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