Posts tagged ‘gujarat’

“LAST DECADE HAS SEEN A VARIETY OF CHANGES, THE COMING YEARS WILL SEE EVEN MORE” – SHRI NARENDRA MODI


In An Interview With Dhara Vasavada Of The Namoleague Times, The `Common Man’, Shri Narendra Modi, Shared His Views About Gujarat, Its Growth Strategies And Some Of His Experiences On What It Was Like To Be The Chief Minister Of A Progressive And Enviable State.

In October of this year, you will complete a decade in office as the CM of Gujarat. What has the journey been like, so far, as a CM and as a Common Man?

It will not be appropriate if I analyze myself. It would be better if people analyze my work. If winning elections is a measure of success, we are continuously receiving the support of people and winning the elections. If we measure success in terms of various other parameters, Gujarat is progressing on all the parameters – be it revenue, financial discipline, GDP, agricultural growth, industrial investment, youth employment, welfare of poor etc. Gujarat is achieving remarkable success in all the sectors. On the other hand, when I came to power, Gujarat was covered amidst the black shadow of an earthquake. It was our priority to work for the earthquake victims. According to a World Bank report, even developed countries require 7 years to recover from the havoc created by an earthquake. But, Gujarat was a state which re-established itself within 3 years. Today that very earthquake struck Kutch district is one of the fastest developing districts of India So, in a way this government is dedicated to progress. I am satisfied that we have been successful in fulfilling all the promises that we had made.

In October of this year, you will complete a decade in office as the CM of Gujarat. What has the journey been like, so far, as a CM and as a Common Man?

It will not be appropriate if I analyze myself. It would be better if people analyze my work. If winning elections is a measure of success, we are continuously receiving the support of people and winning the elections. If we measure success in terms of various other parameters, Gujarat is progressing on all the parameters – be it revenue, financial discipline, GDP, agricultural growth, industrial investment, youth employment, welfare of poor etc. Gujarat is achieving remarkable success in all the sectors.

On the other hand, when I came to power, Gujarat was covered amidst the black shadow of an earthquake. It was our priority to work for the earthquake victims. According to a World Bank report, even developed countries require 7 years to recover from the havoc created by an earthquake. But, Gujarat was a state which re-established itself within 3 years. Today that very earthquake struck Kutch district is one of the fastest developing districts of India So, in a way this government is dedicated to progress. I am satisfied that we have been successful in fulfilling all the promises that we had made.

Gujarat’s high growth has often invited comparisons with the world’s fastest growing nation, China. It must be a matter of great satisfaction that the state has grown at more than 10% in the last decade (2001-02 to 2010-11). What according to you are the reasons behind this success?

It is a fact, that moving upwards is not difficult. When you are standing down, you can easily look up. But, when you are already running around 10% then it is very difficult to maintain the position. But, Gujarat has done it and the reason is our development model which is divided into three parts:
– 1/3rd Agricultural sector
– 1/3rd service sector
– 1/3rd industrial sector
The balance between all the three sectors is attracting growth.
Secondly, the state government is very proactive and this has created an investor friendly environment. The Global Summit has also attracted the world. However, there are several other examples that speak about the success of Gujarat.

The Panchamrut Programme began in 2001 immediately after you became the CM of Gujarat. What was the inspiration and objective behind the initiative?
There are various sectors that help in the development of a region. I have articulated those sectors in the form of Panchamrut philosophy like:

– Gyan Shakti
– Jal Shakti
– Jan Shakti
– Urja Shakti
– Raksha Shakti

There is nothing that is beyond these five shaktis. If things are well defined, it becomes easy for the team to work. I believe that a true leader is the one who visualizes and executes things with clarity. This is how it becomes helpful for the team to work hand in hand.

Over the years, the Vibrant Gujarat Summit has emerged as a premier global business meet, attracting huge investments to Gujarat and is becoming a role model for other progressive states. What was the thinking behind such a grand vision?

There was a weird system going on in our country that gave rise to negative competition among states. The states competed for incentives. There was a time when one state said that we would provide a relaxation for 5 incentives; the other would say that we would give for 7, whereas some would give tax benefits. The `relaxation’ competition started in India. We decided that we would not provide any relaxation but we would provide a development friendly environment. I asked people to visit Gujarat and work here if they found it fit.
Secondly, we focused on peaceful and skilled labor. We found ways where we could lower the cost of production and provide better infrastructure. We thought of all such things as transportation, water, electricity etc. and worked out a strategy. We told people that we would not provide any relaxations, they could come here and work if they deemed it fit. Our strategy became successful. People understood the logic that they would get a development friendly environment, hurdles would reduce and time saved.
Over and above, I also brought changes in agriculture. Earlier, agriculture led to a fight for electricity. Every farmer used to ask for it. I said that a farmer needs water and not electricity. I shifted their focus from electricity to water. The unnecessary fights ended and ultimately it helped agriculture. I believe that it is the work of a leader, to visualize things, find out flaws and make people walk with you.

