India’s first UNESCO World Heritage city, Ahmedabad was once known as the city of mills due to its exquisite mill culture. Being established by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the city is commercial hub of Gujarat and has always had the makings of a grand shopping destination. Of course, there’s more to the place than designer wear and the Gujarati thali. It’s the quintessential mix of medieval and modern which makes it a compelling place to explore.
Best time to visit: Winters are the best time to visit Ahmedabad, between November and February.
How to reach
By Air: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, situated in Hansol, is the nearest airport, about 15 km (30minutes drive) from the city center. IndiGo operates 44 daily flights between Ahmedabad and Bhubaneshwar, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi, Delhi, Goa, Hubli, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Chennai, Pune, Varanasi, Indore, Kuwait and Muscat along with seamless connections to other destinations.
By Train: Locally known as Kalupur station, Ahmedabad railway station has good connectivity to all major cities in the country through several super-fast and express trains. Buses, taxis and autos are readily available from the station to travel in the town.
By Bus: Ahmedabad has a good network of buses connecting in and around the city. Buses are primarily managed by managed by Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services (AMTS) and Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC).
Getting around: Auto rickshaws and buses by AMTS & BRTS are the most convenient mode of travelling in Ahmedabad. The city also has a vast network of local taxis and private cab services like OLA and Uber.
If you’ve come here expecting to have a relaxing evening, head for the exit. This place is a hectic and noisy serving brilliant grilled meat. So, you wait for your meal while the enticing aromas of the gurda kaleji and bheja fry compete with smells from nearby butcher shops.
It’s hard to be indisposed to waiters who regularly top up your plate with impeccable Gujarati fare. On the rooftop terrace of the city’s most elegant hotel is perched Agashiye, which rather unimaginatively means terrace, featuring a menu that changes all day. Better to book a table though: only Lady Luck can get a seat during busy hours.
Every once in a while, we all pine for a bit of beauty and greenery. This al-fresco restaurant flanked by a lush patch of green is all about slow food. On the menu is a selection of Gujarati fare; we’d recommend you ask for the baked khichdi and panki followed with a scoop or five of the hand-churned kesar ice cream.
If you don’t mind eating on your feet, this is the place to go to when hunger strikes at midnight. Come down, it’s a vegetable market that magically morphs into a jewellery street in the afternoon and fades into a street food paradise by nightfall. The chocolate pizza, the Asharfa kulfi and pineapple sandwiches are a treat to opt.
This place is where you go if you want to see India’s cleanest village. The moment you step into Vishalla for dinner, you’ll be transported to a charming lantern-lit hamlet with mud floors, whirling Garba dancers and folk music–what’s missing are just bullock carts and sugarcane fields. There’s even a Utensils Museum to admire after you’ve wiped your plate clean. A nice little reward if you finish your carrots and peas.Known for its Bengali cuisine, this eatery is walking distance from the Chowmuhani post office. The mochar ghonto, shorshe ilish and kasha mangsho are all must-orders.
The city sure makes a case for airlines to increase their baggage allowance. From artisanal textiles to the best lehenga-cholis, shopping is never a chore. Besides, leading design institutes, including the National Institute of Design (NID) and the National Institute of Fashion Technology has given rise to a breed of independent designers, whose boutiques and workshops add to the eclectic and genuinely satisfying shopping experience.
Shyamal & Bhumika, Navarangapura: Meet a couple who’ve turned their passion for design into a much-sought-after brand. They’re best known for their bridal couture and prêt collection. All crafted with age-old techniques and hand-woven embroideries. A perfect marriage, some would say.
Bandhej: An iconic shopping destination in Ahmedabad where it originated, this is where you will find vibrant knitted separates, handcrafted linen jackets, shirts and appliqué work. For the past 25 years, Bandhej has worked with local artisans to create collections that use traditional techniques for contemporary wear. Well worth a visit, even if you don’t plan on buying anything, to chat with the knowledgeable staff.
Options, Bodakdev Road: On display: Anokhi’s trademark block-printed clothing, Yamini’s home furnishings and handmade leather items from the villages of Kutch all in a store with mud-plastered walls, a water-feeder for birds who drop by, and a pebbled pathway. Keep an eye out for its exhibitions—one showcased Kutchi artisans demonstrating the craftsmanship behind their products. They take their art seriously.
The Night Market at Law Garden: A kaleidoscope of colour blinds you at every corner, the range, as well as the crowds, are limitless. Traditional wear like chaniya cholis, stoles with mirror-work together with a treasure trove of jewellery and home linen are yours for the taking. Gurjari, Ashram Road: Woven dhurries and carpets, quirky wall art, mirror-worked bedspreads, colourful quilts—there’s a wealth of gorgeous handicrafts at this store. You’ll want to buy them all.
