‘Aapnu Amdavad’ proudly said by the people of Ahmedabad has continuously evolved over 600 years tested by time and wars with changing needs and greed. Like every Indian city, the streets of Ahmedabad also have its charm.
Walking through the streets of Amdavadi Pols…
In 2017, Ahmedabad was declared India’s first ‘World Heritage City’ recognized for the heritage value of the walled city. Over time people have advanced, but few have held on to their roots, culture, and to the place they have lived for generations. Such is the walled city with around 356 pols. Pols are a conglomeration of gated residences occupied by people of the same caste, culture, or profession. Each pol has 1-2 gates with few hidden gates. Gates then made for security now serve as a lost identity. With so much lost, there is still a lot to see and believe.
The entrance from the main gate leads to narrow alleys connecting gates of pols with cantilevered building floors above shading the streets from the harsh sun. The intricately carved wooden details on facades and frescoes with colorful exteriors take one back in time. The pols were not just aesthetically but also strategically built for safety and security from climate and wars.
The sheer scale beside us makes us turn and look all around but don’t trip over because every step is a surprise. Meandering through those streets will make you brush past cows in the congested pol lanes as they form an important part of the Hindu culture, especially in Gujarat. Most of the multi-storey houses are in steps to provide shelter area for the cattle to rest on during the rains or the scorching heat. Beautifully and colorfully designed, Chabutro can be seen in every courtyard of a pol with lots of birds. Squirrels also running pass roads, climbing walls, sitting in the gaps and holes of broken woodworks are of great delight. Pol people are animal lovers.
After every few steps, there will be a small alluring temple with ornate pillars, magnificent deities, and white marbled floors each with its gripping anecdote. The temples were built with low rise gates due to the Mughals, they never entered where they would have to bend.
The architecture of the pols is heavily influenced by many different cultures. Symbols of Peshwas indicate features of the Maratha culture, the Persian cliché of graveyard wines on the rims, the Mughal architecture elements on the windows and the Baroque style of architecture. A house also has a design with dragon carvings etched on the todla, making it a unique Indo-Chinese design.
A walk through the pols during the daytime is an olfactory experience, bound to leave one’s taste buds tingling as the air is filled with the essence of Gujju food –Khakhra, Khaman, Khandvi, Dhokla, and fafda kadhi.
Few Pols have occupational resident divisions that occupy the lower floor for shops and small cottage businesses. In these commercial alleys, the shops are owned by the inhabitants who have made their abode just above their shops. Hence, a knock on the door enables instant service 24/7even after the hours when the shop has been closed. Within all the hassle and hustle, the pols are always lively.
Walking through the food streets of Ahmedabad…
Gujarati’s ardent love for food will take you to the best of streets for food in Ahmedabad. Manek Chowk with the vegetable market in the morning, bullion market at noon, and yummy food street at night for delicious indulgences is one of the oldest streets and located in the old walled city.
Law Garden and Kankaria Lake Road in the heart of the city also offer a variety of food delicacies from traditional, fusion, and innovative dishes evolved to meets customer’s taste buds. The footpaths and the edges of the road flexibly modify to accommodate stalls, tables, and chairs for people with mouthwatering essence of flavors in the air. The street food in Ahmedabad has got a new trend with the advent of food trucks that now forms an important feature of the city known as food Truck Park. Silently standing trucks in a day turn into a vibrant and welcoming street for food lovers of new trend food items to try and meet new people. Yet the list of places for tasty food in Ahmedabad will always remain incomplete with new ones all around.
Walking through the shopping streets of Ahmedabad…
The three basic human needs – ‘Roti(food), Kapda (cloth) Aur Makan (shelter)’, Kapda (Textile) in Ahmedabad is dated back from the 19th Century till now employees thousands of people from all over India and the cotton garments manufactured are also exported across the world. ‘Manchester of the East’, the city has been associated with textiles and fabrics for ages. The first textile mill in India was started in Ahmedabad in 1861.
Continued history, there are several markets for shopping in Ahmedabad that sell the best fabrics, clothes, jewelry, footwear, and a lot more. Tiny shops in narrow lanes with mastered skills of display and hangings are fascinating. Everything has its space and place in these overflowing stuffed markets.
Walking through the shopping streets of Rani no Hajiro, Bandhej, Dhaldarwad, Law garden, and many others is an experience filled with bust of vibrant colors, textures, designs, and materials with plastic, paper, and pieces of cloth lying all around the road with the smell of new dye clothes all over. These markets adapt to the changing Indian climate and festive months from selling sparkly and eye-catching Chaniya Cholisto sweaters and rain shield items. It’s a delight to watch people of all kinds and type shops from the same markets.