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Amdavad, Ahmadabad
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Home to the immortal name of Gandhi, Ahmedabad (Amdavad) serves you with its delectable Gujarati food, few of the most colorful textile prints and designs and Dandiya, which is one of the most extravagant dance festivals in the country.
Ahmedabad (Amdavad), the largest city in the state of Gujarat, is often mistaken to be the capital of the state. Laden with rich history, the city not only offers few of the most famous Hindu and Islamic architectural marvels such as the Akshardham Temple and the Jama Masjid, but it also boasts of one of the very few drive-in theaters in the country. Hub of the textile industry, the city, known to be one of the major business centers of the country, springs to a different life with the famous Dandiya Masti during the Navratris. Ahmedabad (Amdavad) is named after its founder Ahmed Shah I, the second Sultan of the Gujarat Sultanate. 

The city was founded in 1411 but some historians state that Ahmedabad (Amdavad) stands on the site called Karnavati, established by King Karna (1064-1094 CE). At the cusp of the agricultural hinterland of south-central Gujarat and the scrub lands of Kutch/ Kathiawar. The modern city of Ahmedabad (Amdavad) is almost equally divided on either side of the Sabarmati River. You will find the greatest variety in food here — even as you find yourself favouring familiar and addictive goodies like khandvi and aamras. Gujarati cuisine, like the intrepid peoples of this state, veers towards the sweet but never quite loses its essential diversity. Virtually the whole city queues up at restaurants every weekend. And Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram even now defines tranquility in a city that made headlines for the terrible
communal pogrom of 2002 — the precinct of the Shah Alam Rauza, an important Islamic monument here, became a refugee camp.

The Sarabhais are the city’s first family and have endowed Ahmedabad (Amdavad) with some of its finest educational and cultural institutions. Celebrated dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai has travelled all over the world and always returned to the city she calls home ever since she arrived here as the legendary physicist Vikram Sarabhai’s young bride. “To me, Ahmedabad (Amdavad) is one of the most fascinating cities, an architectural treasure house. It is very much in the present. Yet, when I wander the streets, I walk through history, listening to the echoes of the past,” she says. The city’s major heritage sites lie in Old Ahmedabad (Amdavad), east of the Sabarmati River, as do the railway station and the bus stand. 

It’s a maze of crowded streets criss-crossing across monuments and, sometimes, you even stumble upon not so well known architectural wonders tucked away in corners. There is perhaps no better introduction to the urban heritage of Old Ahmedabad (Amdavad) than the Heritage Walk conducted every morning by the Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad (Amdavad) (MCA) and the Cruta Foundation. The walk is preceded by a slideshow. It starts at the Swami Narayan Mandir at Kalupur and ends at Manek Chowk. Register at the office in the temple compound.

The Swami Narayan Mandir built in 1850 is the oldest temple of the Swami Narayan sect in the city. It’s a fine example of Maratha and Jain temple architecture and has rich and detailed carving on the inner façade of the entrance arch. Visit the temple before the rush for the morning aarti (8 am). En route, the guides show you the tall, intricately carved bird feeders found all across the city — a symbol of Ahmedabad (Amdavad)’s non-violent Jain community. Also take note of the traditional rainwater collection systems called tankas. Jain temples reveal unexpected riches. Be sure to ask about the pols and the secret passages. 

The walk’s highlight is the 90-year old Doshiwada ni Pol, actually a haveli with a windowless street façade. The 40- room haveli has carved cherubs, tall gothic windows and zig-zag wooden stairs — all overlooking a central courtyard, the sole source of ventilation. See the havelis’ bridge-corridors from here. Opt for more convenient slip-on footwear when visiting the many temples and pols A truly Ahmedabad (Amdavad)i experience can be had by starting at sunset from Manek Chowk (near the Ellis Bridge, one of the five over the Sabarmati) and walking up to the Teen Darwaza and the Bhadra. Manek morphs every day. Cows feed here early in the morning. It becomes a car park after 9 am. Bars of gold are virtually sold in the open come afternoon! Late in the evening, it’s an open-air plaza, popular for its amazing variety of street food.

