On a night walk in the “पोल ” of Old Ahmedabad

The olden part of any city carries the history within into the present. It usually has an old world charm attached to it. Be it old Delhi’s Chandani chowk  or old Ahmedabad’s “poles”. I am based in Ahmedabad, old Ahmedabad is one area I have not been able to visit even after staying here for almost a decade. The stories in newspapers always motivate me to visit the old “pole” (“पोल” ) of walled city. Going solo is boring and difficult and with the advent of heritage walk culture, I was on the look out of some suitable walk. I have been contemplating to join the heritage walk since last few winters, but  nothing concrete happened. The stories in the news papers about night food bazaar at Manekbaug chowk and the heritage cobbled roads always  inviting me to visit them.

Finally on a Saturday night , (2nd June 2018) , I learnt about an event of night photography and I along with my husband jumped on the opportunity and joined the “night photography” walk organised by Mr. Ashish Mehta, of #meetmeatkhadiya community. Thanks to #Ahmedabadmirror for listing of the daily and future activities and workshops available in the city.

The meeting point was at Swami Narayan temple, Kalupur and the time of meeting was 9pm. Though it was time of heavy traffic on the roads, we reached there well before time. The atmosphere in the temple was serene and peaceful and there was a large crowd of devotees gathering for the evening aarti.

The organizer of the walk, Mr. Ashish Mehta reached around 8.45pm. A thorough gentleman and totally committed to the photography and heritage is organizing many different walks in the walled city. He himself is a resident of the old Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is the first and only heritage city in India. Though many cities competed for the honour, Ahmedabad was the lucky one to get it. He enlightened us about the different heritage projects taken up by the state government like restoring the old buildings and havelis and organizing the affordable heritage walks in the walled city so as to showcase the city’s history to the maximum number of people.

The starting point, Swaminarayan temple in Kalupur is an oasis of peace and serenity. A majestic temple in the walled city is  the first temple built by the Swaminarayan sect and was completed in 1822. The land was given by British Imperial Government of India.

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The majestic entrance of Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple
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The excellent work on the entrance gate of the temple.

As one exits the temple, the road ahead is lined with vegetable vendors which was a sorry state of affairs. We were there at around 10 pm and they were all winding up the business. They threw the leftover vegetables on the road, cleaned their “thelas / carts” and parked them on the pavement in front of the shops, which were closed by that time. The leftover veggies were a feast for the stray cows, who were out there lurking for food to satiate their hunger. The whole place was turned into a big dustbin. A lesson in civic sense and valuing the common property is very much needed for the citizens. Moreover, there were residences all around and people were sleeping outside. With so much rotten fruits and vegetable and hot weather, this is a sure shot recipe of getting sick.

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The old woman is winding up her vegetable shop at 10 pm. Tough life.
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Sitting on his hand cart, with remaining vegetables on a hot humid night.
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Baggage packed for a new beginning?
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The whole neighbourhood outside the temple is so dirty.
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With rotten vegetables thrown by the vegetable vendors, it was feast time for these cattle’s.
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Life outside the temple, in the old city of Ahmedabad.

As we were moving on to our route, we found that the buildings on both sides of the road were very old. The temple has residential accommodation all around, which opens on the main road . The residents were quiet oblivious of the activities going around and were busy in their chores – reading news paper in street lights, washing clothes or just standing at 10.30-11 pm. No one appeared to be in the sleeping mode. 🙂

We followed the route of Ahmedabad heritage walk. Here are some glimpses of the life inside the poles. DSC06329

The view of the dharamshaala of swaminarayan temple. The aging building is home to many families. DSC06335

He is so engrossed in reading the news paper and relaxing in such  hot and humid weather. I was perspiring so heavily as if drenched in rains. Some people make life so simple. DSC06341

The streets were all alive with people moving here and there. It appeared as if no one is even thinking of sleeping even at midnight. DSC06347Tired after the day’s hard-work and still sleep is far away. The life appears to be tough for this elderly couple.

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Granny is sitting on her bed, which was placed under the sky on the street. With no fan and almost nil breeze, I was wondering how will they be able to sleep?

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The play of light and dark in a street inside the “pole”.

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Life is tough for this elderly lady. She is washing clothes at midnight. It might be an issue of water supply also. Or she might be working hard during the day and has only this time to do the essential household chores.

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These four youngsters were playing carom board under the street light. The house here have extended out on the streets. People are sleeping , playing and even washing clothes on the streets. DSC06367

Most of the buildings were very old and many of them were in dilapidated state .

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Closed doors  have many stories hidden inside them. I am very inquisitive to know what has happened behind the doors.DSC06362

This old building is hand holding with the new door. What might the old walls holding the door thinking? DSC06332

An old temple with intricately carved wooden doors and sculptures on the walls.

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An old building which might be almost 7-8 decades old.
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An old jharokha extending from an old building of dharamshala of Swaminarayan temple

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A lighted road in the walled city. The city never sleeps. 🙂

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Such humble living. Homes were not locked even at night. The residents were sleeping with doors open and on the streets too. DSC06307

The streets were very dirty. We were following the heritage walk route and this route should be cleaner as tourists are using these streets. It was all yuck.

 

This is grade-1 ,400 old heritage temple of lord Ram. The uniqueness of this temple is that the idol of lord Ram is in the sitting posture made with black marble stone which is rare to find. This temple is an important point in ‘Heritage walk of Ahmedabad’. Kala Ramji Mandir is a “ Haveli Mandir”, one portion of the building is temple and rest of the area is used for residential purpose. Since the founding of this temple the family of this temple has grown to the  current size to 80 people. Since we reached there late at mid-night, could not see the lord as God was sleeping and temple was closed. The temple is made with wood and the carving is excellent.

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An excellent painting on the exterior wall of an old house, which reflects the desire of  clean air and surroundings. But unfortunately, the roads and the open areas  in pols were very dirty and need efforts from the municipality and the residents.
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An old building and lighted lamp post. Most of the lanes and streets were well lighted in the old city areas.
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When it’s mid night……
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In one of the “ahataas”, though a seating has been arranged by the corporation but look around the overflowing dustbins and filth around. the whole place was smelling so awful . An active and dynamic cleaning plans are needed from the administration.
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Most of the roads were full of such filth. Will some one take action?

While maneuvering through such dirty bylanes and streets, we reached our last destination of the “Photo Walk”, the most popular night food bazaar at “Manek Chowk” after midnight.

It was the month of Ramzan and the whole market was full of people having feast.  Really  a large spread of eateries around. But somehow, I could not  sit and eat anything as I was susceptible about the hygiene and the cleanliness . We need some strict and stiff rules and equally strong implementation for the street foods.

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The whole place was vibrant and festive. It was almost 12.30 AM. One can find hundreds of dishes and food items on the 1000 meters stretch serving food, festive clothing and other lifestyle items. Most of the clothing shops were open even at that time. And why not, after all, Eid was not far away.

One thing, which really touched my heart was that in the whole crowd, I did not see any Hindu or Muslims, all were Indians and enjoying the festivities. Amen!!!

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