Banaskantha – the region along the River of Banas, which is bounded by Rajasthan state to the North, Kutch district to the West, Patan and Mehsana districts to the South and Sabarkantha to the East. The main and the most significant region here is the Banas Valley. The Banas river flows through the valleys in between the Aravalli range and Mount Abu. The characteristic feature of the district lies in its diversity in culture.
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The development and improvement of the district have been made possible by some prosperous and renowned industries located in Banaskantha. The economic condition of the city has grown to a large extent because of the tourism as well as the presence of the industries relating to textile and minerals. Tourism in this district is a combination of tourist destinations which involves innumerable pilgrimage spots, historical monuments and those exuding natural charm.
Here is a description of the top 8 tourist destinations in the district.
1. Ambaji Temple
Ambaji Temple is located in the Arasur Hills, close to Saraswati river at the south-western part of the Aravallis. This famous temple is dedicated to Arasuri Amba, a Hindu Goddess belonging to the pre-vedic period. White marble and gold cones have been employed while manufacturing this beautiful temple which is said to have been erected by the Nagar Brahmins.
It possesses only one side door and is devoid of any idol of the Goddess. Ambaji mata temple is a major Shakti Peeth of India out of the 51 all over the country. A large number of devotees visit the temple every year specially on Purnima days and a large mela is also held on Bhadarvi poornima.
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2. Balaram Palace Resort
Balaram Palace Resort, once the hunting retreat of the Lohani Nawab of Palanpur, is now a heritage classic hotel. It was built between 1922- 1936 by the 29th ruler of Palanpur. The palace is set in a terraced upland rising from a hilly stream and surrounded by lush green gardens.
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The interiors of this grand palace have been inspired by the neo-classical and baroque style of architecture. The total area occupied by this palace measures about 542 square kilometres. The resort has many facilities like A.C. rooms, doctor on call, WiFi connection, car rental service, sightseeing tie ups, safaris, a helipad facility etc.
3. Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary
Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary is located in the Banaskantha District, at a distance of about 45 km from Palanpur. It has been proclaimed as a wildlife sanctuary in May 1998 and occupies a total area measuring 180.66 square kilometres. Apart from endangered species of sloth bear, other fauna reported in the sanctuary are leopard, blue bull, wild boar, porcupine and a variety of birds.
Other endangered species harboured by the sanctuary are jungle cat, civet, caracal, wolf and hyena. The sanctuary has also identified 406 species of plants. Flap-shell turtle, Chameleons and Termite hill geckos are also found here.
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4. Dantiwada Dam
The Dantiwada Dam has been constructed across the Banas River. The motive behind the construction of this dam was to control flood and provide water for the purpose of irrigation projects in Gujarat. The dam has a height of 61 meters and a length of 4832 meters.
Several visitors from all over the country are drawn to this dam due to its scenic beauty. Tourists can choose to visit the dam during the months of October through March to experience the best of the weather. The peak season time is in the months of October to December.
5. Kumbhariya Jain temple
One and a half km away from Ambaji town is the historical Jain temple of Shri Neminath Bhagwan which dates back to 13th century. The Kumbhariya Jain temple is now even heritage center in Gujarat. The beautiful carving on the wall is the main attraction of the temple.
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It is the only one left from the remains of a group of 360 Temples built by Vimalsha in year 1032. The Jain temple has facility of dharamshala and also bhojanshala for devotees.
6. Keerti Stambh
Saluting the glory of the Nawabs of Palanpur is the Keerti Stambh, a tall pillar constructed near the railway station in 1918 by Nawab Shri Taley Mohammed Khan to commemorate the gallantry of Shri Sher Mohammed Khan. ‘Adinathji’ is the presiding deity of the Keerti Stambh, who was the very first Jain Tirthankara.
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This tower is adorned with Jain Pantheons. Today it is a sturdy symbol of the city’s glory, and provides a record of Palanpur’s evolution, with the list of the rulers of Jhalore and Palanpur being engraved on it.
7. Mangalya Van
Nestled atop a hillock i.e. Kailash tekri, around a kilometre and half from the Ambaji Temple, is Mangalya Van, a unique garden that is of late drawing hordes of tourists. One has to climb steps to reach Kailash tekri and Mangalya Van, which is also surrounded by water bodies.
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The van was developed by the forest department and its USP is a unique Rashi Van (astrological garden) within and a garden of plants, which astrologers say have the same effect as stones on one’s life. All those who come to Mangalya Van invariably inquire about the effects of plants on sun signs and want to take back home a sapling that favors their zodiac sign.
8. Gabbar Hill
Gabbar, is believed to have been the original seat of the goddess, the site of Krishna’s tonsorial ceremony and the abode of the divine Mahishasur-Mardini. There are 300 stone steps at the foot of the hill after which the pilgrims have to climb through a narrow dangerous track.
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On the flat top of the hill there is a small niche facing the temple of Ambaji, in which a well-protected lamp is kept constantly burning, and can be seen from the main Ambaji temple at night. There are footprints of the Goddess under a pipal tree, which are worshiped.
These were our favorite destinations in this beautiful place which has a rich culture especially when it comes to Jains and devotees. In order to believe the beauty of the places mentioned above, plan a trip soon and get exploring.