4 Days of Garba week in Gujarat || How to plan an extended weekend around Amazing Ahmedabad


Even though we can hardly call ourselves knowledgeable enough to suggest about the best itineraries in Gujarat, we feel that we did a fairly good job when it came to planning one at a short notice of two days. So we can still talk about how we finalized the itinerary, what were the considerations, what worked well, and what did not.

Even though we can hardly call ourselves knowledgeable enough to suggest about the best itineraries in Gujarat, we feel that we did a fairly good job when it came to planning one at a short notice of two days. So we can still talk about how we finalized the itinerary, what were the considerations, what worked well, and what did not. 



We had a long weekend because of Dussehra holidays on 7th and 8th October this year. It was on the evening of 3rd October when we suddenly realized that we could plan a quick trip somewhere. Of all the states of North West India, Gujarat was the only one we had never visited, so it was one of the obvious choice. I definitely wanted to go to Gir. We checked on Google and it showed that Gir was barely two hours away from Ahmedabad. So we booked a flight to Ahmedabad, thinking that we would spend a couple of days in the city and then go to Gir. But we were in for a shock.


We had a long weekend because of Dussehra holidays on 7th and 8th October this year. It was on the evening of 3rd October when we suddenly realized that we could plan a quick trip somewhere. Of all the states of North West India, Gujarat was the only one we had never visited, so it was one of the obvious choice. I definitely wanted to go to Gir. We checked on Google and it showed that Gir was barely two hours away from Ahmedabad. So we booked a flight to Ahmedabad, thinking that we would spend a couple of days in the city and then go to Gir. But we were in for a shock. 




We booked a hotel for our first night in Ahmedabad and were eagerly looking forward to the trip, when I happened to discuss our plans with a much more experienced friend. He enlightened me that the drive to Gir would take at least one full day. I checked and yes, he was right. I do not know how we messed up with the otherwise reliable google maps. But this was a major disappointment. By now, we were not even in the position to change the flights. Else we could have booked the flights to Keshod, an airport that is barely 70kms from Gir.


We booked a hotel for our first night in Ahmedabad and were eagerly looking forward to the trip, when I happened to discuss our plans with a much more experienced friend. He enlightened me that the drive to Gir would take at least one full day. I checked and yes, he was right. I do not know how we messed up with the otherwise reliable google maps. But this was a major disappointment. By now, we were not even in the position to change the flights. Else we could have booked the flights to Keshod, an airport that is barely 70kms from Gir. 



Anyway, it was what it was. We couldn't do anything about the situation now. So we decided to make the most of it. After some research, we realized that Statue of Unity was doable from Ahmedabad and Vadodara, so at least some excitement was restored.

Anyway, it was what it was. We couldn't do anything about the situation now. So we decided to make the most of it. After some research, we realized that Statue of Unity was doable from Ahmedabad and Vadodara, so at least some excitement was restored. 



Now that you know how we happened to be in Ahmedabad on the morning of October 5th, let me tell you about what our final itinerary looked like - after the completion of the trip. Because we were kind of living by the day.


Now that you know how we happened to be in Ahmedabad on the morning of October 5th, let me tell you about what our final itinerary looked like - after the completion of the trip. Because we were kind of living by the day.




Day 1: Land in Ahmedabad, Local Sightseeing Day 2: Excursion to Modhera Sun Temple and Pattan to see the famous Rani ki Vav  Day 3: Lothal and then drive to Vadodara  Day 4: Statue of Unity and then back to Ahmedabad









Hera are a few things that worked in our favour and some that did not:  1) Flights:  We booked Indigo flights for to and fro. The timings of these flights was perfect. We reached early enough on October 5th so that we had the whole day to explore the city. On 8th October, our flight out of Ahmedabad was at 10:20 PM. That gave us the entire day to visit Statue of Unity and then return to the Ahmedabad airport.


