Ahmedabad is the seventh largest metropolitan city in India, with a population of approximately 5.2 million. Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, the city is the administrative centre of Ahmedabad district and was the capital of Gujarat from 1960 to 1970; the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar thereafter. In colloquial Gujarati, the city is commonly called Amdavad.
Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah to serve as the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate, and was named after him. Under the British rule, a military cantonment was established and the city infrastructure was modernized and expanded. Though incorporated into the Bombay Presidency during British rule, Ahmedabad remained the most important city in the Gujarat region. The city established itself as the home of a booming textile industry, which earned it the nickname the "Manchester of the East." The city was at the forefront of the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century. It was the centre of many campaigns of civil disobedience to promote workers' rights civil rights and political independence.
With the creation of the state of Gujarat in 1960, Ahmedabad gained prominence as commercial capital of the state. The city is witnessing a major construction boom and population increase. A rising centre of education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmedabad remains the cultural and commercial heart of Gujarat and much of western India.
Tourist Attractions in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad is a colorful city where one can enjoy the better things of life, be it food or amusement. The Walled City in Ahmedabad takes one down the memory lane, making one aware of the city’s glorious past. Ahmedabad has got numerous places of interest for tourists, ranging from monuments to amusement parks. The charm of the various museums, mosques, and forts complements the simplicity of the Ahmedabad city. While visiting the Ahmedabad city, one should keep the budget flexible, as it is all too common for people to get tempted by the array of artifacts, antiques, and the exotic and colorful attire available in Ahmedabad.
The Walled City (Pol):
One of the must visit places in Ahmedabad is the walled city. One enters the walled city of Ahmedabad through a huge gate, which allows a glimpse into the affluence of the ancient buildings of the 18th century. The magnificence of the buildings, their richly carved woodwork and stone facades must be seen. The walled city of Ahmedabad houses people from a variety of religions-Muslims, Hindus and Jains. The walled city brings alive the glorious past of the Ahmedabad city leaving the tourists awe-struck.
Another tourist attraction of Ahmedabad is the Satyagraha Ashram (or the Gandhi Ashram). The Ashram is a place of see in Ahmedabad as it was the centre for the Indian freedom struggle and was set-up in AD 1920 on the lull western banks of the Sabarmati River.
In AD 1930, Gandhi called upon the Indians to defy the Salt Tax imposed by the British. The whole of India rose to the call and from Gandhi Ashram rallied on the Dandi March to the sea with him.
Besides the ashram another place to visit in Ahmedabad is ‘Hridaya Kunj’-a simple cottage where Gandhi lived. The place is now preserved as a national monument. Amongst the places to be seen in Ahmedabad’s Gandhi Ashram are the Gandhi Memorial Centre, a library and a sound-and-light show displaying the Mahatma’s life and work.
Built by Ahmad Shah in AD 1423, near the Bhadra Fort, the Jama Masjid of Ahmedabad is one of the most striking mosques in India. The Jama Masjid is a place to visit in Ahmedabad owing to its Indo- Saracenic style of architecture and 15 domes resting upon 260 pillars.
Mosque of Sidi Sayid:
Another place to be visited in Ahmedabad for its stone tracery and the motifs of the banyan tree on its windows is the Mosque of Sidi Sayid. The Mosque of Sidi Sayid is near the Lal Darwaza (Red Gateway) and is very close to the river end of the Relief Road in Ahmedabad. Ahmad Shah’s slave Sidi Sayid built the mosque in AD 1573.
Hathee Singh Jain Temple:
Another place to be seen in Ahmedabad is the Hathee Singh Temple, outside the Delhi Gate, in pure white marble. The 52 shrines, each with an image of a Jain Tirthankar in the temple are places to be seen in Ahmedabad. This Jain temple of Ahmedabad was built by Sheth Hathee Singh in 1848 and is dedicated to Dharmanath, the fifteenth Jina or Jain apostle
Sidi Bashir Mosque:
Another tourist attraction of Ahmedabad city is the Sidi Bashir Mosque or the Shaking Minaret or Jhulta Minar outside the Sarangpur Gate. The place is to be seen to know that if one of the minarets is shaken, the other one begins to vibrate on its own without any provocation. The crucial mechanism that causes the vibration is still a mystery, and is enough to attract the curiosity of eager tourists in Ahmedabad. It is a belief that the vibration is a protection against any damage caused by earthquakes.
Kankaria Lake is another tourist attraction of Ahmedabad. The Kankaria Lake is a circular lake constructed in AD 1451 by Sultan Qutub-ud-din. Amongst the places to be visited in the lake is the island garden at its centre with a summer palace known as Nagina Wadi. Lush green parks, an aquarium, a boat club, a natural historical museum, and a zoo surrounding the park make the lake a place to be seen in Ahmedabad. The ‘Bal Vatika’ or the children’s park makes it a great picnic spot and attracts tourists and localities from Ahmedabad alike.
