Gandhinagar - A tete a tete with the city
Location : Western India, Gujarat
Founded in : 1960
Best time to visit : October to May
Local Transport : VTCOS, and the Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System.
Places to see : Akshardham Temple, Adalj ni Vav, Children’s Park, Sarita Udyan, Punit Van.
Souvenirs : Embroidery, woodcarvings, terracotta work, jewellery.
Gandhinagar - The Tale of the city
King Pethasinh of Pethapur ruled over Shertha town. When he died, the Sultanate of Patan used this as his battleground. The Sultan Ahmed Shah thought of shifting the capital from Patan to a new city and thus built Ahmedabad. When Mumbai was formed in 1960, it split into Gujarat and Maharashtra. Ahmedabad was the capital of Gujarat and then another new city was built on the land, which was once Pethapur state.
Two Indian planners H.K. Mewada and Prakash Apte planned the city. Mewada who was educated at Cornell University worked as a trainee with Le Corbusier who built Chandigarh in 1950’s. The unique feature of the streets in Gandhinagar, the capital of Ahmedabad, are numbered and have cross streets named for Gujarati alphabets like “k” ,“kh” ,“g” ,“gh” , “ch”, “chh” , “j”. The streets cross every kilometer and at every crossing, there are traffic circles to decrease the flow of traffic.
History has it that four groups of people inhabited this place. The Jats who came from Half, a place in Iran were herders by profession. They came to Kutch and Sind 500 years ago. The agriculture Jats were called Garasia Jats and the ones who continued being herders were called the Dhanetah Jats., and those who studied the Koran were called the Fakirani Jats. Then came the Meghwals. They were originally from Marwar in Rajasthan. These cotton-weaving experts were called the Harijans. The Harijans were those who came with Lord Krishna from Gould. They were the ones who sold ghee and milk.
Gandhinagar - Down the Ages
Gandhinagar, the planned city is divided into 30 sectors. Each sector has its own shopping and centre of activity for the community, a school, health center, Government and private housing. There are also green stretches, plants, and recreational areas. The river view along with a lush green atmosphere provides the city its beauty. Down the ages, the city developed in four stages:
Phase 1: has the city’s infrastructure getting completed in 1970.
Phase 2 : This city was known as the “Gandhian city” as it was based on the concepts and principles of Gandhi. This happened in 1980.
Phase 3 : Many trees were planted in 1990 and after that and thus the city came to be known as the “Green City”.
Phase 4 : The city focused on utilizing solar energy and to be cosmopolitan. This happened in 2002 and after that.
The city is gearing up for the Mahatma Mandir where the Vibrant Gujarat 2011 is going to happen.
Gandhinagar - A Rendezvous
Named after Gandhiji, this city of Gandhinagar, the second planned city in India, is spacious, well organized and architecturally elegant. The city was planned to showcase the ideals of swadeshi goods and swaraj or self-rule. Located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, the city has the VTCOS or the city bus service connecting various parts of the city. Besides, we have the Ahmedabad BRTS or the Bus Rapid Transit System. It is a system designed by the CEPT University, Ahmedabad.
Gandhinagar - Travel kitty
Gujarat and colors and crafts are a way of life. This is an art and skill that the Gujarati craftsperson is skilled at. The Gujarati workmanship shows in the form of weaving, or working on the metals or embroidery on materials. Another important art form of Gujarat is woodcarving. It is seen in the temples, havelis, and objects that are used daily. Gujarat also excels in utensils. The famous terracotta work, terracotta figurines and fascinating jewellery art is also a unique feature in Gujarat. Thus, the travel kitty here is full with arts, crafts and creativity.
