Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Gujarat has to say about reasons to visit Gujarat:
“Gujarat, why go?
Barely glimpsed by many travellers scurrying between Mumbai (Bombay) and Rajasthan, Gujarat is an easy side-step off the well-beaten tourist trail. While the capital, Ahmedabad, retains some charm amid its chaos, the countryside holds most of this state’s treasures.
Traditional artisans in tribal villages weave, embroider, dye and print some of India’s finest textiles. Pristine parks harbour unique wildlife, including migratory birds, wild asses and the last remaining prides of Asiatic lions.
For the spiritually inclined, sacred Jain and Hindu pilgrimage sites sit atop mountains that rise dramatically from vast flatlands. And colourful festivals burst with a cornucopia of culture.
Gujarat also claims a special relationship to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi: he was born here, he ignited the satyagraha (nonviolent protest) movement from here, he made his Salt March here – and his legacy remains a vibrant part of public discourse and private lives.
Gujarat is, officially, a dry state because Gandhi disapproved of the evils of alcohol, but alcohol permits for foreign visitors are easy to get. They’re free upon arrival at the airport, or can be picked up – usually for a small charge – at the ‘wine shops’ found in many large hotels. Just show your passport to receive a one-month permit.
There are plans to issue permits over the internet in the near future. The permit allows you two units over the month, which equates to 20 bottles of standard beer or two 750ml bottles of liquor, which you must drink in private. Cheers!"
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We found we were not able to book our flights from Delhi to Ahmedabad directly with IndiGo Airlines because their airline did not accept our foreign credit cards. If we used any of our favourite booking websites, the cost of the flight was significantly higher. In the end, our nephew Puneet booked the flights for us because he has an Indian bank account and credit card. Besides, he planned to have us take his daughter with us so that she could meet up with her mother and grandparents in Ahmedabad, while Puneet flew to Patna to visit with his parents there.
In the end, Puneet, Komal and Anya were not able to come to India because of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, sweeping through China and neighbouring countries. Puneet’s employer laid down the condition that if he was to go to India, he would have to go into self-imposed quarantine for two weeks after returning to the US.
This meant that when we arrived at the airport in Delhi, we had to inform the check-in agent that one passenger, Anya Kapoor, would not be flying as planned. Puneet was not able to cancel her booking without affecting the reservations for the four of us. Hopefully, he will be able to get a refund at a later date. The next obstacle that we faced was something that I had anticipated might happen, but Anil was convinced wouldn’t.
After looking over our passports the agent asked to see the credit card that the booking was charged to. Of course, we didn’t have it with us. I explained that the person who made the booking was not able to come because of the coronavirus, but we still had to produce the card, or a photo of it. It was late at night in Los Angeles and I knew that Puneet would be fast asleep because his work day starts at 4:00am. We crossed our fingers that he would answer our WhatsApp call – and after what seemed like an eternity, his sleepy voice came on the line.
He was able to take a photo of the card and send it to us, but we felt really badly that we’d had to awaken him. Once we had the photo to show to the check-in agent, everything went smoothly, and we even had time to use the Priority Pass Lounge at the airport before our flight.
As it turned out, Anil’s brother Arun and his wife Neena were at the boarding gate next to ours when it was time for our flights to leave. We were heading west without Anya, and they were heading east without Puneet. What a shame that the plans for the 50th Wedding Anniversary party were so disrupted by the potential of a pandemic. Arun and Neena had been very much looking forward to having their two sons and their spouses, as well as their three grandchildren all together in Delhi.
We understood that we could apply for an alcohol permit when we arrived at the Ahmedabad airport, however we decided ahead of time that we wouldn’t bother to apply for permits in order to drink alcohol while we were visiting Gujarat. We would only be in the state for a couple of weeks, we could certainly manage without drinking for that amount of time, but knew that we could make up for lost time when we moved on to Rajasthan, should we feel we needed to.