Tag Archive | Ahmedabad

Oasis in the Vast Desert – Jodhpur

After having a wonderful time in Ahmedabad, I and my friends headed for the city of Jodhpur. We were told that this city is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Rajasthan.  And rightly so located on the foothill of a sandstone hillock, the city of Jodhpur looks like an oasis in the vast desert.

The flight from Ahmedabad to Jodhpur was quite comfortable and as we had already booked our tour there was staff from the hotel waiting for us on the airport to assist and guide us to their hotel Ajit Bhawan Palace which apparently is India’s first heritage hotel as told to us by the staff. Set in a peaceful and calm environment this palace turned hotel was once a home to the members of the Jodhpur royal family. The ambience was so good that the moment we stepped in there we felt like a guest of Maharaj’s family. Our rooms had a beautiful garden view. After keeping our luggage in the respective rooms we just sat in the balcony to unwind and relax. Most of the staff in the hotel was dressed in the traditional attire. I was mighty pleased to see the tall turbaned man who brought us tea and sandwich. The excitement had started to seep in, this I could feel and I was eager to take what Jodhpur has to offer to us.

Our first destination was Mehrangarh Fort. Perched high on a cliff and four hundred feet above the skyline of Jodhpur, it’s a magnificent fort. The view of it imposing over the city is simply incredible. Here I must say that the audio guided tour was very helpful. I found it very interesting that seven gates have to be crossed to reach the fort and just to be a witness to the marks of the cannon balls by the attacking armies on the gates was like getting transported to the bygone era! The gates had different names and most of them were constructed to commemorate victories over enemies. Inside the fort there were many palaces and each had their own sprawling courtyards. One of the palaces still has the royal throne of Jodhpur. Apart from the palaces it has many galleries and temples. The museum is fantastic; it is one of the well-stocked museums in Rajasthan they say.  Many movies have been filmed in this fort. One could easily spend a day here. The landscape, the architecture, the artistry, the scale, the details…everything is magnificent. There is a lift which takes you to the roof of the fort from where you can enjoy bird’s eye view of the entire city and can also have a look at the cannons on display.

It was crowded with so many locals holidaying and having fun with the families. One little boy wanted to get photographed with me but was little shy to approach. And when I said “how about a photograph with me”, he was all smiles. It was good to see women in beautiful saries walking around the old courtyards looking at their old heritage.

We spent the whole afternoon walking and appreciating the interiors and were famished now. The lunch was already organized by the hotel for us so we decided to have it before getting further on.

Ahmedabad Beckons!- Continue Day 4

Day 4

We were told by our guide the next day on the breakfast table that he has booked a tour for us in the Calico Museum of Textiles. One can only visit as part of the guided tour here. Set in an old house with lovely wooden floor it is a private collection of the Sarabhai family (a renowned name in Ahmedabad). Calico museum is a stunning and outstanding collection of Indian Fabric Textiles. One get to see the most fabulous fabrics in various colours and styles. There are dazzling sarees, silk work, beads, tie- dye work, embroidery work and block work in unimaginable styles. Shah Jahan a renowned Mogul ruler’s tent can also be seen there! The sitting area at the end of the tour with the sound of flowing water and roaming peacocks adds to the tranquility of the ambience.

It was altogether a wonderful experience. Some of my friends wanted to do some shopping. Our guide cum friend assured us that he shall take us to the shops which not only sell good stuff but also have reasonable rates. My experience in Manali was little different in this respect. But I had full faith in my guide. Oh! By the way did I tell you his name? He had a very sweet name – Bharat. For shopaholics the city is truly a paradise. It is famous for the woven fabrics in wide variety. The markets have an enormous collection of fabrics that are painted using traditional methods of tie and dye, also the zari work that makes use of gold and silver thread is another attraction. Handcrafts of Gujarat are very fascinating so I purchased some of them for my friends and family at home.

After our shopping spree we had a hefty lunch as walking in the streets had really sapped our energy. Bharat told us about Akshardham , a temple we were to visit in the evening. One thing I have noticed about the Indians is that they are very religious people and whatever phases of life they are going through they never lose faith in their idol. Akshardham is one of the largest temples in Gujarat. The monument enshrining the 7 foot high, gold leafed statue of Lord Swami Narayan is the focal point of the complex. It aims to promote Indian art, culture, and values. Its tagline is, “This is a place where art is ageless, culture is borderless, and values are timeless.” The laser show and the musical fountains made the visit worthwhile. The laser show is one of its kinds in the world. The architecture, designing and the animated statues are very interesting. We learnt a lot and had a total spiritual experience.

It was kind of sad to bid adieu to Bharat. But for him our visit to Ahmedabad could not have been so interesting. I exchanged my postal address with him and promised to remain in touch.

Coming to This part of India was a great experience. Let’s see where I go next, but wherever it is I surely plan to share all my experience with you. Cheers!!

Ahmedabad Beckons!- Continue

Day 2

After having sandwiches and coffee we were all set for our next destination. Our guide told us that who so ever visits Ahmedabad must visit the Sabarmati Ashram, also known as Gandhi Ashram.  Gandhiji spent almost 12 years of his life here. This Ashram is located on the banks of river Sabarmati and at present the Ashram has a museum and Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalya where one can track Gandhiji’s life and historic events that took place in his life through paintings, photos, quotations, letters, manuscripts of Gandhiji’s articles in various magazines and newspapers etc. And when I saw the old charkha with which Gandhiji used to weave I was too fascinated. Even after so many years one could feel the simplicity with which he lived here. We had some good photo session and the river in the backdrop looked just great.

