Ahmedabad, GujaratSep 24 2022 Attractions Gujarat Ahmedabad
General Information about Ahmedabad
Population: 3.5 million
Area: 104 square kms.
Altitude: 53 m.
Languages: Gujarati, Hindi, English
Best season: October to March
Ahmedabad, also known as Amdavad is the second largest city of west India and the largest city in Gujarat, was the former state capital of Gujarat. Ahmed Shah I founded this city on the banks of the Sabarmati river in 1411. Ahmedabad is also known for its association with the Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation and is one of the India’s foremost industrial centres.
It is a place where tradition and modernity co-exist in perfect harmony. Sir Thomas Roe also described Ahmedabad as a “goodly city as large as London”. In summers the temperature is around 41 degree Celsius and in winters it is around 12 degree Celsius. The best season to visit the Ahmedabad is from October to March. Gujarati, Hindi and English are the common languages which are spoken in Ahmedabad.
History of Ahmedabad
The city was originally the Karnavati that was founded on the left banks of the Sabarmati river by Karna Solanki between 1063 and 1093 AD. It was re-established by the Ahmed Shah I in 1411 AD on the banks of the Sabarmati river. This city was considered as one of the finest cities of India in the 17th century. But in the 18th century this city went through a period of decline.
In the 19th century the industrial strength raised up the city. Ahmedabad’s cotton industry received patronage under its Sultans. The first mill was established by Rancholal Chotalal in 1859, and today there are 80 mills in Ahmedabad. In 1915, Ahmedabad became famous due to the Dandi March started by the Mahatma Gandhi.
Shopping in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad has a long tradition in craftsmanship. Under Gujarati Sultans and Mughal Viceroys it was one of the most brilliant Indian cities. Its jewellers and goldsmiths are renowned, copper and brassworkers produce very fine screens and pandans (betel boxes). The carpenter produce fine shisham wood articles. There are also skilled stonemasons, producers of lacquer boxes, ivory carvers and hand block printers using vegetable dyes and embroiderers producing exquisite pieces with beads and mirrors.
These complement the modern industries such as pharmaceuticals and textiles. Tie-and-die fabrics, khari work with gold and silver thread embossing, printed textiles, gold and silver thread embroidery, Patola silk saris, Sankheda lacquered furniture, mirror-work embroidered skirts and blouse material, bead-work, handicrafts, woodwork, brass articles, appliquéd work and silver jewellery are some of the major items of Ahmedabad.
Festivals in Ahmedabad
Makar Sankranti and Navaratri are the two major festivals which are celebrated in Ahmedabad. Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated in the mid of January and marks the end of the winter season and the starting of the northern journey of the sun. It is celebrated with kite flying, accompanied by colourful street markets and festivities.
People of all ages join in, preparing in detail for the event. Navaratri festival is celebrated in the month of September – October and has a special significance in the city which prepares for it for weeks and celebrates it for 9 days with a great deal of music and dancing, mainly the Garba Ras dance.
How to reach Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad is connected by air with Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Hyderbad, Patna, Srinagar, Vadodara and Bangalore. Some airlines also operates flight between Ahmedabad, London and New York via Mumbai.
Ahmedabad is directly connected with Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Agra, Bhopal, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Porbandar.
Ahmedabad is connected by road with all the major cities in India.
Gandhi Ashram, also known as the Sabarmati ashram is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, about 7 kms north of Ahmedabad. This ashram is one of the important tourist attraction and the beautiful ashram complex of Ahmedabad. This Ashram was set up by the Mahatma Gandhi in 1915 and one of the most moving memorial.
This ashram was the Mahatma Gandhi’s headquarters during the struggle for India’s independence. His ashram still makes handicraft, handmade paper and spinning wheels. His living quarter is still preserved as a small museum and there is a library and a memorial centre.
Sidi Bashir Mosque
Sidi Bashir Mosque is known for its two shaking minarets, one of an architectural wonder. These two tall towers are connected by a bridge which was once the entrance to the old mosque. This was destroyed by the Marathas in 1753 and has now been replaced by a modern one. When one minaret is shaken, the others also get shake in sympathy. This was done so due to the protection against earthquakes.
