The shivery wind of winter brings along a flood of tourists to Kutch, Gir, Somnath and Dwarka. This also leads to the crowd thronging to the city of Ahmedabad. It is the entry-point or the well-connected city to travel to other parts of Gujarat. In fact, this World Heritage City is more popular for the architectural marvels surrounding it. Ahmedabad having been crowned with the heritage city tag fascinates many travellers. Thus, here, I have compiled a mini-guide covering lesser-known places to visit near Ahmedabad within 2-days. You may skip the places based on your interest to shorten it to One-day trip from Ahmedabad.
The places enlisted here are located within 200 km from Ahmedabad. The roads will take you through the yellow blooming mustard fields and verdant farms.
Located just 18 km away from the city of Ahmedabad, Adalaj stepwell is a unique gem. Its construction was started by Rana Veer Singh of Vaghela Dynasty of Gujarat. The basic structure and design suggests the Solanki Architecture of the stepwell. However, an unforeseen event added an indo-islamic touch to the final construction of the well.
Dandai Desh, the kingdom of Rana Veer Singh was attacked by Mohammed Begda. Unfortunately, Rana was defeated and killed. His widowed queen Roopbai or Roodabai had planned to be a sati after her husband. She had prepared herself to plunge into the burning pyre of Rana. Just then, Begda proposed her to marry him instead of dying in vain for her husband. Roopbai suprisingly agreed to marry him. However, she agreed to marry him only after the completion of the construction of the stepwell. And thus, along with all the intricate carvings with Hindu and Jain themes, there is also an influence of an Islamic architecture in this stepwell.
If you think Roopabai compromised and submitted to Begda after that, you are wrong. She then jumped into the same well that was a dream project or say, the most promising gift of her husband to the people of his kingdom. This sacrifice of Roopabai is appreacited and praised in many inscriptions and folklores of Gujarat.
The stepwell has been built keeping in mind the needs and comfort of women. Even the carvings include their daily chores, shringars and celebrations. The jharokhas or balconies at the entrance is a typical set-up to let women sit, rest and peep through the window. Even the temperature in the lower-storeies of the stepwell is 5 degrees lower. This helps the women to catch a breath after a long walk during the sunny days.
Ahmedabad Science City
This innovative creation makes even the non-science-lovers fall in love with the ‘Creative Art Called Science’. It is just a fun park that comes with wonderful explanations of the magical events and experiences. All that you just see in sci-fi movies and magic shows are well show-cased here for the better understanding of the scientific developments. It has a number of galleries wherein you could experience the applied-sciences. It is so entertaining that it can keep you occupied for hours and days.
My favourite of all would definitely be their Robotics gallery. From dancing robots to Robo painters, this gallery won’t fail to amuse you throughout. In the end, relax and enjoy a meal cooked by Robo-chefs and served by robot-waiters at Robo Cafe ! Sounds like a thing from future right? Well! You are in Ahmedabad Science City, the future is here. If you are travelling with kids, this place must not be missed at any cost.
Other interesting galleries are Hall of Space, Planet Earth, Energy Education Park, Park of Life Sciences, 5D Theatre and also a thrill ride. Among the latest addition is their aquatic gallery. It has the longest underwater glass tunnel to enjoy the sea creatures with surreal experience. They also have the extinctive specie of African Penguins for the experiments on their revival measures.
The entry fee for the science city is INR 5o.
Modhera, Shining Bright with its Splendid Antiquity
Nothing can beat the architecture of the Sun Temple of Konark on the East Coast of India. But even before the foundation stone of Konark temple was put, Modhera’s astonishing architecture had already completed its double centuries.
A Pushkarni or the Surya Kund right in front of the temple glorifies the stunning architecture. The temple is an example of the adaptation of the Dravidian style of architecture with an added Gujarati style. The steps are flanked by carved stones and the small temples unlike the other temples in India. Most of these temples are now in a ruined state but once upon a time, 108 temples gloriously stood facing the kund. One of these temples has a unique idol if Shitla Mata carrying the neem leaves and a broom in each of her hands while she is sitting on a donkey. She is supposed to be the Goddess of Chicken Pox and is worshipped throughout Gujarat. In fact, a day before Janmashtmi, Shitla Satam is observed by the Gujaratis wherein they don’t eat any freshly cooked food.
So, if you had been in awe of the stepwell at Hampi or anywhere in other parts of India, then Modhera will leave you dumbstruck with its ornamented and dramatic version.
Unlike the usual temples in India, the Sabha mandap (Assembly Hall) of the temple is separated from the sanctum sanctorum or the Garbh Griha. Each pillar, ceilings, gates and the exterior of the chief dome is carved in a way that it looks like the original ornaments and flowers carved out of the stones. This mandap depicts the stories from the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. The 52 pillars in this hall represent the 52 weeks of the solar system.
The main temple, which now doesn’t have any idol owing to the vandalism during the Muslim rule, proudly stands on a plinth that appears to be an inverted lotus. The most amazing feature of the aesthetically admirable architecture is its unique formation that lets the sun rays fall directly on the idol during the equinox period.
India had such brilliant minds during that time when we were the ‘Sone ki Chidiya’ and mastered almost in all the fields, be it architecture, agriculture, crafting, painting, and weaving. No doubt, India topped the wish-list (Yes!) of all the invaders.
