Things to Do in Gujarat
This striking Hindu water building located in the quiet village of Adjalaj was constructed in 1499 and stretches five stories deep. Built by a Muslim king for Queen Rani Roopba, this top religious attraction was once the site of holy rituals and brightly colored festivals, and served as not only relief from droughts, but a destination for saints and holy pilgrims.
Travelers who visit the stepwell will get not only an up-close look at Gujarat culture and tradition, but also a taste of iconic Indo-Islamic architecture, complete with ornate carvings, detailed decorations and nods to religious gods and deities.
Built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890 (and designed by British architect Major Charles Mant), Laxmi Vilas Palace still serves as the residence of the Vadorada royal family. The Indo-Saracenic architectural style of the facade features elements of European, Indian and Islamic traditions, and when it was completed, the palace ranked among the largest private residences in the world.
The equally elaborate interiors feature beautiful mosaics, including a Venetian mosaic floor in the Durbar Hall laid by the Murano Company of Venice over a period of 18 months. Carrara marble, Italian sculptures by Signor Fellicci, stained glass windows from England, paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and Venetian chandeliers put the finishing touches on this magnificent Raj-era palace. The landscaped gardens also house the small Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, worth a visit if you’re already at the palace.
Housed within a former school for the Maharaja’s children, the Maharaja Fatesingh Museum now houses and displays a collection of artwork collected by the Maratha Royal Family as well as Maharaja Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad III, who collected extensively during his travels outside of India.
While the paintings and sculptures within the museum span the globe from Europe to East Asia, the most notable segment are the collected works of Raja Ravi Varma, one of the most esteemed painters in the history of Indian art, who painted portraits of the Royal Family as well as scenes from Hindu mythology. The sculptures by Italian artist Fellicci are also a highlight.
Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the Maharaja of Baroda in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, founded the Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery in 1887 as a place to house the sizable collection of art and artifacts he’d gathered or commissioned during his travels. The museum building was completed in 1894 and the picture gallery in 1914 — both Indo-Saracenic structures were designed by English architects R.F. Chisholm and Major R.N. Ment.
The eclectic collection on display within features Mughal miniatures, Indian musical instruments, a blue whale skeleton, glazed ceramics, an Egyptian mummy and many paintings by classic and modern European masters.
This stunning museum in the heart of Gujarat is home to one of the most impressive collections of Indian textiles on earth. With a wide array of modern pieces, as well as a number dating back more than 500 years, the Calico Museum of Textiles is a must- see attraction for visitors in search of a deeper understanding of one of India’s oldest traditions. Tours take place twice during most days of the week and offer travelers an exclusive look at either the main galleries or the Sarabhai Foundation’s extensive collection of religious tapestries and textiles. While visitors say seeing the private collections and residence is a truly unique experience, it’s best to book well in advance since spots are limited and fill up quickly.
In 1026 King Bhimdev I of the Solanki Dynasty commissioned the building of a grand monument dedicated to the Hindu deity Surya, God of the Sun. Built on the banks of the Pushpavati River in Modhera, the Sun Temple was built with three axially-aligned elements, a step well, an assembly hall and a sanctum where an idol of the Sun God was once housed. The Sabha Mandap, or assembly hall, once held religious gatherings and ceremonies and is characterized by its 52 intricately carved pillars, depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. This gathering hall leads into the inner sanctum, designed so that the sun would shine on the idol of the Sun God at dawn on the equinox. Twelve niches within the sanctum depict the 12 different facets of Surya — one for each month of the year.
Surya Kund, the stepped tank in front of the temple, was once used to store water. Today, the rectangular stepped well is known for the more than 100 carved shrines lining its walls.
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