Gujarat was made the SEZ capital of India, what was the idea behind that? Infrastructure has always been Gujarat’s strong point. How does SIR (Special Investment Regions) help in overall growth and development?

SEZ laws were made by the central government. It was made for export purposes. Later, things changed and SEZs became irrelevant. Gujarat was the first state that made laws for SEZ. But now, Gujarat has moved ahead of SEZ. Its focus now is SIR (Special Investment Region). We are focusing on 6 SIRs and are going to create 6 modern and industrial SIR cities like Dholera and Dahej.
For development and overall growth by SEZs and SIRs, I would like to give an example of Korea. South Korea was considered to be a poor and undeveloped country. It got independence after India. The ruler of Korea decided to construct a road in the middle of the country. It was surprising that a poor country was spending crores just to build a road. But, the vision behind that road changed the entire country. Today, it is one of the most developed countries. So, infrastructure is one of the reasons of development. Hence, with a futuristic approach one should give priority to infrastructure. Infrastructure is neither dead investment nor is it a foe of the poor. Development with a vision is always good for the economy.

A vision is required for development. Gujarat started to work on electricity and we are creating a surplus in electricity. Like infrastructure during olden days, we do not stop at constructing bus stops, roads, ports etc. We keep in mind the development of 21st century. For eg. optical fiber network is a very big facet of development. Gujarat is the 2nd largest in the world in terms of optical fiber. In the same way, we are the only state in the world with a 2200 kms gas grid. All these are new faces of infrastructure. We use satellites for connectivity these days which wasn’t developed in the olden days. All these are new areas of infrastructure that we are working upon.

What do you have to say about Public-Private Participation (PPP) in infrastructure?

If the policy is clear and if the investors feel that the policies will sustain, they will get ready to take risks. I would like to mention a recent incident where a road was constructed and the government got a profit of 1600 crores apart from the construction of the road. The company filed the tender saying that they would build the road and share their profits with the government. It happened for the first time in our country that the road was being constructed by a private company and government was getting paid for the same.

Even though a superpower, America is facing an economic meltdown. Can Gujarat take steps to insulate itself from such global economic shocks?

The world has already seen a phase of recession from 2007 to 2009. It affected all states except Gujarat. The main reason was the strategy of Gujarat. Gujarat used the model of low cost and high efficiency. We felt that we could give good results if we had low cost of labor, high efficiency and zero defects. Our strategy worked and even during recession Gujarat is growing.

Gujarat has been a top level performer in the Centre’s 20-point programme for the poor and backward. Can Gujarat’s model of all inclusive development be an inspiration for other states?

The Central government started the 20-point programme. It is reviewed every three months. I am happy to announce that Gujarat is giving more than 100% and is considered one of the best states in this regard. Moreover, in the entire country, NDA regulated states only are doing well when it comes to 20-point programme.

Innovative schemes like Chiranjivi Yojna, Jyotigram Yojna etc. have been commended at both national and international levels. How do you encourage such out-of-the-box thinking for social change?

I am a person attached to the land. I am attached with the sorrows and happiness of people. I do not belong to a royal family, nor am I a son of some minister or a Sarpanch. I belong to an ordinary family and hence I know the sorrows of people. When you know their problems, you automatically get the solutions. It is my passion to solve the problems of the poor. That’s how new programmes are made. I try to institutionalize them and try to attach more and more people to them, be it Chiranjivi Yojna, Jyotigram Yojna, 108, battle for cattle etc. Gujarat has been able to eradicate 112 cattle diseases by taking up continuous health camp for the cattle.

Besides economic growth and social transformation, Gujarat has taken great strides in environment and climate change. Could you comment on your development model of combining government intervention with community participation?

Gujarat is the 4th government in the world and the 1st in India to have a climate change department. We have been continuously working for environmental friendly development and that’s how we became the solar capital of the country. We are also leading in renewable energy. Gujarat has done a commendable job in water conservation and tree plantation. We have brought a change in transportation in no time by introducing CNG service. Ahmedabad, which was one of the most polluted cities, is now being considered amongst the top three cities. Hence, tough decisions and healthy environment do make things possible.
I strongly believe that the government can prosper only if it gets the co-operation of people. Make development a movement. Environment is not made by laws. We should feel for the conservation of nature and take steps for that.

The Swarnim Gujarat (Golden Jubilee of Gujarat’s formation) celebrations ended with a bang this year. How do you foresee Gujarat in the next five years?

Gujarat has rapidly progressed in the past ten years. The speed, with which it has grown over the past years, will increase during the coming years. Last decade has seen a variety of changes, the coming years will see even more. Earlier, it was difficult to get the trust of people, whereas in the coming years the people will have full trust hence they will work for progress in coming years. Earlier, it was difficult to promote girl child education, now in every household people feel that girls should be educated. Such changes will benefit a lot.

Young people tend to get disillusioned by politics. What are your views on the youth getting into politics? Can the political process be improved to encourage grassroot excellence and attract the talented?

