Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

Explore Ahmedabad Like A Local

From the most enduring and popular tea and snacks stalls to local bazaars and hip food trucks, here's a guide to how to experience a day in Ahmedabad from a local's POV

Colourful textile handbags hanging in a store in market
Colourful textile handbags hanging in a store in market Shutterstock

Living in Ahemdabad for 21 years, I never realised till I had left the place that the city was a sweet-savoury mix of modern trends juxtaposed perfectly in the mould of a vintage city structure. I left the city for further studies, and then came back here for a visit. On my bucketlist were certain places I wanted to visit, not because they were listed in some 'must go' traveller list but because I have grown up around these places and to me, they represent a much authentic Ahmedabad than any such list. If you have a day to spend in Ahmedabad, let me be your guide. 

Chai With Maska

So, right after getting off my train, I stopped by Lucky Tea Stall located opposite the clock tower. I remember going to this cafe as a kid every time we had to drop someone off at the railway station. However, as I grew up, I got to know that the joint has so much more to offer than just the famed special tea and maska bun. This graveyard-turned-tea stall is almost 70 years old, and enshrines 12 graves inside the shop as well as an old tree that is spread across the space.

Head to Lucky for excellent chai and to gawk at an MF Hussain original
Head to Lucky for excellent chai and to gawk at an MF Hussain original Manisha Nainani

Lucky has many fans - MF Hussain has gifted the shop an original painting for its unique charm. Yet the place manages to remain a simple tea shop where locals come for peaceful conversations and family breakfasts.

Address: Nr. Musa Patel Automobiles Khamasha, Mirzapur Rd, Lal Darwaja, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001

Breakfast by the Kerb

The buzzing Municipal Market is every local's pitstop. The place is symbolic to true Ahmedabad as on one side, the market stands on the ruins of old architectural marvels, and on the other side, all the biggest brands have their outlets. However, what steals the show here is a poha stall that's known as a pitstop for a roadside breakfast.

For the college crowds, MM could be a little far to have a quick meal within their class breaks. Hence, the food stalls near University Tower has become the second most popular joint for morning gatherings. These joints are nearly 50 years old, and I often find many a mix of the middle aged, older crowds amidst the students coming here for a hit of nostalgia.

Address: Gujarat University Clock Tower, University Area, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009

Browsing the Bazaars 

Once their belly has been filled, it has been usual for Ahmedabadis to go for a weekend market spree. From essentials to obsessions, roadside markets near Law Garden and Teen Darwaja has a fix for everything one needs to shop.

The Teen Darwaza market was earlier just a wholesale fruit and dry fruit market, but over time the area has grown into a colourful flea mart of sorts where both new and secondhand goods are sold. It's a great place to be surrounded by vibrant colours and bustling crowds. However, it's the dried fruits like dried kiwi and dried and seasoned strawberries that make it worthy of a stroll.

Address: Gandhi Rd, Old City, Bhadra, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001. 
Samir Complex, Opp. Municipal Market, Chimanlal Girdharlal Rd, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009

During Navratri, locals like to go shopping to the Law Garden market area. The vast array of stalls here sell silver jewellery, traditional chaniya cholis, and Indo-western fits. These stalls also feed my obsession for oxidised jewellery and always have something new to offer. 

Address: Netaji Rd, Maharashtra Society, Ellisbridge, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009

Gujarati Thaali for Lunch 

For lunch, I opt for the Chadravilas thali. Apart from the amazing array of dishes, it puts me in the company of prominent figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who have been here and ordered the same meal. Chandravillas was started by Chimmanlal M Raj Joshi in 1900 as a tea stall and in 1922, the space was transformed to a restaurant. Mallav Joshi, the current owner, says that over four generations, the restaurant has seen many leaders, actors and families coming by and having animated conversations over their special jalebi fafda.

Address: Gandhi Rd, near ratan pol, Old City, Danapidth, Khadia, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001

Bridge to the Modern Side

After spendign time around old Ahmedabad for half the day, one can opt for a stroll along the Riverfront Road which connects the city and provides a tranquil setting for evening walks, cycle rides, and boating. I sometimes stop by for a stroll, or at other times, I use this as a way to reach SG Highway and get a taste of contemporary Ahmedabad.

The Corporate Road is filled with all the corporate offices, MNCs and uber-chic cafes making it the hub for the young professional population of the city. One can sit in these cafes and have a cuppa or go for a rooftop dining experience to enjoy the Ahmedabad skyline.

Music and Food Trucks 

The Sindhu Bhavan road stretch is filled with food trucks and open-air lawn cafes.
The Sindhu Bhavan road stretch is filled with food trucks and open-air lawn cafes. Manisha Nainani

I made my stop at Fyro as it is a perfect blend of both. The slow soothing music coming from the truck, great playlists, strong coffee and amazing food creates the perfect vibe for hours-long hangs either with close friends, or in solitude.

Address: Mumatpura Rd, Ambli, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380058