Food Walk to Manek Chowk : In my opinion there is no better way to learn about another culture than through it’s food. A food walk therefore is always on my top most priority.
The most iconic khau gali (Food Street) in Ahmedabad are Law Garden and Manek Chowk. We chose to do Manek Chowk in the old city area.
Manek Chowk, named after the 15th century saint Manek Baba is in the historical old quarter of Ahmedabad. This area is a vegetable market early in the morning, converts to a jewellery and spice market during the day and finally transforms into a foodies paradise at night. The entire area starts buzzing with food stalls and shops after 7 pm. I would suggest to begin chaat like Sev Puree, Bhel and Pani Puree. Move onto main course of your choice and onwards to desserts. If you are in the mood to try fusion, I would strongly recommend chocolate and cheese pizza, and pineapple, chocolate, and cheese sandwiches.
Mandir to Masjid (Temple to Mosque) Heritage walk: The Walled city of Ahmedabad is over 600 years old and the first World Heritage City declared by UNESCO in India. Therefore this guided tour, I felt was the best way to explore the rustic beauty of the old city. The walk is known as the ‘Mandir to Masjid’ walk as it initiates from the Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur and ends at Jama Masjid, covering around two kilometers, traversing some of the finest Indian and Islamic monuments as well as exquisite Hindu and Jain temples.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Apparently here are 2600 heritage sites and over two dozen ASI protected monuments and sites in the walled city! We decided to visit these two..
Rani –ki- Vav (Queen’s Stepwell): Located at Patan, on the banks of the Saraswati River, the stepwell was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems in India. Rani-ki-Vav was built in Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality; more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works.
Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park: The Park has archaeological remains that date from the 8th to 16th century. The range of ruins is enormous, including agricultural buildings, mosques, and a fortress. This site was once an important religious shrine and point of pilgrimage. Despite its ruinous condition today, Champaner’s story of revival is as special as it is intriguing.
Adalaj Stepwell: Fun fact, this step well was built to impress a girl! King Rana Veer Singh of Vaghela dynasty had started building the stepwell. Unfortunately, the King was attacked and killed by Mohammad Begada, a King of the neighbouring kingdom. Begada fell for the beauty of the widowed Queen Roopba and asked her to marry him. The Queen agreed to marry Begada on the condition that he completes the construction of the stepwell that was started by her husband. Begada complied and completed the stepwell and filled it with beautiful floral designs and intricate carvings using the best artisans of those times, to impress the Queen. The stepwell has elements of both Islamic and Hindu architecture in it. On the completion of the stepwell, Begada reminds the Queen of her promise. The Queen circumambulated the stepwell chanting prayers and then jumps into the well that was started by her husband. There are six tombs near the well, which is believed to be the tombs of six masons who built the stepwell. It is said that, Begada killed all of those six masons to avoid the replica of the stepwell.
Dandi Kutir – Mahatma Mandir: Firstly, did not expect it to be so hi tech and modern! Dandi Kutir is the world’s largest museum devoted to the life and teachings of one person, Mahatma Gandhi! As our group walked towards the building, the exteriors looked rather unusual. Our guide explained that the building resembled a salt heap to commemorate the Dandi Yatra led by Mahatma Gandhi! We were given audio guides at the entrance which I must say was more hi tech than the ones in Euro Museums! The entrance fees to the Museum is only INR 10.
Garba Nights – Navratri Festival: The festival of Navratri began in Gujarat with the launching of the grand Vibrant Navratri-Mahotsav 2019 at GMDC ground in Ahmedabad inaugurated by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Navratri is the world’s longest holistic dance festival to invoke the blessings of Mother Goddess, worshiped as Aadya Shakti. The festival attracts tourists from different states of India and abroad in Gujarat and is topped up with food courts, children’s joyrides and crafts stall to make it a unique ambience and experience.
