of-the-art tuition aids and professional coaches for those who want to learn a new game. So, turn your next getaway into a golfing session.
Getting there Opposite Shivalik Business Center, Rajpath Club, Bopal Road, Thaltej, Ahmedabad,
LAP OF LUXURY MADHUBHAN RESORT AND SPA
From weddings and lively family vacations to peaceful romantic sojourns, Madhubhan Resort and Spa is on the wishlist of most Gujarat travellers for its lush landscape, luxurious rooms, recreation options and the variety of food that its eight restaurants offer. At an hour’s drive from Ahmedabad, the resort lulls you into a holiday mood with its landscaped lawns, water fountains, an expansive swimming pool and happy faces that promptly cater to your needs. The resort has different types of accommodation facilities—from deluxe rooms to a lavish two-bedroom presidential suite, but if you’re looking for a touch of Gujarati heritage, they have the Gom cottages and which are inspired by the erstwhile architect of Karamsad, a
village in the vicinity and home to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. You’re spoilt for choice in food; the resort houses a Mediterranean bistro, a Mexican cuisine café, a juice bar, multi-cuisine restaurant and a bakery. With a spa offering naturopathy therapies, a large swimming pool and several indoor and outdoor games, there’s something for everyone. Price Rooms start at Rs 9,000 for two till March
Getting there Anand-Sojitra Road, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand, 80 km from Ahmedabad
TASTE OF ROYALTY UDAI BILAS PALACE
Rajasthan’s royal destinations continue to woo the luxury seeking Gujarati traveller with their palaces, heritage homes, traditional cuisine and a taste of erstwhile royalty. If you’ve explored the touristy city favourites—Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur—discover Dungarpur on your next getaway. Not too far from Udaipur, the erstwhile princely state takes you back in time with its old palaces, shrines and heritage structures. A gem here is the 19th century Udai Bilas Palace, now a heritage hotel that’s reminiscent of exquisite Rajput architecture with fine murals, miniature paintings and stone carvings on its façade. If history or art is your passion, staying here is a treat because the 23-room palace-turned-hotel has sculptured pillars and panels, ornate balconies, balustrades, bracketed windows, arches and frieze of marble carvings in true Rajput style. The dining area, Zenana Chowk, has beautiful pebbled walls that add a touch of extravagance. While you’re here, explore the Juna Mahal, the ancient shrines in the vicinity or take off on a bird watching trip to the Sitamata Wildlife sanctuary. Price Starts at Rs 7,900 for two Getting there Dungarpur is 175 km from Ahmedabad Details udaibilaspalace.com
REGAL LIVING RIVERSIDE PALACE, GONDAL
If heritage holidaying is your pick for the season, head to Gondal, a former princely state where the royal palace is now a heritage hotel with four poster beds, old dressers and colonial furniture from the family's heirloom collection. The arts and crafts of the region make an appearance in the décor with antique beadwork, a brass chest from Saurashtra and the family’s collection of photographs and Raja Ravi Varma paintings in the atriums. The region is home to several species of birds so get to the rooftop which has a glass walled gallery from where you can see the river or do bird watching in the morning. Visit the museum that has an impressive collection of antique textiles, utensils and handicrafts, royal relics like silver-plated howdah, gold caskets that carried gifts for the Maharajas and horse carriages. The toy collection ranges from vegetable dye hand-painted wooden toys from the 1870s to matchbox cars from 1970s. The erstwhile royal family’s love for cars shows in the vintage car
collection where you can see the pre-1910 New Engine and the grand 1935 Mercedes seven-seat saloon. The European touches go beyond the architecture; the menu has delicacies like the Shepherd’s Pie, steamed puddings and grilled chicken. But the kitchen also whips up local delicacies from the Kathiawad area, which are definitely a must-try. Price Rs 7,500 for night for two
Getting there Ashapura Road, Gondal Tel 2825221950
LEISURE ROUTE MOUNT ABU
With the summer fast arriving in the plains, it’s time for Gujaratis to head to the cooler climes of Mount Abu, a scenic hill station along the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, to beat the heat. A dense green patch in a state known for its plains and desert, Mount Abu has multiple options to make a quick getaway enjoyable. While the charming Nakki Lake is a winner among the tourists, the Dilwara temples are a major draw for history and art lovers with their exquisite carvings in marble. Go boating in the lake, connect with nature with long walks through the woods, shop for handicrafts in the vibrant town bazaar and explore the heritage and boutique hotels. The lazy air of the quaint hill station offers a welcome break from busy city life. Check out Valencia, a boutique hotel perched in the hills.
