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First Gujarat Travel Mart held at Ahmedabad

Industry players from India in the travel, hospitality, leisure and tourism related industries gathered under one roof at the Gujarat University Exhibition Hall in Ahmedabad for two-days (February 9 to 10) to showcase their products. Among the many exhibitors were Gujarat Tourism, Rajasthan Tourism, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism, Cox & Kings, Gir Jungle Lodge, Kensville Golf Resort, Anytime Hotels including several destination management companies, airlines and heritage hotels. The event was organised by Sphere Travelmedia & Exhibitions.

Lighting the lamp to launch the Gujarat Travel Mart 2011 are Sanjay Hakhu of Sphere TravelMedia & Exhibitions (left) with Anup Shukhla (centre), Managing Director, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat and Vipul Mitra (IAS), Secretary Tourism, Pilgrimage Development and Devasthan Management.
Exhibitors at the GTM 2011 held in the Gujarat University Exhibition Hall and buyers conducting business-to-business meeting.
   

Hosted buyers and media from around the world, after the travel mart were invited to a familiarisation tour of Gujarat by the state’s tourism board. For four days and three nights, destinations visited were Sayla, Junagadh, Gondal, Porbandar and Bhavnaghar.

Exploring Gujarat tourism destinations:

Sayla

A district located about 136 kilometres from Ahmedabad. It was founded in 1751, a once princely state ruled by the Jhala Rajputs. Here you can find a quaint and interesting guest house, a good stop to stay for a couple of nights.

The Bell Guest house was formerly a British residency, and the historic building, has been restored, renovated and converted into a heritage hotel. It offers double bedrooms which are air-conditioned, with attached bathrooms. Recreational facilities include a cricket pitch for net practice, sports and a giant chessboard. Trips to nearby villages can be organised for guests to visit temples and handicraft centres.


A quaint guest house tucked in a village at the district of Sayla.  The Bell Guest House is run by a royal couple.  Yuvrani Preeti Kumari graciously hosted lunch for the buyers and media of the GTM 2011.
Seen far right is Yuvrani Preeti Kumari with her young daughter and Julia Douglas, Managing Editor of MICE in Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

A giant chess board in the garden of Bell Guest House.
 

Junagadh

The city lies at the foot of Girnar Hills, and takes its name from the old fort, which used to circle the medieval town. Uparkot Fort was built during the Nawabi period, and said to have been constructed in 319 B.C. Over the centuries, the fort was rebuilt by several Kings. In the past, the fort is famous for its inaccessibility with well defined battle stations.

At the same time, the Girnar Hills go way back to Emperor Ashoka. Just outside the city, you can visit a place and see ancient rocks on which the fourteen edicts of the Emperor are carved onto.
Another historical site is the Mahabat Makbara. Built in 1878 by Mahabat Khanji and completed in 1892 by his successor, Bahadur Khanji. It houses the tombs of Mabahat Khan, Bha-ud-din and the Minister of Nawab, Rasul Khanji.

 
 
 
Uparkot Fort with its underground battle stations.
Below is the Mahabat Markam - a historical mausoleum.                                                
 
 

Gir National Park

It is home to the last remaining asiatic lions, and has one of the largest leopard polulation, is an excellent park to see big cats. A sanctuary for wildlife and other creatures which you can look out for are: the four horned antelopes, Indian gazelle, spotted dear, blue bull, wild boar, wolves, hyenas, jackals, civet and jungle cats. In the middle of the Park is the Kamlseshwar dam and here you can find marsh crocodiles. The Gir National Park is one of the best parks in India and is located in Junagadh bordering with Saurashtra region. There are also a restaurant, hotel, camp and a lodge within the area.

Just before heading for the Park, is the Lion Safari Camp, a luxury wildlife camp which is owned and managed by Camps of India. It’s on a private mango orchard and overlooking the Hiran River. This eco-friendly camp has 21 air-conditioned tens with well furnished bedrooms and an attached en-suite bathrooms. The tent rooms open out to an extended deck with chairs to sit, relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Above at the Gir National Park, a sanctuary of big cats and other wild lives, is also home to the endangered asiatic lions.
Left at the Lion Safari Camp,  luxury wildlife camp run by the Camps of India.
   

Gondal

At Gondal which is an area of 1,000 square miles, comprising of four towns and 175 villages, one can take respite at the Orchard Palace, which has been converted into a seven-room heritage hotel. Decorated with 1930s and 1940s art deco furniture, antiques and handicrafts, the property gets its name from the lime, chikoo and mango groves. The Palace was built as an annex of the Huzoor Palace, the family residences of the Maharaja of Gondal. You can enjoy the sitting room of the Place which is surrounded with a collection of miniature paintings, brass and antique furnitures of the royal family.

The highlight of the Palace is the Rail Saloon of the royal family. It is now a suite for a couple or small family to stay.

Not far from this heritage hotel, is the Naulakha Palace, a private museum exhibiting textiles, brassware, royal wardrobes, library, silver caskers, gifts and messages for Maharaja Bhagwat Sinjhi. It is a walled complex of the rulers which dates back to the 17th century. The façade is of stone carving with sculpture relief, carved columns and ornate jarokha balconies.

Also a must visit is the livery stable of the Maharaja. There are several handsome looking carriages including those used by the Maharaja during special occasions such as his golden jubilee as the ruler of Gondal.

The Orchard Palace, the former residence of the Maharaja and Maharani of Gondal, now a heritage hotel. 
Centre:  Hale Tokmakcioglu, General Manager of Ahoy Turizm, Turkey and Julia Douglas with HH Maharani Kumud Kumari of Gondal.
 
 
 
 
Naulaka Palace (right) of the royal family of Gondal is converted into a museum which showcases the library, living room and the divan.

Porbandar

Situated along the Arabian Sea, Porbandar is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. This sea-shore city is blessed with a lengthy coast line, rivers, lakes, hills and valleys together with desolate plains and grasslands.

Bhavnaghar

A port city with a natural harbour is about 200 kilometres from Ahmedabad. Not to be missed is Nimbang Palace, a renowned heritage hotel in Gujarat. Spend some nights here and experience the service and facilities of the hotel which is a mix of royal charm and modern luxuries. Nimbang Palace is surrounded by an expanse of green lawn and stoned structures. It was built in 1859, originally as a private dwelling for Sir Takhat singh of the ruling Gohil dynasty of Bhavnaghar.

 

Stone arches at the entrance of the Nimbang Palace
Living (lobby) room of the Nimbang Palace heritage hotel
Julia Douglas sitting at the steps of the heritage hotel.