Stepwells, mandirs, and delicious thalis: a capital weekend with Gujaratis

Considering a weekend trip to Ahmedabad, India? This weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat has tips on where to go and, more importantly, what to eat for the perfect weekend in Gujarat’s capital. Includes a map at the end of the post.

 

Planning a trip to Ahmedabad, Gujarat in India? Ahmedabad is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city in western India, and makes for a great weekend trip... especially if you love thali! This weekend guide to Ahmedabad has tips on best places to stay, top sights to see, and, of course, a list of the best places to eat thali in the city. Read on to plan the perfect weekend in Ahmedabad.

 

Getting lost in the streets of Ahmedabad is to get lost amongst a rich medley of times, religions, and cultures.

… at least, that’s what I tell people when they ask why I loved Ahmedabad.

In reality, I loved it ‘cause I’m a total glutton. Especially when it comes to Gujarati food.

A weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Traditional Gujarati thali from Gopi Dining Hall - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Omnomnom, now that’s a proper Gujarati thali

Gujarat is heaven for thali addicts (like me!), and Ahmedabad is the divine capital of all things delicious, bottomless, and served on round thali plates. Hello, happiness.

Ahmedabad is the perfect place to indulge in the culinary wonders of Gujarat. In between eating excessive quantities of (literally) sweet Gujarati noms, you can walk your legs—and calories—off admiring everything that India’s only UNESCO World Heritage city has to offer.

Intricate textiles, ornate mosques and temples, and some of the most fabulous stepwells I’ve seen in India; the area has it all.

A busy crowd walks through an ornate stone archway over a market street in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, India, the country's only UNESCO World Heritage city.
Men sitting outside a colorful traditional building in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, India.
A young Indian boy riding a bicycle through a market street in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

One could easily wander the streets of Ahmedabad for a lifetime, but most of us don’t have a lifetime to spend on one city alone! No need to fret: a weekend is a good amount of time to explore Gujarat’s capital.

(Your stomach might also pop if you spend any more time in the thali capital of India.)

To help you get the most out of your weekend in Ahmedabad, here’s a weekend guide to the city… with a thali twist, of course.

 

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Lattice window carving at Sidi Saeed Mosque - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Lattice window carvings at the Sidi Saeed Mosque

A thali-infused weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Picking a place to stay in Ahmedabad

First things first. Every explorer needs a base, right?

To make sure your weekend is as flawless as it should be, start off by choosing the right hotel. You can get great room rates on Wego.co.in.

I recommend mid-range travelers check out The House of MG, a centrally located restored heritage home with an excellent thali rooftop restaurant (told ya this was all about thali). If you’re on a strict budget, In & Out Dormitory has some of the cleanest and most economical beds in the city.

Once you’ve dumped your bags and freshened up, it’s time to hit the town!

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Colorful jewelry on sale in a market - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Colorful knick knacks abound in Ahmedabad’s markets

Friday: river strolls and lurid markets

 Thali of the day: Gopi Dining Hall

Given you’ve only just arrived in Ahmedabad (presumably), it’s good to take it easy on Friday.

Go with the flow: wander the area you’re staying in, grab a cup of chai to rejuvenate you after your long train/car/bus ride, and get a feel for your new weekend home.

As the sun begins to set, set out west. A long river slices through the center of Ahmedabad, and it has a beautiful riverfront walkway running along it. Watch the sunset from a bridge-top vantage point, or stroll along the water’s edge—your pick!

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Riverside walkway in the city center - Lost With Purpose travel blog

After night falls, continue your westward quest. Law Gardens is a nice green space surrounded by a market filled with traditional Gujarati textiles and clothes. Even if you’re not the shopping type, it’s impossible to ignore the sparkling mirrors and eye-popping embroidery!

Overload your eyes—and possibly your wallet—then finish off your evening by heading towards Gopi Dining Hall, a classic Ahmedabad thali institution. No frills, no fuss, and easy on the pocket; Gopi Dining Hall is a relaxed place to indulge in your first thali. Dine outside in the courtyard or inside the hall.

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Gujarati thali from Gopi Dining Hall - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Yes, get in my belly

Once your stomach is sufficiently bulbous with Gujarati delicacies, step back from the plate (it’s difficult to say no to the insistent servers), and wander out into the cool night air back towards your hotel.

Gopi is centrally located so it isn’t that far away no matter where you’re staying. If you’re trying to be health conscious despite the gluttony (my modus operandi), choose walking over a taxi. It’s good for you!

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Modhera Sun Temple - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Modhera Sun Temple outside of Ahmedabad

Saturday: ancient architecture and grand feasts 

Thali of the day: Agashiye

Hopefully you’re well rested, because today is a day for exploring the sights around Ahmedabad!

Get yourself a car and/or a guide, because there are several stunners that you simply cannot miss in the region:

Adalaj Vav is an ancient stepwell on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, in the Gandhinagar district. This intricate 5-story well was built more than 500 years ago, in 1498 AD. Plumb its dark depths, admire its impressive craftsmanship.

Modhera Sun Temple is a large and extremely ornate Hindu temple on the banks of the Pushpavati River. A massive stepwell and several temples make up the temple complex, and you can easily spend hours getting lost in the carved details decorating the temple’s columns and walls.

Rani ki Vav, your final stop, is the most impressive stepwell I’ve seen in India to date—and a UNESCO Heritage site—located outside the town of Patan (also the home of the famous Patan patola). This stepwell is immaculately preserved, thanks to being buried and forgotten under a covering of sand for centuries!

