Ahmedabad, or Amdavad as pronounced in Gujarati, was our first city of visit in Gujarat. This was the old capital and is still the largest city in Gujarat and nowadays an important economic and industrial hub of India. So yes this is the best place to fly into and a starting point for your visit to Gujarat. Of course Bhuj, which is on the north western end of Gujarat and closer to the much visited Great Rann of Kutch, also has an airport, however flights to this airport I have found is always at a higher price than flights to Ahmedabad.
So what are the place of interest in Ahmedabad ……..Although Ahmedabad seems to have been an important city since the 11th century most of historical places of visit at present are from the Islamic dynasty. Lal Darwaja area, about 10kms from the airport, a part of old Ahmedabad has quite a few of them spread out.
1. Sidi Saiyyed Mosque
A small mosque containing the beautiful treasure, the famous and intricate jalis, laticework windows. From the front of the mosque light seeps in through the laticework showing off the intricate designs of the jalis. Its a place of worship so do be considerate of the people who have come for the prayers.
One of the four Jalis as seen from the front of the mosque
View of the Jalis from the back of Sidi Sayyed Mosque
2. Bhadra Fort and Teen Darwaja
Bhadra fort and Teen Darwaja seem to be lost somewhere among the small shops, buildings and hordes of shoppers in the area. My friend and myself were the odd ones out, instead of busy shopping, pointing cameras above our head to get some good shots of the two monuments. The interior of Bhadra fort is undergoing renovation and closed to public for now.
Bhadra Fort and Teen Darwaja, Ahmedabad
3. Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid is right in the middle of all the hustle bustle of Bhadra fort area. We almost missed this, there is a green board with the building name, however its just a part of the other building with no separate gate or grounds surrounding the masjid. A flight of steps lead you to a small door and its once you enter in, it opens up into a huge courtyard and you are amazed by how quite and serene the interior is. It is a magnificent structure and considered the most splendid mosque in Ahmedabad. We were here around the 5pm namaz (prayer ) time, so had to wait a while to take pictures of the mosque itself.
Jama Masjid courtyard, Ahmedabad
Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad
4. Julta Minar (shaking minarets)
As we went looking for Julta Minar we were pointed to two places by the locals. One is closer to the Jama Masjid around 2 kms and is a part of the railway platform, actual name Sidi Bashir Mosque, which is the one where we ultimately ended up and also got dropped off the auto at the wrong side. We were too tiered to cross over to the entrance of the Minar and it was getting dark so we just took some pictures from a distance. Apparently there are just the two minarets of the mosque that remain now and gently shaking one of the minarets results in the other one vibrating after a few seconds. I am not sure if you can actually experience this, but the minarets are beautifully carved and that warrants this being a must do.
The other Julta Minar actual name being Raj Bibi Mosque is around 5 kms from Jama Masjid in Gomtipur. We were told that one of the minarets was dismantled and never put back again. So if you have the time do check it out.
5. Sarkhej Roza
This is outside Lal Darwaja area about 10kms away on the other side of Sabarmati river. As wikipedia apptly refers this as ‘Ahmedabads Acropolis’, its truly a beautiful complex of mosque and tomb. Currently the complex is suppose to be covering around 34 acres, however the tombs and mosque as such is located pretty closeby to each other and is easy to walk around. You can spend anywhere from 30mins to 2 hrs taking in the beauty of the place. As you enter into the complex you see the tombs on both sides with a beautiful pavillion in the center. Then you walk into the mosque courtyard. You can see the huge tank from the decorated windows of the courtyard which was completely dry in December
The Pavilion and the mausoleum of Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Bakhsh
Exterior view of one of the walls of the Masjid
We visited Sarkhej Roza on our way back from Adalaj Ki Vav which is in between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. From Gandhinagar there are city buses plying directly to Sarkhej Roza via Adalaj. The highway stretch towards Sarkhej gives you feel of the new Ahmedabad with modern building of chrome and glass , IT companies, Automobile showrooms and other big office buildings. We got off the bus at the Sarkhej junction on the highway and took a shared auto to the Roza.
