The largest city in the Gujarat, Ahmedabad is an incredible mix of modern and medieval. Tower blocks and factories are interspersed with mosques, tombs, bazaars, bustling residential quarters or pols, Hindu and Jain temples and marvellous step-wells. The architecture ranges from ornate Indo-Saracenic forms commissioned by 15th-century Muslim sultans to the stark concrete structures built by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn and work by the contemporary Indian architect Charles Correa.
Excellent museums include the renowned Calico Museum (which covers all textiles) and there are performing arts centres, art galleries and some of the country's best universities. Mahatma Gandhi moved here when he left South Africa, partly because he was Gujarati and partly because of its textile pedigree and use of the traditional spinning wheel, or charkha, which was symbolic for him. The Gandhi Ashram, formerly known as the Satyagraha Ashram, was the headquarters of India's Freedom Movement, and is now a museum.
The old city, on the east side of the Sabarmati River, was once surrounded by a 10km-long wall, of which little now remains except 15 formidable gates. Bhadra Fort in the old city is one of the Ahmedabad’s oldest surviving buildings, and it is situated a nice walking distance from several of the city’s most important Sultanate mosques, including the main Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) and the Sidi Sayyid Mosque with its beautiful Jali decoration and ‘Shaking Minarets’. Bhadra Fort has several large towers and gateways – including the historical Teen Darwaza gateway – and it is possible for visitors to access some of its ramparts and climb the circular towers of the fort.
Other sites include the Tomb of Ahmed Shah: Ahmedabad was built by Sultan Ahmed Shah, whose tomb features a square multi-domed complex with an enclosed veranda – later becoming the template for mausoleum design in the Sultanate period. The Lokayatan Folk Museum is another interesting site, displaying a brilliant range of Gujarati folk arts – particularly from Kachchh – including wood carvings, metalwork, embroidered textiles and tie-dyed quilts.
Although it is noisy and overwhelming at times, Ahmedabad is a remarkable city scattered with fascinating sites to visit. The fifth largest city and one of the fastest growing cities in India, today Ahmedabad is a huge and thriving commercial hub with a population of over 6 million people. And for those wishing to escape the heat and get in amongst nature, Kankaria Lake and Vastrapur Lake are within reach.
Features in the following itineraries
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India
- Susan Ford, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Nicklin, North India