The land of Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Jnandev, Tukaram and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, West India, is rich in history and spirituality, diversity and culture. For the pilgrim there is much to encounter- the universal appeal of Sai Baba at Shirdi, whose immense spiritual stature continues to lure seekers of the truth. The temples of Dwarka are recently excavated from below the sea. (Legend has it that when dying, Lord Krishna asked his devotees to leave Swarnadwarika, so that the sea could engulf it). The Somnath temple, so sacred to the Hindus, has imposing architecture and is a beautiful sight facing the blue expanse of the Arabian Sea. The Portuguese style churches of Diu are not the only attraction to this serenely beautiful getaway with golden beaches, dense palm-groves and historical monuments. The Jain Mecca is the exquisitely carved Palithana temples- a miniature marble fantasy that inspire the 90 minute ascent! For the artist, the rock-cut Jain, Buddhist and Hindu temples at Ellora that co-exist side by side are a testimony to India’s multi-religious harmony. The horseshoe Ajanta caves draw the world to their 2000 year old frescoes. For the wild life enthusiast, there’s the bird paradise of Gondal where great varieties of our feathered friends flock to the orchards and the river-shores. At the Sasan Gir Sanctuary, you can catch a glimpse of that rarest of rare species – the Asiatic Lion. Other wildlife includes bear, antelope, hyena, fox, the nilgai or black buck. The Muslim culture in the walled city of Ahmedabad, its heritage of crafts and the memories of the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi who spent his life here and in Rajkot are a living presence still.

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