snehasophy

This is for all those who seek the joy in little things !


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Ahmedabad Diaries: What Happens In Ahmedabad Will Make You Fall In Love With It!

The reactions when I told people I’m travelling to Ahmedabad for the weekend was, “What! Why? There’s nothing there to see! You will be bored. Oh, you will regret your decision!”

But I had made up my mind and I wanted to visit this Gujju city once and for all. As soon as I typed “Things to do on in Ahmedabad”, google gave me a fairly long list of places I could visit, to my relief!

Armed with this list of Things to Do in Ahmedabad, I set out to this seemingly somber city!

And guess what? I fell in love! This slow paced city has a charm of it’s own & I would definitely recommend everyone to pay it a visit.

And if you do decide to go to Ahmedabad or AMDAVAD as the locals call it, here are a few things you should definitely do!

Visit To The Bhadra Kaali Temple

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Ahmedabad is a known for it centuries old temples that are strewn all over the city. I chose the Bhadra, Kali Temple because it’s at the heart of the main city and is well connected to all the other major tourist attractions.

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Make sure you visit this place early in the morning around 8, when the pooja (worship) is conducted, I promise it would be the perfect headstart to your day.

Lal Darwaza (The Red Gate)

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The Lal Darwaza leads to the home of the then ruler, Ahmed Shah. The area around the gate has long since been converted into the local market.

IMG_1551Flower market near the gate

It’s always buzzing with people and it’s utterly chaotic, messy & insane and awesome at the same time! You can find souvenirs, food, clothes and all kinds of little take-aways for a steal here. It’s best to visit the place in the evening when the market is liveliest.

Bhadra Fort

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Fun fact, the Bhadra Fort was built by a Muslim ruler but has a temple at it’s base dedicated to goddess Kaali! You will find many such instances in Ahmedabad where temples and mosques share the same ground, which is so fascinating.

IMG_1565Chambers at the top of Bhadra Fort

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This fort has now been turned into a Municipal court so most entrances to rooms are sealed, but you can still find many hidden stairways, rooms giving you glimpses into it’s grand past.

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Sidi Sayed Mosque

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The locals recommended us to visit this mosque, which was at a walking distance from Bhadra Fort. Known for it’s beautifully carved grills at the back of the mosque it was definitely worth the visit.

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The maulana (religious leader and caretaker of the mosque) was kind enough to tell us about the history of the mosque and the architecture. Oh and we got a scolded for entering the gates with our shoes on, so be careful to take them off before you enter the premises!

 Jama Masjid (Jama Mosque, also called Juma by the localites)

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Believe it or not, I think this is one of the most beautiful structures I’ve ever seen in my life. From the moment you step into the huge courtyard surrounding the mosque there’s an air of breathtaking beauty within every square inch.

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Also built in the 1400’s it was apparently the largest mosque in the Indian Subcontinent at that time.

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You will see people meditating and reveling in spiritual studies around you and inspite of Ahmedabad’s merciless heat you will suddenly feel at peace.

Gandhi Ashram

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Sabarmati Ashram or, Gandhi Ashram as it’s commonly known, is the home of Gandhiji. The entire home along with the area surrounding his home has been turned into an exhibition now. I know some of you might think, EXHIBITION, Really? That’s what I thought too, but once we were there, we didn’t regret our decision one bit! It’s located on the banks of the Sabarmati river, that has now turned into a tourist spot in itself (It’s called the River Front now)

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It’s the perfect place to chill on a insanely hot afternoon.

IMG_1732Getting our yummy chana jor garam made!

Once you’ve had a tour of the entire exhibition centre, you can grab a snack (we had peanuts & chana jor garam* a local dish) and sat dazed under the shade of trees right along the River Front. So blissful!

Law Garden

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Okay so the garden in itself is pretty amazing but the lanes next to the garden is the real deal. That’s where you will find some pretty awesome stuff at throwaway prices!

