A 25-minute ride from Ahmedabad’s international airport brings us into India’s first smart city, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City. Our destination is the Grand Mercure Gandhinagar GIFT City that we visited to get away from the routineness of life that has come to become the new normal.
You could consider the hotel if you’re looking for a quick getaway from in and around the city. You can choose to duck into bed and sleep off your stay like many youngsters like doing to get rid of work-life weariness but we suggest you make time for a few activities during your stay. There is a wall embellished with dextrously made kite motifs at the pre-function hall. These are inspired by the famous kite festival of Gujarat. In bright colours, they display Kutch embroidery as well as local block prints. The nine kites are placed in a free-flowing form and we find that the wall décor is a good introduction to the state’s handicrafts.
The hotel organises workshops that its guests can participate for an extra cost. We undertook one on tie and dye wherein an artisan demonstrated how it's all done. In the end, guests are given the work they create as a souvenir. If you’re travelling with children, we recommend signing up for these. As of now, all activities are restricted due to Covid-19 but staycation packages are offered.
While you’re there, take a day-trip to the Sabarmati Ashram, one of the many residences of Mahatma Gandhi, where you can see his life history chronicled. An activity that you must do is to sign up for a heritage walk that takes you through the old city and ends with a traditional breakfast.
A noteworthy sight, and also the starting point of the walk, is the Swaminarayan Temple with its intricate carvings in pure Burma teak. Also check out the Auto World Vintage Car Museum that has a large collection, as well as the Calico Museum of Textiles.
The food, on the other hand, sums up Gujarat’s culinary kaleidoscope. Head to Samaroh for a traditional Gujarati thaali. For a global fare, Sangam is the place for you, the yellow décor of which is inspired by the local favourite snack—dhokla. Taking inspiration from Kutch, the cultural district of Gujarat, there is Lippan Kaam or mud and mirror work walls, while cushions with Kutch embroidery sit on the dining chairs. That’s the culinary, visual and cultural treat the hotel aims to be.