Ahmedabad – A bustling city and the financial capital of Gujarat. It’s famous for many things but never really known as a tourist destination. On my recent weekend visit to this vibrant city, I was quite surprised to see that the Ahmedabad has a lot of places to visit and many unique things to offer to any type of traveler. It has an interesting mix of heritage sites, a piece of the freedom movement, beautiful temples and mosques, good food, amazing hospitality and a unique culture. It is well connected with other cities in the country and all major airlines and trains have travel services to Ahmedabad. All this makes it a good choice for a long weekend trip from any part of India.
And here are my seven must see’s and to-do’s whenever you find yourself in Ahmedabad –
- Experience the old ways of living in the pols – One of the most unique things to do in Ahmedabad is to walk through its pols (neighborhoods) in the old city. Built over a few centuries ago, pols are self-contained neighborhoods, segregated majorly by castes or communities. Each pol has houses built with common walls, a common area, a black board, a well and a bird feeder. These pols have beautifully carved houses, unique architecture, temples, history, mysteries and many stories. You can visit these pols through a heritage walk organized by Ahmedabad Tourism or stay in one of the homestays here.
- Relive a small piece of our freedom movement at the Sabarmati Ashram – Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, Sabarmati Aashram or the Satyagraha Ashram was once the house of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji lived here from 1915 to 1917 and it was from here that he began his famous ‘Dandi March’ in 1930 to protest against the Salt Tax imposed by the Britishers. You should visit the ashram to understand the simplicity with which Gandhiji lived in his everyday life, spin a bit of yarn on a spinning wheel and also visit the small museum nearby that displays important event information, letters, photographs and other related items to Gandhiji and our Freedom movement.
- Marvel in the beautiful heritage structure of Adalaj ni vav / Adalaj Stepwell – This stunning five-story step well was built-in 1499 by Queen Rudabai, wife of Vaghela Chieftain to collect rainwater during seasonal monsoons. Built in the Indo-Islam fusion architecture work, the steps are intricately carved with scenes from Indian mythology and everyday life. I especially loved the beautiful carvings around the jharokhas.
- Explore the stunning multicultural religious sites (temples and mosques) – There are many stunning temples and mosques in Ahmedabad built-in multiple architectural and design styles. You must see the Hathi Singh Jain temple is built-in white marble with beautiful carvings, the Jhulta Minar (though you have to see it from the road), the Jama Masjid built-in the Indo-Islamic style with many elements commonly seen in Hindu temples, the stunning screens of the Sidi Sayed mosque. Many of these sites have free entry too.
- Visit some unique museums – Ahmedabad has some unique museums that showcase historic lineage and cultural elements of the city – there is the Calico Textile Museum, Vintage Car museum, the traditional Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum, Veechar Utensil Museum and the Kites Museum. Each of these museums have some interesting exhibits and definitely worth a visit.
- Taste the Unique Local Cuisine – Ahmedabad is a vegetarian’s paradise and the best place to try traditional Gujarati cuisine, the local street food and the Gujarati spin on different cuisines. You should try a traditional Gujarati thali at one of local Gujarati restaurants and Gujarati snacks of dhokla, fafda, khandvi, etc in the morning at any of the roadside stalls. In the evening visit either the Law Garden area or Maneck chowk for street food and you must definitely try the chocolate pizza and a pineapple sandwich.
- Shop to your heart’s content for textiles and handicrafts – Ahmedabad has some really good and reasonably priced stores to shop for traditional textiles, handicrafts and bandhej. I shopped at a local store called Sanskruti but you can also check out the traditional markets of Rani ni Hajiro and Maneck Chowk.
- Sarkhej Roza – Though I haven’t visited it myself I am including Sarkhej Roza to the list on my friend, Rachna’s recommendation. This is a beautiful mosque and tomb complex near Ahmedabad and can be combined with your trip to see Adalaj ni vav. The 20th century architect Le Corbusier compared the mosque’s design to the Acropolis of Athens and hence this complex is also known as “Acropolis of Ahmedabad”. A definite addition to my own travel wish list for my next visit to Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad is well-connected to all cities in India and can be reached by any means of transportation. Within the city there are multiple options of transportation with public buses, cabs and auto rickshaws. There are also many options available for stay in hotels in Ahmedabad and you can choose based on the area or your budget.