Gandhinagar - Joie de vivre in the city
Gandhinagar is amongst the three best-planned Indian cities. It was the center of Indian freedom movement. The city is well connected nationally and internationally. One gets to see the simmering embers of patriotism in the city and the ambience is electric. The atmosphere is contagious and the surroundings infectious. The joie de vivre in this city lies in the ability to change with the situation. One who comes here can see the following:
Akshardham Temple : This is one of the most famous tourist spots in the city. The temple is built with pink stones and magnificent carvings. Lush green gardens surround it and there are enthralling fountains. This is situated in Gandhinagar. It is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan. Constructed in 1992, this was made out of pink sandstone. It is 108 ft high and 6000 tonnes of stones were used to construct this. The beauty of this monument is that no steel has been used here. A 1.2-ton gold plated 7-foot idol of Lord Swaminarayan is the presiding deity. He has his right hand raised. There is a sound and light show here showing the importance of Sanatan Dharam. There is a beautiful garden with a waterfall, lake and children’s park with rides and games. There are 3 halls one depicting the history of Lord Swaminarayan, the other showing a film on Mystic India and the third giving the message of the Upanishads.
Adalj ni Vav : This popular tourist spot was built in 1499 AD by Queen Rudabai. The vav is the step well in Gujarati, and has exquisitely carved designs on it telling several tales of yore. These designs could be those of leaves, flowers, fish, bird etc. The ornamental elegance provides a lot of respite for tired and weary travelers taking a stopover near these wells.
Children’s Park : This is found in a certain sector of the city that is dedicated for recreation. There are toy trains, boating and other amusement facilities. Children love to come here and relax.
Sarita Udyan : Situated on the banks of the River Sabarmati, this beautiful green patch has a nice view of the River Sabarmati. There is a botanical garden here and it is the most favored picnic spot. The sheer expanse of the greenery here provides the tourist with the much needed rest and relaxation.
Deer Park : This is a perfect resting place for the tired tourists. The travelers come here seeking peace and calm and love the tranquility that the place has away from all the din and noise. There is a large area with many sections. There is a Jurassic Park theme, a deer park, snake park, birds park etc. This is the best place to spend a weekend. There are cycles available here on rent and this makes the tour of the garden easier. The deer park is also known as the GEER Foundation park or the Indroda Park. This is because the park is near a village named Indroda. There is a park, which has huge statues of dinosaurs, and a snake park, which has a lot of varieties of snakes. There is also a python cage where there is a big python in a natural environment. This park also consists of a huge Bird Park. Here the birds are allowed to fly free in a big area. There is also an aquarium, which stores all kinds of fish. There is an original skeleton of a whale here.
Punit Van : This is a botanical garden in one of the sectors of the city. This has a mixture of botanical garden and is kept depending on the Zodiac signs and an amphitheater.
Pethapur : This is artisans’ village. Here the villagers make all kinds of crafts and dwell here.
Shamlaji : This is a shrine and there is a famous Vaishnava Shrine that is found around 126km from Ahmedabad.
Koba : This is situated at a distance of 10 kms from the city of Gandhinagar. This lies on the Ahmedabad Gandhinagar Highway. The village is famous because it has a Jain Institute called the Mahavir Jain Aradhana Kendra and study. The institute carries out a lot of studies and research in philosophy and religion. The architectural splendor of the temple is aesthetic and is set in green surroundings.
Vaijanth Mahadev : This is located around 13kms from Gandhinagar and is situated in the village of Vasan. It is famous for its Shiva temple. This temple is supposed to be more than 2000 years old. It has seven floors. The unique feature of the temple is that it has a Shiv Ling that is of the “Yoni-Ling” type. There are in all 24 Shiv Lingas in the entire temple. It is said that there were bricks and silver coins that were obtained from the temple which show the antiquity of the temple. The ceiling of the temple is decorated with a dome that depicts a Ras Lila. The paintings found here are more than a century old.
Thus, the city of Gandhinagar offers the best to the tourist and the traveler who is in search of more when he comes here. The ambience of the temples, the uniqueness of the construction and the extravagance of the fact that this is a planned city gives the city its force to reckon with.
As we leave the city we think, “It is indeed good to save for a rainy day - we then would get a city like Gandhinagar.”