In our country, the current model of politics is not fit for the youth. It is a model where the son of a minister enters politics. The country needs someone from a non political family only then development will strengthen. New families should enter politics. The young generation should enter, only then we will get a new atmosphere and new thoughts for development. For that purpose, we need to encourage people. Youth from political families do not help much because he they enter with the same thought process. But if fresh blood comes with an aim to do something for the country, then they can make a great difference.

You have been voicing your support for the anti-corruption movement of recent times. What can we as ordinary individuals and citizens do to further it?

There is a saying in Sanskrit, “Rashtrayam Jagrayam Vayam” (Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.) The matter of corruption is also the same. Hatred of corruption should take root in the minds of the people. Corruption should be abhorred. The easy going way of getting work done through bribes should be abolished. If such hatred is created, the one who gives and the one who takes, both will be put to shame. Such an environment should be brought in, only then corruption can be abolished.

You engaged in social service from a very early age. Could you throw some light on those days? How important is the spirit of social service for someone entering politics?

I have always had the honor to work for the people. I used to reach wherever the need was felt. Actually, I used to read Shri Vivekanandji during my childhood. Hence, I have always felt that I should live for the country and should do something for the society.

Regarding the spirit, it is not necessary for everyone to have the same kind of spirit. Even the degree of spirit varies from person to person. But, atleast a feeling for the nation and society is very important. Each and everyone should have a dedication for the country. The greatest inspiration is to feel the pain of others.
“लेना, पाना, बनना, यह अगर प्रेरणा है तो वो लोगों का काम नहीं कर सकता है. वो खुद का ही करता है. ” (If to take, to achieve and to be is the inspiration, then one can never work for the people. He works for himself.) People who come with such mentality do not help in the betterment of the country. We need people who believe in giving.

As a youth, you faced many odds and obstacles. Can you talk a little about them? How did you convert them into opportunities and positive actions?

I have never counted challenges and have never dreamt of happiness. For a person who has a habit of staying hungry, won’t find it difficult if he does not get food for a day. For him, it’s a routine. My life was also the same. I have faced a lot of hardships. But all these are the troubles in the eyes of others. People like me, are brought up amidst this, so these are not challenges for us. We face them and easily live them.

Could you please narrate the incident when you unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk in Kashmir around 1990?

During those days, the terrorists used to burn and tear our national flag. It had become their routine to walk on our national flag and insult our country. BJP decided to speak against this insult by unfurling the national flag at Lal Chowk. Dr. Murlimanohar Joshi, the national leader of BJP during those days, took charge of the movement. It was decided that I would organize the entire journey. I got the opportunity to carry the national flag from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The flag that we carried was given by the family members of Bhagatsingh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. We unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. At that moment, the terrorists were showering missiles and bullets. I told the press that earlier when we used to unfurl the national flag on August 15, the Indian arms and army used to respect the national flag, but today the Pakistani arms are respecting our national Flag.

What message would you give to the namoleague team?

I am thankful to all the members of namoleague for staying in touch, indirectly though. You all care for my problems and happiness. You congratulate me for all good things and pray during my trials and tribulations. I will try to fulfill all your dreams and expectations. I pray to God to provide me enough strength so that I can work for Gujarat and 6 crore Gujaratis.

– Shree Narendra Modi, Chief Minister, Gujarat.

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THE SILVER SCREENS OF GUJARAT


Gujarat is a state which is known all over the world for tourism. Like few places in the world, it is proud of the tall mountains, valleys, water resources, forests, wildlife, desert, palaces, temples and many cultural and diverse places. Gujarat has a rich history and many rulers have touched the throne of Gujarat, hence it is also known for its majestic beauty. Due to the geographical and historical location, Gujarat has been a favorable place for shooting. It attracts film makers, documentary makers and at times even advertisements are shot in the state. These locations have acquired fame and are thronged by tourists round the year.

VIJAY VILAS PALACE

We often get to see this majestic palace in Bollywood films. Vijay Vilas Palace situated at Mandvi was built in 1929 by Vijayrajji. The grand structure is made in Rajput style using red sandstones adding beauty to the monument. The main central dome, bastions, Bengal domes and color glass windows catch the eye of every visitor. The entire lush green surrounding can be observed from the top balcony of the palace. Bolywood blockbusters like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Lagaan’ are shot here.
Mandvi also has one of the most beautiful beaches in India. Mandvi has a well maintained private beach situated along the palace. Many picturesque villages are situated nearby the palace which can be an appropriate site for a village seen.

GONDAL

Gondal has been a famous location for feature films, fashion shoots, TV serials and Gujarati films. Gujarat is one of the few towns of Gujarat that hold the real cultural heritage of the Rajput kings and the early rulers of Gujarat. Once the capital of a princely state, it was run by the Jadeja Rajputs, later overtaken by the Mughals and again recovered by the original rulers. It is a fortified town located on the river Gondali after which it was named. It was known as a model state of Saurashtra in late 19th and early 20th century.

