Places to visit in Ahmedabad and around

Or things to do in Ahmedabad and around that intrigued us

We were peering through an ancient looking window, when we heard a voice, “What are you doing here?”. Clearly, we had trespassed someone’s private property and obviously, irked the man. We started mumbling an apology, only to be told, “This is a heritage house. It’s more interesting from the inside”. Stunned and delighted, we stepped into his home.

When things take an unexpected turn like this, you know there’s going to be lots to experience in the city. There was no dearth of places to visit in Ahmedabad and its tiny old lanes.

The markets of Ahmedabad geared up for the kite flying festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan are a must visit among the places to visit in Ahmedabad

It was the day of Makar Sankranti, one of Gujarat’s biggest festivals – and the best time to visit Ahmedabad. His wife welcomed us with festive sweets made of sesame and peanuts (perfect for the dry winter). His sons showed us around the house. Before leaving, we had already received an invitation to visit them again in the evening for some kite flying.

makar_sankranti_kite_festival

It was all that simple – visiting Ahmedabad, talking to the people, even celebrating a festival with a family!

The new year might mean heading back to work or detoxing from the just finished season of festivities for the rest of the world. Not so in Gujarat, the westernmost state in India which leads the Uttarayan (Makar Sankranti) celebrations. We were here to experience the kite festival in Ahmedabad. While the festival enthralled us, the city itself has stayed close to our hearts. There were just too many places to visit in Ahmedabad, the two extra days we had allotted for our stay in Ahmedabad was time well spent.

Places to visit in Ahmedabad: Getting lost in the Pols of Ahmedabad

Pols are the narrow lanes that make up old Ahmedabad. Each pol is a world in itself, laden with stories which go down generations.

The tiny lanes and pols of the old Khadia area are our favourite places to visit in Ahmedabad

Our hotel was in the Khadia area of old Ahmedabad, to the east of the river Sabarmati. The people living here – everyone flashing the latest mobile phone, driving their Mercs – are a stark contrast to the houses; and indeed the world they live in. Navigating these tiny lanes, we couldn’t help wonder where these big cars were parked!

The street vendors in the tiny lanes and pols of old Ahmedabad, a must visit among the places to visit in Ahmedabad around the Khadia area

How do you find the little gems of places to visit in Ahmedabad, hidden away in the tiny pols? Of course, be guided by a local.

On our first day itself, we were told that the pols were fascinating places to visit in Ahmedabad. Happily, we went strolling around in the pols. There was just too much to see in every corner, and we had soon lost our way.

Seeing our confused and slightly overwhelmed looks, a guy watching us took it upon himself to show us around. Like a Math teacher simplifying a theorem, he helped us navigate the complex network of lanes and bylanes with ease.

Places to visit in Ahmedabad: The havelis in these pols

Most houses though old, were beautiful; their entire facades filled with intricate carvings.

The old parts of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - a must visit among the places to visit in Ahmedabad, are full of beautiful old houses with intricate carvings on them.

The most striking house we saw in the pols of Ahmedabad was the Jethabhai haveli. It was home to Raheel Patel and had been the family’s home for five generations. He was an expert in the restoration of old structures.

Passionately and painstakingly, he had restored his own home. It is studded with old artefacts and equipment. The best part was how the family had integrated all the heritage creation in their modern day to day life.

Beautiful interiors of the Jethabhai haveli in Ahmedabad which have been restored by its owner Rahil Patel, keeping its heritage value intact in the old Khadia area, a must visit among the places to visit in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India.

Raheel also has a toy museum, housed within the haveli. We saw his collection of old toys, some hundreds of years old and miniature kites. He also runs an organisation called Vaarso, dedicated to preserving the heritage of Ahmedabad.

Beautiful interiors of the Jethabhai haveli in Ahmedabad which have been restored by its owner Raheel Patel, keeping its heritage value intact in the old Khadia area of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India.

The shops too are in sync with the neighbouring houses – their old world charm intact.

A metal works shop in the old parts of Ahmedabad looks like it belongs to  a bygone era. We saw this and several other shops like this one on the heritage tour of Ahmedabad.

