AhmedabadCopyright: Kunal Mehta/Shutterstock.com
AhmedabadThe beating heart of the Indian state of Gujarat, Ahmedabad has managed to preserve its cultural integrity through the centuries, remaining relatively unaffected by the British colonial rule. Little-developed by the tourism industry, the city remains a true hidden gem inhabited by remarkably hospitable Gurajatis, teeming with exquisite historic temples, renowned universities, and world-class vegetarian eateries able to convert diners of the most carnivorous persuasion.
The CityModern Ahmedabad is an industrial and financial hub packed with historical buildings and temples, monuments and attractions. The city prides itself in being the starting point of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent resistance movement and is home to Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram, now transformed into a museum and open to visitors. Ahmedabad managed to remain relatively culturally unaffected by British colonial rule, but even with Gujarati being the local language, most inhabitants understand and speak English well. The Gujarati enjoy a reputation of being very friendly and hospitable, so travelers should not hesitate to ask for help or directions, if necessary. The best time of year to visit Ahmedabad is during the autumn (or early winter) months, when the summer heat subsides and the temperatures are pleasantly cool.
Do & See
Ahmedabad boasts and incredible number of historic religious temples, and is home to Mahatma Gandhi's famous Sabarmati Ashram. Among the city's many museums one that stands out the most is the Calico Museum of Textiles, which holds an incredible collection of rare fabrics and is an absolute must-visit. Ahmedabad and the surrounding area offer a few nature getaways, with Kankaria Lake topping the list.
A meal not to miss when in Ahmedabad is the Gurajati "thali". A "thali" usually consists of several medium-sized servings of various dishes - appetisers, breads, salads, curries and (sometimes) non-savoury treats. Cuisine in the state of Gurajat is primarily vegetarian, so expect to only find meat-free dishes in most traditional dining halls and authentic local restaurants. However, with more and more Western-style eateries popping up all around, it will hardly be difficult to find nearly any type of food in the busy city (SG Road in the western part of town, for example, is lined with cafés and restaurants fit for any taste).
To break up the string of restaurant meals, try some of Ahmedabad's cosy cafés and explore the variety of options on offer. From local, traditional eateries to Western-style cafés and coffee houses - the city has it all.
Bars & Nightlife
After sundown, head to the "Eatery Street" (Khau Galli) of Ahmedabad in the Law Garden area or the Khan Pan Bazaar in Manekchawk. Both are usually teeming with stalls selling all manner of snack foods until late in the night. Manek Chowk in Old Ahmedabad is another bustling nigtlife spot, with plenty of food and shopping opportunities in the area. Gurajat is a "dry" state, which means one won't find much in the way of bars, pubs or nightclubs in the city. Alcohol is not served at cafés or restaurants, but a few licensed liquor shops do operate around town. Tourists (both non-Indian and Indian citizens traveling from other Indian states) are able to obtain an "alcohol permit" upon arrival at the airport or at one of the licensed liquor shops directly.
Ahmedabad is the city of vibrant street life, which includes an abundance of day- and nighttime markets. Some of the most popular shopping areas to be after sundown are, of course, the Manek Chowk square in Old Ahmedabad and the Law Garden area. Vendors sell a huge variety of items, ranging from traditional clothing to handicrafts to foods. Haggling is welcome at markets, but fixed-price craft stores (many government-run) provide a great alternative for those looking for a more relaxed experience. Plenty of air-conditioned malls with international brand boutiques operate in Ahmedabad along with a large variety of small shops scattered throughout the city.