The town offers a variety of heritage locations for various shoots. The Darbargadh or old palace complex, with its medieval walls and 1740s Naulakha Palace, is ideal for period films and Indian heritage fashion shoots. Riverside palace built by Maharaja Bhagwat Sinhji in 1875 is a famous landmark of the town. The interiors are beautifully decorated with enchanting artwork and the furnishings are one of their kind. The Oxford Palace or the Huzoor Palace is a magnificent palace surrounded by gardens of fruit bearing trees.

The Orchard Palace of the erstwhile Maharajas of Gondal is very famous for film shoots. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel. Many scenes of the bollywood blockbuster ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ have been shot here. The scene in which Ajay Devgan pulls Aishwarya Rai down a flight of carpeted steps where the actress disturbs the antique wooden table and brass artifacts on the way to the entrance, feature few portions of the grand palace. The palace contains beautiful interiors that show a glimpse of both the British and the Indian culture. The ‘room of miniatures’ is a splendid sitting room with a collection of miniature paintings, brass, and antique furniture. The erstwhile princely family has a huge fleet of vintage and classic cars besides horse drawn carriages and rail saloons. An extensive collection of vintage and classic cars including a 1935 Mercedes, 1955 Cadillac limousine, sports cars from the 1950s and 1960s like the Mercedes 300 SL, Jaguar XK 150 and Chevrolet Camaro, a fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles from the World War II and post-war period and some contemporary sports cars can be seen.


WADHWAN

Rajmahal Palace in Wadhwan is situated in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. The huge palace is spread over an area of fourteen acres. The palace was built in the 19th century by H.H. Bal Sinhji. The most peculiar area of the palace is the Darbar hall with beautifully painted ceiling. The hall contains the royal throne and some portraits. Beautiful murals, rich velvet tapestries, huge chandeliers and antique furniture give it an imperial touch. In the pillared courtyard of the palace, the marble statues draw attention of the guests.
The palace has now been converted into a heritage hotel. The famous fashion feature ‘Lily takes a trip’ by Vogue was shot here in 2005. The famous photograph of a model standing on a spiral staircase with a long hanging gown is the part of this palace. Other historic buildings of Wadhwan include the Darbargadh fort, the Hawa Mahal, Ranakdevi temple and step well.

LITTLE RANN OF KUTCH

It is a delight to see vast open barren land spread kilometers together. The dessert looks splendid in moonlight. It is an extremely popular site for advertisement films, especially advertisements featuring cars and tyres. The advertisements of Tata Safari, Hero Honda and MRF Tyres are a few ads shot here. It also proves to be an exotic location for fashion advertisements and fashion photography. Shoots of Jade Blue’s shirts and Deepkala sarees for their editorial advertisements and hoardings also happened in the Little Rann of Kutch.
Besides the desert area, Rann of Kutch is also known for lakes filled with colorful birds. It also contains wild ass sanctuary and some beautiful traditional villages nearby. All these are a good location for shoots. The Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch has also been featured in the documentaries of BBC, National Geographic, Partridge Films, etc for its variety of wildlife.

BALARAM 

Balaram is situated near Palanpur. It is surrounded by lush green forests. Built around 1922-1936,it was a hunting retreat of Lohani Nawab of Palanpur. The area is spread in 13 acres on a hilly region. The palace is surrounded by lush green gardens having colorful flower beds. The palace is a graceful manifestation of neo classical and ornate architectural style. It is situated near the border of Rajasthan. Many villages, hills and rivers form a beautiful location for film shoots.
Balaram Palace has been a spot for feature films, ad films and TV serials. It is extremely popular for TV serials. Suryavanshi starring Amitabh was filmed in Balaram, which has many attractive locations like the palace, Chitrasani river, Jessore Hill and nearby villages. Now the palace has been converted into a resort.

RAJPIPLA

Rajpipla is a major city of the Narmada district in South Gujarat. Rajpipla is known for its grandeur as it contains beautiful palaces and grand ancient buildings. It is a famous location for the shooting of Gujarati and Bhojpuri films. Gujarati films are shot here since 1971; hence few also call it Gollywood. Now many Bhojpuri films are also shot here. The ‘Ab to Banya Sajanya Hamra’featuring Saira Banu and the first ever cross border Bhojpuri film Saiyyan Chitchor are a few amongst the movies filmed at Rajpipla. The location is often seen in TV programmes and serials.
Rajvant Palace Resort situated into Vijay Palace is most famous for shoots. The palace was built by Maharaja Chhatra Sinhji in 1910. The palace is surrounded by gardens and it has the view of the river from the rear. The drawing room has retained its original character with European settees and elegant tables. The pillars, Gothic arches and European domes are worth a watch. A number of old and new decorative objects and in brass, marble and ceramics decorate the hall. The other impressive palatial building of Rajpipla are the Vadia Palace called Gujarat’s Taj Mahal because of its magnificent architecture ,the Natvar Nivas which has beautiful murals and other works of art inside, and many others.

