Whenever a long weekend arrives, it brings a gleam on everyone’s eyes to take a break from routine life and plan for some amazing getaway. But most of the times, this happiness is short-lived because entire long weekend is spent just laying on couch; planning of the destination.
So, we have come up with an ultimate guide for your next long weekend. This hand-crafted guide will take you to Explore Gujarat – the land of Legends and Lions!
Read on to experience an Open-Jeep Lion Safari at Gir National Park, a divine walk down the streets of Somnath while basking at pristine beaches of Diu Island and ultimately exploring the heritage of Ahmedabad – India’s first UNESCO Heritage city
Best Time to Visit Gujarat
The best time to plan this trip to Gujarat is between November and March as the weather is pleasant. Summer months (April-June) will be quite hot to enjoy as most of this expedition is outdoor. And for obvious reasons avoid rainy season (July-October). We planned this during Mid-December when you can enjoy in sun as well as in moon and it was indeed the best decision. New year crowd was yet to arrive, and prices were average.
Budget for this trip
A 3N4D travel and stay to these places should not cost more than 5-7k per person excluding fare from home city to Ahmedabad, which is our starting point of this Journey. Moreover, these prices will fluctuate depending on season and category of accommodation chosen by you. But, at all these places, hotels suiting all range of budgets are readily available with pretty pocket-friendly local transportation.
Itinerary for this trip in Gujarat
Even though a 3N4D long weekend is good enough to cover all these places, if you have a super-long weekend, then stay can be extended at your favourite destination amongst these. We’ve listed our suggestions periodically within the article. This itinerary will take you through following destinations: –
Let’s Begin this Journey
Start your first Day with an enthralling safari at Gir National Park. In order to make it to the morning slot, try to reach Ahmedabad by 8’o clock the previous night. From there Sasan Gir is nearly 410 kms and you can get direct buses either to Gir or to Junagadh. You can also hire Taxi from here at additional costs. Another option will be to catch a direct flight to Diu airport which is nearest to Gir National Park (nearly 85 kms). From here buses and taxi ply to Gir taking approx. 2 hours.
There are 3 daily slots for Jungle Safari from 6AM-9AM, 9AM-12PM and 3PM-6PM. However, the best timing is 6AM-9AM as it increases your chances to encounter with wilds. We recommend to book safari online through Gir National Park Website which includes the Permits required from Forest Department. Make sure to carry your original ID proofs which’re used while online booking and reach 1 hour early as you’d need to fill some documents.
During the safari you can expect to spot diverse species including Florican, Osprey, Indian Pitta, Red-headed Vulture, Sambar Deer, Antelopes, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Blue Bull, Indian gazelle and the Chowsinga, the world’s only four-horned antelope etc. We were lucky enough to get a chance to see almost all of these and capture those moments. Gir also has one of the densest concentrations of Leopards in India and we soon realized it when one Leopard came across our Jeep. Later during last stage of our Safari, we’re able to Spot the Kings – the Majestic Lions.
Generally, Forest Rangers generally don’t allow visitors to go close to Lions. But we requested our guide for a close look of Lions to which he persuaded the Rangers to allow us to up till a safe distance and we hastily captured some amazing snaps.
Click here Read our Full Trail to Gir National Park
In case you’re on your super long weekend plan and like to enjoy a stay amid forest, then you can plan to stay at any of the forest resorts and hotels at Gir. You can check Gir National Park website for list of some popular ones. Otherwise, head to the Somnath – the next destination of our trip.
Somnath is just 45 kms from Gir National Park, which can be traversed easily in 1-1.5 hour through Shared Transport available such as buses or Autos, we got the latter one as frequency of buses is limited.
Somnath, the first among twelve jyotirlinga dedicated to lord Shiva, is a beautiful destination of Hindu’s beliefs located at western coasts of Gujarat. Somnath is epitome of perseverance as it resurrected from destruction and invasion at least 17 times.
Here directly head to a Hotel which you can pre-book online. Being a pilgrimage destination, there are plenty of hotels available at pretty reasonable prices, the one we booked was in proximity to Somnath Railway Station.
After some rest, during evening, begin the trail with Bhalka Tirth. We hired an auto to guide and take us through all major places of interest. The route is scenic with Arabian sea on one side. Bhalka Tirth is a prominent place of Hindus as at this place Lord Shri Krishna got fatally wounded and made His sacred journey to Neejdham from Dehotsarg near Triveni Sangam, where footprints of Shri Krishna are also carved.
Then move 2.5 miles towards sea-shore from where huntsman Jara supposedly aimed at Shri Krishna. Temple dedicated to bhagwan Shashibhushan with Bhidbhanjan Ganpatiji was later established here. In the vicinity of Dehotsarg, few more divine destinations are present which hold strong historical significance as per Hindu scriptures. Amongst these are The Gita Temple and Laxminarayan Temple where the divine chants of Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta are engraved on beautiful Marble pillars.
Nearby is an ancient holy cave known as Baldev Gufa, it’s believed that Lord Krishna’s elder brother Baldev disappeared to the netherworld from this cave in his indigenous serpent form. Paanch Pandav Gufa and Suraj Mandir are another exemplar of heritage. You can also cover Parshuram Temple on the banks of Triveni where Lord Shiva alleviate Lord Parshuram from his curse and Kamnath Mahadev Temple with a pond believed to cure any human diseases with just a dip in it.
The next pit stop on the list should be Ahilyabai Temple which was built to cover the actual Jyotirlinga from being raided. And finally, you can proceed to, the magnificent Shri Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple located at the verge of Somnath Beach.
We deliberately reserved the evening time for this so as you can witness the pleasing Aarti at 7 PM and the astonishing “Jay Somnath” Sound and Light Show from 8 to 9 PM. Generally, the Darshan timings at temple are from 6 AM to 9 PM.
Before that you can sip some fresh coconut water and lip smacking street food at Somnath Beach Chowpatty where numerous local food joints and shops selling handcraft items are congregated. With dusk spreading in sky will make the entire ambiance picturesque.
Now you can proceed towards the Main Temple entrance. Here, you must lock all your belongings including mobile phones and cameras into cloakroom. Be assured, it’s safe and well organised.
After attending the beautiful Aarti of Shri Somnath, roam around the exquisite realm of temple and then gather at amphitheatre to watch the “Jay Somnath” Sound and Light Show. And believe us, it will be the most breath-taking event of the day! A show walking through the history of temple with stunning lasers projected on the temple with fantastic sounds.
After this awe-inspiring show you can enjoy a sumptuous Gujarati Thali at one of the restaurants nearby. Then walk towards your hotel to end your day and prepare for journey to pristine coastal town of Diu next morning!!
Click here Read our Full Trail to Somnath