At a glance, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru might just have a few things in common. They are both the largest cities in their respective states and among the fastest developing centres in the country. Both cities have an extremely vibrant heritage but are worlds apart in terms of culture and lifestyle. However, the two cities are witnessing a shift in culture and it is only when you explore Ahmedabad and Bengaluru through the eyes of their people that you witness this change. Here is why you should be thinking about packing your bags to visit these cities in 2019!
Ahmedabad is like Gujarat’s thumping heart, pumping life into its very veins. The UNESCO World Heritage City provides the appropriate canopy for travel enthusiasts to take a much-needed reprieve before they serenade their way across the state. When you are done with your wanderings around the region, you know that Ahmedabad will be right where you left it, with the same warmth and affection.
The city carries the weight of a rich past, which is visible in a few of its old icons. The Sabarmati Ashram stands like a monolith, refusing to move ahead with time. The house was the residence of Mahatma Gandhi and the origin of his famous crusade against the British salt tax in the form of the Dandi March. The items lay well preserved - his glasses, book, charkha and sleeping mat all in pristine condition. He famously swore to never step into Sabarmati Ashram until India was finally independent. The Mahatma never did and the house is almost as if it was eternally waiting for him to come back.
The House of MG is yet another vehicle that transports you back into old Ahmedabad. One of the oldest buildings in the city, it beautifully describes the architectural heritage of the early 20th century mulled with the ancestral customs of a Gujarati home. The premier boutique heritage hotel was once the residence of prominent textile merchant Mangaldas Girdhardas who even hosted Mahatma Gandhi when he returned from South Africa. It also houses two acclaimed restaurants - Agashiye and The Green House that offer authentic Gujarati thalis and treats.
Ahmedabad was born out of the earth, quite literally. Nowhere is this statement truer than at the Little Rann of Kutch. The Little Rann of Kutch lies about 170 kilometres from the city centre and at first glance, the 5000 square-kilometre large salt plan seems to be incorrectly named. Only after you compare it to its elder sister - the Greater Rann of Kutch - does it make sense. Rann in the local tongue means salt which is plentiful in these parts.
The desert unfolds endlessly in all directions and driving through the cracked earth in open vehicles is almost otherworldly. From spotting indigenous animals like the wild ass, Indian wolf and the endangered Great Indian Bustard to local communities taking part in salt farming, the desert offers a lot more than you can fathom.
Ahmedabad is well connected to all major cities in India through the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport. Taxis are readily available to and from the city centre. Renaissance Ahmedabad Hotel also arranges to pick up and drop from the airport.
The city is well connected to most parts of the country through an extensive railway network. Superfast and express trains ply daily from metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
Ahmedabad is connected by road to major Indian cities via the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) and interstate bus services. From Mumbai, it takes around nine to 10 hours to reach Gandhi’s great city on the National Highway 8.
The Renaissance Ahmedabad Hotel offers suites with marble tubs, panoramic views of the city and modern decor. The newly-opened hotel also had a rooftop pool and an Asian restaurant, Kuro, whose sushi has rung in high praises from Japanese executives.
Price per night - Rs 7,200 onwards for a room for two.
Make your bookings here.
Sometimes, the nomenclature of Indian cities is suggestive of India’s rich mythological history. Bengaluru’s former name, Bangalore, has metamorphosed from “Benda-kaal-uru,” the Kannada language translation of “town of boiled beans.” Even today, the city still alludes to a changing India - a modern economic powerhouse with Bengaluru at its forefront. But what makes Bengaluru stand out is its unique mix of old and new, much like Ahmedabad. Sushi restaurants and technology parks stand side-by-side with palaces and medieval temples.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Aerospace Museum showcases India’s giant leaps in science and technology and is the first of its kind in the country. The highlights of the museum include a panoramic view of the landing and take-off of various aircrafts as well as a flight simulator and a range of aeroplanes and helicopters.
On the contrary, the Bangalore Palace looks like a Disney-castle with its beautiful Tudor-style architecture. Gothic windows, battlements, fortified towers and turrets lend a great degree of magnificence to the palace. Mainly built of wood, it also boasts of imposing tapestries, carvings and paintings. Tourists can rent electronic audio-guides at the entrance and take a self-guided tour around the building.
Over the years, Bengaluru has been shaped by different rulers, the British colonisation and the global IT sector. In the midst of all the change, the Bangalore Turf Club has remained largely untouched. Housed in the heart of the city, the club still hosts premier horse races - a tradition first founded nearly 100 years ago. If the thrill of nail-biting finishes and equestrian activities are your thing, then a visit to turf-side is a must.
For theists, the Nandi Bull Temple in Basavanagudi is a place of religious meditation and the shrine draws throngs of devotees every day. For the shopaholics, Commercial Street and Brigade Road are filled with shops selling everything under the sun. If you are an expert negotiator, you can get world-famous silks or bronze artefacts without burning a hole in your pocket.
Both cities have unique qualities that inspire you to discover them. They hold hidden treasures in the usual spots that many tourists miss. However, there is a way to be a part of both the cities and get to know them completely. The Renaissance Navigator program by Marriott aims to help promote and discover these old cities in a new way. Navigators are local guides who help you connect with the very best experiences around a Renaissance hotel. Each Navigator has been hand-picked to make sure you can find what the guidebooks can’t tell you and help you seek the most intriguing imaginative experiences the city has to offer.
Bengaluru is well connected to all major cities in India and a few international ones through the Kempegowda International Airport, which is about 40 kilometres from the city centre. Renaissance Ahmedabad Hotel also arranges to pick up and drop from the airport.
The city is well connected to most parts of the country through an extensive railway network. Superfast and express trains like the Rajdhani express ply daily from metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
Bengaluru is well connected via major national highways which connects various other cities to it. Chennai, the largest city close to the IT hub, is about six hours away by road.
The Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel is the perfect base for your stay. Conveniently located close to the Bangalore Turf Club, the hotel decor is themed on the city’s racing heritage. Most of the rooms face the race course, making for scenic viewing every morning.
Price per night: Rs 12,700 onwards.
Make your bookings here.
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