GOLDEN JOURNEY OF THE GOLDEN STATE


WHILE GETTING SEPARATED FROM THE BILINGUAL STATE OF BOMBAY, GUJARAT LET GO OFF THE BOMBAY STATE TO BE INCLUDED WITHIN ITS BOUNDARIES. OVER THE YEARS, GUJARAT HAS STOOD ON ITS OWN FEET AND PROVED ITSELF TO BE A POWERFUL STATE.

Gujarat is a state that has strived through years and has been successful in carving its identity throughout the world. There was a time, when Gujarat had no name of its own, no voice and no recognition. Yet today, it is one of the strongest states of the country.

Time and again India has observed a break in its interstate boundaries after independence. Hence, the chapter of modern Indian history is complex with a lot of protests, struggle and revolution. Many new states have evolved within a passage of time. On May 1, 1960, two brother states got separated creating different identities as Gujarat and Maharashtra. The struggle was emotive and painful because of violence on a mass scale that led to frequent police firing and bloodshed.


THE STRUGGLE FOR SEPARATION

Dating back to the British Rule in India, sections of the western coast of India were a part of the Bombay Presidency. Hence Bombay was an earlier state of India. Moreover, in 1937, Bombay Presidency was included as a province of British India. After India achieved freedom in 1947, many former princely states including current Gujarat state were merged with the previous Bombay province and was made a very large state.

It was after independence that many lingual states stood up to become a separate state. In 1953, Andhra Pradesh obtained separation from Madras (current Tamil Nadu) with the efforts of Potti Sriramulu who celebrated fast unto death for this cause. After this incident, Nehru was the most reluctant to accept demands for other changes in the provincial boundaries on the basis of language. But very few listened to it and the revolutionary efforts started. In order to settle down the chaos, State Recognition Commission (SRC) was set up. When SRC was busy collecting evidences, citizens overflowed with bitter sentiments carrying hunger strikes all over demanding linguistic states. It was almost like civil war in certain parts of India.

Situation became worse when SRC considered the request for proliferation of linguistic states but came up with two exceptions. It recommended that Bombay should continue to be a bilingual state. The other was regarding Punjab. It rejected the demand of the Sikhs to create a separate Punjabi state. Instead, it came up with the idea of trilingual states that includes present day Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Bombay was a major province during those days and both Gujarati and Maharashtrian populations opposed the SRC’s exception vehemently. Both the populations strongly demanded a linguistic state. The situation took a shoddier turn when none of the populations were ready to wave off Bombay, a booming cosmopolitan city. Both the parties wanted Bombay to be included in their own newly formed state at any cost. In order to solve the confusion, Nehru decided to form three states: Maharashtra, Gujarat and Centrally governed city-state of Bombay. The future of the city was to be reviewed five years later but finance minister, C.D. Deshmukh resigned and accused the government of surrendering to the moneybags of Bombay.

Fierce riots broke out in the state of Bombay and Marathi-speaking districts. At such a crucial point of time, Morarji Desai Bombay’s Chief Minister and a supreme leader of Gujarat acted against the rioters. Violence was also spread in Gujarat that forced Morarji Desai to go on weeklong fast. Observing the situation, just before the declaration of carving three states, 180 MPs joined together and suggested a return of bilingual Bombay state. This did not help to bring out an amicable solution as the tension between the two communities did not come to a rest. Due to continuous outburst of riots between both the masses, the urge or Gujarati’s to get separated from Marathi-speaking masses got stronger. Its objection to include Bombay into the state of Maharashtra got weakened.

Lastly, due to the persuasion of Indira Gandhi, President Rajendra Prasad and Vice-President Radhakrishnan, Nehru finally agreed for the creation of two new lingual states. On May 1, 1960, two new states Gujarat and Maharashtra were born.

In Gujarat the movement was lead by visionary leaders like Indulal Yagnik, Jivraj Mehta, Harihar Khambhoja and Brahmakumar Bhatt. The first government of Gujarat was formed under the leadership of Dr. Jivraj Mehta. The oath of office was administered by Pt. Ravishankar Maharaj at the Gandhi Ashram.

GROWTH STORY OF GUJARAT

After the birth of Gujarat, the industrialists of Gujarat were determined to take the industrial sector far ahead. The revolution in industries started from 1960 itself. The main industry during those days was agriculture which was in a bad shape. Industries like textile, chemical, jari making, diesel making, brass parts etc were developed. The textile industry underwent a boom and Ahmedabad came to be known as ‘the Manchester of India.’

In order to boost up industrial growth, various facilities were provided to the industries. After 1960, Power loom and diamond industries were started followed by chemical, petro-chemical, refineries and chemical fertilizer industries. Thus after 1960’s industrial reform took place and Gujarat became industrially important for the country. Gujarat started to be recognized as an industrial state. The contribution of Gujarat is more than 13% in the Gross National Production of India.

