Gujuratis, renowned worldwide for their business sense, are at the helm of some of the most successful business outfits in India, and enjoy the highest GDP per capita in the country. Home to Hindus, Jains, Parsis, and Muslims, as well as the colorful seminomadic tribes that inhabit the immense salt flats of Kutch, the state of Gujarat has seen its image as industrial powerhouse somewhat tarnished by occasional spates of politically fueled communal violence, and as a consequence its popularity as a travel destination has dropped off. Despite this, Gujarat's atmosphere remains very peaceful, and traveling through this state will expose you to a vast, varied, and dramatic Indian landscape unlike any other. It is also a haven for some of the most interesting craftwork in India, and while you may encounter some of the work typical of the state in other big cities you will pay a fraction for the handiwork you unearth here. If this is your interest, a visit to the villages of Kutch and its Ranns, where you can also personally interact with the humble artisans producing these astonishing crafts and textiles, is essential.
What makes the Gujarati experience all the more pleasurable is the fact that it is so wonderfully free of the touts and tourists who increasingly plague India's more well-traveled trails. The downside is that tourism and particularly road infrastructure is still pretty basic, and Gujarat is probably best suited to the intrepid traveler who has plenty of time on his or her hands, and does not need a wellness spa or butler service attached to their hotel. Scattered around the state there are new resorts and some ageing palaces that have been converted into heritage hotels but be warned: none compare even remotely with the luxury and standard of service found in neighboring Rajasthan. Getting around is also extremely arduous -- you can attempt to cover the state's top attractions in around 8 days with a good driver and reliable vehicle, but given the distances and the poor state of the roads, we recommend you set aside at least 10 to 12 days (and think twice if you happen to have a weak back). For some, Gujarat's highlights, while interesting and unique, may arguably not merit the distance and effort taken to visit them. But for those special interest travelers, particularly those on a third or fourth visit to India, who have become slightly disillusioned by the immense growth in tourism and the all-pervasive Western influence on once traditional ways of life, a trip to Gujarat will be just the ticket to restore your sense of wonder.