These two shaking minarets lost half their height in the great earthquake of 1819, and in 1957 these minarets were completely destroyed. 260 columns support the roof of the mosque. Hathee Singh Jain Temple Hathee Singh Jain Temple is located just outside the Delhi Gate in the north of the old city.
Jain temple was built in 1850 by a rich Jain merchant and is one of the Ahmedabad’s best ornated Jain temple. This temple is dedicated to Dharamanath, the 15th Jain Tirthankar. The temple is built of pure white marble and profusely decorated with rich carvings.
Sidi Saiyad Mosque
Sidi Saiyad mosque was built by Sidi Saiyad, a general of Abysinian origin in the 1573. This mosque is located close to he river and was once part of the old citadel wall. This is one of the Ahmedabad’s most stunning building and best known for its intricate perforated stone work and has beautiful carved stone windows which depict the intricate intervening of the branches of the kalpa tree.
Calico Museum of Textiles
Today, the Calico Museum of Textiles is widely regarded as one of the finest textiles museums in the world. This museum was started in Calico Textile Mill. The museum is housed inside one of Gujarat’s famous carved wooden haveli in Shahi Bagh Gardens. This museum was inaugurated by Pandit Nehru in 1948, and is now managed by the Sarabhai foundation.
Calico Museum of Textiles has excellent collection of antique and modern textiles including heavy brocades, fine embroideries, sarees, carpets, turbans, rare tapestries, wall hangings, Maharaja’s costumes, old weaving machines and royal Mughal tents. It also houses an excellent collection of Jain manuscripts.
Kankaria Lake is located in the south-east of Ahmedabad. This lake is a polygonal artificial lake which has 34 sides and was constructed in 1451 by the Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak. In the centre of the lake an island summer palace is situated which is known as Nagina Wadi.
This lake was frequently visited by the Mughal emperor Jahangir and his empress Noor Jahan. Now, this lake is a popular picnic spot and is surrounded by a children park, zoo, boat club, garden and natural history museum. The Ghattamendal pavilion in the center houses an aquarium.
Jama Masjid was built in 1423 by Ahmed Shah and described as one of the most beautiful mosque in India. This mosque is believed to have been built by using the salvaged items from the demolished Hindu and Jain temples.
This mosque is built of yellow sandstone and combines the best of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture. Inside the mosque the large black slab by the main arch is the base of a Jain idol, that is buried upside down for the Muslims to tread on.
Immediately to the west of the entrance to Ahmed Shah’s mosque is the triumphal archway known as Tin Darwaza or Triple Gateway, which once led to the outer court of the royal citadel. At a later period it was surrounded by the tamarind and palm trees, but is now crowded by shops, considerably diminishing its effect.
Although it is on a comparatively small scale, being only 12 m high, Percy Brown compares it to a Roman triple archways built by Constantine in the 4th century. He particularly draws attention to the fineness of the pointed arches, the best in India.
Ahmed Shah’s Mosque
The Ahmed Shah’s Mosque is situated southwest of the Bhadra Fort and dating from 1414. The Ahmed Shah’s Mosque was once of the city’s earliest mosques. It has an elaborately carved ceiling with a circular symmetry reminding of the Hindu and Jain temples and beautiful pillars and jalis.
Tomb of Ahmed Shah
The tomb of Ahmed Shah was constructed after his death in 1442 by his son Muhammad Shah in the square Ahmed Shah had designed for the purpose.
This tomb stands outside the Jama Masjid’s east gate and includes the cenotaphs of his son and grandson. The central tomb is square with porticos on each side, a central dome, a coloured marble floor and stone jali screens. Women are allowed to go into the central chamber. Across the street is his queen’s tomb, now a market and in poor shape. There are eight large marble tombs and some smaller tombs on a platform inside a rectangular courtyard surrounded by a cloister.
Rani Sipri’s Mosque
The Rani Sipri’s Mosque is situated to the southeast of the centre of the Ahmedabad city. This small mosque is also known as the Masjid-e-Nagira or Jewel of the Mosque due to its graceful construction, with slender minarets-again a blend of styles. It is said to have been commissioned in 1514 by the Rani Asni, wife of Sultan Mahmud Begara. She is also buried here. The square tomb with jali screens stands in front of the mosque.
