Ahmedabad India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Ahmedabad sits on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati river and is the former capital of the state of Gujarat. Today, Ahmedabad is the commercial centre of the state, and the first city in India to have been granted the UNESCO World Heritage title for its rich architectural history.
Why go to Ahmedabad
Although Ahmedabad is not known for being one of the top tourist destinations in India, the city is a bustling metropolis steeped in rich history and beguiling architectural monuments dating back to the Shah I sultanate period.
Most travellers bypass the state while scurrying from Mumbai to the destinations in Rajasthan, but the homeland of Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers something altogether different from the rest of India.
Ahmedabad is renowned for its Bhadra citadel, its imposing Fort and the numerous mosques, tombs, temples and luscious gardens home to unique wildlife. As well as being a city of great historical import, Ahmedabad is famous for its cultural celebrations and observances, which are honoured with profligate festivities and festivals.
Gujarat's tourism industry is largely non-existent, but the state is one of intoxicating beauty which is evident even in the urban city of Ahmedabad, which sits on a relatively flat terrain dotted with ancient ruins and temple-topped hills. The Gujaratis are renowned for their entrepreneurial knack, but with tourism trade being so sparse they’re more keen to showcase their hospitality than sell you something.
It is worth noting, however, that if you’re after some authentic artisan handcrafts, embroidered and woven textiles and artworks Ahmedabad is a place where you will certainly find something to your liking.
When to go to Ahmedabad
The best time to visit Ahmedabad is during the winter season, between November and February, when temperatures range from 15°C to 30°C. The relatively cool climate is perfect for exploring the city, sight-seeing and various outdoor activities. While days are relatively hot, the temperature tends to drop at night providing some much-needed rest from the heat.
Where to stay in Ahmedabad
A vast majority of budget hotels and accommodation options in Ahmedabad are located in the busy, and bustling Lal Darwaja area, nearby the old city.
Most of the budged hotels around the area offer both AC as well as non-AC rooms, 24-hour checkout, some will even provide room service and free Wi-fi. But for a double room with all the aforementioned creature comforts prices average at around INR1000 per night. You will also find cheaper rooms locally, with equally cordial and friendly staff but much less comfortable facilities. Additionally, if you’re planning to stay for more than a night be mindful of the street noise, the lumpy mattresses and squat-toilet bathrooms that may prove to be a great nuisance. A basic room like that will set you back about INR200 to INR350 per night.
Most mid-range and luxury hotels are to be found on Khanpur Road, opposite the east or the west bank of the Sabarmati river, which offers much more salubrious surroundings but is farther away from all the sight-seeing hot-spots. Most of the hotels around the area offer, spacious and airy rooms, with round the clock front desk, excellent continental as well as local breakfast, free Wi-fi; and some also include free airport transfers, laundry services, spa facilities and other amenities upon request. A room at a mid-range hotel or a luxury one will set you back anywhere from INR2000 to INR7000, respectively.
Where and what to eat in Ahmedabad
When it comes to dining Ahmedabad, arguably, has the best range of eateries in the whole of Gujarat.
While there we heartily recommend you try the Gujarati thali, which consists of a multitude of delicious vegetarian dishes accompanied by rice and chapati and finishes with traditional hand-made ice cream. One of these specialties will set you back around INR400 in a clean and modern restaurant. Cheaper options are also aplenty if you look to smaller, local, dhabas.
There are also plenty of options for carnivores, with designated restaurants proffering spicy chicken, mutton, and fish curries.
While in Ahmedabad, we recommend you also try a malpuva, a sweet, deep-fried pancake smothered with saffron syrup and topped with rose petals. It is filling, delicious, widely available and will cost you anywhere between INR75 to INR100. While in Ahmedabad you will also find plenty of South Indian, continental, and fusion-cuisine restaurants; coffee house, ice cream parlous and mock-cocktails stalls. You will, however, be hard pushed to find alcoholic refreshments anywhere, except big chain hotels, as Gujarat is a resolutely dry state.
How to get around Ahmedabad
Getting around Ahmedabad is relatively easy, either by local transport, taxis or rickshaws.
Due to the fact that Ahmedabad is the largest and most populous city in the state, travelling on foot may prove to be difficult.
The local airport is situated just over four miles north of the city centre, a taxi to Lal Darwaja will cost you about INR350, a rickshaw will be half the price, while a local bust will set you back a mere INR10.
The most convenient way to do some sightseeing around the city is by rickshaw. These are widely available and are run by well-informed drivers who, more often than not, tend to speak English. Rickshaws in Ahmedabad operate on a meter-based-system, so do make sure your driver set the meter counter to zero before you set off. Additionally, bargain at will. It is customary, especially if you wish to make several stops along the way. A rickshaw driver may well be regarded as a tour guide, so chose one wisely.
How to get to and from Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad’s airport has regular domestic flights to and from several large India cities, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Jaipur. To get the best deals, and the cheapest tickets, we recommend you book ahead with India’s domestic airlines such as Air India, Indigo, Kingfisher, and SpiceJet. Prices vary according to your destination and time of year, but you can easily get a flight from Ahmedabad to Delhi for as little as INR5000.
The city’s airport also runs international flight to Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Singapore.
Another option to travel to and from Ahmedabad is via train. There is a ticket booking office outside the main train station, with a solitary window which handles tourist quota, proffering tickets to major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur, Vadodara and Jamnagar to name but a few. Ticket prices vary greatly according to destination and class of carriage but a three AC fare to Delhi, for example, will set you back around INR3000.
There are also regular local and tourist buses that run from Ahmedabad’s ST bus stand (Sabarmati Terminal) to various destinations, including Udaipur, Jaipur, and Delhi. A Volvo bus to Udaipur will cost around INR450, to Jaipur around INR1000 and one to Delhi will set you back somewhere between INR1500 to INR2000. We recommend you either book your tickets through an authorised travel agent, your hotel or directly at the train/bus station to ensure you get to your desired destination without any unnecessary delays or mix-ups.
Is Ahmedabad a safe place to visit?
Ahmedabad is a major city, therefore, it is important to keep in mind that pickpocketing, general scams and minor criminal activities are rife as in any other city in India, and elsewhere. The city, however, is well policed and relatively secure. But please keep in mind that Gujarat is a dry and fairly conservative state, therefore, you are best to keep in line with modesty.