Female Solo Art/Architectural Trip to Ahmedabad

23rd Oct 2019

Day I,23-10-2019

Day 1

I boarded the flight to Ahmedabad from Chennai Airport at 6:55 AM and reached AMD at 9 AM. I took a tuk tuk to my hotel in Navrangpura (SUMITRA-CODE PG FOR GIRLS). This place is a bit above my budget but I prioritized safety above money this time. "In and out Dormitory" also provides neat cheaper ac mixed dorms.

First in my Itinerary was to explore Old Ahmedabad. So I took an ola bike ride to Bhadra Square and started walking. I spotted Premabhai Hall (B. V. DOSHI) but couldn’t get in as it had street sellers all around it. I bought a bandni print shawl off the streets las it was very sunny and moved forward.

I entered Bhadra Fort and went around. Climbing through the side stairs give me a good aerial view of the street. There is a hindu temple near the fort. But inside the fort, two Muslim ladies were praying facing a closed grilled door which I found was pretty interesting.

As I moved forward, I spotted the Teen Darwaza. The streets were filled with all kinds of sellers on both sides and there were vehicles going through all of this.

I reached the Jami Masjid as I moved on and explored the mosque for a while. When the mosque was being built, they didn’t have much experience with arches. This initial imperfections can be seen in the odd proportions of the arches. One can spot beautiful carvings on the mosque and some amazing arabic calligraphy on the walls.

As I walked on I reached a street where a lot of fancy jewellery was being sold, and I bought a nice little bracelet for myself and had a friendly chat with the sellers. Ahmedabad has very friendly locals which make your trip very convenient. These sellers were right below the Queens tomb. After talking to a resident there, he opened the tomb for me to look around.

As I walked forward, I reached Manek Chowk with all its fruit and vegetable market which would become a food street in the night.

I spotted the Mahurat ni Pol here and had a look around. I also passed the Kansara ni Pol (Copper Market) and bought a copper bottle and glass sold at wholesale rates.

Then I spotted the Deewanji ni Haveli and The Mangaldas ni Haveli II. Mangaldas ni Haveli had a small café called Pol Kholi. You can access the café through the side door which will let us get a glimpse of the inside. Deewanji Ni Haveli has rooms which you can book online.

I got tired of the sun and the walking. So I took an ola bike ride from here to Centre for Environment Education (MANDALA ARCHITECTS). I got permission to visit the campus after showing my B.arch college ID card. This beautiful campus will make you go speechless with all its levels and greeneries. Peacocks, squirrels etc. filled the place and I roamed around clicking pictures for about 2 hours.

I thought of visiting the Prathama Blood Centre (MATHAROO ASSOCIATES) but headed back to my room because I was extremely tired. I had dinner from Hocco Eatery near where I stay. I wouldn’t recommend the Paneer Tikka biriyani here as it was over priced and was not worth it.

I would recommend you to have explored more pols and Havelis in Old Ahmedabad instead of heading anywhere else and also take a look at the underground Jain temples near by. You could also take the night heritage walks starting from Siddi Sayed Masjid at 8:45 PM ending at Manek Chowk.

Day II, 24-10-2019

Day 2

I started today by going to Mahathma Gandhi Labour Institute(B.V.Doshi) Seeing around the campus requires no prior appointment. You can contact the receptionist who will come at around 10 in the morning. The campus has the classic features of the B.V Doshi designed buildings including the concrete vaults with white mosaic tiles, the beautifully planned gardens, pebble patterns, niches and spaces inside beautifully lit by the morning sun.

After this, I went to Chinmaya mission Paramdham(JMA Designs) which had a temple designed in concrete and with skylights and some classrooms etc.

Then, I headed to the VASTU SHILPA CONSULTANTS, where I had booked a guided tour via their website and paid 200 rupees (student fee) for the same. An intern at the firm showed me around the office and explained very well the meaning of each element in the design. From the memorial for the mango tree to the reason for the vaults white mosaic chips. She explained the influence of Le Corbusier in designs, the out house being the beginning of everything, the large pots he got from a wedding decoration set in various places throughout the office, the extension of the office, the one handed soldier, the flooring, and I could go on. It was a very refreshing and inspiring tour and they gave me a pamphlet with one of Doshiji's miniature of the office printed on it and a small brief.

