It was a matter of pride for every Indian when UNESCO declared Ahmedabad to be India's first World Heritage city in July 2017. This 600-year-old walled city, founded by Ahmed Shah, was competing with Mumbai and Delhi for this coveted title. UNESCO preferred Ahmedabad owing to its amazing heritage structures and co-existence of various cultures. So when we got an invitation for a certain travel event in the city, we jumped at the opportunity as it gave us an excuse to explore this gem of a city.
What to see and do?
We were spoilt for choices when we had to make our itinerary. The city had so much to offer, and we had so little time. But let me tell you, we could make it to so many places as there is never a dull day in Amdavad.
We arrived on Friday morning and headed straight to our apartment to freshen up. Post that first place on our list was quite an obvious choice.
1. Sabarmati Ashram
We were in awe of the beautifully maintained karmabhoomi (the land where one works) of the Father of our Nation, Gandhiji. You will find a museum that narrates the life story of Mahatma Gandhi, some out-of-the-world paintings depicting His work, and mesmerizing installations of certain artifacts like the Charkha in here. The small house that He used for staying still exudes peace and harmony. The caretakers also demonstrate the use and importance of Charkha and how Gandhiji had introduced it as a means of earning for the women back then. I, too, tried my hand at it and I must say it isn't easy at all!
2. Riverfront Garden
Post lunch, we headed to laze around this humongous garden. So very well kept and really huge. It provides the best views of the Sabarmati River and has a huge promenade where one can ride a bicycle, take a boat tour or just sit by and let the time pass. We spent some precious "us-time" here.
This day was reserved for the most important sightseeing, discovering the Heritage in this #WorldHeritage city!
1. Heritage Walk
The abundance of heritage and the importance of the walled city of Ahmedabad can be experienced on this one-of-a-kind walking tour, where we are given access into the lives of the peace-loving and ever-giving Amdavadis. The walk starts from Swaminarayan Temple (Mandir) and takes you through the ancient streets via various pols (enclosed residential centers) and finally ends at Jama Masjid, the Friday Mosque. A tour guide will accompany you to give you the deets on every stop on this tour. This 'Mandir se Masjid tak' walk is one soul-enriching experience, which is a must-do for all!
Take a virtual Heritage-walk with us in this blog here:
2. Bhadra Fort
Right after our heritage walk ended, we continued to explore the nearby gems that weren't covered in the walk. First in line was the gigantic Bhadra Fort, built even before Ahmed Shah took over Ahmedabad. Well known for its huge cylindrical structure and the clock tower, one can enjoy the panoramic views from the top. Teen Darwaza and the market surrounding it are easily visible from here.
3. Sidi Saiyyed Mosque
Built by an Ethiopian nobleman, Sidi Sayyed, who rests in peace here, the mosque speaks of his intricate work. The main attraction here is the stone carving (jalis) in the shape of intertwined trees, foliage, and a palm motif which became world-famous in his time and today stands as an important symbol of Ahmedabad city. 'The tree of life' is what it's fondly known as.
4. Hutheesing Jain Temple
We were spellbound by the architectural genius visible inside Hutheesing Jain Temple. Since photography wasn't allowed, we can't show you any pictures, but believe us when we say that the overall architecture here is extremely good. This place is so huge, the compound houses a Dharamshala, a Museum, a Kirtistambha, and the Jain Temple. You need to visit to see its grandeur!
5. Law Garden & Market
Our last stop in the day was the exuberant market in the Law Garden area. Buzzing with people of all ages, you will see all the Amdavadis doing what they do best, shopping, bargaining, eating, and having a jolly good time :) Lovely traditional clothes, shoes, and all types of handicrafts are up for grabs here. If you are not into street shopping, there is a huge Handloom shopping center nearby housing almost everything you would need. We picked up all our souvenirs from here.
What to eat and where?
Chandra Vilas - If you come to Ahmedabad, you need to eat the staple - Jalebi Fafda. We enjoyed this delicacy for breakfast on both days. Special mention for this restaurant Chandra Vilas where you should definitely make a stop right after your Heritage Walk. It's a 100-year-old restaurant and has served everyone from Gandhiji to Amitabh Bachchan. And yes, those Jalebis still have us salivating, they are that good.
The Law Garden Food Street - The law garden has a massive food street serving everything from bun maska to Jasuben's pizza and much more. You can easily head there for a food trail and enjoy lip-smacking Amdavadi specials.
Some other recommendations are Masala Canteen (our Airbnb host recommended this), D'Talli (for eggitarians), and Manek Chowk night market. You could also order in using Zomato or Swiggy as we did on one afternoon when we wanted to stay back and enjoy the comfort of our Airbnb.
Our Trip Expenses
Since we wanted to keep our budgets as low as possible, we tried to search for the cheapest means of travel, stay and commute
The Journey - We eliminated the option of a flight and started looking up train and bus options. We ended up booking in Gandhidham Express, and for the return, we saved up more by selecting Gujarat Express (a 2S/CC train) since it was a day journey. Train Tickets to & Fro: Rs. 1000/-
Stay - We have grown fond of Airbnb lately simply for the ease of bookings and the lovely properties they have. Also, not to forget, very budget-friendly. We looked up for this cute little studio apartment and were greeted by lovely hosts. It was a lovely property with all the amenities in a secured gated community. Stay for 2 nights: Rs1250/- per day inclusive of taxes, etc.
Getting Around - There is no dearth of public transport in Ahmedabad. Right from auto-rickshaws & buses to Uber & Ola. Our best buddy was Ola-Auto. The advantages were, we didn't have to explain the addresses and there was a flat rate of Rs. 20 for 4 km when we visited. Spend on getting around for 2 days : Rs. 500/-
Miscellaneous spends on entry fees, etc.: Rs. 200/-
Total Spend* : Rs. 4200/- (doesn't include food and shopping as that would be as per your need)
All in all, we had a ball in Ahmedabad. Coming here for the first time, the city welcomed us with open arms and made us leave wanting for much more, and surely the travel lovers in us would be making a trip back much sooner to explore and soak in the rest of this wonderful city!