After 1990’s Gujarat adopted economic reforms. The main objective of Gujarat was speedy development at industrial level and to compete with other states and other developing countries. Moreover, Gujarat is no.1 in salt production in the country. Gujarat also plays a major part when it comes to textile, chemical, diamond and pharmaceutical industries.

Gujarat is one of the first few states in India to have encouraged private sector investment, some of which are already in operation. With the onset of Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor’s Summit, investment started flowing in from various countries. With every summit the amount of investment and the participating countries started increasing. The attraction of other countries towards Gujarat showed the development prospects in the state. Gujarat government is a front runner in development of solar energy. It has allotted 716 MW of Solar Power capacity to 34 national and international solar project developers in 2009; against the planned 500 MW capacity under its Solar Power Policy.

Apart from this, Gujarat has also come up with various schemes in order to accelerate growth from ground level itself. It came up with Gareebkalyan Melas, Vanche Gujarat, Gunotsav, Khel Mahakumbh and many more. Moreover, the water of Narmada River is also being extended so that more people and farmers can have the benefit. Various steps are being taken time and again to make the state more and more prosperous.

Within a short span of time, Gujarat has been visited by various foreign delegations and also by the Presidents of three countries. This shows that the growth and development of Gujarat has been able to attract the eyes internationally.

PAINTED WITH THE EQUISITENESS OF NATURE AND WILDLIFE: SHOOLPANESHWAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY


The moment one enters Gujarat, one gets a warm welcome from the people saying ‘Aavo Padharo’. One can find almost everything that articulates the language and culture of Gujarat. The cave paintings, architectural structures, palaces, temples, desert and beaches, etc. talk about the ethnicity of the state.

Gujarat has a hub of wildlife with Sasan Gir being the most important. Apart from that there are several natural reserves in the state. There are a number of wildlife sanctuaries in the state wherein nature with all its beauty greets the visitors. Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is one such place in Gujarat, painted with the exquisiteness of nature and wildlife. The sanctuary is situated in Bharuch district at a distance of 125 kms from Vadodara, in the western region of Gujarat. It covers an area of 608 sq. kms. It stretches for miles along the saline water reserve of the state. The sanctuary was first developed in 1982 and was named as Dhumkal Sanctuary. Earlier, it encompassed a meager area of 150.87 sq km. The area was extended in 1987 and the place was renamed as Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife sanctuary in 1989. It was established in order to protect Sloth Bear.

The place is named after a historic temple of Lord Shiva which once existed on the banks of the river Narmada. The word “Shoolpaneshwar” refers to Lord Shiva portrayed as having “Shool” or “Trishul” in his hand i.e. `Pani’. The temple is submerged now due to Sardar Sarovar Dam. A new temple has been constructed near Rajpipla.

Shoolpaneshwar is a wonder for tourists. The area is spread into undulating terrain, wears green blanket, tall canopies, deep valleys, majestic waterfalls, sparkling streams and scenic landscapes. The forest area is rated as one of the thickest in the state. It includes a major watershed feeding two major reservoirs with Rajpipla hills as backdrop. It is a moist deciduous forest having high scenic and aesthetic values. Hence the sanctuary makes a peaceful abode for birds and animals.

Shoolpaneshwar is rich in flora and fauna. It is marked for its richness in biodiversity. Through the sanctuary, Gujarat boasts of its wide collection of leopard with the fastest running speed, hyena with its typical laugh, sambar, four-horned antelope, panther and wild dog. Sloth Bear with a shaggy fur is an important member of the fauna family here. Animals such as barking deer which are usually smaller in size compared to the original ones and Rhesus Monkeys which are rarely found in other parts of the country are seen here. Crocodiles and otters have been sighted along the river. Best season for visiting the sanctuary is from October to March.

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The forest is also rich in botany. There are almost 575 species of flowering plants that provide scenic beauty to the woodland. Here, Teak is the primary plant species whereas patches of bamboo are observed in western and north-western areas. Amla, Haldu, Sadad, Bor, Timru, Aritha, Mahuda, Tanach, Bamboo, Karanj, etc. make the area dense.

To make the journey more adventurous Dediapada Range situated near the sanctuary can be visited. There are excellent trekking and camping options, especially after the monsoon season, when the area is lush green. To make the journey a bit cultural, Tilakvada a tribal village that falls near Dediapada is a good option. The tribal culture and tribal life can be explored.

The nearest railhead Ankleshwar, is 60 kms away from the sanctuary. The nearest airport is Vadodara. Night stay in a forest is always an amazing experience as you can experience the real beauty of nature with moonlight dinner, voice of cool breeze and can feel the silence of the forest at night. There are several guest houses available in the vicinity that provide recreational and entertainment facility. Travelling by road will also be a unique experience as one has to travel through Narmada District which is marked for its scenic beauty and pristine natural settings. Natural beauty mingled with wild lifestyle of the animal kingdom will keep lingering in your mind .

