Travel Diary: Ahmedabad
I was excited to visit Ahmedabad during the famous kite-flying festival – ‘Uttarayan’. The festival sees Ahmedabad at its vibrant best with innumerable speckles of colourful kites gyrating on the clear winter sky. Celebrated to mark the day when winter starts retreating, it marks the onset of the harvesting season. It is a great time to visit Ahmedabad as temperatures are pleasant and there is still a chirpy nip in the air.
Ahmedabad offers diverse experiences – national landmarks such as the Sabarmati Ashram, historical sites including the Adalaj Stepwell and the Jami Masjid mosque, and not to forget – incredible food experiences. It is an extremely safe city as well – a recommended choice for solo travellers!
Famished after the flight from Bengaluru, we first headed to Swati Snacks restaurant in the Law Garden Area. We were here on the recommendation of a friend who insisted this was the place to try out local Gujarati delicacies. And was he right! The meal was lip-smackingly delicious. We feasted on Panki Chatne, Dal Dhokli, Dhan Shak – Bhat, Handvo, Ponkh Bhel, Patra, Thalipith – Pitla, Khichu with Bajri, Sukhadi, Handvo, Chaas and more.
Panki Chatni. Source – Swati Snacks
Dhansak. Source – Swati Snacks
Patra. Source – Swati Snacks
Opening hours: Daily, 12 pm – 10:45 pm
Address: Law Garden, Ahmedabad – 380006.
How to get there: Google Pin
Phone: +91 79 2640-5900
After lunch, I decided to start my trip with perhaps the most iconic landmark in Ahmedabad – the Sabarmati Ashram, located on the banks of the river Sabarmati. Mahatma Gandhi and his wife, Kasturba lived here for about 12 years. He led the historic Dandi March (or the ‘Salt Satyagraha’) from this very place, thus making it a site of national importance.
Visit the splendid ‘My Life is my Message’ gallery with paintings, letters, and artefacts from the life and times of the great man. Gandhiji’s spartan cottage, the Hridaya Kunj, is a lesson in simplicity. I was particularly moved to see the Charkha used by Gandhiji to spin Khadi – a handspun natural fibre cloth he promoted for rural self-employment and self-reliance.
After visiting the gallery and Gandhiji’s cottage, I walked over to the periphery along the Sabarmati. It was breezy and a sense of calm prevailed. The spirit of Gandhi and his message of truth and non-violence remains all the more pertinent.
Opening hours: Daily, 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Address: Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, Ashram Rd, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380027.
Phone: +91 79 2755-7277
If travelling to Ahmedabad with family, add Kankaria Lake on your list of things to do in Ahmedabad. The 34 sided polygonal lake is almost 600 years old and was built by Sultan Qutb-ud-Din Ahmad Shah II who ruled over the Gujarat Sultanate from 1451 to 1458. The mile-long promenade around the lake is great for a pleasant jaunt or a jog. It gets lively and more crowded in the evening as food stalls and entertainment kiosks start being set up.
Along the Lake, you will find a zoo, a natural history museum, a toy train, an aquarium and a butterfly park! An interesting historical spot close to the Kankaria Lake is the Dutch Cemetary located on the One-Tree-Hill Garden. There are 49 Dutch and Armenian graves here with cenotaphs and pyramid tombs. These date back to the 17th century and belong to the traders (who engaged in cotton and indigo trade) as well as the brokers working in Dutch factory at Ahmedabad.
Opening hours for Kankaria Lake: Daily, 9 am – 6 pm
The night is alive in Ahmedabad and how! Head to Manek Chowk, the epicentre of the old city. The market transforms from a vegetable market in the morning, to a bullion market in the day to a street food haven in the night. While after a heavy lunch, discretion was well advised, but we threw caution to the winds at the sight and smells of the numerous food stalls.
I had to choose from dosas, pizzas, grilled sandwiches with oodles of butter, pav-bhaji, slices of heavenly Kufi and more. Manek Chowk had an infectious buzz and energy, and all the plastic tables stacked up along the length and breadth of the square were occupied. Do note all food served here is vegetarian, or as they say in India, strictly vegetarian only!
Opening hours: Daily, 8 pm – 1:30 am
Address: Manek Chowk Road, Danapidth, Khadia, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001.
I would totally recommend going for the breakfast heritage walk through the Old City the next morning. On this 1.5 km long guided tour, you will cover Jami Masjid, Bhadra Fort, Manek Chowk Vegetable Market, Chandla Ol, Sidi Saiyad Jali, Khetrapal Jain Shrine and the Teen Darwaja Market. The walk takes about two hours starts from The House of MG at 7: 30 a.m. daily from October to March.
The legend goes that Rana Veer Singh, ruler of a small kingdom in the 15th century, commissioned a stepwell to serve the needs of his people facing water scarcity. However, before the stepwell could be completed, the kingdom was annexed by the Mohammed Begda, the ruler of a neighbouring kingdom.
Rana Veer Singh died in the battle and Mohammed Begda, enamoured by the beauty of Rana Veer Singh’s widow queen – Ruda Devi – proposed marriage. The Queen agreed on one condition – the Adalaj stepwell be completed before the marriage. Mohammed Begda agreed.
However, once the five-storeyed sandstone stepwell was completed, the Queen jumped to her death down the well. You can also see the tombs of six masons here, it is believed that they were killed on the orders of Mohammed Begda so that another replica of this ornate architectural wonder could not be built.
Opening hours: Daily, 8 am – 6 pm
Address: Adalaj, Gujarat 382421.
And more things to do in Ahmedabad …
Ahmedabad has adopted the Pizza and made it it’s own with Indian ingredients. I enjoyed a few pans of pizzas at the famous Jasuben’s Old Pizza outlet. It’s cheesy-licious!
If going in January around Uttarayan, you will see colourful kites stocked up for sale throughout the city. I could not resist picking up a handful!
And you just cannot leave Ahmedabad without visiting Induben Khakrawala store. This is a wonderland of all crispy Gujarati snacks and savouries. We picked up two bags full of Khakra. My favourite was the Cheese Onion Flavored Khakra. Oh – the goodness!
I would recommend Hyatt Ahmedabad as a luxury option for travellers. I love getting pampered by excellent hotel service once in a while.
If you want to experience living at a heritage haveli in the Old City, check out The House of MG where they also offer heritage walks.
More Articles With India
Goa is a remarkably affordable holiday destination, complete with luxurious beaches, delicious food and stunning landscapes. It is a region of India where attitudes and dress codes are relaxed and visitors to this scenic region are guaranteed to find a wealth of memorable experiences. 7 Fun Things to do in Goa Beyond the Beaches 1)… Continue reading Goa Beyond the Beaches: 7 Great Things to Experience