Alongside the figurine and street food sellers’ carts on the sides of dirt roads throughout Ahmedabad, India, endless meters of kite twine are stretched out and getting a hand dyeing to hot pinks, purples and greens from their vendors.
Colorful kites worn out from practice litter the terraces and balconies of the city’s concrete apartment blocks. All this is done as adults and children prepare for the Gujarat state’s International Kite Festival (Uttarayan) on January 14th.
Gujarat nearly shuts down this day as its citizens take to the streets and roofs to fly kites and battle their neighbors, friends, and family members.
The festival, also known as Makar Sanranti, marks the time on the Hindu calendar when winter starts to fade into summer.
The main objective for kite flyer-fighters this day is to cut nearby flyers’ strings, taking down their opponents’ kites. In order to do this, flyers seek out sturdy kites from special craftsmen and a firkin (spool) of manja, a special sharp string coated with glass.
While in Ahmedabad for the festival, enjoy short trips to nearby sights like the Sabarmati Ashram, Andalaj stepwell and Akshardam.
Gandhi founded the Sabarmati Ashram on the bank of the river of the same name in the early 1900’s and it was there that many of the most important events of his spiritual and political life played out. It no longer functions as an ashram, but as a museum and tribute to the late leader. Accommodation can be found across the road from the ashram at the Toran Guest House.
Hindu ruler Rana Veer Singh started construction of the Andalaj stepwell in the 15th century. After Veer Singh died in battle, the Muslim king, Mohammed Begda, finished its construction as a way to woo Veer Singh’s widow. Upon its completion Veer Singh’s widow threw herself down the well to her death. It looks like something out of the films Indiana Jones and The Goonies.
Akshardam, an ancient-styled temple built in the 1990’s, has more security than the Taj Mahal. The complex’s Sat-Chit-Anand water show about enlightenment was previewed by a nuclear scientist and has been described by many Gujarati’s as “amazing.” It is cool for those who like their spirituality/religion Disney-fied.
Travel tip shared by wanderlustwrtng