While Gandhinagar is the state’s nominal capital, Ahmedabad is at the forefront of the state’s commercial and cultural heritage. Ahmedabad was once known as Karnavati of Karanadev or Ashawal of Asha Bhil until the British gave it its current name. Whatever you call it, Ahmedabad’s spectacular architecture, which varies from centuries-old temples to mosques to pioneering styles to the mediaeval district; the city’s narrow alleys harbour drama around every pretzeled turn, will astound you.
The House of MG
Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, ranks well in terms of luxury and living costs. If comfort is your foremost priority, I propose staying at “The House of MG,” where you will be greeted with kind hospitality. Not only did I enjoy the amenities of their enormous CG-128 Suite during my stay at this vintage hotel in Ahmedabad, but I also got the opportunity to learn more about the city’s rich culture. Ahmedabad is India’s first UNESCO World Heritage city, and this 200-year-old building is certainly the ideal site to begin learning about the city. This 20th-century heritage hotel is also an exciting pick because of its owner Sheth Mangaldas Girdhardas’ noteworthy relationship with Mahatama Gandhi. When Mahatma Gandhi returned to India for the first time from South Africa, he stayed at the House of MG.
“The House of MG is the home of Mangaldas Girdhardas (my great grandfather) and his brother Chimanlal which they built in the early 20th century. They were first-generation mill owners and city builders who helped shape the city. This house is now a heritage hotel and acts as a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage City to visitors from around the world. I have converted it into a repository of the family legacy in everything that it has to offer from family recipes served in its restaurants to the kind of uniform worn by the staff to the kind of hospitality that guests experience to the private collection of artefacts and textiles in its galleries. Our goal is to make the guest feel as if they are coming to our family home and remind them of their own,” says Abhay Mangaldas, the Founder and Director of The House of MG.
The 25,000 square feet of visual grandeur sprawled across three storeys appears to be a maze at first look. Swings, work desks with iPod docks, a dressing area, contemporary comforts like flat-screen TVs with DVD players, and fast Wi-Fi access are all included in the CG-128 Suite, brimming with classic wood furnishings and stained glass doors and windows. The Mangaldas family’s collection of traditional items is illustrated through its tiled floors, ancient wood furniture, historical portraits on the walls, and the tribal treasures store.
A heritage bookshop is the newest addition, ensuring that a sense of history pervades the space. In a classic fine-dining environment, dine on authentic Gujarati food beneath the shade of ancient trees at the Green House restaurant or at Agashiye Lounge and Garden, a rooftop restaurant with views of the city. During his travels to Ahmedabad, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to dine at this restaurant. In the evening, relax in the Lotus swimming pool, which is 55 feet long and ringed by a digitally created lotus fresco with a 300-kilogramme Calder-inspired lotus dangling in the centre.
Ahmedabad Heritage Walk
To ensure that you get the most out of your visit to Ahmedabad, The House of MG offers heritage walk tours that will introduce you to the city’s rich architectural legacy, including gated communities, Pols, and Indo-Islamic structures that date back to the fourteenth century. The 2-hour heritage walk takes you to 22 different vistas within the mediaeval walled city. It begins with Swaminarayan Temple in Kalupur and concludes at the 14th-century Jama Masjid after stopping at 18 other sites along the way. The Swaminarayan Sampraday’s first temple, Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kalupur, was founded under Swaminarayan’s supervision and is the birthplace of the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi. This dream temple is a remarkable cultural treasure of Gujarat because of the magnificent carvings in pure Burma-teak showing religious icons and deities, which characterise aphoristic Indian culture.
ZaveriVad, which is largely occupied by goldsmiths, is located on Relief Road near the Swaminarayan Temple.
The stroll continues through a residential neighbourhood to Lambeshwar Ni Pol and Kavi Dalpatram Chowk, a square devoted to Dalpatram, an 18th-century scholar and poet who tutored British colonial governor Alexander Kinloch Forbes in Sanskrit. Chowk at Lambeshwar Ni Pol was his home during his literary career, and it was renamed Dalpatram Memorial in his honour. In 2001, a bronze statue was pitched on the site.
