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Best places to see in Ahmedabad

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Ahmedabad is a city which has the old world charm combined with the modern infrastructure. The city has many beautiful places to see. Here are some of them which you should not miss:

Sabarmati Ashram

sabarmati aashram
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The very first name that pops into the mind at the mention of Ahmedabad is that of Mahatma Gandhi and Sabarmati Ashram. Located on the banks of Sabarmati river, this place is so much more than just an ashram. It was one of the main centers of the Indian freedom struggle. It was from here that Gandhiji led the Dandi March and had taken a vow that he will not return to Sabarmati Ashram until India gained independence. The place had a lot of impact in the history, and that’s why the Indian government has recognized the Ashram as a national monument.

Today this humble abode of Mahatma Gandhi is a museum. The Ashram still carries on the work that Gandhi had begun and promotes handicrafts and the message of peace and non violence. The exhibition in the museum consists of 8 life-size painting and around 250 photo-enlargements historic events of Gandhi’s life. Visitors can also see the archive of letters written by Gandhi, displayed in the galleries of the museum. The library holds a collection of 35,000 books, all of which are based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Indian freedom movement. The literature, paintings and the artefacts here are a treasure trove if one wants to learn more about the life, family, and revolutionary ways of Gandhi. You can take a guided tour here which takes you through various parts of ashram like Magan Niwas, Upasana Mandir, Hriday Kunj and Vinoba-Mira Kutir. Sabarmati ashram is a source of inspiration, guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle.

Adalaj Stepwell

adalaj stepwell
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Step wells are quite a common sight in Gujarat as they were once the only source of water in the arid regions. Initially built to curb water crisis in and around the Adalaj village, the famous Adalaj Stepwell or Adalaj Ni Vav happens to be a magnificent piece of architecture in Ahmedabad. It is a beautiful example of Indo-Islamic architecture and design. It consists of five storeys, each of which is uniquely designed with beautiful carvings all over the walls and columns.  The flower motifs and graphics of Islamic architecture blend very well with the symbols of Hindu and Jain gods carved at various levels of the well.

The stepwell also has a very tragic history. The construction of the Adalaj ni vav was started by Hindu King Rana Veer Singh who got killed in a war with neighboring Muslim King Mehmud Begada before the stepwell was completed. Mehmud Begada fell in love with his widow, the beautiful Queen Rudabai. The queen said she would marry King Mehmud Begada but only on the condition that he finishes the stepwell her husband had started. Mehmud Begada agreed which explains the design of the stepwell. When it was finished, Queen Rudabai threw herself in to the well, and died. Apparently, she had no intention of marrying King Mehmud—she just wanted to see her husband’s stepwell finished.

Adalaj ni vav is unique as it has three sets of entrance stairs. They all meet on the first level down, at a large square platform. As you continue to descend, the air grows noticeably cooler.  Fom the fifth floor you can see the deep turquoise waters of the well itself, which seems to glow with inner light, surrounded by astonishing beauty captured forever in stone. This beautiful Vav is certainly one of the finest places to visit in Ahmedabad.

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple
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The grandeur of its architecture, milky white buildings, jaw dropping styles, and remarkable patterns make Swaminarayan Temple of Ahmedabad a crucial wonder of modern India and one of the best places to visit in Ahmedabad.

The structure stands tall in the centre of the 23-acre lawns and has been built using six thousand tonnes of pink sandstone, without the use of steel. The sanctum sanctorum contains 1.2 ton gold-plated idol of Lord Swaminarayan, the chief deity of Akshardham temple. It is visited by nearly two million devotees every year. The temple complex also houses an herbal garden, a lake and a waterfall. There is a light show every Saturday and Sunday evening which entertain the people while also telling stories from the Hindu mythology.

Jama Masjid

jama masjid
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Another architectural wonder and one of India’s most beautiful mosques, Jama Masjid was constructed by Ahmed Shah in 1423. Built with beautiful yellow sandstones, the mosque stands on one side of a huge rectangular platform with three entrances and galleries on three sides. There is a small pond in the middle of the complex which is used for ablutions. Once it had two tall minarets flanking the main arched gateway, however their top portions collapsed in the devastating earthquake of 1819 AD and now only the base remains.

Right next to the mosque is a mausoleum which houses the grave of Sultan Ahmed Shah, his son and his grandson.  Evenings are the best time to visit the mosque when the area is illuminated in the light of the setting sun. Take a walk and soak in the grand architecture.

Pols

pols
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You cannot leave Ahmedabad without visiting its Pols. Built in the times of communal tension and social unrest in the region hundreds of years ago, the Pols (derived from the Sanskrit word Pratoli meaning gate) are a conglomeration of houses.  Ideally, a Pol would have one or two entrances and secret exits, which only the people residing in the Pol would know about.

Going inside the houses through one of these secret doorways would be quite a thrilling experience. With urbanisation taking over most cities now, these pols now house the cottage industry set-up of the city. You can join one of the heritage walks which will take you through the old city. There are around 600 pols-nooks-like neighbourhoods with common courtyards which are impressive and worth the long trip. An excellent way to acquaint one with Ahmedabad.

Click here to check out five best places in Gujarat!

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