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - UNESCO listed Rani ki Vav stepwell in Patan - Lost With Purpose travel blog

UNESCO-listed Rani ki Vav

Visiting all of these sites will take the majority of the day; you’ll definitely need a rest upon returning to Ahmedabad!

Take a nap and clean yourself up a bit, because this night you’re heading out to one of the nicest thali experiences in the city: Agashiye, The House of MG’s restaurant. Prices are higher than other thali halls in the city, but the food is scrumptious and you can’t go wrong dining on a rooftop! (Just make sure to be seated up top.)

Though you spent the day roaming the region, taking an after-dinner walk never hurts. Ahmedabad is a safe city to roam at night, so go for a stroll and enjoy the cooler hours of the day.

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Night food market at Manek Chowk - Lost With Purpose travel blog

The manic energy of Manek Chowk

If you’re feeling peckish despite indulging in the city’s most decadent thali, head to Manek Chowk. Jewelry market by day, the square transforms into a culinary delight after 10 at night. It’s a gathering place for people of all kinds and offers everything from gwalior dosa to pav bhaji to kulfi falooda for dessert. Go wild! (I know I did.)

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Interior of the Jama Masjid - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Interior of the epic Jama Masjid

Sunday: a healthy dose of heritage 

Thali of the day: The Grand Thakar

Alas, all good weekends must come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a bit of sightseeing before you catch your ride out of Ahmedabad?

Sunday is always a bit quiet, so take advantage of the emptier streets to soak up some of the old city’s heritage.

Pols” are traditional housing clusters and—in my opinion—Ahmedabad’s most eye-catching feature. Often wooden and impressively ornate, these old houses are scattered all throughout the old city, and make for a great walking tour. Here’s a full list of all the pols of Ahmedabad.

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - A traditional wooden house in the UNESCO old city - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Beyond pretty pols, Ahmedabad has more monuments and historical places than you can shake a stick at; far too many to list here! A guided walking tour is the best way to make sure you find the highlights, but if you’re short on time or cash, I recommend at least seeking out…

  • Jama Masjid, meaning Friday Mosque, Ahmedabad’s grandest mosque. It’s set back from a busy market street, and is a total oasis of calm and cool.
  • Swaminarayan Mandir is shockingly colorful Hindu temple made from carved Burmese teak wood. It’s a sight to behold, not to be missed.
  • Dada Harir Vav is another stunning stepwell a little bit off the main drag, meaning it’s quiet on any day of the week. There’s a pretty mosque next to it as well.
  • Hutheesing Jain Temple is Ahmedabad’s grandest Jain temple. Though it’s not so old—it was built in the 1800s—the massive two-story temple complex outside of Delhi gate is impressive nonetheless.

Remember, these are just a starting point, not an end-all list!

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Depths of Dada Harir Stepwell - Lost With Purpose travel blog

The depths of Dada Harir stepwell

If, like me, you need to have a sweet treat to break up your sightseeing, I recommend stopping at Gandhi Coldrink House for a cold kesar lassi (with ice cream, of course) in between stops. Look out, it gets busy on hot afternoons!

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Kesar ice cream lassi at Gandhi Cold Drink house - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Don’t fill up completely, though, as you still have one more thali to taste before you depart at The Grand Thakar.

The Grand Thakar is an Ahmedabad favorite with several floors of seating. It gets busy—especially on weekends—but the food is well worth any wait. Eat your fill, as this is your last weekend (over)indulgence!

After your grand luncheon at The Grand Thakar, it’s time to head back home.

Weekend guide to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India - Sabarmati Ashram with Gandhi statue - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Sabarmati Ashram, where Gandhi lived for 12 years

Stops on your way home

If you’re driving out of Ahmedabad, take an hour to swing by Sabarmati Ashram in Gandhinagar on your way out of the city. Now a national monument, Gandhi lived in this ashram with his wife Kasturba for 12 years.

If taking the train out of Ahmedabad, consider stopping by the Sidi Bashir Mosque on your way to the train station; it’s right by the station. Only the mosque’s gate and two minarets—the tallest in Ahmedabad—still stand. The minarets are known as Jhulta Minar, shaking minarets, and when one minaret vibrates, so does the other. No one is exactly sure why!

Whether you’re driving or training, safe travels both to and from Ahmedabad… and enjoy your weekend!

Want more on Gujarat? Check out this photo essay on my mini Palitana pilgrimage, my favorite experience in the state.

 

Planning a trip to Ahmedabad, Gujarat in India? Ahmedabad is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city in western India, and makes for a great weekend trip... especially if you love thali! This weekend guide to Ahmedabad has tips on best places to stay, top sights to see, and, of course, a list of the best places to eat thali in the city. Read on to plan the perfect weekend in Ahmedabad.

 

Yay transparency! There are affiliate links in this post. If you book something using one of my links, I’ll make a bit of extra change at no extra cost to you. Think of it as saying thanks for helping you plan an excellent weekend away!

Alex

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

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One thought on “Stepwells, mandirs, and delicious thalis: a capital weekend with Gujaratis

    Bama says:

    Since reading a blog post about Ahmedabad several years ago, it has gradually been climbing up my wish list of places in India I want to visit. So far I’ve only been to the south (Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry) and a short stay in Kolkata. Modhera Sun Temple and its counterpart in Odisha are now among the ancient sites I most want to see in the country.

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