Modhera Sun Temple: Awe-inspiring piece of architecture lost to human greed. Modhera Temple and its dedication to the Sun God will leave you stunned. The temple built in the 11th century, was so constructed that during every equinox, the first sunrays would fall on a diamond placed on the Sun God’s head. And the entire temple would illuminate in a golden glow. – On other days, two pillars before the garbhagriha would stay illuminated throughout the day, regardless of the position of the sun. All of this stand in ruins now, however, – the sabha mandap still stands on 52 pillars, depicting the 52 weeks in a year.
Little Rann of Kutch: I have never been to a place so serene and yet so severe. A photographers and wild life enthusiast’s wonderland. We had a good safari at the Wild Ass Sanctuary where we saw some privileged asses, like literally. They are endangered wild asses, protected by the government and the local people. They live in this terrain that looks Martian, and eat grass. We saw mongoose and Harrier eagles and owls, pelicans and spoonbills. The most sought after creature was the Hyena.
Statue of Unity: The tallest statue in the world today, The Statue of Unity signifies peace and a unified India as envisioned by Sardar Vallabhai Patel. For more info check out my blog ….
Laxmi Vilas Palace and Museum: The Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, is four times the size of the Buckingham Palace!! And is the largest private dwelling built till date. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda. The Palace “compound” is of over 500 acres and houses a number of buildings, particularly the LVP Banquets & Conventions , Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.
*The palace entry ticket is priced at Rs 200/- which also includes an audio tour.
*The museum ticket is priced as follows- Rs 60 for Indian Nationals, Rs 150/- for foreign nationals, Rs 40 for children & Rs 400/- for a group of 20 school childre
Suggested Navratri Time Itinerary:DAYPARTICULARRecommended Hotels1.Arrive at Ahmedabad Airport, transfer to Hotel. After Lunch visit of Sabarmati (GANDHI) Ashram, Hathising Jain Temple and Law Garden Handloom-handicraft market. Followed by Food Walk to Manek Chowk. Dinner and Night stay at Ahmedabad.ITC Fortune/ Hotel Starotel. 2.After early breakfast Dep. At 7.15 am for heritage walk of Ahmedabad City – Temple to Mosque.
Back to Hotel by 10.30 am. . Get fresh and relaxed. After lunch Dept. at 1.30 pm for Adalaj Stepwell, Dandi Kutir- Mahatma Mandir and back to Hotel by 5.30 pm. Get Fresh. Dept. at 7.00 pm for Vibrant Gujarat Navratri Festival Grand Inauguration Function. Hotel ITC Fortune / Hotel Starotel.3After breakfast proceed to 11th century Modhera Sun Temple, and visit of UNESCO World Heritage Site Rani – Ki – Vav(stepwell) Patan. Lunch on the way. Back to Ahmedabad. Get fresh, after dinner visit of Navratri Festival venue to be witness thousands of people playing (dancing) Garba- traditional dance to worship Goddess. Also visit of Theme Pavilion, Craft Bazar, food court etc. at the same venue. Back to Hotel dinner and night stay at Ahmedabad. Hotel ITC Fortune / Hotel Starottel.4.After breakfast proceed to Little Rann of Kutch (2 hrs) for Wild Ass Sanctuary. Lunch at resort. After lunch take a open Jeep Safari to see wild Ass only available in Asian continent and some other species and birds. Back to resort. Evening free for leisure with natural surroundings. Dinner and night stay. Rann Riders Resort/ Royal Safari Camp.5.After breakfast proceed to Kevadia- Statue of Unity.(6 hrs) Arrival at Tent City Narmada. Lunch and rest. After hi-tea proceed to Statue of Unity 16.30 hrs. Visit of Statue of Unity, enjoy the laser show at SOU at 1900 hrs. Back to tent city. Dinner and cultural evening at tent city. Night stay. Tent City Narmada./ Hotel Ramada.6.After breakfast proceed to Vadodara.(2 hrs) At Vadodara visit of Lakshmi Vilas Palace and Museum. Check in the hotel. Have Lunch proceed to Champaner UNESCO World HERITAGE SITE. Back to Hotel at Vadodara, dinner and night stay at Vadodara. Mercure surya palace.7 Drop to Vadodara Airport to catch the flight to Delhi/ Mumbai.
Check out my Gujarat Vlog here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvQu-UOc02U