Off Manek Chowk are the Badshah no Hajira and Rani no Hajira tombs. Rani no Hajira was built in the 15th century for the queens of Ahmed Shah. It’s on an elevated platform, surrounded by arcades and pierced stone screens. The Hajira is usually locked but you can ask the guard to open it. Inside the enclosure, there’s a peaceful open courtyard with wonderfully carved marble cenotaphs. Across the road is the Badshah no Hajira, the magnificently
domed 15th-century tomb complex containing the revered graves of Ahmed Shah I and his heirs. To the east is the Jama Masjid, built by Ahmed Shah II in 1424. It has an undeniable feeling of both space and tranquility. It is believed that the mosque had tall minarets that were destroyed during an earthquake in 1819.

The central tank, covered by a roof supported by carved wooden pillars, is cool even on the hottest summer day. Leaving the north gate of the Jama Masjid, and heading left, you walk through a busy commercial stretch towards the Teen Darwaza, the ceremonial gateway built by Ahmed Shah.
The Teen Darwaza includes two Ahmedabad (Amdavad)i institutions of sorts — the Vadilal Soda Fountain and Bhatiyar Gali. The Bhadra is a disappointing 1411 citadel just a short walk away. Most of it is inaccessible and what little can be seen, apart from a clock tower dating from 1849, is either dilapidated or encroached upon. The tall and imposing entrance to Azam Khan’s Palace is nigh on hand. Azam Khan, the 23rd Mughal governor of Gujarat, was known as the ‘white ant’ or udhai for his propensity to build wherever he went. 

Apart from the grand Jama Masjid, Old Ahmedabad (Amdavad) has over 50 smaller mosques dating to the 15th and early 16th centuries. The most elegant is Rani Sipri’s Mosque, near Astodia Gate. Also known as Masjid-e-Nagina, the shrine has intricate sand stone carvings with Hindu and Muslim motifs. The detailed jharokhas on the southern walls and the slender sky-bound minarets are breathtaking. Perhaps the finest example of Gujarat Sultanate architecture, it is also, to quote Fergusson, “…the most perfectly Hindu of the buildings of the city.” The other must-see mosque is Sidi Saiyyad Mosque near Khanpur Gate. It is famous for the unique carved stone tracery on its 10 semi-circular windows.

Close to the city railway station are the Shaking Minarets in the Sidi Bashir Mosque, built in 1461. The two minarets, approximately 70m high, have carved stone balconies. If one minaret is shaken, the other one trembles after a few seconds — but not the ground between them! Climbing up the minarets and ‘shaking’ them though has been disallowed. 

Gujarati merchants, supplying opium from Malwa, played a large part in the economy of the British Empire.  The temple has 52 shrines, each with a gold-studded marble image of the Tirthankaras. It has elaborate carvings on its ceiling. In the basement, there is a colonial era fireproof iron safe with a logo of Queen Victoria wearing Gujarati jewellery. Head for Mirzapur, about 1 km north within the Old City, where rapid roadside chess is played. The games begin early evening and continue till the wee hours of the morning. Some of the players here have been regulars for the last 50 years! Anyone can join in but be warned the game is played at a mindboggling speed. Considered to be one of India’s finest ‘specialised’ destinations, the Calico Museum, in Shahi Bagh, was the inspiration of Indian art historian Dr Ananda Coomaraswamy. It was set up in 1949 by the Sarabhais to document the history of textiles in India. It has a rich collection dating back a few centuries, exhibited in the glorious setting of the old Sarabhai haveli. An absolute must-see, though the guides tend to speed through the tour.