Foreigners visiting Gujarat, one of India’s first states to go ‘dry’, can now apply online for a temporary permit or on arrival at the airport. The permit entitles the visitor to buy liquor at select hotels and consume it where they reside. Indians, meanwhile, can always ask for a Virgin Mojito with a dash of green lemon, please. Envy – it’s not a very pleasant feeling.
Hyatt Regency With a strategic location in the city centre, the hotel is a short walk from principal business and shopping centres, as well as the Sabarmati Ashram and riverfront, making it ideal for business travellers and tourists alike.
The House of MG, Lal Darwaza This stately heritage hotel was once the family estate of a textile baron named Mangaldas Girdhardas.
Mangaldas Suite Book the Mangaldas Suite—it was formerly the textile baron’s bedroom, and experience life like it once was for the city’s upper crust.
Neemrana’s Divan’s Bungalow Situated in Ahmedabad’s old walled city, this restored 19th-century mansion has an air of natural elegance. A beautiful heritage home, the property is now a Neemrana “non-hotel”. Perfect for visitors who wish to experience a traditional, unhurried experience.
Dada Hari Ni Vav: Do visit this 500years old stepwell and get amazed by its beautiful structure, intricately carved walls and floral sculptures. Built during the reign of Mahmud Begada, this stepwell was not only used to store water, but it also served as a resting place for the travellers. Go down to this 7-storey stepwell and admire the shining world up above.
Hathee Singh Temple: Dedicated to 15th Jain Tirthankara known as Dharmnath, the temple is a popular one, named after its founder and Jain merchant Hathee Singh. Its stunning architecture, design and style in white marble is something that amazes every visitor. The tiled courtyard with 52 shrines is among the most striking feature of the temple.
Kite Museum: An absolute delight for everyone, the Kite Museum is unique in its way. The museum houses different kinds of kites, used all over the world.
Shaking Minarets: You can’t miss this place while in Ahmedabad. Famous as Jhulta Minar and Sidi Bashir Mosque, the surprising fact about this place is that when its one minaret shakes the other also starts vibrating. Its unique and mysterious phenomenon that takes as the path connecting two minarets is vibration-free.
Mount Abu: A lovely little hill station, Mount Abu is in the wooded Aravalli Hills, 1,720 metres above sea level, 225km from Ahmedabad. Its colonial past is evident in the old British-style hospital, the Governor’s residence and church, while a more ancient history gifted it the exquisite Dilwara Jain Temples. The surrounding hills are perfect for a relaxing stroll and the former royal retreats are now lovely heritage hotels.
Gir Forest (347 km from Ahmedabad): Take a safari through the forest to see over 400 Asiatic lions in their natural habitat. Lodges on the forest’s edges are a great place to bed down so that you’re up early for the morning safari.
Patan: The ancient town of Patan in Gujarat is so well preserved, it’s like time stood still here. Founded in the 8th century, the wooden facades, traditional sculptures and
Rann of Kutch: It’s one of the most spectacular landscapes in the region with an endless sea of salt marshes. As captivating as the view is the inhabitants of the Rann of Kutch. A large number of villages here specialise in different forms of artistry. Take the Hodka Artist Village—home to many artisans who specialise in everything from intricate Banni embroidery to leather work, while the Ludia Village displays colourful mud houses that reflect the culture of its people.
If you have only one day to visit Ahmedabad, here is how you can make the best of it. Start your day by experiencing enticing sunrise filled with birds chirping at Gandhi Ashram. Have breakfast and go for a heritage walk as it will be a crime if you don’t explore the rich legacy of this beautiful old city. Relive history by visiting age-old structure like Sarkhej Roja, Teen Darwaja, Shaking Minarets, Bhadra Fort and much more reminiscent of glorious past. It’s time for lunch now. Taste some authentic
When you thought Ahmedabad couldn’t possibly have more to offer, there are some hidden gems to plan for. In search of art inside a cave: Amdavad ni Gufa, an underground art gallery, exhibits works of the late Indian artist, MF Hussain. The legendary artist had come up with the idea of displaying his work in a cave-like art gallery, which would provide an unusual backdrop to his work while also protecting it from the heat. The interior space is an exquisite maze of curvilinear walls, inclined domes, undulating floors and leaning columns. Far from underground art, but worth a visit.
Dine with the dead: The New Lucky Restaurant at Lal Darwaja is eerily built on a century-old cemetery. A dozen graves lie within the walls of the restaurants and are sealed off by iron grills, so there’s no chance of a withered hand reaching out for your maska bun.
A safari gone wild: Forget the ubiquitous tiger or its stately cousin. Check into the Rann Riders Resort in Dasada and spot a herd of wild ass, native to the area.