Places to visit in Ahmedabad: Mandir to masjid heritage walk

This mandir (temple) to masjid (mosque) heritage walk is organised by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. It starts at 7 AM at the Swaminarayan Temple and ends around 3 hours later at Jami Masjid.

Devotees at the Swaminarayan temple offer their morning prayers. The heritage walk of the Ahmedabad municipal corporation, a highly recommended of the places to visit in Ahmedabad starts at this temple.

The Swaminarayan temple has a sprawling campus. The temple walls are filled with carvings of Hindu symbols.

The Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad, Gujarat has a sprawling campus and the structure has walls filled with delicate carvings of Hindu symbols. The heritage walk of Ahmedabad, a highly recommended of the places to visit in Ahmedabad starts early morning at this temple.

A packed temple even that early on a winter morning made it clear that the people here were devout worshipers. We didn’t have to wait long to have this ascertained!

The Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad, Gujarat has a sprawling campus and the structure has walls filled with delicate carvings of Hindu symbols. The heritage walk of Ahmedabad starts early morning at this temple.

Soon, we met the ghaswala!

In India, many “walas” are a part of your daily life. There is the doodhwala (the milk man),paperwala (the newspaper guy) or the subziwala (vegetable vendor). But this is the first time, we saw a “ghaswala” – a grass delivery guy!

He delivers fodder for the cows to the households that have subscribed to his services! Cows are considered pious in the Hindu religion. Across India, they are worshipped by many. This is especially seen in Gujarat.

Most people here feed the cow first thing in the morning. They do not eat until they have fed the cow. So this grass delivery guy makes life easier, by delivering the cow’s fodder at your doorstep! Just like the newspaper, the grass is tucked in the gaps of the grill on the front door.

Quite obviously, we saw the maximum number of cows on the streets here in Ahmedabad!

We walked through a complicated maze of lanes. Some were intended to be hidden passages! Our group was an interesting mix of participants. While many were curious travellers like us, for some it was a homecoming.

They had lived in these pols as children and shifted abroad later. They were visiting after decades, this time with their children. “Just like it was then” was a phrase we heard often during this heritage walk.

This is the statue of the famous Gujarati poet named Dalpatram who stayed in the old Khadia area of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. A visit to his house is part of the heritage walk organised by the Ahmedabad municipal corporation.

We visited the house of a famous poet from Gujarat, Dalpatram. It was a nostalgic moment for many in the group; they had learnt poems by Dalpatram in school. Thanks to them, we could hear some of his poems right there, in front of where they were all created.

Another reason to include the pols in the list of places to visit in Ahmedabad is to get acquainted with the different styles of architecture. This heritage walk introduced us to the various aspects of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture. These communities are all part of the old city of Ahmedabad.

Brackets of houses and pillars were decorated heavily. The designs depicted motifs of these religions. Architecture and religion went hand-in-hand in these houses.

The heritage walk of Ahmedabad introduces us to the various aspects of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture. These communities are all part of the old city of Ahmedabad - one of the must places to visit in Ahmedabad. Intricate designs depicting motifs of these religions were an integral part of the old architecture.

This is a bird feeder seen during the heritage walk of the old city of Ahmedabad

Like they fed the cows, they also like to feed to birds. This was evident by the huge bird feeders at the entrance of every pol. In the old days, bird feeders were constructed every few meters. Each one of these has a ladder, to refill the bird feeder.

This heritage walk of Ahmedabad ended at Jami Masjid, the main mosque. The morning rush was nearing its peak, with the office going traffic choking the narrow “main” roads (They were broad central roads when this part of Ahmedabad was originally designed!). The hustle-and-bustle of the markets opening and its people was all there.

But inside the Jami Masjid, it was a different story. The morning prayers were done so the mosque was empty. It suddenly felt eerily quiet.

Jami Masjid at the end of the heritage walk of Ahmedabad, Gujarat

We took our time to take in the beauty of the mosque. On one of the pillars, we saw this carving of the “Tree of Life”.

Intricate carvings are an integral part of the old architecture of Ahmedabad. This is the symbol of the tree of life seen at Jami Masjid.

