Ahmedabad: A guide to the fascinating, UNESCO heritage city
“ Khemcho! Garama-garm fafda aur Jalebi khaiye madam”
The sweet aroma of hot jalebis and fafda spiking the early morning air A man in his 40s who runs the sweet shop offered to show us and explain how a traditional fafda was made. We clicked pictures as the thin strips of chickpea flour sizzled in hot oil.
It had just rained in Ahmedabad that morning and we were all set to explore the narrow lanes of the old heritage city which has been given the famous UNESCO world heritage site title.
Old City Of Ahmedabad
The heritage walk is called “Mandir se Masjid thak” which translates to from temple to masjid. The old city gives us a little peep into the lives of people who lived in the capital city of Gujarat. The walk started at a beautiful temple. As we walked through the narrow lanes, the aroma of hing (Asafetida) being added to hot Gujarati Khadi arose while birds flew around the traditional bird feeder aka chabutra which is there in every corner of the old lanes. These bird feeders were installed years back in the attempt to compensate for the lack of trees in the old city. We passed through a lot of Pols. They are gated neighbourhoods usually with common religious worship, a community well and a bird feeder. We learnt so much about the lifestyle of people who once lived here, how the houses were built, the grand doors at the entrances, the secret passage between pols. The walk concludes at the Jama Masjid, which was built during the reign of Ahmed Shah. We walked to Lucky, a little shop which serves amazing chai and bun maska around a graveyard. We drank ginger chai trying to understand the painting MF Hussain painted when he was at lucky.
Rani Ki Vav
We drove for 3 hours from Ahmedabad to reach Rani ki Vav in Patan. Pictures from Rani ki vav does not do justice to the sheer beauty of this place. It’s a Vav, a stepwell built by a rani in the fond memories of her husband 987 years ago. Just like Taj mahal but way more useful to the community. Women came to the vav to collect water for their homes. Men from different parts of the country took shelter in the carved verandahs. The sculptures at Rani ki Vav had public service messages and educated anyone who visited the place. The stepwell has over 7 floors and the architecture is stunning and very thoughtful.
Sun temple of Modhera
It’s impossible to not fall in love with this temple. A large green stepwell pond greets you and above it stands the beautiful sun temple built in 11th century now in ruins. It's about two hours away from Ahmedabad, the sun temple is a site of marvel in Modhera. Built-in around early 11th century by the Bhimdeva I of the Solanki dynasty, this temple is, in fact, older than the Konark Temple. The intricate carvings around the temple are stunning. When we were admiring the beauty of this temple and understanding its structure, the skies turned grey and it started to pour. All of us took shelter under the Sabah Mandal and a group of school kids who were there to explore started to sing old Hindi music. I must say we were mighty impressed with the acoustics of the place which was once used for music and entertainment.
The Gujarathi Thali
My love for Gujarathi Thali started when I was very young and my Gujarati neighbours used to feed me delicious homemade khadi. When we moved to Dar-Es-Salaam, due to the high Gujarati population in Tanzania, the sweet food became a staple love. No visit to Ahmedabad is complete without trying out the delicious thali from House of MG’s renowned Aghashe. Variety of dishes served in a brass or a silver thali. I considered myself very lucky to have tasted such a delicious meal. If there’s one thing I’d recommend as a ‘Must-Visit’, it would be this beautiful meal in Aghashe. You will thank me later :)
The Statue of Unity
Nothing I tell you here will do justice to the magnanimity of the statue of Unity. Built-in 2018, the newest monument we saw during our trip to Gujarat. It’s a 182 m tall statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel aka Iron Man of India overlooking the river Narmada and the dam and is the world tallest Statue currently (2019) You understand the true essence of how big this statue is only when you (an average 5’4 inches person) realize you are half of his toe.
This statue is made from soil and iron from 169000 villages of India symbolising the unity. Statue of Unity is located 198km from Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad is well connected by air, railways and bus. There are daily flights and trains between the metros and Ahmedabad.
It is convenient to have a vehicle at your disposal to visit places outside the city. The local buses, autos and Ubers are available within the city travel.
November to February: Winters are the best time to visit Ahmedabad as the weather is mild and pleasant
March to June: Summer in Ahmedabad, not the best time and the temperature begins to rise.
July to October: The monsoons are a great time to visit Ahmedabad since the temperatures drop and the rain transforms the city into a paradise.
Gujarat is known for multiple festivals and you must visit during that period to witness the beauty.
Navaratri Season with Garbha and Dandiya
Rann Utsav: Rann of Kutch Festival on the white dessert
The Kite festival
We stayed in Fortune Landmark. Doubles start from ₹10,000
The French Haveli; doubles from ₹4,558
House of MG; doubles from ₹5995