Exquisitely embroidered clothing in pops of colour. The melodious flow of ras garba and dandiya. The deliciously sweet aroma of jalebis spiking the air. That’s what Navratri in Gujarat is all about. While this popular Hindu festival is enjoyed in many parts of India, it is Gujarat that truly erupts in vibrant colours, music and dance, bringing the celebrations to life.
Traditionally, Navratri in Gujarat is feted in all its exuberance. People dance to specially composed tunes for garba and bring out their most colourfully turned out selves for dandiya. While women don elaborate chaniya cholis, the men look their best in traditional kafni pyjamas with a short kurta. Nine nights of enthusiastic dancing is followed by a sumptuous feast of traditional delicacies on Dussehra, the tenth day. Platters of fafda, khandvi, papdi, jalebi and more fill up tables in every home.
If your tickets to Gujarat are already booked to fall in line with the festival of Navratri, you’re in luck! From shopping for handicrafts to gorging on Gujarati fare, there’s a lot that you can do on your stay here this festive season. Here are a few options.
To fill up your shopping bags with the best of Gujarati traditional wear, stop by this bustling arena in Ahmedabad. Famous for its mirror-work clothing and textiles typical of the state, most of their garments are made in the Rann of Kutch area, with the beading and mirror-work being done by hand. Dress yourself up in one of your purchases from this market and head out to celebrate Navratri, the traditional way.
Deriving its name from the cluster of shops selling bangles in every shape and colour, Bangadi Bazaar is located in the old part of the city in a maze of narrow lanes. Bursting with glass bangles with peacock designs, enamelled fish heads studded with pearls and several other styles, this market should be your top pick to stock up on accessories apt for the revelries. Bangles aside, you can also find traditional bandhani fabric, beautiful ghagra cholis, footwear and more here.
Surat’s Chauta Bazaar or Chauta Pool, should be on your list for a spate of Navratri shopping. From intricately designed fumtaas to complement your chaniya cholis to a variety of gorgeous oxidized jewellery, Chauta Pool offers it all. Take your pick from an attractive display of studded bangles, elaborate neck pieces and chaniya cholis in a riot of colours to make you shine through nine nights of dancing.
Looking for souvenirs to take home and cherish? Find everything you need at Ahmedabad’s popular shopping destination – Teen Darwaja. Mirror studded wall-hangings, Meenakari furniture and embroidered tablecloths will jostle for attention, making it hard to pick. You will also find shopping complexes around, including names like Shoppers Stop and Hyper City, allowing you to shop comfortably, at your own pace.
Go back to your roots at this consciously designed restaurant in the heart of the state. The restaurant offers a rustic, homely vibe where guests can sit down on mud floors and enjoy fresh, nutritive village staples. From a digestive amla lemonade to classics like bajri na rotla, dining at Vishalla will not just fill up your stomach but also warm your heart.
You cannot visit Gujarat during Navratri without indulging in a traditional thali. Stop by Kansar, highly recommended by the locals, for a vegetarian feast. Their unlimited thalis offer fresh food that’s served hot by staff that has been trained to feed you and feed you well!
Every Amdavadi worth his salt is guaranteed to have visited Oshwal. Having made a fine name for itself, this spot is famous for its hot jalebis and delicious fafda. The papaya chutney they prepare in-house is equally scrumptious. Needless to say, it’s always packed during Navratri, so if you’re visiting, be prepared for rush hour.
If you prefer to snack on light and tasty bites as you watch the celebrations unfold, head to this spot in Vadodara. From khaman dhokla and gathiya to bhakarwadi and crispy sev, you will be spoiled for choice. This outlet is particularly popular among tourists, owing to its variety of offerings and pure good taste.
Lose yourself in this treasure trove of history, cuisine and pulsating experiences that will last long after you’re home. Come lose yourself to the beauty of Gujarat.
For exciting Navratri tour packages, log on to www.gujarattourism.com ■