The 19th-century Calico Dome, constructed by Gira and Gautam Sarabhai, is also visible along this path. It was India’s first space-frame structure. After the mills closed in 1990, this Buckminster Fuller-inspired geodesic dome on relief road fell into disrepair and finally collapsed. This structure was reconstructed and reopened to the public in 2019. The next stop was Kala Ramji Mandir, a 400-year-old temple that holds a unique black marble sculpture of Lord Ram, and Shantinathji Mandir, with a 19-inch Shantinath Tirthankar statue built by Shah Vakhatchand Malichand in 1923. Shantinath Derasar’s grandeur is enhanced by the beautiful wood carvings seen throughout its Jalis, ceiling, panels, and windows.
As I wandered through Ambli Ni Pol’s meandering pathways, I came upon Kuvavala Khancho, a crossroads near Shantinathji ni Pol with neighbouring wells, thus the names Kuva, which means well, and Khancha, which means passage. This cosmopolitan well-passage comprises four independent residences that face one another, with architecture ranging from European to Persian to Mughal to Maratha. The Ahmedabad Heritage Walk fascinated me the most since it is heaped, with various gates and secret routes, in a small neighbourhood. The desire of each group to protect itself against successive invasions is the reason for the existence of these Pols and passages.
Then there’s Sambhavnath Ni Khadki, Ahmedabad’s oldest Jain temple, built-in 1662; Chaumukhji Ni Pol, or Satharni Khadki, with its Hindu-Jain architecture near the Vaishnav sect Haveli of Gunsaiji; Sheth Maganlal Karamchand’s 18th-century Astapadji Derasar; Harkunvar Shethani Ni Haveli, a 180-year-old Haveli with 60 rooms and overlong pillared balconies, held by Ahmedabad’s most extended wooden bracket in the ancient city; and Dodiya Haveli, a small, tastefully adorned historic haveli that currently serves as a boutique heritage house for Gujarati families in the Pols. The Fernandes Bridge, which has been serving as a wayside stand for more than a century, is a book lover’s dream. If you’re looking for prayer-related products, go to Chandla Ol market, the city’s oldest and largest market and a fantastic spot to get all of your ritual supplies.
Mahurat Ni Pol is one of Ahmedabad’s oldest neighbourhoods, having been established by the Jain community in the 15th century. Mehmud Begda founded this Pol in the 14th century, and it presently houses over 100 jewellery merchants. The 18th-century Ahmedabad Stock Market, India’s second-oldest stock market, is across the street from Mahurat Ni Pol. Sultan Ahmed Shah constructed Rani no Hajiro in the 15th century to serve as the ultimate resting place for the sovereign empire’s queens. Sultan Ahmed Shah’s mausoleum is known as Badshah No Hajiro or Raja No Hajiro memorial. This religiously significant 14th-century mosque is located near Jama Mosque and Manek Chowk.
Sultan Ahmed Shah created the Jama Masjid in Ahmedabad, which was the most beautiful mosque of the fourteenth century. It is surrounded by 260 pillars and has 15 domes, extending with three arches from the Maidan-i Shah to the Teen Darwaza. After two hours, the heritage walk comes to a close at Manek Chowk.
The House of MG embodies all that is simple, reliable, and elegant. Its central placement in the city is very advantageous. Check out the Sabarmati Ashram, which is only a 10-minute drive away, while you’re here. When Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t travelling around India or in prison, he lived in Sabarmati. On March 12, 1930, Gandhi also led the Dandi march, commonly known as the Salt Satyagraha, from here. The Indian government designated the ashram as a national monument in appreciation of the march’s tremendous impact on the Indian independence cause. Magan Niwas, Hriday Kunj, Vinoba-Mira Kutir, Nandini, Udyog Mandir, Somnath Chhatralaya, Upasana Mandir, and Gandhi Memorial Museum are among the complex’s structures.
Gujarat Science City
Ahmedabad Science City, an unorthodox science display including an oceanarium, is around 30-minutes away from the House of MG. Gujarats’ government built this world-class Science City on 107 acres of land to educate tourists while entertaining them. This artistically constructed venue provides access to the most interesting and contemporary types of entertainment in a calm environment. It provides an awareness of science and technology through inventive exhibitions, functioning models, hands-on experiences, virtual reality, labs, and live demonstrations.
Gujarat, on India’s western coast, is one of the richest and most developing states, and it should be the first stop on any trip to India.
Written by Veidehi Gite.
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