Wednesday, 18 December 2013

“The Walled city” : Revisiting the Roots

"We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors' wisdom."
                                                                                                                   -Maya Angelou 

It turned out to be a worthy morning I must say. Along with my friends Juhi and Miral we went on a heritage walk in the old city of Ahmedabad. The heritage walk is joint venture of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and a private company.

The heritage walk of Ahmedabad

It started with a small presentation depicting the history of Ahmedabad. Ahmedshah Badshah developed the city of Ahmedabad on the bank of Sabarmati river. There is a well known saying on the formation of Ahmedabad – “Jab do kutte pe sassa aya, tab badshah ne shahar basaya” i.e. seeing the rabbits more powerful than the dogs, the king decided to build the city !

The old city has still maintained the fragrance of our culture and heritage. I am going to share some specific spots with their specific importance !

Kavi Dalpatram Chowk :

ઊંટ કહે: આ સભામાં, વાંકાં અંગવાળાં ભૂંડા;
ભૂતળમાં પક્ષીઓ ને પશુઓ અપાર છે;
બગલાની ડોક વાંકી, પોપટની ચાંચ વાંકી;
કૂતરાની પૂછ્ડીનો, વાંકો વિસ્તાર છે.
વારણની સૂંઢ વાંકી, વાઘના છે નખ વાંકા;
ભેંસને તો શિર વાંકાં, શિંગડાનો ભાર છે.
સાંભળી શિયાળ બોલ્યું, દાખે દલપતરામ;
“અન્યનું તો એક વાંકું, આપનાં અઢાર છે ”
                 - Dalpatram

Famous from the above poem, Kavi Dalpatram was a reformist poet who played a major role in promotion of the Gujarati language. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has renovated his house as a part of heritage and has put a beautiful statue of the poet.

Kavi Dalpatram Chowk

The pols :

Pols are like colonies. A group of people with the same casts tend to live together as they share the same thoughts and celebrate common festivals. 

Chabutaro - bird feeder

Every pol has a bird feeder (‘chabutaro’), temple, a common plot, a security cabin, an entrance and some houses.

Chabutaro - bird feeder

There is a secret path between two pols. You can never predict from outside that it leads you to the another pol ! At the time of riots or wars, ladies and children used to take shelter in this path and close the doors from both the sides.

path between two pols

Chabutaro :

Chabutaro is a bird feeder especially made for the birds. It’s shape is like a tree, narrow from below and wide from above. It is specifically designed at a particular height so that cow, dogs and cats can’t reach there. In olden days, women used to take rest at ‘chabutaro’ by putting their pots on it.

chabutaro - bird feeder

Architecture :

There is a beautiful combination of Persian, British, Mughal and Maratha architecture in one specific passage of a pol. 

The Persian building contains ‘grapes’ (vine culture) in the bracket design. 

bracket - heritage of ahmedabad

Where as Mughal architecture can be pointed out by observing the window patterns. 

mughal architecture

Bricks depicting the British culture, 

british architecture

and Marathas having a symbol of Peshwas on their entrance.

Maratha architecture

The interesting thing is, that you can see Jain and Ahmedabadi architecture being reflected in the formation of Jama Masjid ! There are icons of ‘kalash’ and ‘kalpavriksha’ embedded in the walls of Jama Masjid which proves that.

Jama masjid : Kalpavriksha design

Magaldas ni Haveli :

The “Kai po che” fame haveli is a reflection of rich culture of Ahmedabad.

Mangaldas ni haveli

Here are some pictures showing the internal view of the Haveli -

Mangaldas ni haveli

Mangaldas ni haveli

Mangaldas ni haveli

Mangaldas ni haveli

Rani no Hajiro / Raja no Hajiro :

The dead bodies of the Queens and the King were burried here in earlier times. Today, ‘Rani no Hajiro’ is a famous place for the women to buy the jewellery, dresses and other handicraft items.

Rani no hajiro

Temples :

Mughals used to destroy the temples and steal the ornaments of the Gods. So the temples were carefully designed and built to save them from the Mughals. Mughals had a belief of respect that they did not enter a gate in which they had to bend their head. So keeping this thing in mind, the entrances of the temples were made low where women and children could take shelter at the time of wars.

Houses :

The houses have been build with the combination of bricks and cement in such a way that they did not at all get damaged during the earthquakes. They also have some holes on the outer walls which works as the ready-made nests for the birds.

houses of old ahmedabad

houses of old ahmedabad

This is our culture, this is our heritage !

Rich in architecture, Wonderful in sculpture !

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