Trips to India are always memorable. Mrs. CurryOnTravel and I get an opportunity to catch up with family, while taking in the culture and the food. This is an overdue post on our experiences in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is a city in Gujarat that is a hometown for famous celebrities such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mrs. CurryOnTravel. A cosmopolitan city with a rich history and culture, I truly experienced it for the first time; and I can see why many fall in love with it. This is not a comprehensive list of all the things to do in Ahmedabad, and future posts will contain more sights and ideas.
What to do there
Our first stop, to explore the city, began with Sarkhej Roza. Located in a village, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, Sarkhej Roza is a famous mosque built in the 15th century. Built during the reign of Ahmad Shah the mosque also serves as a tomb, containing the remains of Shah’s closest friend and advisor Shaikh Ganj Baksh Khattu. The construction of the mosque began towards the end of Sultan Ahmad Shah’s rule, and the mosque served as a crown jewel on the newly formed city named after him: Ahmedabad.
The mosque combines both Indian and Persian architectural style with intricate motifs that decorate the prayer halls. It is famous for the domes over the separate tombs and prayer rooms, with elegant pillars that decorate the halls and support the structure.
The light through the intricate windows
Hacking Tip: The mosque is open every day, and there are no entry fees; however, conservative clothing is required. Visitors have to leave their shoes outside the mosque and cover their head once inside. Visitors can take pictures in certain areas, though it is common for the staff to follow tourists and stop them from photographing certain spots. Avoid the prayer times, essentially early morning or late afternoon, to avoid the crowds at the mosque. Fridays are best to avoid due to heavy traffic in the mosque.
As day turned into night, with the city traffic slowly dying down, we made our way to Manek Chowk; located on the east side of the city, close to Teen Darwaza gateway. A vegetable and jewelry market by day, the neighborhood transforms into a street-food heaven by night. We saw a different side of Ahmedabad where the trendy restaurants, the gastro pubs, and intimate ambiance replaced with different street food vendors, long lines, and shared tables.
The area does not scream fine dining; however, you’ll find half of the city make their way to hop from one stall to the next. Start with freshly fried Gathiya, a soft roll of chickpea flour; then make your way to try a plate of Pav Bhaji or Dosa. For dessert, get a piece of Asharfilal’s Kulfi. Try the different flavors such as Ginger, Malai (cream), Kesar-Badam (Saffron and Almond). The sliced pieces make it easier to share, though it will be hard once you start digging in. End the night by stopping by at the one of Mukhwas (mouth freshener) stalls. Composed of fennel seeds, but created in different varieties, try the flavors to cleanse your palette.
Pick a flavor, any flavor
Hacking Tip: Manek Chowk is a sight worth seeing; however, keep in mind the cleanliness may not be as the same level as you would get in a restaurant. Avoid any cold food items such as chutneys and stick to foods that are prepared fresh and hot. The main time to visit is after 9:30 pm, but the crowd continues to grow even after 11. Parking is limited, so you’ll have to park far and walk to avoid the traffic. Seating is communal, so be ready to share a table with other tourists and locals.
The morning after Manek Chowk, we woke up bright and early for a walk around the newly developed Sabarmati Riverfront. Construction began in 2005 to transform the banks of the Sabarmati River, as it cuts through the city. The new Riverfront creates a space for folks to enjoy their morning walks along the river, rent bikes and boats, along with gardens, markets, and sports arenas. The Riverfront is also a host to the annual Sabarmati Marathon, and other shows and exhibitions. We truly enjoyed the morning in Ahmedabad with a walk along the Riverfront, with fresh air and the warm sun. Depending on where you start, you can walk the major points of the city.
After a good walk, I was getting hungry and desperately needed some local breakfast. Mrs. CurryOnTravel decided to take me to Oshwal for their famous Fafda and Jalebi breakfast. Fafda are long pieces of deep fried chickpea dough. Their crunch and spice pair perfectly with soft-fried sugar-dipped dough called Jalebis. The long walk was worth the amazing breakfast, along with fresh Chai, and green chilies. Located at Ashram road, Oshwal picks up around 10 am, so be prepared to wait, but the wait is oh so worth it.
The walk was so worth it…
After breakfast, we continued on Ashram road to visit the Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram by the bank of the Sabarmati River. Open every day from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, the Ashram is a tranquil place in the bustling city. You can visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum to gain historical perspective about the Father of the Nation, and his time at the ashram. Additionally, the cottages are open to the public as well, where Gandhi’s followers stayed and tended to the ashram.
They don’t make like him anymore
The museum contains a room full of spinning wheels that the Mahatma and his followers used to make thread from cotton. You’ll have the opportunity to try it yourself. It is a humbling experience when you learn the process is intricate and requires a great amount of patience. The gift shop has smaller versions of the spinning wheels as souvenirs, along with linen shirts.
Spin your own cloth
To cap off the last evening in Ahmedabad, we went to Vishalla, to enjoy authentic Gujarati food with the ambiance of a rustic setting. Designed by a civil engineer, Mr. Surendra Patel, the restaurant sources fresh product directly from the farmers. The strict kitchen rules and the quality of the ingredients ensure that the dishes have the old-world taste. Guests dine on rustic benches, and enjoy their meals on a leaf plate that are biodegradable, disposable, and hygienic. In addition to the restaurant, Patel also created a museum of antique pots and pans in an effort to preserve the rustic history.
The history to rustic Gujarati kitchen
The few days in the city allowed us to experience the cultural side of the metropolis, along with the modern. The charms of the old are inescapable as it blends with the new. With many sights that we have yet to see, so much else to do, one thing I know for sure is that we will visit Ahmedabad many more times.
Additional things to do
To make the most of your trip, the following are additional sights to see in and around Ahmedabad:
The Heritage Walk – take a walking tour around old Ahmedabad
Teen Darwaza –the historical gateway to Ahmedabad
Sidi Saiyyed/Jama/sidi Bashir Mosques – famous mosques in the city, known for their intricate stonework
Lal Darwaza – Busiest and most popular shopping areas for clothes
Bhadra Fort – a fort built on top of an ancient temple of Kali
Adalej Stepwell – An ornate well used to store water, it is now a site of ancient Indian architecture
Kankaria Lake – the popular lakefront is a host to many activities and festivities
Hutheesing Jain Temple – 19th century temple, known for its architecture
Auto World Vintage Car museum – view the collection of antique cars, buggies, and motorcycles from around the world
The food scene in Ahmedabad did not disappoint, and we recommend the following locations to tickle your taste buds:
Rajwadu – a rustic setting compliments the traditional Gujarati thali
Swati Snacks – a fast-food joint to enjoy the traditional hot snacks of Gujarat and Maharashtra
Cane D – Enjoy fresh sugar cane juice, made in front of your eyes
Honest – famous for their Pav Bhaji, enjoy other meals such as Chole Masala
Havmor – one of the best restaurants in the city, enjoy a full course meal
Jasuben Pizza – a Gujarati take on an Italian dish, started by two women with a secret sauce
How to get there
There are many ways to reach Ahmedabad. The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel airport serves both domestic and international flights. The railway station connects with major cities of the country, and the bus system helps connect the other towns and cities in Gujarat. With the development of new highways, it is getting more convenient to drive to Ahmedabad from nearby cities.
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels and hostels across Ahmedabad that make it easy to enjoy the city. We recommend staying close to Law Garden, by CG Road, to truly enjoy the bustling city with great restaurant options. Mani Mansion is a great option to stay close to the heritage of Ahmedabad.
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