Old and new is separated by the waters of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, one of the largest cities in all of India. To the east of the river lie remnants of the city’s past: 15 gates of the 6-mile wall that once guarded the former capital of the state of Gujarat. To the west, modern structures, updated infrastructure and an abundance of culture reflect the city’s newer identity as one of the fastest growing cities in India. Surely, it takes more than a quick stop to soak up all that makes up Ahmedabad, but visitors who take their time in this metropolis gain an insight into Indian culture and history that can’t be found elsewhere.
Ahmedabad is home to a variety of ethnicities and religious communities, and this melting pot dynamic keeps visitors on their toes. One of the must-visit sites along this vein is Sabarmati Ashram, founded by Mahatma Gandhi and once the epicenter for the non-violent struggle for Indian independence. In the same city as this Hindu highlight, visitors can also gaze upon a 16th-century Muslim house of worship at Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, renowned for the stone latticework that adorns the windows. Bhadra Fort also houses one of the city’s most famed mosques, as well as a temple, lush gardens and a royal palace, accompanied today by a spread of street vendors.
One of the best ways to experience Indian culture is through the lively festivals held in Ahmedabad. Two of the most popular annual festivals include the International Kite Festival, held in January, and Navratri, a nine-night festival filled with folk dancing.
As evenings descend on Ahmedabad, locals take to the streets to enjoy food and conversation — but not alcohol. In fact, alcohol is forbidden here for Indian nationals, but it seems libations are hardly needed for the locals to have a good time after dark. The city square of Manek Chowk transforms into a street food bazaar at night, where visitors can indulge in some of the finest Indian flavors with plenty of good company.
The months between October and March make up the most popular times of year to visit Ahmedabad. The mild, sunny and dry weather of these months is ideal for exploring all that Ahmedabad has to offer, especially for travelers planning on visiting outdoor landmarks or celebrations like the annual International Kite Festival held in January. High temperatures scorch Ahmedabad from March through June, while monsoon season brings hot and humid weather to the city from July through September. These off-peak seasons, though, are a good bet for finding cheap flights to Ahmedabad.
An extensive public bus system makes it relatively easy to get around Ahmedabad without paying for a taxi or rickshaw ride. The Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) operates local buses that are identifiable by their red color. For quicker transportation between major destinations, the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is a reliable option, thanks to dedicated bus lanes that avoid traffic by running through the center of roads and highways. For those who would rather hire a driver for a quick and direct ride, auto-rickshaws and taxis can be hailed throughout Ahmedabad.