“I am not a great cook, I am not a great artist, but I love art, and I love food, so I am the perfect traveller.” – Michael Palin
Travel is always fun and it is feels even better when it is a week into the new year! I began the year with a lovely trip to Gujarat where we were invited to experience the International Kite festival at Ahmedabad along with a few other attractions (more on this to follow!:).
Since we reached a few hours before the festival inauguration, the team took us to the Sabarmati Ashram after our lovely breakfast! And as this was my first time in Gujarat, I was excited to immerse in it all.
The Ashram was home to Mahatma Gandhi for a while and served as one of the meeting spots during the freedom struggle for the leaders. I may not be a Gandhi fan but his Ashram certainly caters to all kinds of interest be it a deep dive into Gandhian times or just the house in itself with a wonderful view by the river!
As I was touring the house, I felt familiar pangs for the Chennai filter coffee and I wondered how I would live without it for the next four days! A few pictures and a few stories later, we stopped at Prithvi art gallery for lunch and as my luck would have it they didn’t serve coffee. The cafe as you can see in the pictures is quite pretty and is definitely a space inspired by art. The lighting and the well stocked bookshelf however did distract my mind from this small disaster.
In my food induced coma state, I headed back to join the others to head to the grounds where the International Kite Festival was set to take place. I met several kite flying enthusiasts from across the world, witnessed the various traditional dances and participated in a Q&A session with the Gujarat Tourism Chairman during the inauguration.
With whatever little energy I had left post these festivities, I joined the others to visit the Law Garden Night Market. Bustling with activity, it had stalls selling artistic wall hangings, costume jewelry and wonderfully embroidered skirts. Needless to say, I did go a bit crazy but the demonetization did become my savior when most stores refused to accept cards!
Crawling back to the hotel, I was already super excited for the next day’s Kite Festival!
Uttarayan (known as Makar Sakranti in other parts of India) is the day when the sun starts to travel northwards marking the decline of winter. The days become longer, the skies clearer and the breeze cooler. A feeling of anticipation, joy and jubilation grips all those who celebrate the occasion of thanksgiving and merry-making.
The fascination and the revelry associated with the kite flying cuts across age groups, class and communities. Although, Uttarayan is predominantly a Hindu festival marking the awakening of the Gods from their deep slumber, history has it that India developed a rich tradition of kite flying due to the patronage of the Kings who found the sport both entertaining and a way of displaying their prowess. An estimated of 186 kite fliers, which includes 51 from 8 different states of India and more than 100 kite fliers from 31 countries had turned up for the kite festival.
And as you folks may know, my trips are never complete without tasting the local cuisine! Heavily sweet and vegetarian, the Gujarati food found its sweet spot in me.
The food mania extended further into the night as I experienced more street side food. This includes dokhlas, dalwadas and an amazing kulfi – hands down the yummiest kulfi I had in a while!
10 meals down, probably a few kg’s heavier and enriched with stories from the Kite festival, Ahmedabad turned out to be a perfect start to this Gujarat trip! More details to come up soon and we will keep you posted!