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Top of my list for things-to-do in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

December 8, 2011

My number one ‘must do’ in Gujarat’s largest city, Ahmedabad, is the “Heritage Walk of Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad is the former capital and is sometimes known as its old name – Karnavati: it is also the fifth largest city in India, with a city population of approximately 5.6 million

On the banks of the River Sabarmati, Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah to serve as the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate, and was named after him.

Our guide tells us that according to legend, the Sultan Ahmed Shah, while camping on the banks of the River Sabarmati, saw a hare chasing a dog. Really impressed by this act of bravery, the Sultan, who had been looking for a place to build his new capital, decided to build it in this forest area on the river bank and christened it Ahmedabad.

This old city, with many of its original walls, is fascinating, but not a place most travellers will explore on their own. It often seemed we were in peoples’ backyards, as indeed we were.  Walking round here alone I think I’d be lost in the labyrinth of streets for hours, if not days.

However with the guides, all who are volunteers with a love of history and architecture, I didn’t get lost as we weaved through the various ‘pols’. These are unique neighbourhoods around a cluster of houses with narrow streets, common courtyard and community wells.  Each pol was, and sometime still is, protected by gates and secret passages: this is why you need a guide!

They not only told us about the different buildings, but also some of the history, art, and religious and or cultural traditions. As I have said – this is a must do.

The walk starts at Swaminarayan Mandir (8am) and finishes at Manek Chowk at 1030.

These photos just give you a tiny taste: I loved this so much I went twice in 3 days, each time with different guides who imparted a slightly different flavour to the walk.

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