Posts Tagged With: amdavad

Ahmedabad Chronicle Part 3

Continued from here. This last post in the Ahmedabad Chronicle Series is all about the excursions we went on from Ahmedabad and shopping in Ahemdabad which is one of the important aspects of my trips 🙂 Actually Adalaj Vav should have been included in this post.

# Akshardham Temple : It is located in Gandhinagar around 30 kms from Ahmedabad. Akshardham temple is a spiritual and cultural complex built over an area of 23 acres. The central monument which enshrines the 7 feet high golden idol of Lord Swaminarayan, the founder of the Swaminarayan Faith, is an imposing 10 storeys high building made entirely of intricately carved, 6000 tons of pink sand-stone and is an architectural marvel which exudes excellent craftsmanship. The monument has three floors – Hari Mandapam (the main floor), Vibhuti Mandapam (the upper floor), Prasadi Mandapam (the ground floor). There are several exhibitions of both walk-throughs and video/audio animatronics type. The exhibitions are about the life of Lord Swaminarayan, the mysticism of India, messages of Upanishads, Ramayan and Mahabharat etc. The garden (Sahajanand Vun) around the monument is beautiful and well maintained. There is a water show too called the Sat-Chit-Anand Water Show which depicts the Upanishadic story of Nachiketa. Since photography is prohibited and mobiles are also taken at the entrance I have no photos of this marvellous strtucture. Outside food is also not allowed. There are eateries in the garden so after an exhausting walk around the complex we had some refreshments. Timings : From Tuesday to Sunday (Closed every Monday) Mandir: Daily 9:30a.m. to 7:30p.m. Night Lighting : On Saturdays, Sundays. Exhibitions : Daily 10:00a.m. to 6:00p.m. Rides & Games : 12:00 noon to 8:00p.m. Restaurant : 10:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.

# Sarkhej Roza : Located off the Sarkhej – Gandhinagar highway, it is (apparently) one of the most elegant and famous architectural complexes of Ahmedabad. But what we saw were dilapidated buildings surrounded by grazing cattle, rubbish and wild grass and plants; tucked away inside a ghetto area with an entrance gate which one can miss easily!! The complex instead of showing off its excellent architecture and craftsmanship was radiating the neglect being meted out by the concerned agencies. The complex consists of several buildings grouped around a large stepped tank. The buildings consist of a mosque and a mausoleum built by the monarch Mohammad Shah in the honour of Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh, a Sufi saint in 1451 A.D.; the tombs of Mehmud Shah Begada and his queen, and the palace and pavilions. The dry tank added to the misery of the place’s condition in the eyes of a tourist but one can imagine what the place would have been in the olden days.

Entrance to Sarkhej Roza

# Ambaji Temple : Located in the Danta Taluka of Banaskantha district, near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, around 183 km from Ahmedabad, this holy place is famous for the Hindu temple of Arasuri Amba (since the temple is located in Arasur hills of Aravali mountain range) and is considered to be one of the 51 ancient Shakti Peeths of the Indian subcontinent. There are actually two temples, this one and the other one atop the Gabbar hill right opposite the first one. The hilltop one is considered to be the original abode of the Mata Ambaji and had been built on the site where the piece of the heart of the dead body of Devi Sati fell according to the mythological legend.

The rustic town was clean and serene where a strange feeling of devotion and faith fills one’s heart after entering this place of the greatest power inherent in all Creation. Also irony strikes the mind that in a country where the female supremacy is revered and forms the base of the main religion, crimes against women are so high. 😦 Needless to say photography was prohibited so no photos of temple from inside. Though paid parking facility is there. The Mataji temple is built of white marble with gold cones and has one main entrance and one side door. Devotees have to keep shoes outside, before the Shakti Dwar and then join the long queue for the “darshan” but thankfully the trust people have made good arrangement for public by providing shade and carpet the entire way. There are lots of shops both inside and outside the complex where you can buy offerings for the deity. Speaking of deity, there is no idol of the goddess in the inner sanctum, perhaps because the temple is so ancient that it predates idol-worship. Instead there is a niche in the wall on which a gold plated marble inscription of the Viso Yantra (a Vedic text on sacred geometry) is fixed and worshipped. The priests decorate the upper part of the niche in such a way that it looks like an idol of a goddess from a distance. But as happens in all famous temples, the time one gets to see and observe is one minute hardly, after which one is asked to move ahead or shoved ahead. 😦 Anyway so after the darshan and collecting prasad, we headed for lunch at one of the eateries on the outside road. The menu aka Guajrati thali was fixed and I was looking forward to taste one! And I was so hungry that the photo got unfocussed 😀

After a satisfying lunch, we went to the temple on the hill top. Parking facility is not there. Apparently there are 1000 steps leading to the temple but again thankfully the trust has installed a rope way to help the pilgrims. It was my first time on a ropeway and the experience was both scary and enjoyable. The view from the hilltop was amazing. After the visit, we left for Ahmedabad and reached the city by evening. The entire drive was quite smooth and road conditions were good. Timings: Ambaji temple is open all days of the week, 7:15-11:30am, 12-4:15pm, 6:30-9pm.