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And then once the shopping has tired you out, you can find yourself a nice spot inside law garden and take a short power nap!

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Like so many others do there! (I know sounds kinda weird, but when you’ve been touristing around town and need a break, you will need this! )

Kankaria Lake (pronounced KaaKaRia)

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If you visit Ahmedabad, Kankaria lake is a must visit. Everywhere we went, the first place everyone suggested was Kaakaria! And oh boy, does this place stand up to it’s expectations!

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So it’s this huge ass lake that also doubles up as an amusement park, complete with rides, a choo-choo train running through the park and food stalls every where (literally everywhere!)

IMG_1802Bird Watching At Kankaria

Try and visit this place in the evening during sunsets, coz that’s when the fun begins! Since the park is full of trees, it’s a home to a specific variety of sparrows.  Towards sunset these birds, literally thousands of them come together, returning to their nests, putting on a absolutely breathtaking sight!

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Apart from that there are water lazer  shows regularly organized which is a pretty awesome sight too! So in short, there’s a lot to do at Kankaria.

Food In Ahmedabad

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There is food everywhere! I am not even exaggerating. While it is a vegetarian’s paradise, non-vegetarians need not worry, Amdavad has something for all. While I was there I tried and ate local food, to get a hold of the cuisine there.

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A lot of chaat, dhokla, pani puri, faafda jalebi, chole kulche can be found across the city.

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If you’re looking for some good non-vegetarian food head straight to Lal Darwaza.

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In the evening you can enjoy some sizzling hot kebabs, keema, sea food & more!

IMG_1816 A Local Chicken Pastry
IMG_1819Crispy Fried Chicken
IMG_1824Prawn Curry With Roti

What was surprising was that Ahmedbad isn’t that big on deserts and sweets! We didn’t find much of it on the streets so we had to make do with the conventional generic  jalebis & ice-creams.

Shopping at Ahmedabad

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Take my word when I say this, shopping is dirt cheap here. I got back a few souvenirs, clothes, handmade bed covers & a lot more for around 2 K.

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The most famous spots for shopping are Law garden for traditional clothes, Manek Chowk for food, Lal Darwaza for antiques and souvenirs. If you are a fan of organic and khadi products you can shop from the shops around Gandhi Ashram, To go that eco-friendly way.

Travelling in Ahmedabad

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Both Ola and the local rickshaws  are super cheap and affordable. At no point did we have to pay more than 150 bucks to either of them (they have an instate app for rickshaws called Jugnu. Very handly to book rickshaw rides). And the bus services are also not too bad, so you can take your pick.

Stay In Ahmedabad

IMG_1512 View from hotel lobby

We were looking for a home-stay while booking but couldn’t get through because the ones under our budget were already reserved. So we booked a room through the OYO app and stayed at a motel. It was fairly comfortable and also close to the city, no complains, nothing great.

Just a few other things

Amdavadis Are Super Duper Sweet People

You will never feel alone in Ahmedabad. All it takes is a Hi or a Hello to get people talking, and you will feel right at home. If you’re lost or need any kind of help just ask around. 3 days in that city, and I’ve definitely made more friends than I have in Mumbai! ?(No Kidding!)

There’s Art Everywhere

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Literally every street you look, you will find beautiful murals and artwork etched aimlessly.

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Such pretty sights! Definitely makes for those insta-worthy clicks!

There will be a lot of cows And Other Animals

I don’t know why, but you will find cows randomly strolling the roads. No need to freak out, in a day you will just get used to the sight of them.

You will spot a lot of clock towers & Darwazas

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Again, not like Amdavadis are too time bound, infact they follow a pace of their own. But you will tons of watch towers across the city. Ans as for the Darwazas, since Ahmedabad was home to a lot of rulers it has many guard doors or “darwazas”. Do stop when you spot one, they all have a unique story to them.

ALL IN ALL

If I could, I would just go on and on about how awesome this city is. Just like every other city in India, it is crazy in it’s own way and beautiful at the same time.

