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

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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Another new book for nature lovers – all homes should have a copy

COLLINS FIELD GUIDE TO NEW ZEALAND WILDLIFE                       by Terence Lindsey and Rod Morris

Here is another new book for nature lovers and with many oddities in New Zealand’s fauna all kiwi homes should have a copy.

  • Did you know there are no island groups anywhere in the world comparable to New Zealand in size, latitude, climate and isolation.
  • And, of the world’s total land area, only about 0.17 per cent lies under the New Zealand flag, but about one per cent of all known land animals in the world live within our borders.
  • This is made up of around 10,000 species of insects, 2000 spiders, nearly 300 snails, and perhaps a further couple of thousand of all other groups combined.

This book is a completely updated edition and an extensive guide to well over 400 species of New Zealand fauna, including both native and  introduced species.

Each entry succinctly describes both habits and habitats, distribution, classification, breeding patterns, food and recognition tips to aid amateurs – like me – with identifying a creature.  It also includes the latest research findings and changes in classification and nomenclature that have occurred in the past 10 years, along with many new photographs.

It seems to me, far too few people — New Zealanders and ‘foreigners’ alike — are aware of just how extraordinary New Zealand wildlife is. For any animal enthusiast with a global perspective, it’s right up there on the billboard with its name in lights along with Hawaii, the Galapagos and Madagascar.” says Terrence Lindsay (Zoologist and ornithologist) 

Rod Morris’s stunning photographic work has also received widespread international acclaim. Previously a producer with Wild South, he is now a freelance natural history photographer.

I know I will spend a lot of time with this book and am sure you will too – all NZ homes need a copy of this!

(See  this post – in this blog – for a new travellers guide  for NZ birds too)

Christchurch New Zealand: a local reccommends

First time in Christchurch, New Zealand? A local gives you her top things to do in two days.

On day one

.. have a quick look around the city on the free electric shuttle.

Look for the yellow shuttle bus stops and just hop on board for a 20-minute ride to see where we locals spend our money and get an overview of part of the inner city.  Once you have done that circuit take another ride, this time on the restored electric tram and see another part of the city – the Cultural Precinct.

I recommend you jump on and off this 2.5k route, visiting places such as our wonderful Christchurch Art Gallery; the old university site which is now an Arts Centre; the Canterbury Museum; New Zealand’s oldest Botanic Gardens, and also check out the vehicle-free, and very pretty, New Regent Street – a wonderful mix of early styles and pastel colours.

The whole route provides a huge choice of eating places – not one on them ‘for tourists’ but where we Cantabrians eat lunch daily. The choice is wide, from Indian to Japanese, from Thai to Greek, and many, many, other ethnicities, and of course lots of upmarket cafés.  Continue reading “Christchurch New Zealand: a local reccommends”

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