Bhadra Fort and Teen Darwaza:
The Bhadra Fort of Ahmedabad is another place to be visited in the city. The place is a venue for Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations in Ahmedabad. This fort of Ahmedabad fort has a temple devoted to the Mother Goddess, Bhadrakali; hence the name Bhadra Fort.
The huge and grand Teen Darwaza (Triple Gateway) is another place to be seen in Ahmedabad. Teen Darwaza servedthe purpose of a royal entrance to the Royal Square of the Bhadra Fort.
One of the must visit places in Ahmedabad is the Calico museum of fabric, yarn and textiles. The place to be seen came into being in 1949 as a result of the painstaking efforts of Ms Gira Sarabhai. The museum is one place in Ahmedabad where designs, prints, and blocks from all over the world attract tourists from India as well as abroad. The Calico Museum of Textiles is located in Sarabhai House, a former haveli (bungalow) in the Shahi Bagh Gardens locality of Ahmedabad city.
The other places worth visiting in Ahmedabad are the Rani Rupmati’s Mosque, Rani Sipri’s Mosque, Raj Babri Mosque, the Kite Museum, Shreyas Museum of Folk Art and Utensil Museum.
Weekend Trips/Excursions: There are many places of tourist interesting that near Ahmedabad that are worth visiting. Sarkhej, a spot eight km southwest of the Ahmedabad city, has important historical monuments. Nineteen km north of the Ahmedabad city is Adlaj Vav, an intricately built step well. This place around Ahmedabad gives a glimpse of one of the greatest works of art and architecture with carvings of leaves, flowers and fishes on pillars. Lothal lies 85 km southwest of Ahmedabad. This place near Ahmedabad is an ancient dock belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. The town of Modhera is 102 km northwest of the Ahmedabad city. The place is a must visit from Ahmedabad for its ancient sun temple. Patan a 130 km northwest of Ahmedabad is worth visiting for its 100 Jain temples. Gandhinagar, state capital of Gujarat, is just 32 km away from Ahmedabad. The place boasts of being the second well-planned city in India after Chandigarh. In The Swaminarayan Temple and Akshardham are the places that must be seen in Gandhinagar. Then there is a small village Mahudi, near Kalol. The place is 78 km from Ahmedabad. The Jinalaya of Ghantakarna Mahavir and the Kotyark Temple are the places that must be seen at this place. For the animal and nature lovers visiting Ahmedabad, Nalsarovar Wildlife Sanctuary is a place worth visiting. The place is at a distance of 64 km from Ahmedabad. Many artificial lakes surround it, making it a place to be seen around Ahmedabad.
Events and Festivals:
The fun-loving people of Ahmedabad celebrate the traditional festivals with excitement. The tourists in Ahmedabad during any event or festival enjoy the celebrations with the special Gujarati style. Besides the traditional Navratri and Rath Yatra Ahmedabad hosts the contemporary International Kite Festival too.
The Indian state of Gujarat is known for its colour and festivities. Amongst the famous festivals of Ahmedabad is the Kite festival that is celebrated on Makar Sankranti, or January 14. A kite flying competition goes on till late in the evening to mark the festival. The kite festival is a place to be at in Ahmedabad since it has now become an international festival. Tourists and participants from all over the world come to enjoy the exotic range of designs and sizes of kites in the festival at Ahmedabad.
Another popular festival of Ahmedabad is Navratri. The festival is celebrated for nine nights and reaches its finale on the Dussehra day. Ahmedabad is the place to be at to see the young people dressed up in their best traditional dresses-chania choli for girls and dhoti kurta for boys-and dance the Garba and the Dandiya Raas (traditional dances of the state) through the night for all the nine days of the festival. This festival of Gujarat is dedicated to Goddess Amba.
Similar to the Rath Yatra of Jagannath Puri in Orissa, a Rath Yatra is carried out in Ahmedabad as well. The procession starts in the morning from the Jagdish Mandir situated in the Jamalpur area of the Ahmedabad city. Ahmedabad is the place to visit during the Rath Yatra as chariots of Krishna, Balram and Subhadra, adorned with garlands, are taken round the city amidst much pomp, show, and gaiety. Hymns are sung in the siblings’ praise. The decorated elephants, gymnasts, acrobats, sadhus, and devotees from all walks of life join the procession of the Rath Yatra. The Mahant (head priest) of the Jagannath Temple heads the procession in Ahmedabad.