In the year 1411, when Sultan Ahmed Shah built a city on the banks of River Sabarmati, little did he know that, 550 years later, his Ahmedabad would be known as the 'Manchester of the East'. A booming textile industry has seen Ahmedabad being firmly placed on the Indian industrial map, but industry is not all that Ahmedabad is known for. It was also the abode of Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement and the Sabarmati Ashram, a shrine that symbolises non-violence and peace, is based in this city. Ahmedabad is the centre of study for the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture - a mix of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. There is more for architecture buffs. The old city has labyrinthine by-lanes called pols, carved wooden mansions and havelis that can put their counterparts in Rajasthan to shame. It continues to be the second largest industrial city in western India. Ahmedabad is also home to two premier educational institutions in the country: the National Institute of Design (NID) and the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
Ahmedabad is connected by air to all major cities in the country and all domestic airlines operate flights in and out of the city. The airport is 13 km away from the city's main business centres Ashram and CG Road, but one can commute by buses and taxis.
Ahmedabad is connected through rail with all parts of the country. Superfast and passenger trains terminate and start from the Ahmedabad railway station.
Ahmedabad is well connected by road with all parts of Gujarat. There are bus services from Ahmedabad to other major places within the city as well as the state. The state transport bus service and private bus operators both operate buses.
Auto rickshaws are a good way to move around town. Insist on seeing the fare chart before you pay.
One can also use buses, but be ready to face the crowds.
Ahmedabad is boiling hot in summer with the temperature soaring up to 45 degrees. In summer, there are frequent showers that make the atmosphere very humid and sultry. Winters are cold, the temperature can dip to as low as 5 degrees. The city is also infamous for unpredictable dust storms.
The best time to visit Ahmedabad is between October and March.
In Summer, take cool cottons to keep the heat away. In winters carry a sweater or jacket as the nights are known to get really cold. Carry a sun block and sunglasses.
It is said that Ahmedabad is a city made on three threads - cotton, silk, and gold - and textiles and handicrafts are what you must shop for. At Gurjari, the Gujarat State Crafts Emporium, shop for some of the best products not only from Ahmedabad but also from Gujarat. The place is also known for ethnic jewelry.
Premier shopping areas in Ahmedabad are C.G.Road, Ashram Road, Law Garden, and Relief Road. The Khadi Gram Udyog Emporiums, Hastkala, Kapasi Handicrafts Emporium, Saurashtra Emporium, and Bandhej are some of the places where you will get cotton garments, handicrafts, and curios. Both plastic and paper currencies are widely accepted in the city.
Note: don't be surprised if you get torn currency notes in little plastic packets. In Ahmedabad they are widely circulated as loose change is often tough to get!
Apart from major Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali, the most important festive days are the nine days of Navratri that fall between September and October before Dassehra. A must-see is the Dandiya dance when the whole city reverberates to the joyous dancing of the young and old.
Makar Sankranti, which usually falls on January 14 every year, is celebrated by flying kites. The city hosts a national Kite Festival and the sky in January is dotted by colourful kites in different shapes and sizes.