Ahmedabad, India’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage City is a maze of interesting architecture.
On July 8, Ahmedabad was declared as India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City, in the World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland. A nomination that witnessed support from 20 countries, Ahmedabad’s status as a heritage city becomes even more convincing on a visit to the city. This 600-years-old city, officially lists out an approximate of fifty sites and monuments, in addition to hundreds of unique pols, or housing structures, a number of gates at the walled cities that converge into chowks (junctions), which are located next to darwajas (entrances/gates). It is no surprise that the city makes for a beautiful and memorable walk through.
Ahmedabad, a city under the ambit of the Smart City Project in India has seen a large scale industrial growth as well as consequent urbanisation over the years; however, there are corners as well as physical structures around the city as that adds an old world charm to it. A heritage cell run by the Amdavad Municipal Corporation is among those overlooking conservation and restoration of the number of old structures in the city. These structures are, however, best experienced on foot, through walking tours and navigation through the old quarters of the city.
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The older parts of the city, known as Old Ahmedabad is home to some of the most interesting buildings in the city, and also some spots for delicious street snacks. Walking tours in the form of heritage walks are available in the city with a guide in groups. Ahmedabad’s City Heritage Centre is one such organisation, which has four types of kinds of walks according to a subject focus. Examples include the Jain heritage walk and Heritage walk of Ahmedabad.
A recommended walking tour is the Night Walking tour available that one can avail from in front of House of MG, a boutique heritage hotel that offers two other heritage walks. This tour starts at 10 at night, taking one through the Bird Feeder, the Swetamber Jain Temple, The Old Stock Exchange of Amdavad and Badsha no Hazario. Perhaps the best part of the Night Walking tour is its end point, which is Manek Chowk, a bustling space for delicious street food, open only at night.
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Pols and havelis
One of the most interesting aspects of the city’s old architecture is the pols that can be spotted even today. There are legends that the first pol was constructed around 1714, situated close to the Manek Chowk. The purpose of such a housing complex was to provide security for its inhabitants, and they were built with facades made in intricate detailing on various materials.
In relation to pols, another heritage architectural feature of Ahmedabad that is magical are the havelis or traditional mansions. Though not unique to the city, havelis can be found all across India yet some of the havelis in the city are hundreds of years old and a number of them converted into heritage hotels. The Khadia area in the city is an area where a large number of such mansions are to be found.
Perhaps there are a number of cities in India that would be worthy contenders for the UNESCO World Heritage City title yet Ahmedabad is surely one that deserves it well.
— sanjay shah (@pritiesanjay) July 10, 2017