The Gujarat Trip - Day 4

It was Day 4 of our Gujarat trip, having mostly travelled  on Day 1, explored Dwaraka on Day 2 and Somnath and Gir on Day 3.

At 5.30 AM, we were awoken by fellow travellers alighting - we were in Ahmedabad Junction. We had read that Uber and Ola cabs were on strike in Ahmedabad.  Luckily Ola autos were plying.  We hailed two autos (from two phones) and thanks to Google map directions, reached our hotel (about 10 km away), with no issues.

We were put up in The Park Residency, a pretty good hotel in Vastrapur area of Ahmedabad. We enjoyed the buffet breakfast that came with our package, which also included extra charges for early check-in.  Like Rajkot, we had rented an Innova for the day's sight-seeing.  The driver was on time and at 9.15, we started.

Our driver mistook Hutheesing Jain Temple to be Hathi Mandir and took us to an interesting temple built atop a giant elephant statue.
Hathi Mandir
We did not linger there much, and instead proceeded to Adalaj Stepwell.
Adalaj Stepwell
This is a beautiful ancient structure preserved by ASI.  The well is well (sic) below ground level, with steps leading down to it.  There are finely carved stone structures above and surrounding the well,  lending a royal air to it as well as preventing it from drying up.

After a photo session there, we went to Akshardham Temple in Gandhi Nagar. Thanks to a militant attack a few years back, Akshardham also has Z-class security - in other words, no mobile phones/cameras or anything.  It was already very hot.  We covered the temple itself in a few minutes, but the main attraction is the exhibitions.  We got tickets for the same and joined people as they were sent in groups.  The exhibition pretty much revolves around the life and time of Swami Narayan.  But the settings and visual effects make it an interesting experience (akin to the rides in theme park).  We did get bored with a movie being shown in an iMax like theatre and decided it was time to leave.

We had lunch and then proceeded to Sabarmati Ashram, residence of Mahatma Gandhi for a while.
Sabarmati Ashram
This is also a well-preserved place and is on the banks of Sabarmati River. There are plenty of photos and other artifacts of Gandhi, Indian independence and so on.  The ashram itself has been renovated and preserved.

We came back to our Hotel for a well-deserved break considering the heat.  At 5.30, we started again - this time to Iskcon temple.
ISKCon Temple
This is a fairly old temple, but the architecture and the designs are nice.

From here, we went to Kankaria Lake,
Kangaria Lake
 a good place to spend the evening.  It was quite crowded, being a holiday.  The circular lake is very large and roads lead up to it from all directions.  Each entrance has its own entertainment place like Kids zone, Toy train, Musical fountain and so on.  We took the Toy train in order to see around the lake (there was a queue).  It was too dark by the time our turn came and we couldn't see much though the colorful lighting on the lake walls look very nice.

This wrapped up the day's trip.

My brother and parents flew back next morning. Since my flight was only in the next evening, the next morning, we also visited the Hutheesing Jain Temple -
Hutheesing Jain Temple
 a beautiful ancient structure, which is undergoing renovation.  Our attempts to visit the shaking minarets did not bear fruit, since Google Map led us to the one near the Railway Station which was closed for access.
Shaking Minaret
 We were told that there are three shaking minarets in Ahmedabad.  While coming back to the Hotel, we also saw the Theen Darwaza, another historical monument in Ahmedabad.
Theen Dharwaza

Ahmedabad is a place I had visited in 1999 (17 years back) and I had seen most of the places above.  I found the city has grown but the infrastructure is quite good.  I found the roads to be quite wide and was impressed to see bus lanes successfully implemented in some roads.  I couldn't help comparing it with Bangalore and felt that Ahmedabad scored on many fronts.  Bangalore does have many lakes but nothing that matches the way Kangaria Lake has been developed for entertainment.

Ola and Uber drivers called off their strike the next day and we could take an Uber to Airport.  It was a pleasant Airport drive (that costed Rs.100/-) and reached under 30 minutes!

The takeaways from the trip.
  • Good to book stay and transport upfront.  Relieves you of the uncertainty of last-minute accommodation or mode of transport.
  • Have a schedule and stick to it.  Read about the places to visit, find out distances, routes and be prepared.
  • Vegetarians need not worry about food in Gujarat (unlike my home State Kerala)!
  • Avoid sight-seeing trips in summer, if possible.  Choose cooler places otherwise, or opt for leisure trip.
  • India is a big country and the distance between places are long. Though the roads were good, it still takes take a while to commute, like, from Rajkot to Dwaraka and Dwaraka to Somnath.
  • Don't expect Ola auto drivers in Ahmedabad do know how to use Google map. We had to cancel a number of autos who accepted our trip, when they asked us for directions to our place and couldn't figure out how to reach our Hotel using Google map.
  • Airport food sucks big time and to add insult to injury cost a bomb! 

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