My Gujarati experience was very limited, Ahmedabad to Little Rann of Kutch and back. But it was definitely worth the wait. I set out for Gujarat with so many things in my head, food being the main one,
followed by whether I'll get time to buy those pretty and colourful dupattas from Kutch. And a fridge magnet or ten. You see, I am a compulsive souvenir hoarder. So many things in my head and all I actually had was less than 48 hours in total. So without wasting any more of my precious time in the city, I left the comfortable confines of my room at Renaissance Ahmedabad with Induben's khakhra in my bag
and a spring in my footsteps to my first destination in Gujarat, the Little Rann of Kutch. This was just the beginning of my less-than-48-hours sojourn.
Why Little Rann of Kutch? Because when your stay in Ahmedabad is time-bound as mine, you should really go for the big one first--big meaning, keeping the distance and attraction in mind. For me, Little
Rann of Kutch was a must-do because I am such a wildlife nut! A little more than two hours drive (93.4 km) from Ahmedabad took me to Rann Riders, an eco-resort in Dasada, right on the periphery of Little Rann of Kutch. From Rann Riders, LRK is about 45minutes drive. Desert safari, little birding and some time spent at the salt pans easily took up four to five hours. By the end of the safari trip, I headed
back to the city with salt in my hair and exhaustion in my step. Also, a couple of Kutchi dupattas.
After LRK, one definitely needs a shower to wash off layers of salt on the skin, which also means it's the perfect time to call it a day.
The next day started off with a short drive to Gandhi Ashram, popularly known as Sabarmati Ashram. I found the museum tour quite interesting because as soon as I stepped inside the premise, I started
imagining Gandhji's life in the ashram, his home. Starting from the room where he used to sit with his charkha and writing desk, everything about the museum took me to years before India got her
independence. Straight across from his writing desk, I looked out the window with iron bars and saw what Mahatma Gandhi must have looked at every day--the Sabarmati river. After visiting each room, I moved on to other parts of the museum complex. The museum houses the personal memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi along with each and every aspect, historic events of his life. I must have gone through quite a number of photocopies of his correspondence with other freedom fighters, out of sheer curiosity.
Did you know that if you send a letter from Sabarmati Ashram, your letter gets a unique stamp of the iconic chakra? I'm still waiting for my letter. If you plan to spend a good amount of time at the
ashram like I did, find a display that shows what a life Mahatma Gandhi led--there is a display that shows how some of the letters were addressed to him, even from places overseas. Some were addressed with
only a sketch of the chakra, some only had his name and no address. Those letters found their way to him.
By the end of the museum tour, it was lunch time and my host decided that when in Ahmedabad, it should be nothing but the best. In my case, the best came in the form of a silver platter. Lunch was at the House of MG, Agashiye restaurant to be precise.
The House of MG, a boutique heritage hotel, was built in 1924 and back then Mangaldas Girdhardas, a wealthy textile magnate, called it home. At Agashiye restaurant, a typical Gujarati thali was served on a
silver plate with precise instruction "put your chutneys and pickles on top of the paan leaf". Why? Because those add-ons will ruin the silver. Noted.
After a somewhat lengthy lunch, I was given a much-needed walk-around. The palatial House of MG requires a good an hour and a half of exploring. The building has so many things to see, from old artworks to an antique shop to just admiring the old world charm of the property. The architecture is to die for.
Though my Ahmedabad stay was less than 48 hours, from what I had experienced, it was clear to me that if a day and a half could bring so much joy to the traveller in me, I was definitely coming back for a
longer stay in the city.