Come with me to Anand & Ahmedabad, India

Motherland - Real Quick
Travel Diary 

I recently made a trip to India!  It was an extremely short trip but well worth it. I had made the trip visit my Ba (Gujarati for grandma) and to attend a wedding.  I have spent most of my childhood in the western state of Gujarat.  I have captured a few moments from the trip which are very special to me and want to share my experience with you all! I also hope this post gives you some ideas of places to visit and foods to try if ever make the trip to the place that is my birthplace!

My Dada's (Grandpa) Farm

Highlights

 Ahmedabad
Amdavad (how the locals call it) is the largest city in the state of Gujarat,  it is my mom's home and my birthplace. Mahatma Gandhi's ashram is located in this city near the Sabarmati River (which is the major river that dissects the city) as well. As like any heavily populated city, there is a lot of pollution, traffic and traveling by car is nothing short of going to war (no joke!)!! However, the city offers exquisite cuisine, age old historical sites and plenty of interesting architecture. Do yourself favor and hire a driver who knows their way around to help you explore this widespread city.



Sabarmati River 
Law Garden
This is a public garden near a law school in Ahmedabad that is famous for it's street market. The street market has vendors exhibiting handicrafts that are unique and special to the Gujarati culture (a must visit and exclusive spot for authentic souvenirs!!). Be sure to bargain with the handicraft sellers as that is expected! The area also has an extension that lights up at night with street food vendors opening their stalls to the public. The food is AMAZING!

Street Style Chana Chor Garam 
Mango Matla Kulfi 
Ragda Puri




Rajwadu in Ahmedabad 
We ended up eating dinner at this restaurant called Rajwadu. Rajwadu is a Rajasthani/Gujarati village themed restaurant in the city of Ahmedabad. Despite being located in a city, when you enter the estate you will be transported to a traditional Rajwadi village. The experience tends to go as follows - after you enter and walk through the "village streets", you will be seated on a khatla (rope bed) and be served some fresh juices. After that you are taken to the dinner chambers which are "sit on the floor" style and you will be swarmed with rajwadi's coming around to fill your thali (plates) with the most delicious food!! Be sure to stick around after dinner to watch some traditional folk dancing and singing. 

If there is one restaurant you have to choose to eat at while you are in this city, please let it be this one. Call ahead to make reservations as we heard the wait times to be seated can be up to 3 hours at times. 

Khatlas

Performers of the folk music and dance 
Devoured everything! 
Rajwadi Thali
Anand 
Our home is about 20 minutes on the outskirts of Anand City in a small village called Kunjrao. This is where I grew up, this is where my dad grew up, this is where my grandfather grew up, this is where my great grandfather grew up ( you get the point?). The surrounding villages consider them to be part of Anand, so technically speaking, Anand city is home. Needless to say, we made the trip to Anand on a daily basis! The city is also referred to as Milk City because it is home to Amul Dairy. Amul Dairy has been a pioneer in its own right to end exploitation of farmers for their milk in the surrounding villages and has also paved the way for techniques of milk production that are now widely used all over India!

Supermarket in Anand 

The Banyan Tree - Madhuban Resort & Spa 
This is a relatively new establishment in our city but this place made me feel like I was in a five star resort in Miami! It's design mirrors many resorts here in the United States. This place is a popular choice for accommodations among the NRI's ( Non Resident Indians). The food, service and ambiance are all simply spectacular! This is also a popular venue choice for the residents around the city to host special events. We had visited only to eat but were allowed to take a walk around the property. If you don't go there for accommodations, definitely go check out the food! You will not be disappointed.





Masala Chaas (Buttermilk)- DIVINE 

Serdi No Ras (Sugarcane Juice)
The earliest memories I have of Anand and surrounding villages are drinking Serdi No Ras which means Sugarcane Juice in Gujarati with my Dada (grandpa). The feeling of stopping on the roads at the stalls where fresh juice is extracted for you, sprinkled with some masala and then given to sip on in the scorching heat is something that has never left me. Perhaps this is the reason, every time I go back, I make it a point to drink it every day! Finding a vendor is not hard at all, just look around on the roads when you are driving to and from Anand. They offer plastic cups and straws to drink out of for hygienic reasons. You have got to taste this stuff, it is SO good!





Kunjrao
This is my village. This post would be incomplete without me talking about my village. It is primarily populated by farmers that have have farmlands in the vicinity. We are a very small close knit community and everyone knows everyone. However, over the years, the population has diminished. Majority of the folks have moved out into bigger cities or now live abroad. I still have my grandma and relatives that live here, so I usually stay here during my stay in Gujarat. There is no place else I rather be! It is a quiet, peaceful and a humbling experience for me. I like to visit my grandfather's farm as that is his legacy and it makes me feel close to him while I am there (sorry to get all mushy on you).



My Ba ( Grandma)

Wedding in Gujarat
If you have never attended an Indian wedding in India, then we will have to meet for lunch because I can't possibly explain the experience via this post. However, it is just as bright, colorful, vibrant and chaotic as the movies usually portray it or as you may have heard. Yes, it is usually is a week long affair and is filled with unlimited amounts of eating, singing, dancing and rejoicing with family members. I had the exciting opportunity to attend a close family friends wedding.

My Mehendi ( Henna)

L to R --> Mother of the Bride, Groom & the Bride 
Maang Bharai (Sindoor, special red powder, is filled into the bride's hair partition. This symbolizes her marital status) 

Mangal Sutra Ceremony (Groom ties an auspicious thread/necklace around the bride that she wears as a symbol of her now being married)  

Tell me, did you feel bombarded with pictures? I don't think I have ever posted so many pictures in a single post before but I didn't have enough material to do individual posts and this was the best way I could think of compiling my journey to the motherland! 

All in all , it was a quick trip (7 days to be exact) with a jam packed schedule. I await the time that I can go back to explore more of my home state- the dessert up towards the northern and western sides, the beaches far west, the holy sites and the forests. Until next time...

-Dhara 






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