Places to visit in Ahmedabad: Siddi Sayyed ki Jali or Lace on Stone

This “Tree of Life” is in fact often used as the logo for the city of Ahmedabad. It is seen most conspicuously in the lattice patterns of Siddi Sayyed ki Jali, another of the must-see places to visit in Ahmedabad. It is in the centre circle, a couple of blocks down the Khadia area.

Sidi Saiyyed Jaali, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

“Lace on the stone” is the only way to describe the masterpiece of Siddi Sayyed ki Jaali. On the back side of the mosque are four sets of delicate carvings on the wall.

Sidi Saiyyed Jaali, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Sidi Saiyyed Jaali, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Photography tip

Taking good pictures of these works is a challenge for a photographer. The carvings are high up on a wall. There’s a fenced lawn around them. The front, instead, provided some interesting silhouettes for this “lacework”.

The main pillar at the entrance of the mosque is rich in carvings of Islamic motifs.

The Sidi Saiyyed mosque is in the centre circle of the old city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This is the main pillar at the entrance of the mosque which is rich in carvings of Islamic motifs.

After a couple of days of walking around the pols, we realised we could spend months here and yet not understand them completely. The other places to visit in Ahmedabad and its pols, we decided to explore “the next time!”

The other places to visit in Ahmedabad also had a lot to offer.

Places to visit in Ahmedabad: The Stepwells of Adalaj

Adalaj ni Wav or Stepwell of Adalaj was built to provide not just water but also a place for some power nap for the travelers crossing the area.

It is 5 floors deep both horizontally and vertically.

This is a 5 storeyed step well in the village of Adalaj, just outside of Ahmedabad.

The landing space of the well is especially beautiful with delicate carving everywhere possible. Even the underneath of the benches has design details.

This is a 5 storeyed step well in the village of Adalaj, just outside of Ahmedabad.

It gets darker as you go deeper. We wondered how the artisans would have managed to see their work down there back then.

This is a 5 storeyed step well in the village of Adalaj, just outside of Ahmedabad.

The well water is now fenced off for protection. But we could sit on the steps and enjoy the cool by the water. Just like the travelers would have centuries ago!

Adalaj is on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. If you have a couple of days then the stepwell of Adalaj is a must place to visit near Ahmedabad. We recommend dedicating a few hours (or half a day if using public transport) for visitng the Adalal.

Places to visit in Ahmedabad: Sarkhej Roza

Sarkhej Roza another interesting place to visit in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Le Corbusier called it the “Acropolis of the East”. Sarkhej Roza is another one of the historic and beautiful places to visit in Ahmedabad. It is a mosque with a grand open space. This open space is believed to have been a lake which has now dried out. Spend a quiet afternoon here. Watch the sun go down as the sound of the azaan fills the air.

Other places to visit in Ahmedabad, when time permits

Another interesting place to visit in Ahmedabad, especially if traveling with kids is the Kankaria lake. A butterfly garden (no real butterflies, but still fun!), a train and the activities around the lake itself are enough entertainment for a couple of hours.

Tourist bus at Kankaria lake in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

The Ahmedabad city museum, Sanskar Kendra, on Paldi Road is housed in a building designed by Le Corbusier himself. For its collection of kites including some ancient Chinese kites, we would include this museum among the places to visit in Ahmedabad. They have a documentary about the art of making kites. If you are interested, the staff will be happy to play it for you. You have to ask nicely, though!

Sabarmati Ashram is a place of interest in Ahmedabad for those curious about the life of Gandhi. The complex is a quiet green space along the banks of the Sabarmati river. The ashram houses handwritten letters exchanged between leaders of the world and Gandhi. An absorbing place to visit in Ahmedabad for the history buffs.

Traveling through Ahmedabad by buses, we caught glimpses of some street art. It was very different than the kinds of graffiti seen in Brazil, but did serve the purpose of beautification.

That’s the mosaic of Sardar Patel, commonly known as the Iron Man of India!

Mosaic of Sardar Patel in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Map of the places to visit in Ahmedabad

Public transport connects all the palces to visit in Ahmedabad

The best part about navigating the city? Google Maps gives accurate transit routes using the city buses.