The series of elephants known as ‘Gaj Pattika’ created just above the lotus petals at the base looks as if the elephants are holding the throne of the Sun God. The carvings of Vishnu, Vishvakarma, Surya Dev, Varun dev and the celestial dancers in all its different directions are completely unprecedented. In fact, the Lord of architecture (Basically an expert architect), Vishwakarma, can be seen hold a measuring scale and a carving tool.
The carvings do have a slight resemblance to the temples of Khajuraho too. Apparently, both the temples were built in the same timespan. Another astounding feature is the carving of 12 Durgas known as ‘Dwadarsh Durga’ and the 12 Suns called ‘Dwardarsh Aditya’.
On my visit to Chand Baori in Rajasthan and Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh, I had encountered the idols of Lord Surya (Sun) wearing a pair of sharp-pointed shoes. The same feature could be observed in the Modhera Temple. Among all the Gods in Hindu Religion, only Lord Surya can be seen wearing the shoes.
34 kilometers of drive away is the ancient fortified town of Patan which can certainly be claimed as one of the best places to visit near Ahmedabad.
Patan, its Patolas and the Step Well
Rani ki Vav of Patan took my breath away with its first glimpse. Carved walls, mysterious pillared bridges, and brilliantly implied engineering skills make Rani ki Vav the best of the Step wells in India.
The well isn’t only a medium to preserve the rainwater, but also a canvas of the sculptors during the reign of the Chalukya Dynasty. It can be termed as the best and most artistic gift of Queen Udaymati to the people of her realm.
The architectural beauty of the town isn’t just limited to this well. The fortified old city gives you a glimpse of the Gujarati houses and their lifestyle.
The Patola Saree making is the most valued and arduous art of Patan. Only two families in Patan are devoted to this art of making Patolas. From Sabyasachi to Sonia Gandhi, everyone’s order of making this exclusive Saari is taken here. The Patolas range from 10,000 to 3 Lakh INR. The use of imported Chinese silk doesn’t make it so expensive as the time, skill as the efforts do. In fact, it is the most complicated textile in the world due to variations in its design. Patolas rank first among the only 3 double ikkat textile in the world.
The next destination, ‘the town of Sidhpur’, is just 30 kilometers from Patan. But the city presents a completely opposite picture. While Patan takes you back to the kingdom of the Gujarati Rulers, Siddhpur takes you on a colourful journey through the Bohri Mansions.
Vadnagar – The Forgotten Heritage
Vadnagar has recently come to limelight for being the hometown of Sri Narendra Modi. This place holds a great importance with the historic artefacts dating back to around 4500 years. It also finds its mentions in Puranas. Vadnagar prospered during the reign of Solanki Kings of Gujarat. Hence, most architecture found here is prominently Solanki-style.
The three splendid creations to be visited in Vadnagar are Kirti Toran, Hatkeshwar Temple and Sharmishtha Lake. While you are here, don’t forget to learn about Gujarat’s ancient storytelling art of ‘Bhavai’. You can visit the Government museum here to dig through the interesting folktales and Bhavai performances.
You can find the contact details of Tour services and the numbers of offical guides here.
Sidhpur gives you the feel of a Victorian Era
With its history dating back to the Mahabharata and its image of the Kashi of the West, you would barely expect it to have any modern architecture.
Your opinion about the city would completely change after you would enter Vohrwad or Bohriwad, a colony of the Bohri Muslims. The colony of the Bohri community lives in the mansions clad in the Victorian designs and colors. Painted glasses, finely carved wooden verandahs and grand architecture come as a surprise for every visitor.
80 kilometer further from Sidhpur, you would reach to Gujarat’s favorite hill station Mt. Abu. Though it is a part of Rajasthan, it is mostly frequented by the Gujaratis.
And the road here cuts through the Aravali ranges and takes you to the cooler lands from the warm land of Gujarat.
- The destinations are easily reachable by bus from Ahmedabad.
- You can take any GSRTC (Gujarat Road Transport Corporation) bus going to Mehsana and from Mehsana bypass and divert to Modhera.
- Where to take the bus from? Ahmedabad has the bus stop at Geeta Mandir, you can reach halfway by BRTS (Local Bus) and after that, you can get a sharing Rickshaw for 10 INR. And if you do not wish to get in the city traffic then the buses also have a stop outside Isckon Temple.
- The buses to Patan ply regularly from Modhera until early afternoon.
- There are no proper places to stay in Modhera, but Navjeevan Hotel on Patan-Sidhhpur Road is the budget hotel where you can halt for a night. Or just enter the main city of Patan and ask for the Dharamshala to stay.
- The city of Sidhpur doesn’t have a good accommodation option, but the highway has plenty of hotels.
- The trip can be best enjoyed if you rent a car. The route to be followed: (Adalaj Step Well) – Science City – Modhera – Patan – Vadnagar- Sidhpur.
- Remember that the destinations mentioned here are mostly visited only by Gujaratis on their weekends and holidays. The people are not much used to receiving backpackers from out of state/country. The tourists who visit usually have prebooked hotels, guides, and cars. But be assured that the people of Gujarat would help you with anything and everything.
Pin it now, Read it Later