July 09, 2008

A whole new world


I am of the opinion that as an outsider you take a closer look at a city than you would as an insider.


21 years in Ahmedabad v/s just 3 years in Pune. I think I can talk more about the later than the former - not a fact that I’m particularly proud about. So last week, with the hope of knowing more about my city, I took a heritage walk in the old city of Ahmedabad.

Organized by the Gujarat government, this walk takes you through the labyrinth corners of the vicinity where the city originated. In these lanes, time stands still and each building narrates the story of the grandeur of the bygone era.
We started with the house of Kavi Dalpatram. This bronze statue sits at the entrance.

The two hour walk takes you through various ‘pols’ – the self-contained neighbourhoods, some of which are virtually small villages. In olden days, these pols were protected by gates and secret passages.


An old woodden door that caught my eye

Today, when you walk through its narrow streets, you cannot help standing in awe before these architectural wonders.


A traditional bird-feeder known as a 'chabutara'


These carved out pieces that adorn every house here bear the influence of various cultures. While the floral pattern is a Persian influence, the presence of angels is very European.






This one bears a chinese influence

And then you enter these Jain temples where gods carved out from wood some 400 years ago still retain their luster and glory!


Some pics taken from outside the temple

Inside a particular house, it looks just like a ‘chal’, only that it’s bigger and grander. Some of these houses still accommodate huge Jain families (some 80-100 people).

In those days, it was a matter of pride for the family members that their girl child is educated. They'd place such small statues on the main door to indicate that.
Amidst these lanes also lies the tomb of the man who built this city – Ahmad Shah. (He was only 20 when he built it!) The intricate designs on the walls that surround it are beautifully carved out.








The city was systematically divided. There was the residential area called pols and the commercial area called ols. The markets of the old city are still the biggest markets in Ahmedabad and here you’ll find every damn thing you have on your list!


A banner with a typo that caught my attention

The walk ended at the Jama Masjid. It was the first time I entered a mosque and the feeling was overwhelming. The huge central area is surrounded by walls where some urdu words are painted.

The central area

The soothing Urdu script
To say that the central dome is a work of beauty would be an understatement. The 500+ pillars within the mosque give rise to an interesting play of shadow and light. I just had to close my eyes and say ‘Allah’ in my heart to feel one with Him.




One of my favourite pics from the day

I wondered, how many people know this facet of Ahmedabad. How many even care to? And as I type this I wonder if it would be fair to even call it the old city. In those couple of hours, what I discovered was a complete new city.


Shaival and me :)

Thanks Shaival for your wonderful company. Thanks Om for helping me out in posting the pictures.
P.S. - You can see some beautiful pictures of Ahmedabad pols here.

31 comments:

girish said...

This post is going to be an eye-opener for sure.

~ ॐ ~ said...

This is such a amazing post... and reconfirms my feeling about the city....

there is some character that I would like to witness and capture too sometime...

thanks for posting this...

oh and congratulations on the first photo post :)

Fingers said...

Hi Bhumika, yes, I'm based in Ahmedabad. Are you here too?

bhumika said...

@girish

i hope so. there is so much about a'bad that i still haven't discovered or explored. this experience has motivated me to do that now.

@om

thanks om :) yes, a'bad is calling you. navratri, remember?

@fingers

welcome to my blog :) yes, i am in a'bad now. do mail me your address and i'll get in touch with you.

Soulmate said...

Ahmedabad is worth visiting and exploring. Never knew the city is so fascinating and has such rich culture.. I should plan a visit to Gujarat.. Have to see this colorful state now..

Avishek said...

Excellent post. Lovely pictures. Truly enjoyable. I had no idea Ahmedabad had such excellent photo-ops. Very well done Bhumi. Keep it up!

bhumika said...

@soulmate

Yes, do plan a visit to Ahmedabad. The best time is during Navratri - 9 days full of dance and colour...it's a time when the city comes alive!

@avi

Thank you so much :) I'm waiting for the day you come down to Ahmedabad and capture these beautiful places on your lense.

ujwala said...

it's the same for me and i guess a lot of other people too. you tend to skip doing things in the place you grow up thinking that you'll do it later :D beautiful photographs!

