Gujarat the western most state of India borders Pakistan to the north and the state of Rajasthan to the north-east, Madhya Pradesh to the east, Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the south. The Arabian Sea makes up the state's western coast. It has a total area of 196,024 km² (75,685 sq mi). Its capital, Gandhinagar is a planned city and is located near Ahmedabad, the commercial center of Gujarat.
Gujarat has a wealth of tourist spots. It has several temples, sunny beaches, the rann of kachchh, historic sites, beautiful cities, national parks, and sanctuaries.
The world's first Swaminarayan temple was built in Ahmedabad on the instructions of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
• The Dwarkanath temple is situated at Dwarka and is one of the important temples dedicated to lord Krishna. It is on tip jutting out to the Arabian Sea and is famous for being the legendary home of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, hero of the Mahabharata epic.
• Modhera Sun Temple is famous for its rare position as specifically and uniquely designed for the worship of the Sun, Lord Surya. While the main temple is beautifully and intricately designed with complex architecture, paintings and sculptures, there is a central pond and surrounding it stand 108 small temples for each of the Sun God's 108 names.
• Shankheshwar Jain Temples are dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara, Lord Parshvanath. It is believed that this idol was revealed by Lord Krishna himself, by the teachings of Arisht Nemi the 22nd Tirthankara. It is near Ahmedabad.
• Patan houses 84 magnificent Jain Temples built by Samrat Kumarpal, who was a staunch disciple of Hemchandracharya, a jain monk.
• Girnar is an epitome of communal harmony and amicable relations among Jains and Hindus. This high-rising steep hill houses shrines of both major religions. One dedicated to Neminath or Arisht Nemi, the 22nd Tirthankara, where he is believed to have attained nirvana, and another dedicated to Guru Dattatreya, a Hindu deity.
• Lothal is the site of the ancient ruins of the first Indian port, dating from the time of the Indus Valley Civilization.
• Dholavira, the ancient city, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India, belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in the Kutch district of Gujarat – the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The site was occupied from about 2900 BC for about a millennium, declining slowly after about 2100, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied finally by villagers among its ruins, until about 1450.
Gujarat has 4 National parks and 21 sanctuaries which include: Nal Sarovar, Anjal, Balaram-Ambaji, Barda, Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Khavda, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna, Rampura, Ratanmahal, and Surpaneshwar.
Gujarat is the only home of Asiatic Lions. Outside Africa, Gujarat is the only natural habitat of lions. The Gir Forest National Park in south-west part of the state covers the lions' habitat.
While the city of Ahmedabad is a large and fast-growing modern metropolis, it was also the home of the Indian independence movement, with the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi a standing legacy. Other major tourist sites include Palitana, Diu, Kutch, Jamnagar, Junagadh, and Rajkot in the region of Saurashtra; and Champaner and Pavagarh in the Panchmahal district.
Anand, Gujarat is the birthplace of the Amul milk co-operative federation. Started by Tribhovandas Patel and ably led for many years after him by Verghese Kurien this movement has served as a model for other co-operative movements throughout India. Amul is Asia's biggest dairy which is exporting milk powder all around the world.
Facts at a glance
Time zone – IST (UTC+5:30). Area – 196,024 km² (75,685 sq mi). Capital – Gandhinagar. Largest city – Ahmedabad. District(s) – 26. Language – Gujarati. Established – 1960-05-01. Legislature (seats) – Unicameral (182).