DIVINE, CULTURAL AND PRE-HISTORIC TOWN: SOMNATH


Situated in Veraval, on the western coast of Gujarat, Somnath is covered with the waves of holiness, faith and history. Somnath, one of the holiest pilgrimage spot for Hindus, is a home to first among the twelve Jyotirlings in India. Somnath had always been the target of invaders in search of its fabulous treasures and richness. It is known by several names as Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan or Pattan Somnath. It is an ancient city as it has got its mention in Puranas and Mahabharata. Moreover, the ancient inscriptions and carvings found here reveal that the place was initially inhabited by the Aryans.

The place is wrapped with several mythological stories. One of the stories reveals that Moon (Soma) worshipped Lord Shiva at this place and hence it is named Somnath. Another Hindu mythological story mentions it as the place where Lord Krishna was shot by an arrow in his foot. It is believed that the Yadavas, the descendents of Lord Krishna, fought among themselves and destroyed the Yadav community over here. The place is believed to be dipped in sanctity by Hindu pilgrims.
SOMNATH TEMPLE

The main attraction here is Somnath Temple dedicated to Moon Goddess. It was the wealthiest temple when Mohd. Gazni looted it in 1026 AD. The daily pooja was performed with flowers from Kashmir and sacred water was brought from Ganga. A heavy golden chain mounds was used to ring the gigantic temple bell. Earnings from ten thousand villages were spent on the offerings and one thousand Brahmins worshipped the shivalinga everyday. It is said that the temple was first constructed by the goddess with gold. Later on Ravana and Bhima constructed it with silver and rocks respectively. The prosperous temple was looted seventeen times, every time becoming greater and firm. Later on after independence, the temple was reconstructed in 1951 with the efforts of Shri Sardar Patel. Thousands of pious pilgrims throng the temple to get a glimpse of the sacred Jyotirlinga. The current temple reminds visitors of the original splendor of Somnath temple.

The present temple, Kailash Mahameru Prasad is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture and reflects the inherent skill of sompuras, Gujarat’s master masons. It has the shikhara, the Garbhagriha, the sabha mandap and the nritya mandap. The peculiarity of the temple is that there is no land between Somnath temple and Antartica. This fact was found from the protection wall of the temple.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS

The city also has a museum that includes many artifacts and historical objects depicting the history and culture of this temple town. It displays seashell collection, water bottles containing water from rivers all around the world.

Another mythological place, Bhalka Tirth is worth seeing. It is a place where Lord Krishna was mistaken to be a deer and was shot with an arrow while sleeping on deer skin. The place is situated on the confluence of three rivers. There is a sun temple nearby that was also knocked down by Mahmud of Ghazni. Mahmud Gazni broke though the gate called Junagarh Gate in order to take over the town. It is a huge gate that speaks about the grandeur of the ancient town.

People, who are inclined towards water, just cannot miss the garrulous waters of Somnath beach. The beach is not recommended for swimming but one can surely enjoy huge wages hitting hard on the shore. One can have the pleasure of camel ride and other beach amusements.

Chorwad is another beach situated at about 26 kms from Somnath. It is developed by tourism Corporation of Gujarat. It was once home to the royal palace of the Nawab of Junagadh. It is an idea beach for relaxing and enjoying cool breeze.

AN ALLURING TRIP

Somnath is a place filled with divinity. Colors of mythology and history paint the culture of the town. Various invasions portray the tale of the age old grandeur of Somnath. The temple speaks about the sanctity and religious ideology attached to it. Besides, the sea waters provide freshness to ones mind and soul.

 

EXPERIENCE THE MAMMOTH INFRASTRUCTURE AND FEEL THE SERENITY OF NATURE AT KEVADIYA


A place which was surrounded by thousands of people protesting has now been converted into a favored destination by the tourists. Narmada Dam is one of the most controversial dam projects in India and its environmental impact and net costs &benefits were widely debated. The place remains thronged by people round the year as the state government had developed tourism in the area.

The dam is located between the banks of Narmada and Karjan rivers in South Gujarat. It is one of the largest dam projects of South Asia hence it poses to be a pride of Gujarat and India. Narmada River runs along the border of Vadodara district and through Bharuch district. It empties into the sea near the city of Bharuch. The journey can be started from Bharuch, Rajpipla and Vadodara. Bharuch is the nearest station whereas the nearest airport is Vadodara. The Dam is situated at a distance of 82 to 90 kms from these junctions.

The dam site is divided into six points: garden; the foundational stone laid by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961; a site with a side view of the dam; a lake where boating takes place; the first lock gate of the main canal; a trekking site with a nature education camp for students. All these sites give you a spectacular view of the dam and its gushing water from different angles. Moreover, the model room gives you an idea regarding the construction and working of the dam. The moment you reach the spot, the lush green garden can be a resting place. From here you can also get the overview of the dam. You can also enjoy boating in the river which takes you around the river. You will experience the deep waters and cool breeze during the boat ride. Dam II view point will give a very close view of the dam.