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# Shopping in Ahmedabad :

Law Garden Road – Whenever I asked my friends or acquaintances from Ahmedabad for shopping places, two answers were common – Law Garden Road Market and National Handloom shop. The road has derived its name from the nearby Law college and the adjoining garden called the Law Garden which is a recreational spot for both children and adults.  The road is lined with shops of local vendors selling ethnic oxidised jewellery, beautifully embroidered and mirror worked kurtis, ghagra cholis, handbags, table cloths, bed sheets, bed covers, cushion covers, wall hangings and other home decor stuff.  It is truly a shopper’s and bargainer’s paradise!! These shops open after 6 pm usually (don’t know if they are open during the day) and the rule of thumb to shop there from my experience is to quote less than half of the selling price when you start the bargain. The first lady vendor I tried ignored my quote and was rude and almost shooed me off. But I was undeterred! 😀 I continued along the road and purchased lots of stuff at good rates. The places also has shops selling Gujarati meals, fast food, ice creams and other delicacies. All this makes the entire area a popular place to hang out. In the evening the area glitters due to all the mirror work stuff and all the wares add to the vibrancy and colorfulness of Gujarati culture.

National Handloom – It is a three storeyed family super market sort of place right next to the Law Garden. You can shop clothes and handicrafts there. But I found it less impressive than Law garden in terms of handicrafts. But dress material and sarees were good.

Iscon Mega Mall – It is located in the newly developed shopping hub off S. G. Highway in Ahemdabad, just after the ISKCON temple. Apparently it is the largest mall in Gujarat so we visited the mall for some shopping. But we found it to be small as compared to Bangalore Malls and the food court was pathetic and over priced for such a mall.

So the one week trip to Ahmedabad was an enjoyable experience with fun, sight seeing, food and shopping. It would have been more pleasant if it wasn’t the summer. If you have one week time and intend to visit Ahmedabad 2-3 days then you can make plans to visit Somnath and Dwarka too, which we intend to include in our itinerary next time. On 27th April we boarded the train to New Delhi for the next part of our trip.

Categories: Gujarat, Historical, Religious, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Ahmedabad Chronicle Part 2

Continued from here

The next day and the day after that, D and I decided to go sight seeing on our own using my SIL’s two wheeler. The weather was as hot as the inside of a furnace! Still we being the ghumakkars that we are, we decided to go exploring the city anyway. I had shortlisted the must see places of the Heritage city. But April 24 being a holiday on the occasion of Bhagvan Shree Parshuram Jayanti, all the government places such as museums, art galleries etc were closed and we missed out on visiting many places. Driving in Ahmedabad city was a spine chilling, adrenalin rushing, heart palpitating act because it seems to be the city where traffic rules go to die and traffic police are non existent. Yet it was interesting to see rural people in ethnic dresses, camel carts and even elephant on the roads! But the color of the city is only in the clothes…the white or grey buildings and the white cars give the city a dull appearance unlike other cities of India.

# Darwazas of Ahmedabad: Founded in 1411 AD and fortified in 1487, the old Amdavad had a wall 10 km in circumference encircling the city to protect it from invasion. This wall originally had 21 gates or darwazas. But after 500 years most of the walls are gone and today only the gates still stand, as well as a short section of wall also stands along the riverfront. The area within the boundary of the old wall is known today as the “old city”, and is easily identifiable by narrow streets, old houses and clustered buildings, crowded markets and traffic congestion. We spotted 2-3 gates while driving around the city. Each appears to be a remnant of a golden era gone by in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the modern age…a mismatch with the surroundings, but they do lend an antique historical feel to the city. We got scolded by passersby and other drivers while trying to take photographs 😀

# Bridges of Ahmedabad : Ahmedabad is a city sprawling on the both sides of the Sabarmati River with 9 bridges built across it to connect the eastern (old city) and western (new city) regions. While roaming we crossed the Ellis Bridge, Sardar Bridge, Nehru Bridge etc. Ellis Bridge was built in 1870 and had a wooden structure, which was replaced by steel in 1882. Extensions have been constructed on either side of the original bridge to support heavy traffic, and the original bridge is preserved as a landmark.

