If I would have visited this city before 9th of July, which was technically not possible because of my internship ending on 7th of July, this blog post would have carried a different heading. Yes, for people who read Indian news regularly [1], it is not a big deal to understand which city I’m talking about. And if you still haven’t understood, it is Ahmedabad or Amdavad (અમદાવાદ in Gujarati), the former capital of Gujarat.

If we take a quick glimpse at its history, it was founded by Emperor Ahmed Shah I [2] of the Sultanate of Gujarat. My visit to Ahmedabad comes after the end of my internship at Bengaluru, as a holiday break with my family. Our journey began with reaching Mumbai Central at 5:40 am at dawn to board the queen of the Western Railways – the Shatabdi Express departing at 6:25.

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The Mumbai Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express at Ahmedabad Railway Station

This was not our first visit there. We had already visited it in September 2012 and this year, it was more like a breakthrough holiday rather than a tourist trip. As we had already visited Sabarmati Riverfront, Ashram, Kite museum and the City Museum then, we straightaway headed to Kankaria Lake.

The Kankaria lake is a giant lake with fountains and a mini amusement park in the shape of the logo of the State Bank of India (SBI). Ironically, the logo was designed by Shekhar Kamat, an alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and it is said that it was inspired by the design of the lake [3]. There is also a mini train ride which goes around the circumference of this lake. However, it is not a good deal to visit this place in monsoon as it is infested with flies.

 

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The Kankaria Lake at evening time

Ahmedabad is especially known for its Gujarati cuisine, which is famous all over the world today because of Gujarati expatriate businessmen opening food chains in various countries such as the United States and those of Europe. There are various joints available for refreshments of which we visited the Lijjat Khaman House at Maninagar, near Kankaria lake which is well-known for its dhoklas and pakodas. Gujarat is also famous for its sweets, particularly the mohanthal[4].

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Lijjat Khaman House, Maninagar

A peculiarity of Ahmedabad that one may notice on its streets is the presence of numerous ice-cream parlours. While most of the Amul parlours in Mumbai have closed, and there are hardly any in Bengaluru, you’ll find an ice-cream parlour in Ahmedabad with the same rate of recurrence as that of a vada pav wala in Mumbai or a South Indian joint in Bengaluru. These dedicated ice-cream parlours not only offer you with ice-creams but also with milk and other dairy products. The price of Amul milk per litre in Ahmedabad is INR 40, whereas the same is 42 in Mumbai, owing to transportation costs and shopkeepers selling at 1 rupee higher for reasons not worth mentioning here. Also, how many flavours of Amul cups or candies have you tasted in Mumbai? At least in the retail stores in my area, the only available flavours are some commonly known ones like Vanilla, Strawberry, Butterscotch, etc. However, the abundance of flavours at ice-cream parlours in Ahmedabad would surely make you go crazy!

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Amul ice-cream and milk parlour, Paldi

Gujarati cuisine is incomplete without the Gujarati thali. Yes, the same pure vegetarian Gujarati thali with four to five different vegetables, rotlas, farsan, and papad! The Gopi dining hall at Ellis Bridge [5] is one of the restaurants where this thali is recommended.

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Gopi Dining Hall, Ellis Bridge
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Gopi’s Gujarati thali for INR 250

If you are planning to gift your wife/girlfriend/sister/mother a new saree or dress piece, Gujarat is the best place. Both Ahmedabad and Surat are prominently recognized as one of the best destinations to buy female attire at the cheapest rates. I gifted my mom two designer sarees and my grandmother a simple cotton saree in just under INR 3500; can you imagine that? The same types of sarees from Mumbai or Bengaluru would have individually cost the same as the total price! My mother also bought for herself four fashionable dresses with each at almost half the price than that at which it is sold in Mumbai. Theoretically, if you wish to buy a new dress, the total cost of your journey from Mumbai to Surat/Ahmedabad and back plus the cost of the dress would still be cheaper than its cost in Mumbai, if you are willing to compromise your time for the same!

As it is evident to find street dogs frequently on the roads in Mumbai, cows are a frequent sight here. After seeing numerous cows on the roads, one may have to actually think twice to determine who has a greater population – street dogs or cows?

 

 

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A street cow at Naranpura

 

Our trip concluded with an Air India flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai in the evening. The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport is a grand majestic airport with two terminals, just as that of CSIA Mumbai; with terminal 1 meant for domestic flights and terminal 2 for all international and domestic flights from Air India. It has several boarding gates, more than required; however, I found the airport to be somewhat mismanaged which was the reason for our flight departing one hour late. Also, surprisingly, this was the only airport where I found pigeons entering the terminal building.

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Pigeons inside Terminal 2, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport

They enter the building from gaps in the wall of the building facing the taxiway, yet this was still ok. The fact that made me heavily annoyed was that of Air India serving just a cheese bread with Real fruit juice at 9 pm in the night! Who wouldn’t like to have these extremely healthy plain slices of bread at dinner time when they’re expecting a tummy full dinner?

An interesting aspect of this trip was my brother’s commitment to his school homework which was truly appreciable. He was doing his homework on the train as well as in the hotel since it was to be submitted on the coming Monday.

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My brother doing his homework in the Shatabdi Express

We had planned to visit many places, such as the Akshardham temple at Gandhinagar but unfortunately, couldn’t because of the shortage of time. Nevertheless, there would surely be many more occasions of visiting the city; especially after the bullet train project is complete. In the monsoon season, I found the city infested with too many flies. Every sweets shop and restaurant uses an ultraviolet fly trap such as the one shown below:

The primary reason for this infestation is garbage and dirt. In fact, I found the city to be as dirtier as clean it was in 2012; maybe it’s showing a reverse result of the Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan in Narendra Modi’s own state!

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A balloon advertising for Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan at Kankaria Lake; however, it shows very little to no effect on the city!
BRTS bus stop (courtesy: Flickr)

No worries, every city falls in some or the other aspect. Nevertheless, Ahmedabad has shown the world the use of BRTS bus corridor [6] and is the only heritage city in India declared by UNESCO. The Union government has also planned celebrations on this occasion [7]. The city is already old enough, and one of the fastest growing cities. A new international cricket stadium is also being built on its outskirts. I’m already curious to know the venue of the final at the 2023 cricket world cup.

ચાલો જોઈએ!

References:

  1. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ahmedabad-becomes-indias-first-world-heritage-city-unesco-site-indians-first-4742234/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Shah_I
  3. https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-story-behind-State-Bank-of-India-logo
  4. http://food.ndtv.com/recipe-mohanthal-442322
  5. https://www.zomato.com/ahmedabad/gopi-dining-hall-ellis-bridge
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmedabad_BRTS
  7. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ahmedabad-to-turn-i-am-davad-to-celebrate-world-heritage-city-tag/articleshow/59689658.cms
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