Ahmedabad Impressions

Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 1/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
A BRTS stop in the heart of the city
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 2/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
Local shopping streets are colorful
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 3/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
The Delhi Darwaza
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 4/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
Jain Temple
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 5/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
The stunning multi-storey Haridada ni vav (well)
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 6/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 7/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
The religious structure behind the well
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 8/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe
Well at Adalaj
Photo of Ahmedabad Impressions 9/9 by Siddhesh Bhobe

Ahmadabad is a pretty clean and green city; the drive from the airport takes you through flat, tree-lined neighbourhoods and military bases. However, the airport is still a small-city pad, unlike the spanking new Hyderabad, Bangalore or Mumbai airports, and doesn't even have the recently-refurbished feel of Pune or Goa airports. What is worse, though, is the absolutely disgusting spectacle of paan spit covered flower beds right outside. The entire beds are red, and for a second, you almost marvel at these unique plants, until you realize with horror and disgust what it really is! The garbage bins and the pillars are no better. Mercifully, the airport seems to be the glaring example - the rest of the city seemed to have been spared the horror.

Coming from Pune, traffic discipline should be the least of my worries - but Ahmadabad traffic has two clear characteristics. People drive too close, and people have no qualms coming full speed up the wrong side of the road. Traffic circles are meant to be cut through in the opposite direction too, and cops actively seem to encourage it. That said, traffic is very light - again, feels like any of the thousands of small towns in India, not a big city at all. "Cross roads" are a commonly found way of identifying locations - and you will hear a lot of it. Typically Ahmadabad. It's a pretty flat city too - and you rarely see building more than a couple of floors in height, although some parts of the city, like Ellis Bridge, are now bustling with modern looking glassy corporate buildings and malls.

 No description of Ahmadabad can be complete without specifically writing about two of its stars - the BRTS and the Sabarmati river.  The BRTS is well designed, and integrates beautifully with the rest of the road layouts, never seeming to obstruct traffic. And with many beautiful old trees and a quaint village-like atmosphere (including peacefully resting cows) in many parts of the route, it's actually pretty unlike the eye sore the BRTS is in Pune! Stations are well maintained, air conditioned, and easily accessible. And most importantly, in the two days I spent, I saw not a SINGLE violation of the sanctity of the BRTS lane by other vehicles - which were very surprising indeed! One complaint I heard from locals though, is that a short spell of rain tends to flood the routes because of the "barricades". 

The Sabarmati river has been converted into a beautiful water body, so unlike many of the gutters that snake through many of our other cities. Locals hang around happily, enjoying chat and other local delicacies in the beautiful parks lining the river front. Another very interesting sight, unlike in most South Indian cities, and even in Maharashtra, there is no compulsion to have Gujarati signboards, English is perfectly acceptable.

When it comes to the tourist experience, though, it's sad that most of the city's rich heritage and buildings of historical and archaeological significance are buried behind modern structures and crowded lanes, completely neglected and ignored.

We set out to see the historic Teen Darwaja, which was inaccessible unless we had the patience to make our way through a crowded, bustling, local market. The wonderful "Shaking Minarets" have apparently been closed down now, damaged beyond hope. We did see a beautiful modern Jain temple, though, where we also met a guy I could have sworn was Modi's long lost brother.

Next up was Haridada ni vav, a beautiful multi-storied well in dire need of come TLC. It was very sad to see, again, how neglected these really beautiful monuments are. There's another similar, and slightly bigger well, at Adalaj, a few minutes drive outside the city, which thankfully, is slightly better off, and attracts some tourists. We also passed an interesting Vaishnodevi temple, shaped and built like a mountain. Worth a visit.

And finally, cannot help but make a mention of the Courtyard Marriott, where we stayed. A simple property, with no fuss, but the service and the food - simply phenomenal!hh

This trip was first published on http://siddhesh-k3g.blogspot.in/.