Every place we visited in Ahmedabad, we used the public transport buses. Khadia is well connected by buses with the rest of Ahmedabad. Even while using the auto rickshaws within the city limit, we were charged the metered fare. We never encountered the special “tourist price”.

Warning: You might be tried to shoot at, but like us, we assure you’d be safe!

Kids play on the streets of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India

Places to visit around Ahmedabad: Vadodara

A visit to Vadodara is a beautiful day trip from Ahmedabad. It is a couple of hours to the south of Ahmedabad connected by a beautiful expressway. We recommend at least a full day’s visit to Vadodara. If kids are part of the traveling gang, then a visit to the Sayaji Garden (locally called Kamathi Baug) is an absolute must. The journey in the toy train in this park is something they’ll remember forever.

The city museum of Vadodara which is inside the Sayaji Garden has a commendable collection of artefacts. As does the Fatehsingh museum. It displays the collection of arts and sculptures which belong to the Gaekwads, the erstwhile royal family of Vadodara. Original works of artists like Raja Ravi Verma are the prized possession among this rich collection.

However, if there’s time for just one place to visit in Vadodara, it is undoubtedly the Lukshmi Vilas Palace. It is still home to the present generation of the Gaekwad family. The family has opened up the ground floor of the palace for public viewing. At the entrance, after paying the entry fees you are given an audio guide to take you through the palace.

Lukshmi Vilas Palace wall, Vadodara, India

The Lukshmi Vilas Palace is built in four different styles of architecture, representing a mosque, a church, a temple and a gurudwara (from the left to the right).

“Tastefully lavish” is how we would describe our experience of the Lukshmi Vilas Palace. It reflects the patronage the various forms of arts received from the king, Maharaja Sayajirao.

Lukshmi Vilas Palace wall, Vadodara, India

It did not feel like a showcase of the royal riches. We could comprehend Sayajirao’s role in making Vadodara a culturally rich city that it prides itself on today. It was a great experience being in the midst of some beautiful paintings and sculptures. We could almost hear the music that would have once resonated within.

Another place to visit near Ahmedabad is Champaner

chamapner_day_trip

Map of places to visit around Ahmedabad

Lasting impressions of our visit to Ahmedabad and around

We saw him near Jami Masjid selling used spectacles. How’s this for recycle and reuse?

Street vendor selling glasses in Ahmedabad, India

Yes, it is exactly what it looks like. A roadside dentist to give you the pearly whites! Spotted outside the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara. Barbers, palm readers, tarot card readers even astrologers are very common on the road but dental care service was a first!

Street Dentist, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

These two men we met on the streets of Ahmedabad and Vadodara were the quirky gems of our trip. And a classic example of “It Happens Only in India”! They are going to be tough sights to beat.

More than any “places to visit”, the people as always, were the lasting impressions of our trip, the fond memories that we brought back.

Tips for places to visit in Ahmedabad

  • Staying in the Khadia area proved convinient for us as many places were walking distance. We stayed at the Jai Radhe hotel (Phone: 079-22110166). It’s a budget hotel with clean rooms and decent beds. Especially perfect during Makar Sankranti.
  • If you prefer a more intimate and plush setting but want to stick to the Kahdia area in old Ahmedabad, consider booking a room at the French Haveli.
  • Have atleast one meal at Agashiye, teh terrace restaurant of the House of MG. Even stay there if you wnat to experience the luxury of living in a traditional haveli.
  • Maneck Chowk is a place to visit in Ahmedabad at night. It’s a bustling street in the day. Come night, the shops close the food stalls open up. People getting off their Jaguars and feasting at one of the street stalls at Maneck Chowk is a regular feature here.
  • If you visit in the winter, undhiyo is a must try! Atleast one breakfast of Khaman-dhokla is a must. And in the rare case of you wanting a break from the Gujarati food, there is an excellent Tibetan joint, in one of the tiny lanes behind NID (National Institue of Design). We can’t give the exact directions, but just ask any student you find around the NID campus, we assure you they’ll know.
  • If you have any questions about the heritage walk conducted by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, contact numbers are: 079-25391811, 9824032866.

Need help planning your trip to Ahmedabad?

