India's first UNESCO World Heritage city, Ahmedabad was once known as the mills' city due to its exquisite mill culture. Being established by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the city is the commercial hub of Gujarat and has always had the makings of a great shopping destination. Of course, there's more to the place than designer wear and the Gujarati thali. It's the ideal mix of medieval and modern, which makes it an exciting place to explore.
Best time to visit: Winters are the best time to visit Ahmedabad, between November and February.
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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.
Ahmedabad’s old and iconic markets such as the Rani No Hajiro Market, Lal Darwaza, Law Garden etc. are fantastic places to pick up traditional tie and dye weaves, beautiful textiles, jewellery, crafts, and all kinds of other goods.
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.
Foreigners visiting Gujarat, one of India's first states to go 'dry', can now apply online for a temporary permit or arrival at the airport. It 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.
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 used to store water and served as a resting place for the travellers. Go down to this 7-storey stepwell and admire the shining world up above.
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.
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.
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 it's one minaret shakes the other also starts vibrating. Its unique and mysterious phenomenon that takes as the path connecting two minarets is vibration-free.
The New Lucky Restaurant at Lal Darwaja is built on a century-old cemetery. A dozen graves lie within the restaurants' walls and are sealed off by iron grills, so there's no chance of a withered hand reaching out for your maska bun.
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.
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 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.
For an introduction to the city’s old quarters, try a heritage walk here. The route takes you on winding lanes to see the Swaminarayan Mandir, Manek Chowk, Bhadra Citadel, Badshah no Hajira, Jama Masjid, Teen Darwaza, Jain temples, and a sprinkling of Persian, Maratha, Mughal, and British buildings. The highlight of the walk, though is the 90-year-old Doshiwada ni Pol, a remarkable 40-room haveli (mansion).
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.
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.
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 stepwells will have architecture enthusiasts and history buffs enamoured. The most famous stepwell, Rani-ki-Vav, has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2014.
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 specialise in everything from intricate Banni embroidery to leatherwork. At the same time, the Ludia Village displays colourful mud houses that reflect its people's culture.
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 Gujarati food starting from Dhoklas, Panki Chatni, Khichu and more. Then head to Law Garden road to pick up some souvenirs or authentic Ahmedabad dupattas, silver jewellery, mirror, and handwork chaniya cholis. At the end of your day, go to Sabarmati Riverfront to experience a beautiful sunset, followed by munching some local snacks after that take, a walk at Kankaria lake while enjoying the breeze and pleasant surroundings.
Uttarayan International Kite Festival usually falls on a bright shining day with clear skies. It is also celebrated to mark the end of the winter season and welcome the summer season. It is during this time of the year that the city becomes very lively, and the sky is filled with kites.
Devoted to Goddess Shakti, the Navratri festival in Ahmedabad is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. The key highlight of the festivity of nine nights is the beautiful folk dance of Gujarat called Garba. Each day of the festival begins with the aarti where the entire city comes together and celebrate this day.