Or things to do in Ahmedabad and around that intrigued us
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
“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.
Another place to visit near Ahmedabad is Champaner
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?
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?
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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