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Colors of Gujarat During Navratri Celebration

Sandwiched between the magical city of Mumbai and the royal state of Rajasthan, Gujarat has often been overlooked by travelers. The state is an established business hub and is treated like one. But Gujarat, contrary to popular perception, is a beautiful destination for travelers! In fact, most of the people who get a chance to travel here, are deeply amazed by the wonders that this place has to offer. Gujarat is not only a traders’ hub but also a place that has brilliant architecture, history, and culture. And that’s why it is also known as the ‘Land of the Legends.’

A little bit about Gujarat

Gujarat is India’s westernmost state. It is known for its varied terrain, and several historical and sacred sights, and of course for being Mahatma Gandhi’s home! The capital of Gujarat is Gandhinagar, while Ahmedabad, Surat, and Vadodara are some of the major cities here.

Gujarat is especially known for the colorful festival of Navratri. Navratri which literally means ‘nine nights’ is one of the major festivals in India, but Gujarat takes Navratri celebration a notch higher! Navratri in Gujarat means a nine-night festival full of dance, music, and a lot of fun!

The dance form that is performed during Navratri is Ras Garba, which is also sometimes followed by Dandiya. The atmosphere during the festival is eclectic and joyful. If you plan a trip to Gujarat, make sure that you plan it around the Navratri festival, so that you can enjoy the state and its offerings to the fullest!

When is the festival of Navratri celebrated?

rann festival

Navratri, as mentioned above, is celebrated for nine nights straight as a festival where stories dedicated to Lord Krishna and his relationship with Gopis are celebrated through music. The main focus of every Garba dance is the small Goddess shrine that is erected by each Hindu community at the beginning of the festival. Navratri is celebrated during the Hindu month of Ashwin, which roughly corresponds to the months of October/November in the Gregorian calendar. This also marks the end of the rainy season. Vijayadashami, another prominent Hindu festival, is celebrated towards the end of Aswin.

History of Navratri

Dandiya night

Navratri, like every other prominent Indian festival, comes with enthralling legends and myths attached to it.

Legend has it that there was a demon Mahishasur, who was given a boon by Agni- the fire goddess- that no man or a weapon bearing a masculine name would be able to destroy him. He was terrorizing mortal and immortal beings alike, so to counter him, the Gods sought the help of Shiva who advised them to invoke the Goddess Shakti. With their prayers, Goddess Shakti, also known as Adhya Shakti, was created. She fought with the Mahishasur demon or Rakshasa as we call it here, and on the tenth day beheaded him. It is believed that Mahishasur before dying sought the forgiveness of the Goddess. That’s why those nine days are celebrated as Navratri and the tenth day as Vijay Dasami signifying the victory of good over evil.

According to another legend, Sati, also known as Uma, married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father, King Daksha Prajapati. Her father was furious and in revenge, he organized a huge yagna where he called all gods and deities except his daughter and son-in-law. Sati, despite Lord Shiva’s attempts to dissuade her, decided to attend the Yajna. There, her father insulted her husband in her presence. Unable to tolerate her father’s insolence, she ended her life by jumping into the yajna fire. However, she was reborn and won Lord Shiva’s love and her position as his wife again and peace was restored. It is believed that since then Uma comes every year with her four children Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati, and Laxmi and two of her best friends or ‘sakhis’ called Jaya and Bijaya, to visit her parent’s home during Navratri.

Places to visit in Gujarat during Navratri

Beautiful sunset at Rann of Kutch

One of the best places to celebrate Navratri in Gujarat is Vadodara. Vadodara, earlier known as Baroda, is the cultural capital of Gujarat. The United Way of Garba in Vadodara is one of the best Garba places in Gujarat. Ras Garba events are attended by thousands and are a must-attend for tourists. The atmosphere in Vadodara is full of energy during Navratri, as this city epitomizes fun and devotion. The entire city gets all decked up, and you will see some of the most popular Indian celebrities here during Navratri.

