Gandhinagar: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Named after the Father of our nation, Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, is a planned city set up in 1965 during the socio-political movement, Nav Nirman Andolan. A unique blend of heritage, culture and progress, it symbolizes the vibrant Gujarat.

My husband was nominated for a workshop at IIT, and I grabbed the opportunity to tag along. We planned our itinerary along the work schedule to explore the city. It is easily accessible through highway, rail and air. Early morning, as our cab from the Sardar Vallabh Bhai International Airport took us through the city, the greenery and scenic beauty of the city greeted us. The city was divided into sectors, roads were numbered and crossroads named in Gujarati alphabets ‘K’, ‘Kh’ etc. the traffic moved in discipline across the architecturally integrated city. The traffic signals had cute smileys.

The IIT campus is spread over 400 acres of land along the river Sabarmati. Impressive state-of-art infrastructure, green initiatives, environment friendly practices and social initiatives surely reflect in its ranking. Morning walks and evening strolls across the campus were a pleasurable experience.

For the city tour, as we travelled from the outskirts, Palaj, to the main city, a gigantic gate greeted us, the Gujarat International Finance Tec City, a mammoth business hub. Strategically located, it provides a wide consumer base and numerous business opportunities. The GIFT city hosts International Financial Service Centre besides giant global technology companies.

Our first stop was at Sabarmati Ashram. This is one of the first ashrams of Mahatma Gandhi and he spent a number of years here with his wife Kasturba and his followers. The ashram retains its old-world charm. History lessons of British Raj and legends of freedom movement came alive as we moved around. Hriday Kunj (Bapu’s cottage), Nandini (Guest cottage), Vinoba Kutir (Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s cottage), Mira Kutir (Mira Bhen’s cottage), Upasna Mandir (open air prayer arena), Magan Niwas, Rustom Block, Gandhi Samarak Sanghralaya with life size paintings, photographs relics and paraphernalia of Ghandhi ji, and a library of archives kept us engrossed.

A flight of steps, resembling an Amphitheatre, from the Ashram led us down to the river Sabarmati. Sabarmati River Water Front is a river promenade with walkway on the east and west side banks of the river. Through sustainable initiatives, the river has been cleaned. Following comprehensive strategy, water is retained throughout the year and the ecosystem has plunged back to greenery, and is home to varied species of birds. A thriving hot spot, we enjoyed the gentle breeze along the marvelous landscaping as birds chirped happily. While we ditched the boat ride, a walk on the iconic Atal Bridge was an enchanting experience. It is a must visit place, especially in the evening.

As the evening descended, we headed towards Swaminarayan Akshar Dham Temple. Intrinsically carved pink sand stone temple, built according to Vastu Shastra without steel or iron, it has a seven feet tall gold leaf idol of Lord Swaminarayan at the center. The surrounding area is a blend of modernity and ancient values. Idols, tableaus and picture gallery present moments from our glorious Hindu scriptures – Ved, Puran Ramayann, Mahabharat etc. Manicured lawns, greenery and huge parikarma corridor circumscribe the main temple. The light and sound show is an amalgamation of faith and technology. As the moon and stars lit up the sky, flood lights bathed the temple. Our soul soaked in the glory and grandeur.

On our return journey, the friendly driver enumerated the must visit spots on our subsequent visit.

Suruchi Kalra Choudhary