Arch at Rang said...

What a fabulous post!

I have yet to visit Ahmedabad...but these picture make me want to visit really soon:-))

Arch

bhumika said...

@ujwala

welcome to my blog :) It's true - the outsider takes with him much more than the insider...Thanks for your comments

@archana

:) i'm glad that i've inspired a couple of people to come and visit my city. I'd love to be your host :)

vineeta said...

Bhumika! What lovely pics! I love your city :) and how right you are about not 'seeing' your city as well as a city u visit :) but you've done a brilliant job. & what a cute kid u look like :) I love it that you will be generous enough to share yourself so beautifully. I've never gotten the guts to do it :) And THANK YOU SO MUCH for linking my post at the the end :) Love you :)

bhumika said...

@vineeta

thank you so much for your generous comments :) believe me, had it not been for your post on the A'bad pols, i would have never given it a serious thought. So THANK YOU SO MUCH :) Hope to meet you someday in A'bad.

dharmabum said...

soothing is a ncie word for the script, it is indeed very artistic!

my dad took me to the city when i was a school boy, i remember the market place. but what i remember most is this restaurant - where we had some fantastic gujju food. and i ate and ate and ate :)

Gauri Gharpure said...

ekdam saachi vaat chhe!! However much I adore my place, I have really really wanted to explore the city like this.. take a heritage walk or something.. real shame.. when we were kids, my mama used to take us around as a part of little workshops he held.. he's an architect you know, so I am sure he knows not just Ahmedabad, but just about any city he's been to a tad better than a permanent resident.. I am digressing.. Wonderful wonderful post.. I think i need to put those two hours aside when I am home next..

bhumika said...

@dharmabum

taste has a unique way of keeping memories intact. Good that u still rembr the gujju food :)

@gauri

Man, u must go for this heritage walk. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. And i'd love to come for the second time :)

placidfreedom said...

Amazing - I would just say thanks for sharing these pictures.

Somehow when I think of Ahmedabad, all I can think of is the government there that I can hate - the ideologies by the BJP are somethings that malign the image of this historic city and I end up always associating the city with the current rulers and hence cant appreciate the whole state much. blame it on the past rather.

All things aside, thanks for showing me this angle.

dharmabum said...

of course i do, and i scout around for gujju restaurants down here in the south :)

i think that one where we went, it was called purohit or something!

jenny said...

hello Bhumika, thanks for visiting our chai blog! it's so nice to 'meet' you. i feel like i found a treasure in your post today. your words and new eyes for your city are beautiful. i had wanted to visit Gujurat during our last trip, but it didn't work out. i hope we'll make it there and walk thru Ahmedabad with you! your genuine spirit is contagious. thanks for sharing across the world.

bhumika said...

@placidfreedom

i don't blame you for having a certain picture of A'bad in mind; it's what all of us fall prey to. However, it's a great feeling to see that people now see my city with a different perspective.

Thanks for your comments and do keep writing in!

@dharmabum

:) i haven't been to purohit but have heard a lot about it. Must be having SWEET memories of that meal :)

@jenny

:) i'd love to show u my city, while having loads on tea on the way! Glad we 'met'

megha punater said...

wow what a lovely post.i spend 3 years in ahmedabad NID,what an amazing city.i had a ball there.nice to meet you bhumika.

bhumika said...

@megha

:) nice to meet you too. Oh btw, since u were in NID, i'm sure u too must have explored some great parts of the city. Do let me know, so that i can plan my next visit there :)

Rash said...

Hi,
Came here through your comment on mine. Fab pictures and must have been an amazing walk. In fact I think this is the Ahmedabad walk the Calwalks people were talking abt when I met them.

bhumika said...

@rash

welcome to my blog :) I've been wanting to visit Cal since quite some time. Will make sure that i don't miss out on the old city whenever the trip happens!

Anil P said...

This is a walk I must do for sure. Thanks for telling us about it.

shuma.rani said...

I really enjoyed yours photos - I'm planning my annual trip to India and might just have to add your city on my itinerary. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos in the future:))

bhumika said...

@anil

Your welcome :)

@shuma

:) do plan a visit to a'bad. there are so many things to see, it will definitely be worth it!

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