The Travelling Teacher: Continuing my journey across India, to Ahmedabad
In my last blog I shared my experiences from Mumbai. This week I will be sharing my adventures from Ahmedabad and the beautiful places I was lucky enough to see during my short stay there!
Last week, I mentioned some beautiful architectural buildings and this week’s blog entry is another that is not set to disappoint in that respect, as I tell you about some of the AMAZING temples I saw! …and some that don’t quite live up to the ‘Instagram worthy’ photographs. Though we witnessed many magnificent places and buildings, one of my favourite places in Ahmedabad had to be the Adalaj Stepwell. Read on if you want to find out more!
Ahmedabad: Getting there
We got a flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, which only took around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Once we had landed we were pestered for a taxi, even after repeatedly saying we already had transport arranged (This really grinds my gears – Does this annoy anyone else too?). As per normal, we found the cheapest transport from the airport to our accommodation was through a well-known taxi app.
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad
Our first aim whilst here was to explore some of the amazing temples we had read about online. I have to say, do not always believe what you see or read. Lots of the images we had seen had been photoshopped and were almost completely unrecognisable when we saw them for ourselves. So, after a few stops, courtesy of our tuk-tuk driver, to some quick-stop temple viewing, we headed to Lake Kankaria, the second largest lake in Ahmedabad.
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad: Lake Kankaria
To get into the lake itself you have to go through security and pay to enter. This lake front has a number of attractions around it from a zoo, to a toy train that runs around it as well as a kid’s city and park. It was a bizarre place to walk around but lovely to sit and watch the birds dip and dive over the water. There’s even some carp and catfish that pop up every now again! As we sat by the lake, we chowed down on an ice cream. Not just any ice cream, a whippy ice cream! I had been craving one of these for a while!
One of the main reasons for me wanting to visit the lake was the butterfly park, one of just many of the attractions that this place has to offer. To get into the butterfly park you also have to pay an additional supplement on top of your entry fee into the lake. It’s worth it though! It’s relaxed and peaceful and feels very safe. Though just like at many other attractions here, the locals frequently requested a photo with us. Usually the men would have a picture with my partner and I would have a photo with the women.
The butterfly park was good. It’s fairly small but has a variety of plant life. There were also a few different types of butterfly species, though getting a picture of them proved to be the difficult part. Inside, I was so busying scanning the flowers and leaves for butterflies I didn’t notice that right above my head in the trees were hundreds, if not thousands of Chiroptera bats, the fruit bats. So lovely to see!
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad: Swaminarayan Temple
After a relaxing walk around the Lake Kanaria, we caught a tuk-tuk to our next destination. Our tuk-tuk driver was so entertaining! He was the most hilarious and crazy old man. He was telling us about his 2 wives and how he had 15 days to spend with each of them. He was extremely proud that his son was the manager of the local Dominoes and urged to look out for him. It was very sweet to hear him talk so proudly about his son.
He took us to the Swaminarayan Temple in the Kalupur area of Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat. We had attempted to see the temple earlier in the day but it was closed. This was the first temple of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a Hindu sect. As we entered the gates the people inside were very welcoming. They urged us to remove our shoes and wait with them whilst the temple was cleaned. Once cleaned, we were able to get up close and explore more of this beautiful piece of art. This temple is laden with coloured arches and sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses.
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad: Lake Vastrapur
The next day we decided to head to another lake, Lake Vastrapur. The lake was once a popular spot for locals to visit at the weekend and for joggers however since it dried up in 2016, its popularity has decreased. When we got there, it was empty. The lake had dried up and all that surrounded the lake were dogs that were sleeping and my one of my favourite little cheeky animals, Indian chipmunks, or as I call them, ‘Timmy’s’.
Around this area we found there seemed to be a lot of beggars. Every time our tuk-tuk stopped women or children would come and hold out their hands, some even put their hand to their mouth to indicate food. It was very sad. We’d been told by the locals not to give them anything as once they see one person receive something they said we would be inundated. I felt awful!
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad: Adalaj Stepwell
Next up we went to explore a stepwell. As I mentioned in the introduction, this has to be one my fave spots that we visited here. It is truly AWE-some!! The Adalaj Stepwell is located in the village of Adalaj, close to Ahmedabad city. This step-well is basically a well but not like any other well I had seen before. This step-well is 5 stories deep. It is a magnificent piece of Indian architecture. At the various levels there are tributes to the history of the step-wells and a blend of Islamic architecture. In the past step wells like this would have been used for drinking water, washing and bathing. They would have also been venues for colourful festivals and sacred rituals – how cool?!
There are many stepwells to see here, as during the 5th and 19th centuries they were common in Western India with over 120 reported in Gujarat along, of which the Adalaj is one of the most popular. There are many interesting legends attached to this step-well that are well worth a read! Once we’d finished falling in love with this beautiful step-well we popped over the road to a local restaurant where we had (yet another) yummy ice cream!
Sightseeing in Ahmedabad: Koteshwar Mahadev Temple
We found the best time to visit many of the temples was as the sun was setting. So, early one evening we headed to the amazing Koteshwar Mahadev Temple. This temple is in quite a remote location and our taxi driver ended up driving through some very narrow roads and it felt like we were off-roading. The temple is on the bank of the river Sabarmati and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. It’s big and beautiful. There is a real sense of serenity here and it was a great way to end the day. It’s important to check the times of opening, as if you get there too early or late you won’t be able to go in. They also don’t allow you to take any belongings in so make sure you leave your bags in the car (You can’t even take in water).
What’s it like to work here?
I have to say, the internet here was actually pretty good! We stayed in a good hotel that offered complimentary Wi-Fi (as well as a free bottle of water each each-day!). As there were lots of businessmen staying here the connection was fairly fast and strong enough to hold a lesson.
There were occasions where I wanted a bit more speed so for a few pounds, literally, I brought a local sim-card that had a large amount of data on. These were so cheap, it’s almost unbelievable. So, if you’re thinking of heading here and your hotel doesn’t offer unlimited Wi-Fi or perhaps it’s just not quite up to scratch here, then you can always resort to buying a local sim card. Plus the beauty of it is, if you run out of data you just buy another as there’s no contracts to get tied in to.
What’s up next?
We spent 3 full days in Ahmedabad before making our way to our next destination, Udaipur. Next week you’ll be able to read all about my time in Udaipur and how we were lucky to even make it there in one piece!
I love hearing from you so please continue to share your stories and contact me via- email@example.com . Remember, if you have any questions, information or would like to share your stories I am more than willing to listen or help!