Across the banks of the Sabarmati, north-west of Swami Narayan Temple, is the Gandhi Memorial Museum and Library and Gandhi Ashram. Imbibe this oasis of tranquility. Understand the man that was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The library displays the letters he wrote, including one addressed to Hitler, in 1939, “…Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?” There are also envelopes of letters that reached Gandhi without a mailing address — like the one simply addressed to ‘Excellence Monsieur le President Gandi’. The ashram, set up in 1918, is preserved in all its simplicity. They have rich art collections well worth a visit. The collections include medieval bronzes and writing instruments, and rare pre-Mughal and pre-Rajasthani miniature paintings.

The Kite Museum has a superb collection of kites from all over the world. On the floor above is the Ahmedabad (Amdavad) City Museum that has a wide-ranging collection of artefacts. It also has a section on the religious minorities of the city. Another good place to visit is the retail outlet of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Banascraft (8 Chandan Complex, CG Road). SEWA is Gujarat’s largest cooperative union and buying their products is all for a good cause. On Ashram Road, across from the landmark Bata Showroom, is the Gujarat state crafts emporium, Gurjari, a good place to pick traditional crafts. Kankaria (3 km) Another of Qutbuddin Ahmed Shah’s water initiatives, south-east of Ahmedabad (Amdavad), is the Kankaria Tank, begun in 1446. Though it is a 34-sided polygon, its proportions are large enough for it to look like a circle. Right in the middle is a garden island, connected to the shore by a causeway called the Nagina Wadi. Just to the west of Kankaria, now known as the Hanging Gardens, are Dutch and Armenian tombs, dating 1615-1700.

Obelisks, pyramids and pavilions mark these tombs and graves. Asarva (6 km) The Dada Hari Vav (stepwell), now dry, is a magnificent structure, seven-storey deep. The pillars down the broad stairs, have beautiful carvings. Built in 1501, it is an architectural delight. Nearby is the mosque and tomb of Bai Harir. Inside the tomb, according to local belief, are the graves of the masons who constructed the well. Sarkhej Rauza (9 km) The kings and nobles of arid Gujarat spent much of their fortune building tanks and wells. To the south-west of Ahmedabad (Amdavad), on the north bank of a massive rectangular reservoir built by Qutbuddin Ahmed Shah, stands the 15th-century Sarkhej Rauza group of monuments.

The graceful tomb of Sheikh Ahmed Khattu ‘Ganj Baksh’ is one of the largest in the state. To its south are pavilions overlooking water. Immediately to the west is the Jama Masjid — much simpler in design than the one in Ahmedabad (Amdavad), but quite charming. Adalaj (19 km) Less than a kilometre off NH8C to Gandhinagar, is the Adalaj Vav, built in 1501. It’s even more impressive than the Dada Hari Vav. It has water, is deeper and better preserved. There’s a carved motif of elephants, tussling and pushing but always linked, going down the entire length of the stairway. Says Mrinalini, “It’s an astonishing example of architectural imagination.” Simply breathtaking is the deep, symmetrical stepped tank, the Surya Kund. Interestingly, the whole temple and the mandap seem to be supported on the spine of countless richly sculpted elephants arrayed along the base.
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"Best City Ever Been To"
reviewed on Aug 16 2014
Ahmedabad is the biggest city in Gujarat, and ironically its the cleanest too. Roads are wide, Gujarati folks are very kind and helpful. There are plenty of malls and recreational centers. Dhokla made here is talked about throughout the country. Cultural aspect of this city is fascinating too. To get the best out of this place, visit during navaratri

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- Get information on Ahmedabad tourist places and sightseeing tours. This page presents a visual Ahmedabad travel guide. Our friendly trip advisor from ixigo helps you plan your next tour and gives you great ideas on what to do, where to eat, where to stay and when to go there. We curate the best information from the web to give you precise, meaningful and useful travel guide for leading places to visit in india and from across the world. ixigo has curated the best travel information on Ahmedabad (Ahmadabad, Amdavad) tourism spanning genres as diverse as tourist places, tourist spots, major sightseeing attractions, the best time to visit, the top places to visit in Ahmedabad, the must-see things to see and do, maps, restaurants, hotels, nearby tourist destinations, local public information and more. To start with check out information on how to reach Ahmedabad :
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