Hera are a few things that worked in our favour and some that did not:



1) Flights:


We booked Indigo flights for to and fro. The timings of these flights was perfect. We reached early enough on October 5th so that we had the whole day to explore the city. On 8th October, our flight out of Ahmedabad was at 10:20 PM. That gave us the entire day to visit Statue of Unity and then return to the Ahmedabad airport. 



2) Timing of the trip:  There were plus and well as minus points of this timing. These were Navratras and therefore the best opportunity to witness Dandiya and Garba, some of the most incredible visual experiences in the state. However, October is generally a hot month in Gujarat, so we ended up exhausted and badly tanned.


2) Timing of the trip:


There were plus and well as minus points of this timing. These were Navratras and therefore the best opportunity to witness Dandiya and Garba, some of the most incredible visual experiences in the state. However, October is generally a hot month in Gujarat, so we ended up exhausted and badly tanned. 



3) Itinerary:  While Ahmedabad worked in terms of local travel as well as day-long excursions, Vadodara was a bit of disappointment at least in terms of local travel. May be it was because of our weird hotel experience that we were not really able to enjoy the city. But in general, I feel you can skip visiting the city if you can plan a trip to Statue of Unity without entering Vadodara. I believe this was one aspect where we could have done better. Our Day 3 was so busy (tip to Lothal on the way from Ahmedabad to Vadodara) that by the time we reached Vadodara and sorted out our hotel mess, we were too put off to do any sightseeing. Also it was a Monday and apparently the city palace, which is one important places to see in the city, was closed.


3) Itinerary:


While Ahmedabad worked in terms of local travel as well as day-long excursions, Vadodara was a bit of disappointment at least in terms of local travel. May be it was because of our weird hotel experience that we were not really able to enjoy the city. But in general, I feel you can skip visiting the city if you can plan a trip to Statue of Unity without entering Vadodara. I believe this was one aspect where we could have done better. Our Day 3 was so busy (tip to Lothal on the way from Ahmedabad to Vadodara) that by the time we reached Vadodara and sorted out our hotel mess, we were too put off to do any sightseeing. Also it was a Monday and apparently the city palace, which is one important places to see in the city, was closed. 



4) Hotel booking:  We used Booking.com to book the hotels in Ahmedabad and then in Vadodara. When we reached Ahmedabad, we only had one night booking at Hotel Treebo Trend Ambassador. The hotel was okay and we did not want to spend too much time changing hotels so we booked the same hotel for the second night as well. Once we had finalized the plans to visit Lothal and Statue of Unity too, we booked the hotel in Vadodara. This wasn't such a great experience though. Even though we had received a confirmation from the hotel, when we reached there, the man at the reception informed us that their listing on Booking.com was through OYO and they have now broken the tie with OYO. The man suggested that he would not be able to entertain our booking from booking.com but we could cancel that booking and book directly from the reception there.


4) Hotel booking:


We used Booking.com to book the hotels in Ahmedabad and then in Vadodara. When we reached Ahmedabad, we only had one night booking at Hotel Treebo Trend Ambassador. The hotel was okay and we did not want to spend too much time changing hotels so we booked the same hotel for the second night as well. Once we had finalized the plans to visit Lothal and Statue of Unity too, we booked the hotel in Vadodara. This wasn't such a great experience though. Even though we had received a confirmation from the hotel, when we reached there, the man at the reception informed us that their listing on Booking.com was through OYO and they have now broken the tie with OYO. The man suggested that he would not be able to entertain our booking from booking.com but we could cancel that booking and book directly from the reception there. 



The hotel wasn't so charming. The prices that they were offering was higher than what we had paid through booking.com and since this would be same-day cancellation, we would lose some money if we cancelled the booking. So we decided to leave and fight the battle with booking.com instead. In parallel, we made another booking for another hotel through booking.com and called up and confirmed that we were indeed booked there. Then we raised the case with booking.com. After some to and fro, booking.com cancelled our previous booking without any charges and also reimbursed us for the new booking that we had had to make.


