Well, most readers do not know that I spent some of my student years in Gujarat and also some years working in Mumbai. So, today I just feel like talking about this region a bit. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway is a highly popular one for those who like a smooth drive. Of course, you can always take the Ahmedabad-Mumbai flight if you are in a hurry. Considering the fact that these two cities are commercial hubs, I am sure there are many people shuttling between the two cities. However, if you do have time at hand, I let me list out a few quick detours in the region that can be visited en route.
Even before leaving Ahmedabad, you should consider a trip to Adalaj Stepwells. Never heard of it before? Well, you must have seen it in the recently released Raees trailer. I visited it ages ago, but it seems to have been renovated a bit now and in any case, it is one of the finest examples of stepwells.
Gujarat is an ancient land with innumerable hidden treasures. Lothal is one such place which is a short drive away from Ahmedabad. It used to be a major port of the Indus Valley civilization. Not too many people visit it nowadays but surely you will get goose bumps when you soak in the 5000 years of civilization and ponder over it a bit. f you still want more of the same you can visit Dholavira in Kutch but that’s a longer drive n the opposite direction.
Here is a story on how I once tried to reach Lothal but ended up in Adalaj in 2008. But with improved GPS nowadays, surely you can do better.
Once you reach Vadodara from Ahmedabad, take a detour to Champaner (Pavagadh). Yet again, if you are not too much into history, you might not have heard of it. But let me tell you that it is a major cluster of monuments and is one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites of India. Most of the major monuments here date back to 15th and 16th century. Those arches have many stories to tell. So, give it some time and it will reward you for that.
Photo: Nirdesh Singh
Now, after Vadodara, you will reach another of the busy and prosperous cities of Gujarat, i.e. Surat. But if you need a quick break, take another detour to Daman, a union territory that does not have the same rules as Gujarat. Yes, the alcohol ban of Gujarat does not apply here. So, you can hit the beaches and have some drink, legally that is! Even otherwise it is a good place to visit with some old Portuguese colonial architecture and beaches that are not as crowded as Goa.
Finally, once you are near Mumbai but still have time, there is always Matheran. I do not think it needs any introduction but nevertheless, I think a ride in the toy train and then a stay at a good, quaint hotel in Matheran hills is a great way to rejuvenate before taking on the metropolis of Mumbai. Personally I like the monsoon here but even otherwise, it can be a unique experience.
Matheran Pics: Abhinav Singh
What else? Do you still need more ideas? Well, here is an useful post about weekend destinations from Mumbai, sorted according to distances from the city.