As Hathee Singh Jain temple is not far away from the Gandhi Ashram we clubbed it together in our visit. Oh! I was surprised to see the architecture of the temple. The place is so old that you could feel the peace and serenity inside. Hatheesingh Temple was built in 1850 AD by Seth Hatheesingh who was a rich jain merchant. Built in white marble it is much famous for its intricate carvings and profuse architectural design.

We decided to have our lunch, though it was more of a tea time but all of us were hungry and the appetizing aromas from the eating joints was too much for us. I settled for vegetarian food and was pleased with the culinary tricks the Indian cooks had up their sleeves. It was a fun filled meal hour with discussions overflowing and our guide also kept on filling us with information which we had otherwise overlooked.

In the evening we decided to go to Kankaria Lake. There was some cultural program going on and the whole place was lit with fancy lights. We had to park our tourist coach at quite a distance as the entire surrounding area of Kankaria is made vehicle free. That is a good way to manage the crowd and also to keep the sanctity of the lake. Throngs and throngs of people could be seen everywhere. The walls adjoining the entrance of the lake were painted beautifully by local painters and artists depicting the culture and heritage of Gujarat. The lake was big and one could spend entire day out there. Train ride for children is a big attraction for the families and then there were so many eating joints. My friends specially enjoyed the view of the lake and as light and sound program was going on, the view looked even more dramatic. All of us were holding hands lest we get separated in the heavy rush. We sat by the lake and had fun looking at the happy faces and listening to the nice music that was flowing throughout the lake premises. I would say a good place to unwind.

It was time to get back to the hotel; after all we had to recoup our energies for the next day travels.

Ahmedabad Beckons!

While on my long holiday in India I had the opportunity to visit most of the places and much as I was surprised by the diversity of the land, the rich culture and heritage also left an indelible imprint on my mind. After my visit to Goa and Manali both the places had different topography and were just amazing, I along with my friends got the chance to visit Ahmedabad and the historic places around the city. I happen to make friends with a local guy on a train journey and he was kind enough to become our guide in this new adventure.

Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state of Gujarat. It is located in western India on the banks of the River Sabarmati. The city has been under different rulers since its creation and thus had a rich history. The city has been a former capital of Gujarat and has been the home to most important leaders of India like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel during the Indian independence movement. Ahmedabad is also the cultural and economic centre of Gujarat and the seventh largest city of India.

Our guide told us an interesting legend behind how the city got this name. He said, at the beginning of the 15th century, Sultan Ahmed Shah, while camping on the banks of the Sabarmati River, saw a hare chasing a dog. The sultan was intrigued by this view and asked his spiritual adviser for explanation. The sage pointed out unique characteristics in the land which nurtured such rare qualities which turned a timid hare to chase a ferocious dog. Impressed by this, the sultan, who was looking for a place to build his new capital, decided to make a capital here and named it Ahmedavad “the city of Ahmed”.

When I hear such old legends I am sort of transported to that era and just to be part of the old time makes me enchanted. After having settled into a reasonably good hotel our guide gave us a brief about the whole city and the places around and decided to take us on tour early next morning as we were pretty tired with the journey and needed some time to get acclimatized with the weather as well as the people!

Next morning we were all fresh, ready and geared up with our cameras and traveling pack. We were quite conscious about the food and drinks we were having as we had some problem earlier by going bit easy on that front. I did not want to get sick, and miss the chance of visiting beautiful places so I was carrying pack of mineral water with me.

“Welcome to the walled city”, our guide enlightened us with the fact that the old Ahmedabad was walled from all the sides and the architecture of the city was so strong that in the recent earthquakes which Ahmedabad faced in 2001, not a single house was damaged in the old city, whereas lot damage and loss could be witnessed in the newly constructed areas. The glorious past of the city bearing various political and cultural facets could be glimpsed in the ancient buildings. The old Ahmedabad city was divided into many ‘pols’. ‘POLS’ are the small neighborhoods that are both the backbone and the heartbeat of the old city of Ahmedabad. I found one thing very interesting in these pols and that was the tall pillar kind structure called ‘chabutro’ built every 200 metres or so, which worked as an abode for the birds to rest and pick their food and drink water. How very thoughtful. As the streets were narrow in the old city the whole group just walked through the lanes. Another thing that stuck to my mind and I liked was that people from different religion lived together as good neighbors and there were many secret passages about which only the insiders knew to be used in emergency to go from one  pol to another. We could see people sitting on the steps of their homes hand-sewing books or crimping silver chains together for traditional jewelry, and making kites, working for their livelihood without leaving the homes, thus creating a vibrant community. Every pol had a temple of their own or small shrines for whatever faiths are present. The tour of the old city ended with our visit to Jama Masjid mosque. All in all it was a wonderful, informative and a unique experience.

After having visited the old Ahmedabad we got a bit tired and thought of having a little break before embarking on the next phase of our tour.

Tomorrow I shall get back to you again…so be there!