This post has been made possible by a partnership with Kamalan.
The majestic walled city of Ahmedabad was founded over 600 years ago by Sultan Ahmad Shah. Throughout the centuries, various groups have ruled the land which has resulted in a melange of phenomenal architecture reflecting the diverse eras of the city’s history. Today, Ahmedabad is the seventh largest-city in India, and Instagrammers will love exploring it in order to find the beautiful, hidden corners among the more touristy sites.
Ahmedabad is in the Indian state of Gujarat and is known as a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it India’s first World Heritage city. The city is a treasure of picturesque facades that you won’t be able to resist sharing on your feed. Read on to find out the most photo-friendly spots around the city during your visit to Ahmedabad!
On the eastern side of the Sabarmati River, you’ll find the architectural heritage of the sultanate Indo-Saracenic within the ancient walled city. Pay a visit to the Bhadra Citadel which dates back to 1411 and was used as a royal court. Within the citadel are hand-carved chambers with breathtakingly beautiful latticework that once housed the royal family. The citadel also boasts many beautiful artifacts and stunning royal gardens. Inside the compound, you can visit the Temple of Bhadra Kali, which features a black statue of the goddess Bhadra Kali with four hands. Another architectural marvel is Teen Darwarza’s long stretch of arched gateways with jaali work windows. For the best photo-taking opportunities, visit in the morning or during the week to avoid throngs of local tourists. The Bhadra Fort Gate is stunning, but you can expect a constant flow of traffic, so get creative and incorporate rickshaws and passersby into your composition. The fort’s clock tower is also worth a visit—it was brought from London in 1849!
Juni Juma Masjid
Sultan Ahmed Shah’s Mosque can still be visited today and is one of the most popular sights in Ahmedabad. Just outside the fortified city is the grand “Friday Mosque” built in 1423, complete with yellow sandstone structures that feature 260 pillars and 15 domes at varying heights. Instagrammers love to shoot the stunning columns, which cast shadows and seem never-ending, as well as the intricately-carved details of the minarets. Be respectful when visiting this sacred space where the sultan is buried. If you have a tripod, visit at night to capture the beautiful structure glowing in well-placed lights, or plan your visit early in the morning or during lunch hours to avoid crowds.
Sidi Saeed Masjid
Many of the architectural wonders to witness in Ahmedabad are mosques left by Islamic rulers. The ornate window carvings at Sidi Saeed Mosque are a must-see. Built in 1572 with yellow sandstone, you can spot many of the carvings of various flora including the “Tree of Life Jali” latticework in an arched window. Plan your visit around prayer time since this is an active mosque and it would be inappropriate to photograph people as they pray. The mosque is often open until 10 pm so you may take photos here at night as well.
House of MG
Easily the most beautiful hotel in Ahmedabad, the House of MG is located in a restored heritage home. You can wander around the property and take photos in the stunning red courtyard with white adornments if you make a reservation for lunch at their celebrated restaurant, which is equally photo-worthy. These restored heritage homes say a lot about the state of India during its different time periods, and many of them have been restored in order to preserve their history by including the same furniture and offering tours. If you can, see if you can stay here in order to get a sense of what India was like during its lucrative trading years. It also gives you a chance to snap some more pictures!
Siddi Bashir Masjid
Don’t miss one of the most unique phenomena in Ahmedabad: the shaking, three-story-tall Jhulta Minara at Sidi Bashir Masjid. With the slightest touch, the minarets sway—the reason why remains a mystery. While they are heavily damaged, this can add a lot to the feel of your photos. Probably designed by the slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah, the structure has been dated all the way back to 1452, though it may have actually been built later because of the influence of other architectural styles. The building received damage during the war of the Marthas and the Khan of Gujarat Sultanate, though that makes it all the more interesting to snap with your camera. Capture the moment on film or simply photograph the small adornments on the structure and stone balconies.
Dada Hari Ni Vav
Stepwells are an Instagrammer’s dream. Many stepwells in India have closed due to overtourism, but some of the structures in Ahmedabad still allow visitors — just be sure to adhere to any signage even if there is no guard present. The ancient underground sandstone stepwell Dada Harir ni Vav dates back 500 years. The structure is incredibly enchanting, and as you make your way down five stories, the air becomes much cooler even on the hottest days. Visit a few different times to capture how the light changes throughout the day as shadows bounce off of the stacked vertical pillars.
Squeeze in time for another sub-terrain stepwell–you won’t want to miss the beauty of the Adalaj Stepwell built in the late 1400s. These structures were once essential to life in the semi-arid regions of India since they provided a reliable source of water for daily activities. There is a legend surrounding this stepwell specifically, relating to the wife of a king that was killed by an invader. She wished to perform the act of sati (ritual suicide) in order to join her husband in the afterlife, but agreed to marry the conquerer if he would build the stepwell in order to help the local people. However, once the structure was complete, she leapt to her death to avoid the unwanted marriage. You can photograph the exquisite carvings of flowers and other motifs at the ancient five-story-deep stepwell. Be sure to enter the galleries on the sides to learn more about the tragic, lovelorn history of the well.
Hutheesing Jain Temple
The impeccable white marble structure of the Hutheesing Jain Temple attracts photographers daily. The impressive structure is covered with elaborate carvings and is the most celebrated Jain temple in the city although it only dates back to the 1800s. Built by a wealthy trader and supervised by his wife, the cost was incredibly expensive at the time. Created during a famine, the building of the temple employed hundreds of workers who came to add their expertise and unique designs. The main building has two stories for the worship of 11 gods and goddess on the first level, and six in the basement level. This is a great place to take close-up shots, and while it is currently being renovated, it’s worth stopping by during the evening for some of that golden hour light.
Husain Doshi Gufa
Across the Sabarmati River from Old Ahmedabad is this new city with many universities and museums, including the Amdavad ni Gufa underground art gallery. It’s only open in the evenings, but is free to enter. It was designed by the architect Balkrishna Vithaldes Doshi, and it aims to combine both visual art and architecture in the same space. The gallery is located underground and is meant to resemble a cave. Because you might have limited lighting, you might want to consider bringing a tripod in order to capture some of the beautiful mosaic floors and the intriguing columns created to look like trees. You might also get the chance to view a special exhibit or film depending on the season.
Trimandir Adalaj Temple
Near the Adalaj Stepwell is the Trimandir-Adalaj Temple: the headquarters of Dada Bhagwan. The temple usually opens at dawn, so it might be worth it to wake up early in order to get the perfect shot. The temple was built in order to reflect the concept of three different religions including Jainism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism, though other gods and goddesses are worshipped here too. The best place to take photos is the “Gigantic Hall,” where services are conducted. Measuring 31,250 square feet, it can fit thousands of people within its walls. On the exterior, the dusty pink structure makes for stunning photos in the early morning light.
Looking for more information on India’s architecture? Read our guide to Jaipur!
Header photo by Elke Frotscher.