You can’t escape the fine and complex past of Ahmedabad – the capital of India’s northwest state, Gujarat. This major cricket-loving metropolis is one of India’s largest and fastest-growing centres.
Split vertically in two by the Sabarmati River, the old city sits on the eastern bank, an ancient maze full of sensational night markets, busy restaurants and interesting museums, such as the Calico Museum of Textiles (which houses one of the world’s finest collections of handmade cloths).
Ahmedabad was once known as the ‘Manchester of India’ for its cloth-making; today, head to Dhalgarwad for a show-stopping rainbow of fabrics. Different pols (neighbourhoods) specialise in different handicrafts, such as Madhupura, where you can pick up the traditional footwear, mojdi.
Get lost in the tiny alleyways of Bhadra, stumble on one of 50 Hindu and Jain temples and discover an India with one foot in the past. For a more recent slice of history, follow the river to the peaceful Sabarmati Ashram, the home from which Mahatma Gandhi started the Indian Independence Movement.
While most of Ahmedabad prefers to be vegetarian, you can try a range of street food delights at the famous Manek Chowk market, which also sells delicate jewellery during the afternoon. If you’re here in October don’t miss a show of garba, the colourful traditional dance of Gujarat that celebrates the Navaratri (Nine Nights) festival.
As the city’s daily traffic swirls around the ancient gates of the old city, head west over the river for modern shopping complexes, colonial style streets, international hotels and skyscrapers. Modern architectural pioneer Le Corbusier designed a handful of buildings in Ahmedabad, including the insightful city museum, Sanskar Kendra. Once you’ve checked in and unpacked, spend dusk at Kankaria Lake, a 600-year-old manmade expanse of water ringed by family attractions.