Guest Author: Tadrash Shah
I had been thinking of writing on this since long and then came the birthday of Ahmedabad, the heart interfered as I am in love with the city, we all would be. This love would definitely intensify when you are on a heritage walk through the old city of Ahmedabad. I would say that, UNESCO considering Ahmedabad to be declared as the Heritage City is pertinent, with a faith reaffirmed after the walk.
Heritage, to me word itself is lovely. We inherit and this is onomatopoeically close to Heart. Ahmedabad has so much to give us to talk off, brag about, and this blog is dedicated to serve you such stories, it has and we will.
Enough beating about the bush. Recently I had been on a heritage walk in the old city of Ahmedabad, or you can call it the Walled City. Though the walls were demolished long back and the gates were preserved. Why ? More of that story in another article. The walled city offered me so much that I was unaware of even after 20 years of my upbringing in the city. Even our elders are unaware of certain facts. But facts never cease to exist because you don’t know or don’t believe. A group of volunteers found this irrational and hence are contributing to 2 hours long heritage walk across the old city, 365 days with a nominal fee of 30 Rs. The walk began from Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple at around 8:00 AM sharp with a short presentation to get you charged followed by first darshan of Swaminarayan temple. What an auspicious launch! It ended at Jama Masjid at approx. 10:30 AM, meandering through the alleys and pols of Ahmedabad.
We all would have walked through the parts of city like Manekchowk, Fernandes Bridge, and others but never have we carried the mindset to remark what we do during this 2-3 hours long walk. The same lanes lie at the same place since decades and yet seem so different, so much to do with our mindset. The amazing part is you can amble in the old city without ploughing your way through milling crowd. Early mornings are wonderful, silent and uncrowded. The unnoticed patrimonial legacies of the city unfold themselves that morning. You notice the residents busy with their mundane and greet you with a smile. We did entered a couple of houses to see the architectural heritage, amidst of the owners of houses busy with their routines, and not a slightest sign of antipathy on their face for you intruding their privacy; actually many would be intruding their privacies each day. That is the essence of our cultural heritage, I learned. You feel familiar.
You cross so many Jain temples on your way, plenty of them and each one gorgeous, you cannot say one better than another. You can step inside freely, without any reservations, to experience the spiritual heritage. On the way you pass the Kavi Dalpatram’s memorial, a place where he lived and created so many masterpieces of Gujarati Literature, you touch through the literary heritage. If you have an eye, you can notice so many chabutaras in all the pols, standing tall speaking up the philosophical heritage of our ancestors’ empathy for birds and animals. You get though the famous eating hangouts in old city like, Himmatlal Kharkhadiyawala, Zaveriwaad Panipuri, Manekchowk and many others. Just before you reach Kalupur Temple to kick off the walk, you pass through so many shops offering garma garam fafdas. So much there even for a foodie, the culinary heritage full of traditional items. Oh my God! Now you realize how many dimensions of OUR heritage are we breadthened to. The charm of the old city, though a bit messy, narrow lanes, small and some dark houses and rugged roads has to be experienced to be believed.
The walk ends at Jama Masjid. Few moments of silence and amusement there. The facts that we were told were surprising. When the insights from architecture were said which embraced the Hindu as well as Mughal architecture was the punch. For example, the torans in Masjid pointed out the impression of Hindu architecture. So much synergy in such a pious place asserts out beliefs that Humanism is the primary religion, attained through various means, just that.
I retreated home, with a feeling of pride and immense faith of Ahmedabad to be declared as Heritage City. Though many other monuments like Hatheesing Jain Temple, Shaking Minarets, Sipri Masjid, etc etc remain uncovered in the walk, but the aim of the walk was to unravel the unknown heritage, and indeed it does. How the curious species, that we are, always love to know and learn! The heritage, in all dimensions, that has survived the centuries makes the feeling about the city more penetrating.
One last note, if you feel the passion with which I confessed my feelings visit http://www.gujarattourism.com/destination/details/6/10
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