From intricate textiles and ancient temples to salt plains and rare wildlife, the western state of Gujarat has as much to offer as its more popular neighbours, Rajasthan and Mumbai.

With so many travellers veering either to Gujarat’s northern neighbour Rajasthan or Mumbai to the south, the temple-topped mountains, rare wildlife and traditional handicrafts of India’s westernmost state are too often overlooked.

What can I see?
Head to the district of Kutch to see artisans at work on some of India’s most intricate textiles. The salt plains of the Little Rann of Kutch are the last refuge of the Indian wild ass and home to breeding flamingos. Visit Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to see the only Asiatic lions left in the wild.

How safe is it?
Gujarat isn’t immune to natural disasters, and experienced a major earthquake in 2001. Violence between Hindus and Muslims has flared up sporadically (the last major riots were in 2002) but underlying tension is unlikely to affect visitors. This is one of India’s most developed states. It’s where the Tata Nano – the world’s least expensive new car – is made.

Where’s truly off the beaten track?
Girnar Hill, near the ancient fortified city of Junagadh. Join pilgrims and porters at dawn to tackle some or all of the 10,000 steps leading past Jain and Hindu temples.

What should I eat?
The Gujarati vegetarian thali – a dish featuring a selection of curries, curds, dhal, pickles and rice – is lighter and less spicy than most, and is usually served with buttermilk.

Recommended reading?
Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Gandhiji was born in Gujarat and co-ordinated his struggle for many years from its largest city, Ahmedabad.