# Sabarmati Ashram : I think every Indian knows the name of this place 🙂 It is located on Ashram road near Vadaj on the bank of Sabarmati River. Sabarmati Ashram or Satyagraha Ashram had played an instrumental role in the non-violence movement and India’s struggle for independence. Mahatma Gandhi’s famous “Dandi March” started from here in 1930. At present the site functions as a museum and an institution whose aim is to preserve and propagate the legacy of the Mahatma. At the entrance, a map of the area acts a guide for tourists. The site covers a large area and the Ashram premises a museum (Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya) which has five units – office, library, two photo galleries and an auditorium. The museum has eight life-size colour oil paintings and an exhibition on Gandhi’s life “My life is my message” and “Gandhiji in Ahmedabad”. An archive is also set up, which stores  letters written by Gandhiji, manuscripts, photographs etc. The library has large number of books, coins, postal stamps and letters of felicitation received by Gandhiji. The grounds of the Ashram include the Hridaykunj, Gandhiji’s humble living quarters, Vinoba-Mira Kutir, Prarthana Bhoomi, statues of the three wise monkeys etc. The tranquility of the place is impressive and the memorabilia of Gandhiji and Independence Struggle reminds us of what we owe to our forefathers. Timing: 8.30 am to 6.00 pm throughout the year and admission is free.

# Sanskar Kendra : It is located near Sardar bridge in the vicinity of  Tagore Hall, opposite to the National Institute of Design. The place is a  museum depicting history, art, culture and architecture of Ahmedabad, designed by the famous architect Le Corbusier in 1954. We were keen to see the famous Kite Museum at Sanskar Kendra which has a fascinating and striking collection of kites but due to holiday the place was closed. 😦

# Ahmed Shah Mosque : Located near Ellis Bridge, in the vicinity of Bhadra Fort,  this mosque dates back to 1414 A.D. and was constructed by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the founder of Ahmedabad city. It is one of the oldest mosques of Ahmedabad. It is famous for the intricate carvings, beautiful pillars and ornamental jalis (perforated stone or latticed screen). We wanted to visit the famous Bhadra fort located nearby but after roaming about we just could not find the entrance to the Fort!! 🙄

# Jhulta Minar : Ahmedabad’s architectural history is famous for the Shaking Minarets or Jhulta Minar. Quoting from the official tourism website of Gujrat

They have left the best of architects and pioneering design engineers intrigued and in unresolvable wonder. What they cannot unravel is when one minaret is shaken the other begins to vibrate, though the connecting passage between the two remains vibration-free; what causes this vibration is unknown. There are two well-known pairs of Shaking Minarets in Ahmedabad, one located opposite the Sarangpur Darwaja and the other near the Kalupur Railway Station Area. The one near Sarangpur Darwaja is within the vicinity of the Sidi Bashir Mosque built in 1452 AD by Sidi Bashir, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. They are three storeys talls with carved balconies where visitors were once allowed to climb all the way up. The other set of minarets near the Railway Station is taller in height. However, these are not in a very good condition as it is believed that the British had dismantled them to understand the cause of vibrations. They could not resolve the engineering and it was not possible to put them back in their original condition. Demonstrations of the minarets shaking or vibrating are not carried out anymore.

We visited the one at Kalupur railway station. It was a pity that it was a closed monument and entry was restricted.

# ISKCON Temple : Shri  Shri Radha Govind Dham or ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Temple is located on Satellite road, near Big Bazaar. Quoting from the official website

Three 50-ft diameter stone shikhars (domes) hand-carved with depictions of Krishna’s pastimes, rise more than 100 ft. above the 25,000-sq-ft temple. The building, blending Gujarat Sompura, and Rajasthani Khamira architectural styles, sits on four acres and features one of the largest temple rooms in India. The 12,000-sq-ft hall can accommodate 4,000 people and is home to the Deities of Radha-Govinda, Gaura-Nitai, Sita-Rama-Laksman-Hamuman, and Sri Nathji, as well as murti forms of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Decorations include ornate stone-clad pillars, marble flooring engraved with colored granite designs, windows intricately carved in Rajastani Mewas style, and Khemira and Araish decorated ceilings.

Timings :  Sun, Sat  Closed  Mon-Fri   4:30am-1pm, 4-9pm. Photography is prohibited.

Apart from these places, we went to three places outside of Ahmedabad. So in my next post I’ll write about the excursions from Ahmedabad and shopping Ahmedabad!! 🙂 To be continued…

Categories: Cities, Gujarat, Historical | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ahmedabad Chronicle Part 1

In April – May 2012, we made plan to visit Delhi to meet my sister and my cutest niece who were visiting India for the first time since her birth last year. We decided to include Ahmedabad, my SIL’s place, too in the itinerary. Visiting both the places in the months of April and May was going to be a real challenge due to the hot weather. Sight seeing and sun do not go together at all! But who knew the trip was going to be one of a kind experience for me!