And if you are looking for a getaway and explore a new city, Ahmedabad is definitely recommended!

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Look Closer!

“It’s not always black or white. It’s not always yes or no.

Things are more complicated that they seem.

Words can’t always express how you feel, and sometimes a word makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes tears spell happiness, other times smiles hide pain untold.

Some days the stars look beautiful, other days they remind you of someone you’re trying to forget.

The blazing sun may look like fire, but maybe it’s just a melting candle counting it’s last breaths.

Those innocent looking eyes behind the spectacles might have seen adventures you wouldn’t have even imagined.

That pretty boy with abs like Stallone, might’ve been fighting off demons in daylight.

Maybe that quiet old lady smiles at you because you look like her long lost lover.

Maybe your mom says she’s okay, but is not.

Maybe those straight roads lead to hell, and maybe the alleys hidden in the dark end on the stairway to heaven.

People are not just good or bad. Sometimes, there is a glimmer of love in the most broken hearts. Sometimes, the most radiant laughters hold cries for help.

Things are never as they seem you know.

So, look a little harder, feel a little deeper, hold on a little longer and you will see things for what they are.”

Most times, we just take things at face value. Nowadays we neither have the time nor the patience to scrape beneath the surface. We hear, but we don’t listen. We see but we don’t perceive. We comprehend but we don’t understand.  We sympathize but never empathize. In the hustle of everyday lives we just lose track of the smaller things. The details, the little clues that are probably the most important things in life.

Especially with people. Sometimes we fail to notice what’s right in front of us. That sad smile, that unsure text message, they tell a lot about a person, and most times we ignorantly miss out.

So just sometimes, take the time to genuinely lend your ear to someone’s story and get ready to get stunned by the truth that might be hidden within.


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Mumbai Diaries: The Most Interesting Cabbie In Town!

“It was destiny that brought me here.” Says Mahesh, a 37 year old cabbie I met just a couple days back. Unlike other cabbies who usually dropped me to my workplace every morning, Mahesh seemed very upbeat and chatty.

But what was very appealing about him was his voice. Deep and husky, like the ones you hear in those sexy deodorant ads.

We got talking right from the minute I took the passenger seat next to him. From demonetization to current movies, to animal behavior in the African deserts, Mahesh had a say on everything. And with that beautiful voice of his, I couldn’t help but gleefully join in the conversation.

Jumping from one topic to the other I asked him how he landed up being a cab driver, because it was very surprising to see a person as well read and aware as him to be riding a cab for a living. He grinned at me and said that he recently lost his job. He told me about his college and how he had a diploma in mechanical engineering which held no value now. How he spent 5 months jumping down media agency to another in a chance to get one break into the voice over, radio industry. How his friends left him one by one when his financial condition deteriorated.

Seeing all the amulets and spiritual “jewelry” on him I asked him what kept him going through all of the tough times? Was it god? “My family is my God. It was my wife and children who made me smile on my worst days. They never made me feel like a failure. They never let me down or made false promises like the world or the so called God did.” “I’ve stopped socializing much, whatever free time I have I spend with my family”.

Behind the tough looking face and buttery deep voice if there was something that shone through was his positivity. Mahesh’s story wasn’t really inspiring or one of a kind. We meet so many others like him. People trying to make it big in the city or dreams Bombay! Of those who fail miserably and end up doing things just to survive this rat race. Dreams and hopes forgotten. Succumbing to the pressures of the city life.

But what was refreshing was his attitude towards everything. He still believes that everything that’s happened has happened for the best. He knows that his dreams of becoming a voice over artist seem bleak but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming about it regardless! His thirst for life and the will to do anything for his loved ones is what made his story better than most of ours. I couldn’t help but ask one last question, ” Can I write about you?” He put on his best smile and told me, “Sure Madam! Would you need a picture too?” As if  to say, this wasn’t the first time someone had asked him to do so 🙂