It was my long standing desire to explore Ahmedabad’s Walled City. What better occasion than birthday of Ahmedabad itself? What better way than Ahmedabad Heritage Walk? Feb 24, 2008 marked 597th birthday of Ahmedabad. And we were celebrating Ahmedabad’s ancient culture on that day.
Ahmedabad heritage walk started from Swaminarayan Temple in Kalupur. We explored the various Pols in the walled city and completed our walk at Jumma Masjid. The tour was completed in 2 hours.
Ahmedabad Heritage Walk is organized by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation along with CRUTA Foundation.
Some key take-aways from the walk:
1. Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Ahmed Shah. We visited his tomb near Jumma Masjid. He founded this place at the site of Ashaval and Karnawati when he saw rabbits chasing higher animals.
2. Old Ahmedabad is known as the walled city and had various Pols inside. Pols means Gate or Entry and is derived from the Sanskrit word Pratoli.
3. The old walled city of Ahmedabad has 600 pols. Each Pol is a self-contained neighbourhood with shelters for people, chabutaras for feeding birds, community wells, temples etc. These pols were small villages by themselves. Each Pol has a unique name, secret passages and protecting gates. The first Pol was Mahurat Pol symbolizing the first auspicious pol. There was Zaveri Pol for jewelers and so on.
4. I have always experienced that our forefathers were more intelligent and advanced than us. Whether it is Koba Museum of Jain Artifacts and Manuscripts or Vishalla Museum of Utensils, this point is proved again and again. This heritage walk of Ahmedabad confirmed the same fact. Each pol had beautiful architecture, provision of humans and birds and animals, natural lighting and ventilation planning etc.
5. Ahmedabad has a rich mix of Hindu and Jain temples along with finest Islamic monuments. The carved wooden houses are wonderful. At one chowk, we saw Persian, Maratha, British and Islamic style houses – 4 cultures in one area!
6. Kalupur Swaminrayan Temple is the first Swaminarayan Temple of the world.
7. There were 60 Jain Temples in the 1.5 km Heritage Walk.
8. Famous Poet and Reformer Kavi Dalpatram’s house has been converted into Dalpatram Memorial. Befittingly, many plays and skits are performed at the memorial.
9. Manek Chowk is one of the biggest gold markets and everyday millions of rupees and tons of gold change hands. One can see bricks of 5 kg gold here in the evening!
10. Manek Chowk and adjoining areas are a busy market. One gets variety of things here at cheap prices. The famous Rukmini Pani-Puri wallah is also here. Since our walk was at morning 8:00 am, we could walk leisurely else it is a heavily crowded place.
11. We visited one Jain temple where there were giant idols in the basement. Inspite of the idol being in the basement, lighting and ventilation was perfect!
12. The tomb of queens, Rani-No-Haziro, has become fashion street for women’s clothes.
13. Jumma Masjid is a majestic and a very imposing Masjid.
The tour increased my knowledge about Ahmedabad and its rich cultural heritage.