The 11 Best Historical Sites in Gujarat, India
Masjid in Champaner-Pavagadh | © Dipesh Bhatt / WikiCommons
With more than 4,500 years of history, it’s no surprise that Gujarat is teeming with historically and architecturally significant sites. From remnants of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization to historic stepwells, here are some of the best historical places to visit in Gujarat.
Rani ki vav
Also known as Queen’s Stepwell, the Rani ki vav is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was constructed in the 11th century as a memorial to King Bhimdev I (of the Solanki dynasty) by his wife, Queen Udayamati. With a length of 64 metres and depth of 27 metres, complete with pillared multi-storey pavilions and sculptured panels, this historical site is an engineering marvel to behold. The steps of the stepwell are richly carved with the images of various gods and goddesses, mostly dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his forms. The carvings on the side walls also have depictions of apsaras (celestial women).
Laxmi Vilas Palace
Spread across 500 acres, the Laxmi Vilas Palace serves as an official residence of the royal family of Vadodara, the Gaekwads. Constructed over 12 years, this palace is four times the size of the spectacular Buckingham Palace, which makes it the largest private dwelling in the world. Combining Hindu, Mughal and Gothic architectural styles, the palace features a banquet and a museum showcasing paintings and artefacts from across the world. After exploring the interiors, you can take a stroll through the lush manicured gardens and even engage in a game of golf at the 10-hole golf course within the compound.
Archaeological site, Building
Revered and majestic, Mahabat Maqbara, otherwise known as Mausoleum of Bahaduddinbhai Hasainbhai, is the most visited historical site in Junagarh, largely because of its splendid architecture, which is a fusion of Gothic and Indo-Islamic influences. Established in the late 19th century, it features winding staircases surrounding the four minarets, elaborate stone carvings, silver-embellished portals, intricately designed arches, and an onion-shaped dome.
Archaeological site, Ruins
A real treat for historians, Dholavira is one of Gujarat’s best-kept archaeological and historical sites dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is full of historic treasures, including seals with animal figures, funerary structures, letters of the Indus script, stone sculptures, pottery with painted motifs, terracotta ornaments, sign boards, and several other structures and objects. The ancient water reservoirs are certainly a highlight and excite visitors with their well-preserved state.
Archaeological site, Ruins
A masterpiece of Indian architecture, the Adalaj ni vav, a stepwell with five storeys, was constructed in the 15th century. This stepwell impresses visitors with its Islamic architecture and the carvings of Hindu deities on the pillars and walls.
Archaeological site, Ruins, History Museum
Located in Saragwala region, Lothal is one of the most popular historical sites in Gujarat and dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. You’ll find the ancient ruins of that period, which include a burial ground, semi-precious stones, residential complexes and a dockyard, certainly worthy of a visit. There is also an archaeological museum brimming with artefacts, including terracotta ornaments, painted pottery, beads, bronze, copper and shell objects, and human and animal figurines.
Sidi Saiyyed Mosque
Commonly known as Sidi Saiyyed Ni Jaali, the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, built in the 16th century, is perhaps among the most famous historical landmarks in Gujarat. The architecture is without a doubt the focal point of attention. The Indo-Saracenic touches, complete with intricate carvings and ornate latticework called jalis, make for a stunning visual experience.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Archaeological site, Hindu Temple, Mosque
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park awes visitors with its architectural brilliance, which is a mix of Hindu and Muslim styles. It contains an impressive collection of historical and religious monuments, including Hindu and Jain temples from 13th to 15th centuries, five mosques, a hill fortress, tombs, and agricultural structures from the 8th to 14th centuries.
Dedicated to sun deity, Surya, the Sun Temple is an architectural feat of the 11th century. It stands out because of its Maru-Gurjara style of architecture and impresses onlookers with its stunning natural backdrop and intricate carvings of various Hindu deities on the walls and pillars.
A fusion of the Islamic style with Hindu and Jain features, the Sarkhej Roza is a tomb and mosque dating back to the 15th century. More than just an architectural masterpiece, it is a significant Sufi site with a rich history that will enthrall the history buffs.
Building, History Museum
Nestled on the banks of River Sabarmati, the Sabarmati Ashram has witnessed many important historical events, including India’s freedom struggle. The ashram served as the headquarters of Mahatma Gandhi, who led and managed the course of the Indian Independence Movement from here. Visitors can learn about the history of the country, as well as catch a glimpse into the life and times of the ‘Father of the Nation’.