SAURASHTRA AND KUTCH
Many of Gujarat’s most iconic destinations are in Saurashtra or the Kathiawad Peninsula. For those interested in wildlife, this is where you can visit the Asiatic lion sanctuary of Gir, the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch, the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park, India’s first Marine National Park, and bird sanctuaries like Khijadiya, Porbandar and Nalsarovar. The shore temples of Dwarka and Somnath beckon Hindu pilgrims, and the sacred summits of Palitana and Girnar are among the holiest places for Jains. At the entrance to Saurashtra from the mainland lies the archaeological site of Lothal. Buddhist caves can be visited at sites like Junagadh, Sana, Talaja and Khambhalida. This land has many important historical associations, with Mahatma Gandhi, Dayanand Saraswati, Sant Jalaram, Lord Swaminarayan and other leaders.
The long coastline of Saurashtra has many beaches and coastal areas of great beauty.
Historically, Saurashtra comprised about 200 princely and small states. The princely states like Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Dhrangadhra, Rajkot, Morvi, Gondal, Wankaner, Limbdi, Wadhwan, Muli, etc, have marvelous works of architecture like forts, palaces, mansions, cenotaphs, stepwells, temples, havelis, and the flamboyant mausoleum complex of Junagadh called Maqbara.
A bridge connects the Kathiawad Peninsula with Kutch, which is one of Gujarat’s fast growing regions for tourism. The handicrafts of the Kutch district are impressive in quality, diversity and the sheer quantity produced in its villages. Equally unique is the Great Rann of Kutch, a massive expanse of white desert wilderness covered with salt for much of the year and inundated with water in the rains. Kutch has many places of architectural, historical, artistic and geological interest. It is also a delightful area for birdwatchers.