Whenever I have heard about Ahmedabad from any of my non-Gujarati friends who have visited the city, except for one, none of them had a single word to say ill about the city. Sometimes it baffles me. It’s not that I don’t love the city but the extent to which I see them love the city is inexplicable. And these are the same set of people who used to wonder how someone can stay in a “dry state”, which is EQUAL TO “zero night life”, with about 70% population pure veggies. It is difficult to explain in words how people in the city and the entire state, still have one of the best lifestyles in the country without alcohol and chicken. One needs to live that lifestyle to experience that. I can just try to get some excitement around through my words.
To do that, I thought of starting this series of posts depicting the Ahmedabad Nightlife. As a first chapter of this, I thought of covering Manek Chowk – the night eatery place of the famous Ahmedabad Old City. If you talk about night life in Ahmedabad and if you don’t start with Manek Chowk, it’s a sin.
Manek Chowk is the most buzzing part of the city if you are out in the city in midnight. It is named after the 15th century saint Baba Maneknath, who interrupted Ahmed Shah’s effort to build Bhadra fort. It is said that Baba would weave a mat during the day when the fort walls were built and would unweave the mat in the night, magically bringing down the walls of the fort. When the king came to know about this, he invited Maneknath and asked him to prove his powers by putting himself in a small jar. When Maneknath put himself in the jar, Ahmed Shah sealed the jar and buried it.
The most amazing fact of the place is that you won’t find a trace of any eateries during the day when it is a jewelry market. But after the sunset all the jewelry shops close down and within half an hour you will see a completely transformed place with tables, chairs and food stalls rattling all over the place. It is a “must visit” place if you love street food and want some real taste of Amdavadi street food.
Pav bhaji, pulav, sandwich, uttapam, dosa, pizza and kulfi are some of the most in-demand items you will find here. But you will also find some innovations like cadbury sandwich, cadbury cheese pizza, gwalia dosa, ice-cream sandwich and pineapple pizza, if you want to try out something totally new – some of them Burrp certified.
And if you are there, you “must not” miss out on Asharfi’s kulfi which will bring you the most amazing varieties of kulfis. It is one of oldest chains in Ahmedabad, which started in 1940s and has been pioneers of kulfi to the extent that the name Asharfi has become equivalent to kulfis for Amdavadis. Today they have about 10 outlets in Ahmedabad.
While Manek Chowk in the old city is among the oldest food plazas in Ahmedabad, owing to the demand from the western part of the city who have to travel all the way to the congested old city, a city based business group started MMC (Maha Manek Chowk) in 2011. Opened in Dev Arc Mall near S G Highway, the new food plaza tried to bring the flavors and ambiance of original Manek Chowk to the west. However, the MCRKPBA (Manek Chowk Ratri Khani Peeni Bazaar Association) refused to allow any vendor open any branch elsewhere as it will dilute the heritage of Manek Chowk. Hence, only the non-members of the association had a shop in MMC. However, MMC couldn’t compete much with the OMC (Original Manek Chowk) and closed down last year.
Even with all the malls, international fast food chains and high end restaurants in the city, Manek Chowk still gets crowded with people coming from all over the city to enjoy their favorite delicacies, every single night.
Sources: Gujarat Tourism, Live Mint, Ahmedabad Mirror