Rani Rupmati’s Mosque
Rani Rupmati’s Mosque is situated to the south of the Delhi Gate. This mosque was built between 1430 and 1440 and was named after the Hindu wife of the Sultan. This mosque incorporates Hindu and Islamic design. Rani Rupmati was the princess of Dhar and the Hindu wife of Sultan.
It has a high central arch and two minarets which were damaged in the great earthquake of 1819. The roof carries three domes, each above an entrance. The carvings in the gallery and the mihrabs are particularly attractive. The dome is elevated to allow light in around its base. The Rani Rupmati’s tomb lies to the north-east. The tombs are decorated with Hindu motifs.
Swaminarayan Temple is situated in the old Ahmedabad city. This glorious, multicoloured, woodcarved temple looks like a grand haveli dating from 1850, enclosed in a large courtyard.
Excursions from Ahmedabad
Sarkhej Sarkhej is situated about 8 kms. southwest of the city centre and a suburb of Ahmedabad. Sarkhej was once a country retreat of the Muslim rulers. It is known for its Rauza, the fine architectural complex of mosques, palaces, pavilions and tombs, all grouped around a stepped tank.
The style shows distinct Hindu influence. By the entrance is the tomb of Sultan Mahmud Begadaa, with geometric jalis casting patterns of light on the floor.
Shaikh Ahmed Khattu lived at Sarkhej and built this mosque with a great open space in front of the prayer hall, surrounded by the domes. The Dutch established an indigo factory nearby.
Vishala is situated about 5 kms. from Ahmedabad. It is purposefully built showpiece of a collection of huts along clay paths which capture the spirit of a traditional Gujarati village. It began as an excellent vegetarian restaurant in 1978 but has grown since to include a museum, live performances of music, dance and puppet shows as well as craftsman at work and an excellent shop.
Pots, handloom linens, hand crafted shoes, clothes, brassware or embroidery from Vishala. Here you can sit cross-legged at low tables, eat on green leaves and drink from clay tumblers. The portions are generous and there is a large variety of traditional dishes, breads, chutneys, ending with an Indian sweet and nutty ice-cream.
The Utensils Museum has an exceptional collection of rare brass and copper utensils, water pots, old betel nut boxes and containers used for temple rituals.
Adalaj is situated about 17 kms. north of Ahmedabad. The baoli or step-well at Adalaj Vav is one of the finest step well in India. Queen Rudabai built this well in 1499 to provide the traveller with a cool and pleasant refuge from the summer heat. A long flight of steps descends to the water.
It has three entrances leading to a huge platform that rests on 16 pillars, with corners marked by shrines. Ornately carved pillars and cross beams create open spaces and four storey that are quite striking. The octagonal well is five storey deep. The baoli is decorated with exquisite stone carvings, subjects range from eroticism to buttermilk.
Dada Hari Vav
Dada Hari Vav was built in 1499 by a woman of Sultan Begara’s harem. This wav has steps to lower platforms, terminating at a small, octagonal well. The depths are cool, even on a hottest day. Neglected and often borne dry, it is a fascinating place. The best time to visit and photograph the well is between 10 to 11 AM (earlier in the summers and later in the winters), at other times the sun does not penetrate to the various levels.
Mata Bhavani’s Well
Mata Bhavani’s Well is about 200 kms. north of Dada Hari Vav. Thought to be several hundred years older, it is less ornate and used as a simple Hindu temple.
Gujarat Science City
The Gujarat Science City is an educational theme park situated on the road to Gandhinagar. The features of this science city are an IMAX theatre, the interactive Hall of Science, a 30 seater Thrill Ride Simulator, a spot lit Musical fountain and an Energy Education Park.
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is situated about 60 kms. south west of Ahmedabad. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is the famous bird sanctuary in Gujarat. The Nalsarovar lake is a seasonal lake spread over an area of 115 square km. This extensive lake is surrounded by the iron flat plains and is known for its water birds.
About thousand species of birds like flamingoes and other water birds migrate in the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary during winter. Various variety of birds like kingfishers, egrets, darters, storks, cormorants, jacanas, moorhens, coots, grebes and ducks can be seen in this sanctuary. The best time to visit this sanctuary is in the months of December and January