Ahmedabad, arguably one of the most popular cities in Gujarat, is also known for its lavish Garba celebrations. The city experiences a huge crowd during Navratri along with some of the popular faces from the film and television circuit. There is a spirit of joy and merriment everywhere in Ahmedabad during this festival. In fact, another great reason to visit Ahmedabad at this time is to witness the Vibrant Gujarat Navratri Festival that is organized at the GMDC ground. This festival attracts thousands of visitors from India and abroad.

Another place that you must visit if you happen to be in Gujarat during Navratri is the Somnath Mahadev Temple. The event held there is one of Gujarat’s best-kept secrets. Once the prayers are done, the atmosphere of the place suddenly turns bright with colorful lights everywhere, stalls serving mouth-watering traditional Gujarati dishes, and people dressed in traditional Ghagra cholis and Dhotis swaying to the loud music.

Other destinations that you can and should visit during Navratras are Rajkot and Surat. They are known for happy people and the Navratri festival is a riot of colors here. You can also experience different troupes performing beautiful folk dances.

What to do in Gujarat besides Navratri celebrations?

Even though Navratri is a major crowd-puller, you can still enjoy the vibrant city of Gujarat after the festival. Some of the major attractions here are-

Top 4 major attractions of Gujrat

1. Kutch

Camel-ride Rann of Kutch

Known as the ‘White Desert of India,’ the island of Kutch resembles the shape of a tortoise. It was an erstwhile princely state, which proudly holds on to the remnants of royalty. One of the most beautiful places in India, Kutch is a vision to behold on moonlit nights. The vast stretch of white salt desert in the Rann of Kutch area is a treat to the sore eyes. The place turns especially mesmerizing during winters when the Rann Festival is held. You will also get to experience adventure activities such as hot air ballooning, besides a plethora of cultural programs and functions. Kutch is one of the largest districts of India with a relatively low population density, and it lies on the India-Pakistan border, so you can also see some parts of Pakistan from here. Kutch is also known for its crafts and embroidery works, and the Flamingo, and Wild Ass sanctuaries.

2. Bhuj

aina mahal

Bhuj is a desert city, with a long history of kings and empires, hence you will see a lot of historical places here. Even though the 2001 earthquake devastated it and it still is in the recovery phase, Bhuj manages to surprise us with all its hidden treasures. If you take a walk around Bhuj, you will find the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Aina Mahal, and the Prag Mahal. Pay a visit to the Kutch Museum to examine the 2000-year old Kshatrapa inscriptions, admire and pay respects to the sculptures of characters from the Ramayana at the Ramakunf well, and take a leisurely stroll across the Hamirsar Lake.

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3. Porbandar

sudama mandir

The birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi- the father of our nation has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. It is a beautiful beach town with temples that surround that place. The haveli where Gandhiji was born has been converted into a temple and is now a tourist attraction. Apart from that, there are many temples worth visiting including the moderately known Sudama mandir.

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4. Dwarka

Dwarka, famously known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, also has one of the twelve Jyotirlingas that holds a prominent place in Hindu culture and mythology. The name Dwarka literally translates to Dwar meaning ‘door’ and ka meaning ‘moksha’ meaning the ‘door to salvation.’ This town exudes a mystical aura that is spiritual, serene, and celebratory at the same time. Dwarka is a holy city that has the distinction of being a part of both Char Dham (four principal holy places) and also Sapta Puris (seven holy cities) mentioned in the Hindu religion. This is why it enjoys a massive footfall of travelers and pilgrims year-round. The town boasts of resplendent temples, beautiful architecture, and brilliant places of cultural significance. Visit Dwarka to immerse yourself in every bit of history and legends.

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Gujarat is a surprise package waiting to be explored. It has everything that would catch the attention of travelers- from beautiful beaches to lush green forests to wildlife sanctuaries to places of historical, cultural, and religious significance.

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