Done sightseeing in Ahmedabad? Then you may want to fill your remaining hours in the city with some souvenir shopping and interesting activities. Here is a quick guide to refer to.
Law Garden Night Market
This evening market comes alive with a dazzling array of goods from Kutch and Saurashtra. It is the ideal place to buy decorated cholis (sari blouses) and chaniyas (long, wide traditional skirts). You also get embroidered wall hangings, costume jewellery and the quintessential Gujarati souvenir, a toran (cloth decoration to hang over a door).
Hansiba is the retail outlet of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), an Ahmedabad-based trade union composed entirely of women working in the informal sector. Hansiba sells colourfully woven and embroidered shawls, saris, other clothes and wall hangings.
This state government-run outlet has three floors of Gujarati crafts including silk and handloom cotton saris, painted metal jewellery boxes and clothing in folksy designs. There are some good finds if you rummage through the wares.
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Calico Craft Centre
One stop here is more than enough to pick up a variety of souvenirs like torans, stoles, curios, block-printed fabric and goodies from the craft rich areas in the region like Kutch and Saurashtra.
Art Book Centre
This specialist treasure trove is located in a brightly painted building near Ellis Bridge. Indian architecture, miniature painting and textile design are the main topics of the books they stock.
Khadi Gram Udyog Garments
Handspun and hand-woven cotton clothing was the preferred choice of Mahatma Gandhi. This ideology of supporting locally produced fabric grew in Ahmedabad. The Khadi Gram Udyog has since been the forerunner of the idea of sustainability. It expanded its skill from clothing to other products as well. Buy kurtas, bedsheets, footwear, incense and more from here.
A handloom-based home-grown brand that was started in 1985 by Archana Shah, Bandhej, resonates with those who like clothes with a deep Indian essence. The brand’s ethos of collaborative designs with indigenous artisans has stayed until date, though all the clothes are no longer designed by Shah. Part of the line is sourced from across the nation. Bandhej’s bandhani is especially famous.
Gamthiwala, by the entrance to the mausoleum of Ahmed Shah in the old city, sells quality block-printed textiles that are typical of the state. The crammed streets of the old city often make it difficult to visit this particular location; you can also buy the same fabric from branches in the new part.
If Nirav Panchal is the guide for the state-run heritage walk in the mornings, you are in the hands of the most passionate spokesperson for Ahmedabad. The legions of dynastic complexities are made easy with anecdotal stories and local nuances made noticeable to ensure that you go back wiser and more aware about the city. This highly recommended tour, through narrow, confusing streets and past dilapidated, carved wooden houses, is an excellent way to get a feel of old Ahmedabad with its 600 pols –neighbourhoods of narrow street with common courtyards, wells and chabutaras (bird-feeding towers).
The tours are in English and there’s a brief slide show beforehand. Wear slip-on footwear, as you’ll be visiting plenty of temples.
Organised by the House of MG, the night walk of the old city commences at one of Amdavad’s ancient havelis and winds down narrow alleyways that are a rich repository of architecture and traditional features. Look out for the old bird feeders in the middle of the pols. Hundreds of bird feeders still exist; in fact they have also inspired the logo of the Heritage Department of the city. The tour ends in a small first floor room, propped above the entrance gate of Badshah no Hajiro. A 15-minute concert of the ninth generation naubat (orchestra of shehnai and nagara) musicians ends the walk on a high. You can linger on in the area and try some midnight snacks at the night market of Manek Chowk.
An unexpected slice of entertainment exists in the traditional city of Ahmedabad. The open-air theatre boasts of being the largest cinema screen in Asia. Cinemagoers have loved this slice of western heritage since 1973, even though the movies played are largely of the Bollywood variety. More than 600 cars and 6000 people can be accommodated here. If you’re too lazy to pack some snacks, the in-house food court will not disappoint.