With broad avenues and greenery, Gandhinagar forms a striking contrast to Ahmedabad. This is where state politicians live in large, fortified houses. Although Ahmedabad became Gujarat’s capital when the old state of Bombay was split, this new capital was planned 28km north on the west bank of the Sabarmati River. Named Gandhinagar after Mahatma Gandhi, it’s India’s second planned city after Chandigarh. The secretariat was moved here in 1970.
The best reason for visiting is the spectacular Akshardham, belonging to the wealthy Hindu Swaminarayan group. The elaborately carved main temple, built by nearly 1000 artisans and opened in 1992, is constructed of 6000 tonnes of pink sandstone and surrounded by manicured gardens. Three underground exhibition areas have hi-tech multimedia presentations on the Swaminarayan movement, the Hindu epics and other religions. At sunset (every day except Monday) a 45-minute Water Show presents the story of the Upanishads through fountains, music, fire and lasers, and promises to reveal the secret of life after death.
Buses from Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar (₹20, 45 minutes, every 15 minutes) depart from the back northwest corner of Lal Darwaja, from ST bus stand, and from the numerous stops along Ashram Rd.