Ahmedabad is also called the walled city due to the pol culture of the city. A pol is a housing cluster which comprises many families of a particular group linked by caste, religion or profession. Pols were made as a protection measure during the communal riots in the city. A pol would have only one or two entrances and some secret entrances if any known by the people residing in the pol. It is an interesting evolution in urban lifestyle. Some pols contain old beautiful houses with internal courts having intricate wooden carved facades with columns and fresco work done around court walls or ceilings. The old city of Ahmedabad was made up of 360 pols within a compound. The oldest pol of the city is the ‘Mahurat Pol’ and was built adjacent to Manekchowk.
The pol culture brings us back to the age when Ahmedabad was known as the Manchester of India. The festivals like Navratri, Rathyatra and Uttrayan are famous in the pols and people from all over the world come to visit the pols of the walled city during these festivals. Many pols are part of the cottage industry so you may find khakhra makers, book binding walas, hand sewing books and thereby creating a lively atmosphere. There are bird feeders in each pol called the ‘Chabutro’ which tells the people of Ahmedabad to replace the trees cut down when they built the city. Heritage of these pols has helped Ahmedabad gain a place in UNESCO’s tentative lists.
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