Getting there 160 km from Ahmedabad
CITY SECRETS DIVAN'S BUNGALOW
Relive the days of royalty without travelling far out of the city at Divan’s Bungalow, a heritage mansion that’s run by the Neemrana Hotels. Over 150 years old, it makes you travel back in time with its colonial façade, tower rooms, European-style tiled roofs and a touch of ethnic Gujarat with jharokha balconies. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the gardens or join the Ahmedabad heritage walk to rediscover the city’s iconic structures like the Jama Masjid or the Sidi Sayed Ki Jali. It’s a treat for tourists and even residents who want to take a break from their busy routines to enjoy the 600 yearold heritage of their city.
Price Rs 4,500 onwards At Raikhad II, M.B. Kadri Marg, Ahmedabad. Tel 9998953550
SEA AND SUN MANDVI
If surf and sand are on your mind, drive down to Mandvi, a picturesque seaside destination that’s also
home to a luxury tent resort. Walk along the sweeping stretches of sand and enjoy the views of the clear blue waters and the windmills spinning in the distance. An important port and a ship building spot, Mandvi has a beautiful resort—The Beach at Mandvi which stands on a royal estate amidst rustling trees. A highlight of a holiday at the luxury tent resort, which is on the private beach estate of the Maharaos or the former rulers of Kutch, is the barbeque they arrange on the beach. With private verandahs and colonial period furnishings and a restaurant made of bamboo and thatch, the Arabian Sea facing resort is a must-visit when you’re at Mandvi. For some wildlife spotting, visit the palace sanctuary that’s home to blue bulls, jackals, peacocks, and various birds. Price Packages start at Rs 14,000 for two nights
Getting there Vijay Vilas Palace Estate, Near Mandvi Airstrip, Bhuj Details mandvibeach.com
HEAD TO THE HILLS SAPUTARA
Saputara has all the trappings of a holiday in the hills—a ropeway to a sunset point, a quiet lake and woods that welcome you to take long walks. It is also Gujarat’s only hill station. While the quaint town is at its most charming during the monsoon when white clouds and mist cover the mountains lending it a surreal feel, winters are for long walks up Governor’s Hill to watch the sunset into the Saputara Lake.
If you’re in the mood for adventure, in December, the hill town hosts the paragliding festival where you can glide over the picturesque mountains and get an aerial view of the town. Just before Holi, the local tribal communities display their cultural splendour at
the Dangs Darbar Festival. If you want a break from the touristy attractions, head to the wildlife sanctuary of Mahal Bardipura forest, about 55km from Saputara, which has rivers and bamboo glades that offer walking and trekking options.
Getting there 133 km from Surat, take the SuratWaghai Highway
ROMANCE THE WAVES DIU
An imposing fort from the days of its Portuguese rule, rapidly changing landscapes that range from salt pans to tidal marshlands, clean beaches, old churches and water sports meet at this quaint seaside town that’s characterised by rustling palms and Hoka trees. The Portuguese past meets you at every step here—old churches and a fort in the middle of town on this pretty island. The tourist attractions are centred around the Nagoa Beach which has water sports, hotels, shacks and beach restaurants.
The Panikotha-Fortim Do Mar, a ship shaped structure that was believed to have been connected to the land by a sea tunnel, is a popular photo point. Take in the views of the Diu fort by night and make a trip to the shell museum that has more than 2,500 types of shells preserved under a large magnifying glass.
Getting there Nearest railhead is Veraval (90 km)
ADRENALINE HIGH SCUBA DIVING AT DWARKA
Explore the world that lies under the water with scuba diving sessions at Dwarka. The clear waters off the coast of this ancient city make for a good spot to take the plunge and watch aquatic life—sea weeds, plants and fish swimming around. The Bet Dwarka beach, with its clear sands, is also an ideal spot for surfing. If you’re in the mood for sightseeing, visit the ancient Krishna temple and other shrines in the city which is an important pilgrimage and tourist place.
UNDERWATER QUEST MARINE NATIONAL PARK
See the beautiful coral reefs, meet dolphins springing out of the sea or watch the kingfisher swoop down on the water for its morning catch of fish—if this matches your idea of a holiday, put a trip to the Marine National Park on your next holiday list. Off the Gulf of Kutch, a ferry ride on the sometimes choppy, sometimes calm waters takes you on an exploration of underwater life where you can spot turtles, shrimp, sponge, eels, sea urchin, spoonbills and dugong.
Getting there A ferry ride takes you to Jamnagar Details gujarattourism.com
The vibrant Rannutsav
Golf greens at the Kensville Golf Academy
A panoramic view of the Udai Bilas Palace
The Vijay Vilas Palace in Mandvi (above); Nakki Lake in Mount Abu (left)