Friday, January 3, 2014

Ahmedabad November 9-11

On Saturday November 9 I flew from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad, leaving at 10:00 am and with a change of planes in Mumbai, arriving at 3:15. I had been in Ahmedabad once before in early 2001 for a heritage conservation meeting, so I sort of remembered the city. I took a taxi to the main train station and then walked for a while before checking into my hotel in the city center.

My reason for coming to India was to join some friends for a trip around the state of Gujarat, starting on Tuesday November 12. I decided to come to Ahmedabad a couple of days early to do some sightseeing on my own first.

The next day Sunday November 10 I walked around on the west side of the north-south Sabarmati River that bisects the city and went to the Sanskar Kendra city museum and the adjacent kite museum.

The Sanskar Kendra Museum


Some paintings by contemporary local artists in the museum

In the afternoon I walked around again, seeing some of the numerous monuments in the area of the Old City like the Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple compound.

The entrance to the Swaminarayan Mandir compound


A gate in the old city wall

Not far from the Swaminarayan Mandir there is a small plaza with a statue of a literary figure from the neighborhood from the 19th century. It is the only open space around, so some local boys were playing cricket there when I passed by.

The cricket players

On Monday November 11 I checked out of the hotel at 10:00 and walked the long distance to the hotel on the far west side of the city where my travel companions had booked rooms. Along the way I found a printing establishment and got a color print out of the reports of my revised “documentation” project. I arrived at the hotel at 1:30 and meet the others in the lobby. We soon went to the airport to meet my friend Rani, the last of the group to arrive.

That evening we went out to dinner in the House of MG, a famous landmark and now a boutique heritage hotel and restaurant in the city center built in the former mansion of Mangaldas Girdhardas, a prominent Ahmedabad business tycoon from the early 20th century. It is a favorite with Westerners, and my Indian companions were the only people I noticed there who were not foreign tourists.

After dinner we returned to our hotel and I got ready for our departure the next day on a trip to visit sites in Gujarat.

The first of my travel companions was my friend and colleague Rani Sarma from Visakhapatnam with whose support I am conducting my documentation of sites in Bhimunipatnam and elsewhere in the Visakhapatnam District.

Another member of the group was Roxna Swami, the mother of the wife of Rani’s son. Roxna is a high-powered advocate and member of the Supreme Court Bar Association. She is the wife of Subramanian Swami, an academic, economist and leading figure in the BJP, the Hindu nationalist political party.

The other two members of the group were Prithvi Narayan Chaudhuri and his sister Romola, two of the children of the late Indian literary figure Nirad Chaudhuri, a prominent anglophile best known for his Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, which I had not read before.


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