Standing tall on the picturesque banks of River Sabarmati, Ahmedabad (also known as Amdavad) grows on you slowly. The largest city in Gujarat has on offer a melange of the old and the contemporary, with a mellow Gandhian undercurrent. A historically significant city that dates back to the era of Mughal and Maratha dynasties, Ahmedabad is now transforming into an urban metropolis and an education hub. We present to you the ultimate guide of Ahmedabad, so you can see firsthand why the 600-year-old walled city of Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. By Nikita Chawla
Nature lovers, history buffs, art aficionados—the city caters to all kinds of travellers.
Located in the Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad, the Sabarmati Ashram was the
first ashram set up by Mahatma Gandhi upon his return from South Africa. Today, it is closely associated with the history of the Indian freedom struggle and is stocked with various artefacts and personal letters of the Mahatma. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city lies the lush green Law Garden where you can shop for beautiful keepsakes and
souvenirs or budget outfits and handicrafts. Go on the local tour organised by the municipal corporation of Ahmedabad that starts from Shree Swaminarayan Mandir and finishes at the Jama Masjid. For INR100/ USD1.5, you get to explore local nooks and corners of the
public courtyards with a guide. The two pairs of Jhulta Minara in Ahmedabad—one
located opposite the Sarangpur Darwaja and the other near the Kalupur Railway Station Area—are architectural wonders. Every time one of the two minarets or pillars is shaken, the other minaret vibrates.
Located just 30 kilometres from the city, on the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar border, the Akshardham Temple is frequented not only by Lord Swaminarayan devotees but also art and architecture enthusiasts. You can participate in spiritual rituals, enjoy the exhibitions, or simply relax in the gardens. The iconic Jama Masjid, built in 1424, in Ahmedabad, is one of the largest mosques in India. Situated to the west of Manek Chowk, the mosque flaunts 15th-century Indo-Islamic architecture, complete with majestic interiors, detailed niche carvings, and a domed roof. Another highly revered mosque and tomb complex, Sarkhej Roza is an architectural gem and a must-visit for those looking for serenity and silence.
The World Vintage Car Museum is where you can find a rare collection of Bentleys, Jaguars, Cadillacs, Austins, etc. For a minimal charge of `500/USD7, you can drive some of the selected versions on display. The Calico Museum of Textiles is located in a wooden haveli surrounded by lush gardens, and its collection of fabrics and embellishments date back to the 17th century. There’s also the Vechaar Utensils Museum that displays a wide array of stainless steel, copper, and glass works.
Ahmedabad is surrounded by some of the most accessible green havens in the country. Start with the Thol Lake Bird Sanctuary, an artificial lake in the Mehsana district, 30 km from Ahmedabad. It houses over 150 species of exotic birds. A short day trip from the main city, the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is a paradise for bird watchers, especially from November to February, when around 200 species arrive here and make it their temporary abode. The Zanzari or Jhanjhari Waterfall is at Dehgam, which is 76 km from Ahmedabad. A beautiful cascading fall by the River Vatrak, it makes for a perfect picnic spot. This isn’t a perennial river—the water rises up to 25 metres during monsoons, drawing tourists and locals.
Ahmedabad is India’s first city to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. A visit to the city’s many cultural gems tells you why.
The picturesque Adalaj Ni Vav is an umissable tourist attraction in Ahmedabad. Vavs or stepwells are subterranean water harvesting systems that are also architectural marvels,
and this particular one is five storeys deep. The Sat-Chit-Anand Water Show is a breathtaking 45-minute presentation at Akshardham Temple, which brings to life an age-old tale from the Kathopanishad. The show captivates you with its 60-feethigh water screen, multicoloured lasers, fireballs, and underwater flames. Stop by the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque. Built in 1573, this intricately carved mosque and its unique latticework, which represents ‘the tree of life’, is the distinguishing symbol of Ahmedabad and merits a trip.
Wine & Dine
Amdavadis take their food very seriously. Be it the distinct Gujarati fare or its booming cafe culture, Ahmedabad doesn’t disappoint the gastronome in you.
The Dark Roast in Prahlad Nagar serves vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian Italian and fast food. This cafe also roasts the best coffee beans in town, and is wheelchair accessible too. Tantalise your taste buds and indulge in classic sharing platters at Vishalla. This place serves premium Gujarati cuisine on leaf plates in a rustic, openair, fantasy rural setting with folk music playing in the backdrop.
Visit Tabebuia for a wide array of seafood selection and gourmet world cuisine that includes the Moroccan tagine and the Greek souvlaki. Agashiye at the House of MG is an expansive rooftop restaurant located in an iconic colonial heritage property, and offers some of the finest Gujarati dishes on a platter.
Induben Khakrawala (the first khakra shop set up in the city) and Asharfi Kulfi are two locally celebrated and frequently visited sweet shops. Head to Manek Chowk for authentic Gujarati street food, including items such as dabeli and paani puri. The stalls remain open until late night. Though most of the street food in Gujarat is vegetarian, places like The Baghdad Fry Center serve delicious non-vegetarian food—mutton chaaps and keema chops are their specialities.
Gujarat is a dry state, which means alcohol is prohibited. However, if you have a foreign
passport or residency status with ID proof, you can get an alcohol permit valid for one
month by visiting a liquor shop in a large hotel like the Courtyard by Marriott or Novotel Ahmedabad. Local Hotels that have liquor shops include Cama Hotel in Khanpur, and Comfort Inn President Hotel at CG Road among others, and are accessible only from 12 noon to 8 pm, from Monday to Saturday.
From boutique buys and wedding shopping to street deals and smart bargains, the city has something for every kind of shopper.
If ethnic wear is on your mind, head to Sindhi Market—the quintessential sari market in Ahmedabad that is also home to some of the finest textiles such as linen, curtains, unstitched dresses, etc. From handicrafts to souvenirs, the busy bylanes of Lal Darwaja Market are ideal for bargain buys.
Tote bags, traditional purses, and handicrafts can be found at the Banascraft. All products are handmade and carefully sourced from SEWA, a woman’s cooperative society. Rest assured, you won’t be taken for a ride by the shopkeepers as the prices are fixed and quality control is stringent. For a wider range of handicrafts, including wood carvings, brass statues and idols, you can visit the Kapasi Handicrafts Emporium, which is the ideal place to pick up gifts. Vraj: Bhoomi and Asopalav Ratanpole are reputed textile stores known for their selection of ethnic wear, and hand-embellished fabrics in block prints, ajrakh prints, and embroideries. For ethnic and party wear at competitive prices, head to the Dhalgarwad Market.
If you’re short on time, visit Options—a one-stop shop for high-end buys in the city. The store houses furnishing brands such as Yamini and famous clothing lines like Anokhi. For accessories and custom-made precious jewellery, Shruti Sushma Jewellery and House of Marigold are good bets. For international brands, designer wear, and haute couture, head to the malls on CG Road.