Gujarat has dozens of important pilgrimage spots but the two most often visited are Somnath and Dwarka. Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga in India and a must visit place for Shiv Bhakts while Dwarka is the hometown of Lord Krishna and it is also on the major Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. Both are located on the western coastline of Gujarat. Besides fulfilling a spiritual duty you also have a chance to take in some other wonderful tourist spots on the Somnath-Dwarka Pilgrimage should you choose to travel by car. You can hire a car rental in Ahmedabab. Arrive in Ahmedabab by road, train or by air and hire a car for your onward trip.
Junagadh is replete with history and figures in the Chalukya, Gupta and other dynasties of old with the Chudasma and Babis being of more recent origin. They left behind indelible footprints in the shape of the Mahabat Maqbara the mausoleum of Bahauddin Hasanbhai, a wonderful monument to architectural art of the times. The Uperkot Fort is a must visit place, dating back to 2300 years and you can view the Ashokan edicts near Mount Girnar, about 2 km away. There are the Buddhist caves to visit and some Jain temples in the vicinity. Undoubtedly the most famous attraction is Gir National Park, home to the Asiatic Lions. Drive through the Park on your way to Somnath via Talala. If you happen to visit in Summer, you can taste delicious Kesar mangoes for which this region is famous.
Check into your hotel, freshen up and set out to visit the famous temple of Somnath that houses one of the self appeared Jyotirlinga. It is said the Moon God built the first temple. He was followed by Ravan who built a temple in silver and then Lord Krishna who built a temple with Sandalwood. The temple was famed for fabulous treasures that made it a target for invaders. It was razed many times but Shiv Bhakts rebuilt it each time, the last being around 1950 when Sardar Patel took an active interest and helped in its reconstruction.
Proceed to the Vallabh Ghat sunset point in the evening and round it off with a sound and light show at the temple. The other places to visit are Laxminarayan temple on the shore, the Parshuram temple and the Triveni Sangam temple, all within motorable distances. Spend the evening on the lovely beach before retiring for the night. Get up early the next day for the 234 km drive to Dwarka with a stop at Madhapur beach to enjoy the sea breeze and have lunch.
The home to Dwarkadheesh temple is one of the major Char Dham pilgrimage spots. Located on the tip of the Okhamandal peninsula; the temple is said to be more than 2400 years old. After worshipping at the temple; you can drive on to Bet Dwarka about 30 kilometres North of Dwarka. However, before that you visit the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple, you may wish to take a dip at the Gomti Ghat, where it is believed the Ganges directly descended from Heaven. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is another jyotirlinga temple that houses a statue of Lord Shiva. Then visit Rukmini Devi temple that is small but beautifully made. Time permitting you can take in the Gita temple built by the Birlas and the Gopi Talav where Krishna is said to have played with the Gopis.
The Somnath Dwarka tour is complete but since you are here you must as well drive on to the Marine National Park on the way to Jamnagar.
Marine National Park
The Marine National Park is India’s largest marine park. It is home to a wondrous diversity of marine and aquatic life; as well as birds and animals on the shore. You can drive down to Jamnagar and set off for the Pirotan Island which is totally uninhabited; by riding in a boat in the morning and returning in the evening. However, while on the way from Dwarka to Jamnagar; you can stop at the Positra Marine sanctuary. It whets your appetite for more so drive on to Narara Reef. The water here is crystal clear. You can see coral formations, jellyfish, sea anemones and other marine life in their natural setting.
The ocean here is home to blue whales, humpback whales and sei whales. As for bird life you can see flamingos and hundreds of other birds. It may be necessary to obtain permission from the Forest department; so make sure you get it before embarking on the boat ride to Pirotan Island off the coast of Jamnagar. You will have to carry along food and water and return before the tide goes out in the evening.
Once the trip is thus finished, you can catch a flight from Jamnagar to your destination or proceed by train.