Jamnagar, an offbeat holiday in Gujarat

Marine park to royal forts, a city-break that has all

Tourism

February 3, 2020

/ By / Kolkata

Lakhota lake

Gujarat, the west-Indian state of legends and lions, is among the most popular tourist destination to receive high footfall, both domestic and international. While places like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Kutch, the Saurashtra belt are quite popular, there are a few other places that are still quite unexplored and have a lot to offer.

The west-Indian state of Gujarat with its varied landscapes and diverse selection of attractions has been one of the prime tourist destinations of India. While places like Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Vadodara, Kutch, Patan and the Saurashtra region covers Dwarka, Somnath and Gir forests, there are a few offbeat cities like Jamnagar and Rajkot that are still not properly explored. Even though these cities mostly act as a railway or airway connecting link to other tourist spots, they have their own attractions.

Jamnagar, known as the Jewel of Kathiawar, is an offbeat holiday destination in Gujarat which is home to beautiful lakes, a marine national park, a bird sanctuary and also the largest oil refinery in the world. It is also known for its bandhani craft, an ancient art of tie-dyeing which gets its name from the Hindi word for tying, bandhan.

Formerly known as Nawanagar, the city of Jamnagar was established by Jam Raval in the 16th century on the banks of rivers Nagmatti and Ragmatti. It was in the early 19th century under the supervision of Jam Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja or famously known as cricketer K S Ranjitsinhji or Ranji, the first Indian to play test cricket, that the city got a transformation and a fresh outlook. While the city has a lot of attractions to offer, here are a few you can visit on a short trip:

Lakhota Lake and Fort

Bala Hanuman Temple (credits: gosahin.com)

Located right in the heart of the city, the lake is a perfect picture of serenity. Also known as Ranmal Lake, it surrounds the Lakhota fort, built around 19th-century by King of Navanagar, Jam Ranmal II. One can explore the archaeology museum inside the palace or sit and relax while bird-watching as more than 75 species of birds, both native and migratory such as pelicans, flamingoes, spoonbills and seagulls can be found here. One can also take a boat-ride around the lake or enjoy the light-and-sound show in the evening.

Just on the south-east side of the lake, there is the Bala Hanuman temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman, which has also made a place in the Guinness Book of world records for its continuous chants in praise of the lord since August 1, 1964. Another place to visit nearby is the Bhujiyo Kotho or Bhujiyo Bastion on the south of the lake. Once an arsenal, it now serves as a great place from where one can view the whole lake.

Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary

Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary (credits: Birderpics)

Situated at a distance of 12 km from the main Jamnagar headquarters, this bird sanctuary receives more than 250 species of both native and migratory birds. A birdwatcher’s paradise, the sanctuary plays host to birds who prefer marine, freshwater or both habitats as there is a freshwater environment on one side of the reclamation bund and a marine one on the other.

Birds like Dalmatian pelican, black-headed ibis, painted stork, black-necked stork, Indian skimmer, marsh harrier, grey francolin, Indian spotted eagle, imperial eagle, Eurasian pigeon, pheasant-tailed jacana, common greenshank, common teal, demoiselle crane and many others.

Marine National Park

Pirotan island (credits: gujrat tourism)

The first marine national park in India, this is a place where you can look at corals and marine animals without diving! Just walk into the water during the low tides and you will be in the world of underwater life. The park is made of 42 islands amongst which Pirotan and Narara are the ones open to visitors. While Pirotan island is accessible by water from Bedi or Nava port, Narara can be reached by road and then you walk on foot to reach the paradise of marine species.

Walk among the 52 species of corals, observe the mangroves and explore the treasure-trove of marine species like octopuses, pufferfish, stingrays, starfish, lobsters, crabs, jellyfish, sea anemones, molluscs, sponges and exotic marine flora.

Beaches near Jamnagar

Shivrajpur beach (credits Sefali Das)

Just 26 km away from the city of Jamnagar, you reach the tranquil coastline of Balachadi beach, the most popular gateaway for the local people. On full-moon nights, it draws a large crowd with its moonlit beauty.

Another beach one may visit is Shivrajpur beach, near Dwarka , about 145 km from Jamnagar. A picturesque location with its cool blue waters and white sand, it has a calmness to it as has not been much commercialised much. With a sense of solitude and privacy, it is a great family destination. The beach management is working to make it an ideal tourist spot by introducing water sports and other attractions.

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