Saturday, April 4, 2015

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part VIII - Gandhi Nagar, The Capital

It was my last day in Ahmedabad. After having some juice and tea in the morning, I went to Sidi Sayed Mosque.
Sidi Sayed Mosque
This mosque is unique for its exquisite screens, which are praised for their amazing Jhali screen, framed, in the ten semi-circular windows. From a distance this screens looks wonderful. Apart from these screens there were hardly anything else to see.
From mosque I came back to railway station. Here I met one guy who was also on the way to Sita Mandir. He studied in Ahmedabad and spent much of his youth in the city. The moment I started talking about Ahmadabad, he was more than happy to tell me the about the city and its history. Soon we reached Sita Mandir and boarded a direct bus to ‘Gandhi Nagar’
Gandhi Nagar - An Overview
Located 23 km from Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar is the capital of Gujrat. Gandhi Nagar is a planned city, designed by Prakash Apte and H.K. Mewada. City is divided into multiple areas like ‘Capital Complex and Government Offices’; ‘Light Industries Areas’; ‘City Centre’; ‘Public Institutions Area’; ‘Shopping’, ‘Commercial and Warehousing’ area; IT Parks etc.
On the way Narmada canal also crossed our way. After travelling for while we entered the city limits and continued towards Akshardham temple.
Akshardham Temple
Swaminarayan Akshardham temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in Gujarat. Spreading over an area of 23 acres, this temple complex is dedicated to ‘Bhagwan Swaminarayan’. I think I never saw a security check stricter than the one at these gates in anywhere in India (except probably at Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram). No one can carry bags or camera (except wallet) inside the temple complex.
By the way this temple came under terrorist attack in September 2002.
This place looks more like a theme park if we exclude the main building which houses the deity. Main building also have carefully preserved personal belongings of Swaminarayan. One need to appreciate the length to which the followers went to acquire and preserve the things used by Swaminarayan.
After visiting the temple, I bought the ticket for shows. This took some two to three hours to complete. During each phase of the show, they will show various phases of Swaminarayan’s life; and concludes it by showing a documentary. This carefully crafted areas (forests, water flow, moving life size statues etc) tries to give a close to real life experience to the visitor.
By afternoon, I went outside the temple and spend close to 30-40 minutes on road and then boarded a bus back to Ahmedabad. Planning is good - straight roads, proper crossings, well planned buildings etc.
Ahmedabad - Old City
After reaching Ahmedabad, I had some more time to spend before boarding the train to Surat. Hence I went to old city by catching a shared auto. For next two hours I roamed around old city and paid a visit to local markets and spend quite some time there. Main market was in an open area, where a lot of vendors were selling their goods.
It is improper to end this article without saying something about traffic police. Whenever I was in front of railway station, there were four uniformed personals standing at the junction. However, they hardly did anything to control the traffic. If you wait for the vehicles to stop before crossing the road, its never going to happen.
In fact I boarded a shared auto while returning to railway station. Those roads were not so wide and a lot of people were there on the roads. Our driver, was not so interested in driving either careful or slowly. In fact his rear view mirror even hit a lady. I think he knowingly did it. When one of my co-passengers questioned him for that action, his reply was simple. He don’t care whether he hit the pedestrian or not. It’s better if someone fell down and die. Then atleast from next time, they will be careful while walking!!!
I am not saying all drivers were like this, he may be an exception. But, it also shows the attitude towards obeying traffic rules.
Another good feature Ahmedabad have is its reserved lanes for public buses. I am yet to visit any other city which have this dedicated bus corridor. It’s indeed a novel idea.
Finally it was time to say goodbye to Ahmadabad and I started my return trip. My next destination was Udupi. However, I didn’t have a confirm ticket straight to Udupi. So I first had to board a train to Surat. Then to Mumbai.
I reached Mumbai by 6 in next morning. After taking a bath from Ammu Chechi’s home I went to Kurla to board a Konkon train.
After spending rest of the day and most of the night on that train, finally I reached Udupi on Monday morning.
PS: Some of the places I missed in Ahmadabad are was Hathisingh Jain Temple, Dada Hari ni Vav (step well) in Asarwa, Juma Masjid (Built by Ahmad Shah in 1423, this yellow sandstone mosque stands on 260 pillars which support 15 domes at varying elevations), Kanaria lake, Calico textile museum etc.

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