Saurashtra is a region on the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat. This region is also known as the Kathiawar peninsula. Before Independence, Saurashtra consisted of 200 princely states.The cities with the region are prosperous and bustling. Rajkot was once the capital of Saurashtra.The region consists of a central plateau with coastal plains and dense forest.
Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
The Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is home to 300 Asiatic lions. In fact the sanctuary was started to provide protection to the largest surviving group of Asiatic lions. At one time, the Asiatic lions were almost extinct but the numbers have steadily been on the rise since 1980.The landscape of the Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary consists of teak and deciduous trees, and rugged rocky terrain. Natural habitat is also provided for other species like the chital, gazelle, antelope, leopard, spotted deer, monkeys, parrots and peacock.Within the sanctuary is the Gir Interpretation Zone, featuring a cross-section of wildlife, several watchtowers and hides near the watering holes to enjoy close up wildlife sightings.The best time to visit Sasan Gir is from December to April. The sanctuary is closed during monsoon season from mid-June to mid-October.
Rajkot was once the capital of the state of Saurashtra. The city was founded in 1612 and Mahatma Gandhi spent his early years in Rajkot. His family home is now a museum.Rajkot is noted for its handicrafts such as bandhani, mirror-work, patch work, bead work, jewelry market, and silk embroidery.The main attraction in Rajkot is the Watson Museum, which highlights to work of Colonel John Watson.The city is also known for the Rajkumar College, regarded as one of India's best private schools. The college was founded in 1870 by the British to educate the sons of nobility.
Watson Museum and Library
The Watson Museum is located in the Jubilee Gardens in Rajkot. The museum is a memorial to Colonel John Watson, a political agent from 1886 to 1889, and Saurashtra's cultural heritage.Exhibits in the Watson Museum include remakes of artifacts from Mohenjodaro, 13th C carvings, silverware, natural history exhibits and textiles. A large marble statue of Queen Victoria is prominently displayed.Portraits and photographs of princes of Saurashtra and European dignitaries feature alongside 3rd C inscriptions, rare coins, pottery and delicate ivory carvings.
Bhavnagar was founded in 1743 as an important cotton trading post. Bhavsinhji Gohil was the founder and the name of the town was derived from the king's own name.Bhavnagar offers a glimpse of traditional Gujarati culture; the old town section seems untouched by time with several bazaars and cluttered shops available for browsing. Tourists are an uncommon sight in the town.Takhteshwar Temple is set on a hill and provides excellent views of Bhavnagar and the Gulf of Cambay. The Barton/ Gandhi Smriti Museum features religious carvings and numerous Gandhi photographs.
Diu is an island located off the south coast of Gujarat with a unique atmosphere of Portugese architecture and Gujarati culture. Diu was a Portugese colony until 1961 when India took control.The main attraction on Diu is the massive Portugese fort that was built in 1535 and is still well preserved. The ramparts have a number of cannons still in place and cannonballs can be seen where they fell centuries ago. The fort was constructed of limestone that was quarried on the island of Diu.Nagoa Beach is a popular tourist destination for relaxing by the sea!
Diu Town is located between the massive Portugese fort and a city wall to the west. Zampa Gateway is the main gate into the town with carvings of lions, angels and a priest featured.Diu Town is noted for several historic buildings that stand today as reminders of the past. The College of the Jesuits erected in 1601 is the most noteworthy; it was later converted to St Matriz Cathedral. St Thomas' Church is a simple building that houses the Diu Museum in its basement. The Church of St Francis Assisi is now a hospital but still used occasionally for services.
Nagoa Beach is a beautiful beach fringed with palm trees and great for swimming. Water sports such as surfing can be enjoyed along the horseshoe-shaped beach. Nagoa Beach is very popular with tourists.Other beaches located near Diu Town include Jallandhar, Chakratirth and Sunset Point.
Junagadh is a colorful ancient town at the base of Girnar Hill. The name Junagadh means "Old Fort". Girnar is sacred in the Jain community. The five peaks feature 16 carved and sculptured marble shrines.Visitors can enjoy a walking tour of the town to discover some of the exotic old buildings.At the time of Partition, the nawab of Junagadh wanted to have the town become part of Pakistan. This was not shared by the residents thus the nawab departed but not without first emptying the state treasury of cash and securities.
Uperkot Fort is believed to have been constructed in 319 BC and it has been extended many times since then. In some places the wall around the Uperkot Fort reaches over 20m high.The ornate gateway of the Uperkot Fort leads to the abandoned ruins, which were overgrown with jungle. The two cannons still in place on the western wall are believed to have been cast in Egypt. The Jama Mosque was built from a demolished Hindu Temple. One hundred and forty pillars support the ceiling of the mosque.In and around the fort is Buddhist caves with pillars and carvings. The caves are carved into the rocks and feature floral patterns. A two-storied cave is believed to be from the 1st C.
Velavadar National Park
Velavadar National Park is famous for the Blackbucks, Indian antelope, the main attraction of the park. The Blackbucks are endemic to India and considered the fastest animals over a long distance.Velavadar National Park is set between two rivers and is the only tropical grassland in India. Some of the wildlife in Velavadar is fox, jackal, jungle cat, wild pig, hare and rodents. Abundant bird life includes the sandgrouse and larks as well as the harrier that winter in the park, with a roost that is one of the largest in the world.