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Have any questions about places to visit in Ahmedabad? Have you been to Ahmedabad? Found any quirky gems like we did? Let us know in the Comments!

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

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47 thoughts on “Places to visit in Ahmedabad and around

  1. Bharat

    Swami Narayan temple Akshardham is very very beautiful. People who made it are just outstanding; they have done their work very clearly. It is great thing to see when we go to Gandhinagar (Gujarat). It is also in Delhi.

  2. Neha Jain

    Ahmadabad is an amazing city. I love this city. It is a very informative article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It enriched my knowledge about the beautiful place. Knowledge about infrastructure of buildings really amazed me.I also love people of Ahmadabad. They are very helpful.

  3. Chitra

    Hey nice and detailed post !
    I happened to read your post while googling about champaner. I didn’t find places to visit much anywhere else but a detail blog of you ! After that I read few more blogs of destinations you both wrote!
    We are planning to visit Ahmedabad, vadodara and also a day to champaner pavgadh with family.
    I have few doubts.. I thought I would ask you.
    Which all places can be covered in Ahmedabad in half a day…. are ladies allowed in jama masjid of ahmedabad?
    Is it possible to see both champaner and pavgadh in a single day ? If so what time should we start morning from vadodara…

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Chitra, thank you for writing to us. Glad you found our travel stories helpful in planning your trip.
      Champaner and Pavagadh can be covered in a day. Try to reach Champaner by 8 AM since that is when the gates to the monuments open. You will need to hire a local vehicle to get to the Pavagadh hilltop (autos are easily available). Park your car at a safe place in Champaner. Carry your food from Vadodara to save time looking for a place to eat – not many options in Champaner anyways.
      Women are allowed inside Jami Masjid. In half a day, we would recommend doing the early morning heritage walk, roam around in the pols, stopover at Sayed ki jaali and then head to Adalaj stepwell. Are you sure you have only half a day to spare for Ahmedabad? Too much to do! πŸ™‚

      1. Chitra

        Thank you so much for your valuable suggestions.
        Yes, we have half a day as we will be reaching by 12.30pm and the same night we should reach Vadodara . So we will leave by 7 or 8pm from Ahmedabad.
        Now I wish we could have booked in earlier flight …
        so that we would get enough time to spare in Ahmedabad!

  4. Renuka Walter

    Beautiful architecture! I got to spend just one day in Ahmedabad while I was going to Kutch a couple of years ago. You guys have intrigued me to visit this city again! πŸ™‚ Nice photographs!

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey Renuka! We are yet to explore Gujarat beyond Ahmedabad πŸ™‚ It is definitely a city we fell in love with. Highly recommend spending a few days in Ahmedabad – we can assure you won’t regret it!

  5. MyFashionVilla

    Awww you guys were in Ahmedabad?? Such a beautiful post. Being Amdavadi, I loved the pics and story of my city; you portrayed so well.
    We should surely meet next time you come again..

    Awaiting… n I love this post in every manner.
    Hugs!

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thank you so much, Kalpit. It is an honour to receive such feedback from a Amdavadi! We loved Ahmedabad and the people of Ahmedabad. We will definitely be visiting your city again, someday.

  6. corneliaweberphotography

    That is amazing your post, and I am going to be in Ahmedabad in about 3 weeks, on my trip Delhi, Haridwar and Rajastan, my first time in India, travelling on my own, though I am a bit nervous. I booked 2 nights at the French Haveli, are you familiar with it???

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Cornelia, we wish you a great time in India. It is the perfect weather for all the places you mention. India can be a sensory overload initially, but once you look beyond the inherent chaos, we hope you will enjoy yourself. We haven’t been to the French haveli. But its location seems perfect for exploring the culture of Ahmedabad. Have a good trip!

  7. Alok Singhal

    Seems like there is simply too much to cover in Ahmedabad. I loved the intricate work you showcased…the details are pretty noteworthy.
    The lanes remind me of one place we covered here in the US East Coast…the warmth it provided was amazing.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thank you, Alok! You are right, Ahmedabad was loaded with everything; things to see, eat, shop and do! Could have easily stayed another week! Surprised to know Ahmedabad reminded you of a place in the US! That’s the best thing about travel, always teaches something new!