Ahmedabad, India
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A whirring cacophony of traffic and people it may be, but delve further into Gujarat’s underrated metropolis – past the fuming factories and towering skyscrapers – to uncover a world of temples, mosques and pols – private mazes of ornately carved havelis, or large houses, for families of the same caste, trade or religion – within Ahmedabad’s hidden Old City. On the opposite side of the river, wide streets, Universities and scattered middle-class districts highlight India’s extremes of modern and mediaeval, rich and poor.

Things to see

Dive right in to Ahmedabad’s bazaars at Manek Chowk – the main square in the Old City. Hustle and bustle with the crowds perusing the hordes of veg or jewellery stalls – or sizzling night market food stands if you arrive late – before strolling the surrounding warren of narrow streets, admiring the intricately decorated pols, including the Mahurat Pol – Ahmedabad’s oldest, with 2 old Jain temples hidden inside. Nearby 15th century Jama Masjid Mosque is well worth a look. Take off your shoes and wander – or hop quickly if the ground’s hot – around its clusters of minarets and pillars – opulently carved from sandstone – that prop up domes across the whole ceiling. A trip to Ahmedabad isn’t complete without a visit to the Ghandi Ashram. Home to the Mahatma between 1917 and 1930, the Ashram’s no longer running, but you can join the handfuls of devotees, sitting silently, meditating, reflecting and praying.

Hotels in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad’s an eclectic mix of crumbly old guesthouses, offering cheap rates and back to basics facilities – and swanky modern hotels with marble floors, glitzy chandeliers and thick Egyptian cotton linens. Treat yourself to a luxury Ahmedabad hotel – after a day wandering the hectic, chaotic streets of Ahmedabad, retreating behind the doors of your 4 or 5-star hotel is a soothing indulgence. If your budget won’t stretch to such extravagances, try a mid-range branded hotel, providing all mod-cons including WiFi and en-suite rooms. Alternatively a family homestay B&B offers comfy authentic accommodation with a low price tag.

Where to stay

Much of Ahmedabad’s appeal is in the Old City on the east bank of the Sabarmati River. Stay here if you fancy waking up to the sounds of locals dashing to Manek Chowk’s morning veg market. Find yourself drawn in to the world of Ahmedabad’s pols – wander past grand intricately carved wooden houses, taking a peek inside to see labyrinths of alleys with old buildings and temples. If you fancy staying in the whirlwind modern metropolis of Ahmedabad’s new city – or like the idea of more modern accommodation – try the new city area on the west bank.

How to get to Ahmedabad

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport is about a 20 minute drive from Ahmedabad city centre. Flights land regularly from London and other major cities. There’s also a large domestic terminal, with plenty of operators running routes to and from major Indian cities. Grab a taxi from outside the terminal – use the pre-paid booth to save hassle – or catch the super inexpensive bus from one of the stops just a short walk from the airport building. Getting around on foot within the Old City is a lot of fun - jump in an auto-rickshaw to head further out.

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