6. Hutheesing Jain Temple
About 2 kms from the Jama Masjid is the best known Jain temple of Ahmedabad. Beautifully decorated especially the entrance of the temple with the dome shaped structure. Renovation is on partially at the temple. Photography not allowed in the temple. I was also asked to leave my backpack with the guard as he saw a pack of polo peeping out of the side pocket. According to Jain custom food is not allowed into the temple as it is considered that whatever you carry in is an offering to the god. I have also had the experience of not being allowed to carry my leather handbag at Ranakpur in Rajasthan.
6. Sabarmati Ashram
One of the most important visit of ours was to Sabarmati Ashram which is situated on the banks of Sabarmati Ashram. The visting time is from 8:30am to 6:30pm and is open on all days. The first building you come across as you enter the premises is the museum of photographs with displays of the Indian freedom struggle along with Gandhi, his family and his life. The main house ‘Hridya Kunj’ having Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturbas quarters, and of course the room having his charaka. Surrounding this are the buildings Vinoba Kutir, Upasana Mandir(open air prayer ground), Magan Niwas.
Charakha at Hridya Kunj
Hridya Kunj, Sabramati Ashram
Nothing spectacular about the ashram, but its more of taking in the serenity of the place and just “being there”, a place which played such an important part in the freedom struggle of our nation. Walking through the grounds where so many freedom fighters had once walked, congregated, planned, strategised and started many a freedom movement. A place where The Father of our Nation lived. Truly felt blessed just being here. We were here early in the morning so I guess that too added charm to the place with the Sabarmati river flowing on one side.
Postbox infront of the Ashram. Carry a post card with you to check this out.
7. Kankaria Lake
One other place I would defently recommend is Kankaria lake. A visit in the evening especially if you have kids with you is really worthwhile. One of the well planned and best utilised lakefronts I have seen in India. When we put this as part of the iternary I was not all that keen on stopping by here… but I was so glad we did come down to this lake. Its a manmade lake, yes that is the first thought which would put you off, with the lakefront developed having many activities like toy train, tethered balloon ride, seagway, watersports and lots of food stalls.
I guess what impressed me was the planning of the place, broad pathways surrounds the lake, the food stalls are placed a little away clustered on one side so that the cleanliness of the place is maintained.
8. Sabarmati Riverfront
Not necessarily you need to make a stop at the riverfront, river bank of Sabramati has been beautifully developed with concreted pavements, parks at some places with entries and exists at various points along the stretch. You can see this as you travel through Ahmedabad or crossing the river. I did take a stroll through the riverfront near Ellis bridge and to my luck the Sabarmati Festival was being held the day I ventured here. So the whole place was colorful with folk artists, decorations, children presenting dance programs, stalls selling handicrafts and many many stalls with eateries.
Travelling within Ahmedabad: Getting from one site to another, autos worked out perfectly for us. Maybe for Sarkhej Roza you can check on the city bus timings as this is a little off from the other sites and we were told that there are many buses to Sarkhej from Lal Darwaza.
Stay: Lal Darwaja area would be convenient in terms to visiting various attractions. We stayed in a budget hotel for our 1 night stay in this area. On my way back I stayed at Golden Plaza near Eliis bridge which worked well for me as I could then just walk down to the riverfront.
Food: Gujarati thali, Kathiawadi thali is a must try through out Gujarat. If you are close to Kankaria lake there is Purohit Restaurant near Apsara theater, known for their thalis. Theres Gopis Dinning Hall near Sabarmati Riverfront main entrance which I was told has been serving only thalis for many years.
Oh yes, breakfast here, rather throughout Gujarat is not a major affair. Most places will serve you either poori-bhaji or South Indian idli, dosa. In Ahmedabad additionally ‘poha’ is an option. On our first day we had some Poha from a telewala (roadside vendor) on our way from Sabarmati Ashram to Ghandinagar and its the yummiest poha I have had so far, so check that out
Shopping we held off for Bhuj, so not much info on that, although I did talk to a group of college girls and they mentioned Lal Darwaza as a place to go for Salwar suit material. Since we were here in Dec/Jan ‘chikkis'(sweet made of jaggery) was something that I shopped for, groundnut and sesame seed (thil) is commonly found. Also picked up a pack of dry fruit chikki for a friend of mine. If you are travelling to Porbandar or Palitana you will find more varieties than the ones in Ahmedabad and available everywhere.
So tats Ahmedabad for you … we clubbed Gandhinagar with Ahmedabad … and i hope to have a post on it next ………..