Nehru Foundation Stone Sthal, is a place where the original foundation stone was laid by Pandit Nehru. The entire area has been specially planned for tourism. The site gives a beautiful view of Narmada River. The best view can be obtained during monsoon after rains when you actually get to see flowing waters in full force. You can also hire a guide who will show the dam site from various points and will also explain the mechanism of the dam. The sound of water flowing in full force from the dam is exciting to hear. Moreover, the white foaming water thrashing down is a beautiful site that catches the eye of every visitor. Some of the lakes that one can see are the Panchmilli Lake, Kalvani Lake, Vagdam Lake and many others. These lakes are large water bodies created between the dam and canal head regulator.

If you visit Sardar Sarovar Dam then you just can’t miss out Kevadiya Colony. Kevadiya is an area that is situated downstream from the dam. The area is situated in the lap of nature and hence contains many places which allure the visitors. The entire place is surrounded by rivers, rivulets, hills, waterfalls and forest covers.The place is best for trekking and camping with many small paths going though the forest and rivers. Tourism is being developed in this area. A variety of plant species and wild life here, makes it an excellent location for recreational and leisure activities. There are plans to develop eco friendly tourist facilities here.

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Kevadiya Narmada also contains several temples situated amidst nature. Narmada Udgam Temple located in the source of Narmada River holds immense religious significance and hence remains thronged. Several shrines are enclosed in one premise at Narmada Udgam. The main attraction of the temple is the sacred kund which is a hub of devotees and where various rituals are performed. The evening aarti in the temple is a refreshing affair with chanting of vedic hymns amidst beating drums and bells. During Navratri, the temple glitters with several diyas and the site looks enchanting.

Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev Temple is yet another temple situated in the area. It is one of the ancient temples of lord Shiva. This temple was earlier submerged and has been rebuilt. Moreover, if you are fond of wildlife then you just can’t miss visiting Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary situated amidst tall canopies, deep valleys, rivers, waterfalls and landscapes. The forest area is rated as one of the best and thickest in the state.

The population here consists of tribals. One can also go around the place and have a feel of tribal culture and lifestyle. Before the construction of the dam the place was unexplored that has saved the sanctity of nature.

The place is a nature’s paradise with a modern touch. The place not only displays the wonders of infrastructure through the dam but also contains the blessedness of nature with all the rivers, rivulets, hills and landscape. It is a good place to visit for religious people as well as it contains many holy ancient shrines. The place takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and you can feel the serenity of nature.

 

GUJARAT HORTICULTURE ASSOCIATION EXHIBITION: A PARADISE FOR PLANT LOVERS


Plant lovers got colored into varied shades of flowers and beautiful plants. The nature lovers had an opportunity to explore the wonders of horticulture. Gujarat Horticulture Association had organized a three day exhibition starting from February 11.

The 43rd exhibition by Gujarat Horticulture Association portrayed variety of plants, flowers and organic fruits & vegetables. The exhibition was inaugurated by P. Nandankumar, Chief General Manageral, SBI. The place was painted with the colors of varied flowers, bonsai and other shrubs. People also could have a look at various organic fruits and vegetables that are rare to find. Children were found grabbing knowledge regarding the growth of plants and vegetables. Various types of flowers like Dianthus, Petunia, Verbena, Aster, Roses and Marigold were displayed. Bunches of varied colors delighted the eyes of the visitors.

Horticulture Association had also kept a competition divided into various themes like bonsai, flowers, fruits and vegetables. “I have displayed sixteen plants out of which three were awarded. Knowing about various plants and growing them is my hobby. It has been three years that I have been into gardening. I think that the event is amazing as it has a huge collection.” said Rishma Praikh, a participant.

Apart from bonsai and flower competition, this year Gujarat Horticulture Association also came up with garden competition, organized ten days before the main exhibition. The entry was open for public gardens, private gardens, farm houses, terrace gardens, traffic islands, school and college gardens, party plots and private society gardens situated within 30 kms from Gujarat Horticulture Association Nursery. 120 entries were received in this category.

Vegetation lovers could not only enjoy the plants but also could buy a few of them from 20 stalls that were set up. People from Goa, Pune and various parts of Gujarat had set up their stalls. Apart from plants, various seeds, designer pots and gardening equipments were also available. “I come here every year and buy different kinds of plants. I find the place very informative as everytime I visit I get to see different varieties. So I keep experimenting with different types of plants.” said Meena Shah, visitor.

Moreover, the response from the people has been great said Kiran Desai, executive member, Gujarat Horticulture Association. “We have been organizing this since past 42 years and the visitors keep on increasing every year. This time the response was overwhelming. There are people who prepared for the competition months ago. This time there is a person who grew certain plants in the jungle and brought it over here for the competition. If I talk about the visitors, this time we are expecting around 50,000 people.”

It was an exhibition that mesmerized the plant lovers. People were seen buying and observing varied plants. It was an erudite exhibition for nature lovers and for the people who want to know about various plants and their seasons.