The hotel wasn't so charming. The prices that they were offering was higher than what we had paid through booking.com and since this would be same-day cancellation, we would lose some money if we cancelled the booking. So we decided to leave and fight the battle with booking.com instead. In parallel, we made another booking for another hotel through booking.com and called up and confirmed that we were indeed booked there. Then we raised the case with booking.com. After some to and fro, booking.com cancelled our previous booking without any charges and also reimbursed us for the new booking that we had had to make. 


Local transport:  In Ahmedabad, you can rely on Ola and Uber for local transport; and auto-rickshaws in old Ahmedabad. In fact, even for our day excursions, we tried Ola Outstation. The experience was hassle-free. While we were not delighted by the experience, there were no serious complaints as well. Here's our review of OLA outstation.


Local transport:


In Ahmedabad, you can rely on Ola and Uber for local transport; and auto-rickshaws in old Ahmedabad. In fact, even for our day excursions, we tried Ola Outstation. The experience was hassle-free. While we were not delighted by the experience, there were no serious complaints as well. Here's our review of OLA outstation.


Food:  We tried Gujarati breakfast on our first day in Gujarat. We had khakhra and kadhi, and poori bhaji. Both Kadhi and Bhaji were slightly sweet (as expected). Khakhra was light and crunchy and poori was as usual. We also bought thumbs-up with it, which was really refreshing because of the heat. The breakfast was okay but not something we thought we would want to repeat. We also had fruit shots from one of the hawkers in the Manek Chowk Food Market. We had Jamun shot and it was absolutely awesome.


Food:


We tried Gujarati breakfast on our first day in Gujarat. We had khakhra and kadhi, and poori bhaji. Both Kadhi and Bhaji were slightly sweet (as expected). Khakhra was light and crunchy and poori was as usual. We also bought thumbs-up with it, which was really refreshing because of the heat. The breakfast was okay but not something we thought we would want to repeat. We also had fruit shots from one of the hawkers in the Manek Chowk Food Market. We had Jamun shot and it was absolutely awesome. 


The other local food that we tasted were the Golgappas in Vadodara. They were good too. In non-veg, we had Chicken curry in Ahmedabad with tandoori roti. It was absolutely delicious. However, two food items Gujaratis absolutely seem to adore were sandwiches and Pizzas. You find hawkers selling these at every corner. There are small kiosk-like shops that specialize in these. You cannot be too far away from a sandwich or Pizza shop anywhere you go. We didn't try these though. We didn't try Gujarati Thali. This is a bit of a regret for this trip. If you plan a trip to Gujarat, try a Gujarati thali from a good restaurant at least once. You can even try the kathiawadi variant.


The other local food that we tasted were the Golgappas in Vadodara. They were good too. In non-veg, we had Chicken curry in Ahmedabad with tandoori roti. It was absolutely delicious. However, two food items Gujaratis absolutely seem to adore were sandwiches and Pizzas. You find hawkers selling these at every corner. There are small kiosk-like shops that specialize in these. You cannot be too far away from a sandwich or Pizza shop anywhere you go. We didn't try these though. We didn't try Gujarati Thali. This is a bit of a regret for this trip. If you plan a trip to Gujarat, try a Gujarati thali from a good restaurant at least once. You can even try the kathiawadi variant. 




Overall, while we cannot say that the trip was a complete success, we can definitely say that we managed to make the most of our time in Gujarat. We explored on foot, tried local stuff, experienced local transport, and were also able to witness one of the largest gatherings for Garba. From our point of view, the trip, with its highs and lows, was a success. As about Gir, we will surely plan some other time.


Overall, while we cannot say that the trip was a complete success, we can definitely say that we managed to make the most of our time in Gujarat. We explored on foot, tried local stuff, experienced local transport, and were also able to witness one of the largest gatherings for Garba. From our point of view, the trip, with its highs and lows, was a success. As about Gir, we will surely plan some other time.  

Overall, while we cannot say that the trip was a complete success, we can definitely say that we managed to make the most of our time in Gujarat. We explored on foot, tried local stuff, experienced local transport, and were also able to witness one of the largest gatherings for Garba. From our point of view, the trip, with its highs and lows, was a success. As about Gir, we will surely plan some other time.

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