So we went via flight to Ahmedabad….my first flight experience ever! The field of clouds, the farm lands, the miniature buildings, the streams, the lakes and the sun from high above in the sky…breathtaking experience!

Next day we visited these places :-

# Adalaj Ni Vav – It is located at Adalaj village, around 19 kms away from Ahmedabad on Gandhinagar road. A Vav in Gujarati, means a stepwell – a well that is accessed through many levels of steps. The step well was built in A.D. 1498 by Ruda, wife of Vaghela Chief Virasimha. The oblong step well runs from south to north. The entry to the step well is from south through stairs on three sides which descend into a spacious landing with octagonal opening supported on eight pillars. All the walls are covered with intricately carved and beautiful sculptures and frescos. The grand architecture of the step well really takes one back into that century and you can imagine women bearing water pots, sitting, resting and chatting at specially designed places at the step well. There are openings in the many ceilings which provide good ventilation for the octagonal well. Thankfully direct sunlight does not touch the flight of steps or landings and it is quite cool inside. The well is covered with a netted enclosure. After admiring the structure and the skill of the workers of yore, we went to inspect the roof. There were five tombs on the roof but there was no description of these tombs anywhere.

After visiting Adalaj we came back home for lunch and afternoon siesta 🙂 In the evening, we decided to visit Kankaria Lake at Ahmedabad.

# Kankaria Lake – It is a polygonal (though appears to be circular) lake situated on the south-eastern side of the Ahmedabad city. Apparently it was constructed in 1451 by Sultan Qutb-ud-Din. The lake and the surrounding area have five entrances/gates. Gate 6 leads one straight to an island-garden with a summer palace and musical fountain show known as Nagina Wadi, right in the center of the lake. The lake is a very popular recreational centre and it is difficult to find parking!! It is surrounded by trees, plants, benches along with nice pathway for those who like walking. There are facilities like ‘Bal Vatika'( children’s garden), boating, aquarium, balloon safari, dirt track racing, natural history museum, a zoo, joyrides on toy train (Atal Express and Swarnim Jayanti Express)and a colorful bus. It was quite late and most of the facilities were closing for the day. But it was enjoyable seeing the place at the evening time because of special lighting of the lake in evening. We decided to go for the “Balloon Safari”. The tickets were priced at Rs 100 per person!! Since it was weekend, there was a long queue. It had got dark by the time our turn came. The balloon safari is a ride up on a securely tethered hot air balloon upto a height of around 50 m and then it comes down. But the view of the Ahmedabad city from above was wonderful! There is an entrance fee to the lake and for various rides and shows. Closed on Mondays.

The next day plans were made to visit the Science City at Ahmedabad post lunch.

# Science City – This is situated at Thaltej off the Sarkhej – Gandhinagar Highway. After having visited Science City at Kolkata and Digha, we were keen to see the one at Ahmedabad. The mission of the Science City, in their words, from their website is

Gujarat Science City is envisioned to be an impact-making science appreciation and entertainment experience for the common citizen while providing special offerings to the educated and the gifted. the Government of Gujarat is keen to create such Gujarat Science City as will be become a role model for the developing world.

Science City covers around 107 hectares and has attractions like Hall of Space (where you can also take your photo wearing a spacesuit!), Hall of Science, Thrill Ride/Simulator (where people can enjoy simulations of riding a roller coaster, flying in an aerobatic aircraft, a journey into space etc inside a closed capsule), Energy Park (where people can see solar panels, solar water heating system, solar lantern, wind turbine, water mobile, working models of Nuclear Power Plant etc), IMAX 3D theater, an LED screen having dimension of 20′ x 12′ size as an outdoor exhibit, a musical fountain ( which is spread over an area of 9000 sq.m in hexagonal grid pattern and is claimed to be the Asia’s largest one) and an Electrodome to explore various realms of electricity which we didn’t get time to visit sadly. Moreover we found Bangalore’s musical fountain to be far better than the one at Ahmedabad. But still, it was a great place to visit and we enjoyed a lot. There is a small curios shop where one can buy some science and other hobby related stuff. The Musical Fountain shows timings are Monday-Sunday – 7.00 pm, 7.30 pm, 8.00 pm and 8.30 pm. The center is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm. Other show timings are available at their website.

After the musical fountain show, we came back home. The next day being Monday I and D decided to explore the city further on our own…..To be continued…….

Categories: Cities, Gujarat | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments
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