The intern I met had told me how underrated Dada Harir ni Vav was and so I headed to this stepwell which did not fail to make me go spell bound with its intricate detailing and beauty. I chose to come here instead of the Adalaj Stepwell as that was a little further from everything else on the map. Adalaj is famous for its history. A king who decided to built the stepwell died mid construction. So, the queen decided to do Sati for him. She was stopped my another King who asked her hand for marriage. The queen agreed on one condition which was to finish the construction of the stepwell which he agreed to. And so Adalaj was made, but on the day of their marriage, the queen jumped into the stepwell and killed herself. This story made Adalaj much more famous than the other stepwells in Ahmedabad.

I thought going to Sabarmati Ashram after this would be a good idea as I was feeling slightly sick. The museum designed by Charles Correa I felt represented the life Mahatma Gandhi lived as it was very minimalistic and set on the banks of the river, gave a relaxing ambience. The life of Mahatma Gandhi and the setting up of the Ashram is explained in the museum. The book shop here sells great variety of books, postcards etc. I bought a few postcards and a handmade journal from here.

I decided to call it a day as my headache was unbearable.

Day III, 25-10-2019

Day 3

As I had a good long sleep last night, I got up early morning and visited the Swami Narayan Mandir which was an amazing decision as the temple and the surroundings were very lively and a great way to start the day. I fed the flock of pigeons some grains and watched them peck food from my hands.

Then I headed to Hutheesing Jain Mandir which was also equally beautiful. This Jain temple was much less crowded but photography is not allowed inside.

After having a vada pav from a nearby dhaba , I went to Calico museum of Textiles for which I booked for a guided tour three weeks before online. Entry without prior booking is not possible here and I must tell you, this place is not something you want to miss out in Amd. This beautiful museum with a rich collection of Textiles, paintings, sculptures etc is set in a Bungalow with well shaded gardens, paths, and a water bodies. It also include a wooden Haveli through which the guide will take you in a very poetic way. Her explanations were not very explicit and clear. But from 10:30 to 1, I never felt bored or zoned out. The poetic story like way she explained was very unique and the exhibits are just too good for me to explain. Honestly, this place made my day.

After this, I rushed to Shreyas Folk museum and campus (B V Doshi) which was only open from 9-2 pm. I reached at 2:05 pm so I couldn’t enter the museum. But I went around the campus after taking permission from office. Walking through the green and quite open campus felt very good and I peeped into the folk museum for my satisfaction.

I had taken an appointment to visit IIM at 3 pm via mail so I took an ola bike ride to the campus. Visiting days are only We’dand Fri. A quick sign and fill procedure later, I was free to roam inside the campus. After an hour of going through corridors and classrooms and courtyards, I decided to take a bicycle from MYBYKK station available here. I cycled around the housing, the dormitories, the main block and everywhere. Sitting on the lawn and sketching the iconic geometrical façade designed by the great Louis Khan made me almost emotional to be honest. The subway to the new campus has the making of IIM explained on the walls but visitors are not allowed to the new campus since construction is still going on.

After this, I headed to the Amdavad ni Gufa(B.V Doshi, M.F Hussain) which was the most amazing art gallery that I have visited in my life. The way Doshiji gave space for the unique style of M.F.Hussain's art is something only he can do. Going inside the gufa gives you a unique feeling that I can’t explain in words. I visited the Herwitz Gallery which is just near the Gufa and the book shop with art and photography books at 90% discount and also postcards. I bought two books and some postcards and went inside the gufa again to spend some time inside. The Gufa only opens after 5 and closes at 8:30 pm.

Once it was closing time at the Gufa, I headed to Vechaar Utensil Museum. No prior appointment is required for the museum here but it would be good to book a table if you want to have dinner at Vishalla Restaurant here. Vechaar museum is a collection of antique utensils, toys, sculptures, locks, and various other things set in mud huts and dimly lit amidst gardens and a small mandir and water bodies. The guide here will explain very well the uses and history of the exhibits but he only knows Hindi and Gujarati well. He made the tour a very interactive and interesting one.

Day IV, 26-10-2019

Day 4

Life is easy as I get to have breakfast from the hostel itself and I don’t have to waste time on a café or anything. The first destination in my itinerary today was CEPT. I did not take any prior appointments for visiting the campus. I just went around casually and nobody really stopped me. I could go into the classes, canteen, and the library. I took a nice stroll through the Lilavati Lalbhai Library in the campus designed by RMA Architects where Aga Khan awardees were exhibited. There were a few students sleeping in the classrooms and some were working also. I could go into the classrooms with a spiral staircase leading to a mezzanine floor with the studio and faculty rooms below.

