We landed in Ahmadabad (अहमदाबाद, also spelled as Ahmedabad) on the eve of Christmas from Bhuj. Our visit to Ahmadabad was last leg of our vacation which had Rann Utsav as big part of it. Gujaratis call Ahmadabad as Amdavad (अमदावाद). We had a day to spend there at our hands and we had not planned anything-intentionally. Internet searches had provided enough idea on what we could do in the city, plus we had engaged into conversations with fellow passengers in the train, who were more than willing to help us to chalk out our itinerary. And that’s exactly what I wanted-conversation with local people.
I had booked a room to stay near the station via OYO-first time. I was curious on that as well. We checked in into the hotel. We had not eaten anything for the dinner, hence we proceeded to Manik Chowk, a famous eatery area in old Ahmadabad, upon recommendation from fellow passenger. This is open until late midnight, and to our surprise we found that place overfull, with lot of people, noise and lot of options for eating. I had methinu gota, and a plate of hot ‘n fresh papadi which is served with loads of khaman chatani, big fat chilly and salad made of raw papaya.
For city tour and exploring the city of Amdavad, we had many options. AMTS city tour was one of them, but hotel manager said it had suspended its operations. The other was Dekho Amdavad tour, but it was to start late in the day. For me with Indology background, Heritage Walk also was tempting, but that was not practical due to time constraints. So we decide to do it on our own, and booked a car. We did not avail complimentary breakfast of the hotel as the menu was not exciting, and hence headed to Hotel Sukhsagar nearby to explore and with the hope of having something which Gujaratis would have for breakfast. But that restaurant did not have anything close except Puri Shak which is what I had. The car arrived at 9 am sharp, and we decided to explore old city first.
The car driver was oldie and knowledgeable person. He guided us very well. Taking old city tour early morning was good thing as we did not get hit by traffic. The old city, which is at least 500 years old, has fortified remains all over. This city has about 12 gates which are still surviving. We visited Panch kuva gate, Teen Darwaja, Lal Darwaja. Before all this, we had visited twin brick minars(towers) near the station during our breakfast walk. The area surrounding iconic minars is so filthy and pathetic, it is very sad that historical monuments are going through such fate. We stopped at Ratan Pol, Jama Masjid, Sidi Saeed Jali, Bhadra fort’s majestic gate and the temple as we wandered through lanes and by-lanes of old city. Pols are age old localities in Ahmedabad with old buildings still surviving and there are many of them present all around old city.
Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi is mandatory for anyone visiting Ahmadabad-we visited too. This is true for riverfront as well which is usually visited in the evenings. The Hathi Singh Jain temple which nearby, is also is very well worth visiting. This, over 175 year old Jain temple, is rich in its stone carvings. We proceeded to Akshardham temple which is in Gandhinagar-the capital of Gujarat. Gandhinagar is planned city like Chandigadh. Akshardham temple is the first one to be opened in 1992, and the second is in Delhi which we visited earlier this year. This temple had experienced terrorist attack in 2004. The Delhi Akshardham is bigger than this one. The food at Akshardham is nice and clean, we had our lunch there. On the way back to Ahmedabad, we visited Adlaj Ki Vav which is a must see. This is 16th century step well and very huge, plenty of carvings on the stone structure. The biggest and more famous is Patan’s Rani ki Vav, of course.
On the way to the airport, we wanted to visit the famous rotating restaurant of Ahmadabad Neelkanth Patang, but strangely it was closed and was to open only the evening. The Saradar Patel National Memorial was also on our list, but to a planning glitch, we reached there when it had just pulled down its shutters. We hung around the riverfront to get good view of the city surroundings and also catch some nice breeze. We did not have enough time to visit Science City which has IMAX attractions among others. One could visit IIM Ahmedabad campus, NID campus.
We made most of our time in the city and reached the airport before our scheduled departure and we were left with some time to kill, and to that the delay in the flight added never ending wait to reach home. Let me end this with a note on mystery which I witnessed on the airport. Not sure how these pigeons shown below ended up inside the airport, that too near the boarding gate area.
Update on Feb 27, 2016: Indian government has decided to nominate Ahmedabad for UNESCO World Heritage City tag. You may see here more about it as to why.