This travelogue is an architect's adventure in the city of Ahmedabad. Chandigarh and Ahmedabad are the much revered seats of modern Indian architecture. Where Chandigarh is all rendered in the vision of legendary modernist Le Corbusier, Ahmedabad provides a balanced palette of the nostalgic old and utopian modernist. The more I traveled, more I romanticised the city. I think I am fairly articulate as a person, however my long held affair with the city (a 6 month architecture internship) is just making it impossible for a short crisp description. The more I write the more I delete, making it all go stagnant. So I am going to shoot shots and here it is:
10 places you should see in Ahmedabad :
1– Adalaj ni vav - Its an ornate stepped well. An ASI monument. Its a bit unkempt and stinky but look out for its gorgeous oculus and well detailed column portals.
2– Sarkhej ni Roza - Its a islamic complex with a Masjid and Badshah's tomb by a man made tank.
3- Gandhi Ashram - A museum dedicated to the father of the nation- Bapu along the Sabarmati's banks.
4- Hussain Doshii Gufa/ Ahmedabad ni Gufa - An interesting tortoise shaped underground art gallery. The art gallery has been designed by architect Doshi and the walls have been done by artist M. F. Hussain himself.
5- Kite museum - Its officially the city museum which documents, and discusses the history, demographics and geography of the city but more so I was fascinated by the beautiful kite collection.
6- Millowner's building/ ATMA House - Ahmedabad Textiles Millowner's Association is a building done by Legendary modernist architect Le Corbusier. And for us architects, no visit to the city is complete without seeing this masterpiece. I am in so much love with this building that i end up spending 4 to 6 hours just gazing and sketching this building every time i am inside it and the poor security guard ends up asking - AUR KITNI DER !!!
7- Sabarmati Riverfront - This is a contemporary public space and quite literally Ahmedabad boasts about it like no other city in India, however its quite controversial when comes to the environmental and landscape aspect of the river Sabarmati.
8- Calico Textile museum - A must visit, quite a gem.
9- Huthseeing Jain Temple - A gorgeous white marble Jain temple
10- Old city of Ahmedabad and House of MG - House of Mangal Das is a renovated city Mansion. Do attend the dinner, its sumptuous and worth a try.
10 things that you need to do in Ahmedabad :
1- Attend the night heritage walk of Old city of Ahmedabad - http://www.houseofmg.com/nightwalk.htm
2- Watch a movie at Drive in- An open air theater where you can watch a movie with your car(quite literally) on it, in it, beside it or off it ... you choose. One kind of an experience in India.
3- Attend Ravivari the sunday market on the Sabarmati riverfront- Ravivari is a second hand market and some visits can really make you proud of what you have bought.
4- Eat at Manek Chowk at mid-night 12 - May it be the ice-cream sanwitch or the malwa dosa with half a kg of butter of amdavadi kulfi or ceese ice-cream, you ought to do this.
5- Visit the Bhatiyaar ki Gali / Irani cafe near Teen Darwaja - It is remiscient of the Badshah culinary culture in Ahmedabad. Not a very hygienic place but if you are a die hard non vegetarian foodie and meat hasn't been gobbled down your Oesophagus, and your gastric juices are calling and killing you, this is not a bad idea at all.
6- Fly kite on Makar Sankranti on river front - welcome the uttarayan with you adorning the body of sky with vibrant colourful kites.
7- Shop at Rani ni Hajiro - May it be antiquities, Kutchi jewellery, fabrics from Gamathiwala or just a Chaniya Choli.
8- Hang around in Law Gardens - Enjoy the most vibrant and temporal street food- scapes.
9- Go do Garba / Dandiya during Navratris and get hooked up (however temporarily)
10- Spend a trippy evening at CEPT - And its an archi affair
My word for Amdavadis -
They respect their women and therefore its the safest city in India, even if you wish to step out at 12 in the night. Gujaratis love their Farsaans (i.e. snacks) so if its any culinary culture which relishes its starter more than its main-course, it is Gujarati's. Gujarati cuisine is strictly vegetarian but the permutation and combinations they prepare with these restricted ingredients is worth a try. Every Gujarati household has that Lacquered piece of Jhoola and its amazing to swing on it. The city works late and parties even later till 12 midnight. And they love their ice-creams. Though its a dry state, its not really DRY.
An extension to this trip, I visited Patan and Sidhpur. These are again places of architectural and historical importance. Patan houses Rani ni Vav and sahastralinga talav which is by far the largest Stepped well in India.quintessentially a large and more ornate version of Adalaj stepped well in ahmedabad. Patan is also the house to Patola weavers, an extremely exquiste and expensive form of textile making (also called double ikkat)
Sidhpur is a dusty town 100km from Patan. Its known to be the home town of wealthy Bohra traders. Now the whole town has been deserted as the traders no more occupy these houses. But a walk down the Bohrawad still reminds me of a lingering European estates and towns, for the pomp and grand it exhibits.
All in all- this journey has been fun.