After this, I went to the Kanoria Art Gallery in the same campus which was closed for Diwali. So I did dome peeping and walking around and left to the L D Institute of Indology designed by B V Doshi.

The campus was extremely green with several peacocks and other birds and animals chirping and walking around. The building was an RCC structure with marble and purple laminated glass and wooden carved pillars. It was a unique design which I felt was different from the other BV doshi buildings that I have seen. I just let the reception know that I wanted to visit so they let me in and I walked around for a good one hour or so.

The N C Mehta Gallery which is connected to this building has a separate way. The direct gate to the gallery was closed when I went so I took the way through the entrance of the campus. This museum was a very interesting one with various bronze figurines, indian style paintings and a very good museum store also. I had a great time looking through the exhibits and the buildings both.

I went on to visit the Sanskar Kendra(City museum) which I felt was not maintained at all but still a museum with great exhibits. The building designed by Le Corbusier did not really make me feel anything for it but I sketched out the famous Pilotis and amazing proportions of the building.

The Tagore hall designed by BV Doshi is just beside the Sanskar Kendra and I went on to go there and speaking with the security got me into the auditorium.

After this, I went to the Sabarmati Riverfront Flower Park, and I bought some tribal made bracelets and kurtis from TRIBAL INDIA and then went into the park. I was not a fan of the flower park but it is a good place to take a stroll in the evening. I liked the lily pond area and I sat there for a while.

Day V, 27-10-2019

Day 5

I started the day by going to the Sabarmati Riverfront flower park again because I wanted to take a picture of the lily pond in the sun but it was closed that day probably because of Diwali. So I rented a bicycle from the MYBYKK station nearby and cycled to Sabarmati Ashram again to see it during the day. The Gandhi Smarak Sangralaya designed by Charles Correa gave me a lot of peace and I spent my time trying to sketch out the plan and got myself more postcards from the museum shop. I spent a good 2 hours at the Ashram and also visited some Khadi shops on the same road. I returned the bike at the nearest station and then went to the famous SWATI Snacks and had some nice dahi puri and tender coconut drink.

I walked along the same road and visited SHANGAR ART AND CRAFT nearby which had nice antiques and traditional fabrics etc.

I then took an ola bike ride to Dhal Ni Pol and explored the pols with grafittis by an artist with ig handle @house_of_berserk. I visited the French Haveli, Bhagvan Haveli etc. Bhagwan Haveli had completely renovated interiors which was to be rented out as hotel rooms. Even though it didn’t give me an old haveli feeling, the spaces were very much the same and I personally liked the interiors with wood and ceramic tiles from Mumbai. If you are not on a low budget trip, I would recommend staying here.

Then I went on to the Manek Chowk to have some amazing street food and filled myself up with pav Bhaji, Pani puri and the famous Gwoliar dosa.

Day VI, 28-10-2019

Today being the Gujarati New year, was a pretty dead day as all the institutions were closed. I couldn’t visit Kocharab Ashram, NID, Gujarat University(with the tribal museum inside) and a few other institutional buildings that I wanted to visit.

Day 6

I ended up going to Adalaj stepwell which was pretty far from everything else. I took multiple buses and got to know that Ahmedabad city buses allows you to travel anywhere for a day if you get a Rs.35 ticket. I found Adalaj stepwell to be too crowded to enjoy it even though the stepwell was pretty amazing. The place had so many people that I couldn’t even get a proper picture without anyone in it.

After this, I took an auto ride to Sarkhej Roza and spotted the ATMA building along the way. I had read off the internet that they don’t allow visitors inside unless we take a prior appointment for groups.

Anyway, I had a beautiful evening there sitting beside the lake and exploring the beautiful carvings and spaces in Sarkhej. It served as a beautiful gathering space for the locals and I loved spending time talking to the bookseller who explained the forming of Ahmedabad, sketching and capturing the sunset. I ended the visit by having some five rupees papads and mutton kebabs being sold outside Sarkhej Roza and went to the airport to board the flight back to Chennai.

PRO TIP: -Visit the city museum (Sanskar Kendra) first as it will give you an insight of the whole city and its history.

- Use the book AMD, AHMEDABAD by Ar. Riyaz Tayibji for a better geographically organised itineraries (I think I messed up a little there) and much bigger list of attractions if you have more than a week in Ahmedabad.