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Visual Survey of Amdavad

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1 Visual Survey of Amdavad
HERITAGE WALK Visual Survey of Amdavad Deepika. R | 07 AR 10

2 Overview of the Old City of Amdavad
Ahmedabad was founded in 1411on the ancient site of Ashaval and Karnawati by Sultan Ahmed Shah on the eastern banks of river Sabarmati to serve as the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate was named after him. The city grew larger and wealthier until dynastic decay and anarchy caused a decline and its capture by Akbar in Its renewed eminence under the Mughals ceased after Aurangzeb's death  in 1707. The British annexed Gujarat in 1818 and the city's first cotton mills were opened in The city grew again and became the largest inland industrial centre in India paving the way for the New City primarily on the Western banks of River Sabarmati. Ahmedabad's architectural history fuses Hindu, Muslim, and Jain traditions. It has some Finest Indo-Islamic monuments and Jain temples. Ahmad Shah and his successors converted Hindu temples to mosques. This gave many mosques and tombs a Hindu flavor in their form and decoration. The dense 260 richly carved columns in the Jumma Masjid (Great Mosque), completed in 1423, recalls the hall of a Hindu temple. Other fine Muslim buildings include the mosque at Rani Sipri's tomb (c.1505) and the exuberantly rich Rani Rupmati mosque (1515). An interesting feature of the old city is its division into pols, or self-contained blocks of houses that shelter thousands of people each and are bounded by gateways.

3 Plan of the Old City The old city symbolizing life, movement and craftsmanship in all its colors, is a labyrinth of crowded bazaars, temples, mosques, pols that cover approximately 3km area. A special feature of Ahmedabad is the plan of the Old city, comprising numerous pols, self-contained neighborhoods sheltering large numbers of people, Havelis, Community Temples, Masjids, etc.. POL: Pols are housing clusters which comprises many families of particular group primarily linked by religion and caste. Some of these Pols are virtually small villages, traversed by narrow streets, usually terminating in Squares with community wells and Chabutaras for feeding birds. These pols were protected by gates, cul-de-sacs and secret passages. These small neighborhoods are both the backbone and heartbeat of the old city of Ahmedabad. Pols were originally made as a protection measure when communal riots necessitated greater security. A typical pol would have only one or two entrances and also some secret entrances known only to people residing in a pol. 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 around 600 pols within a fortified compound.

4 The pols consists of clusters of houses laid along narrow streets
The pols consists of clusters of houses laid along narrow streets. Each has a name and a distinct identity, often related to the community and caste of the residents, They have and its own public courtyard, chabutara or bird feeder, and public well. The oldest, Muharat Pol, was built in the 1500s. HAVELI: The Amdavadi Havelis display the exquisite architecture of Gujarat. Detailed carving techniques have been perfected in the wooden architecture of Gujarat. The brackets, window frames, pillars, etc. that face the road are exquisitely carved. CHABUTARA: These are the Bird Feeding towers that are located at entrance of each Pol. The reason behind the existence of such tower is that, the site prior to the old city was a forest. Thus to prevent the nativity of the birds and the ecology, they were erected. Chabutra is essentially a platform covered with a dome or hood and mounted on a 5-6 feet high pole. On the platform a dish of water and some grains are kept for birds. Chabutaras are of various sizes and shapes. They are built of various material including stone, metal, wood and bricks. However the common function of Chabutaras is providing refuge to birds that are commonly found in human settlements.

5 The looks: They are characterized by richly carved woodwork, stone facades, community wells, carved wooden 'chabutaras' for feeding pigeons, narrow labyrinthine streets, a main street with crooked lanes branching on either side, secret entrances, walls and gates which were barred at night, temple, playing areas, sculptured wooden doors, windows, beams, pillars and balconies. The central open space is known as the chowk and the rest of the zones are built around it. The baithak, kitchen and service areas share the ground floor, the upper quarters and terrace are accessed by narrow, steep stairways. The pols were self-sustaining units as each house had its own underground storage for water and food grains. These buildings were initially inhabited by extended family members or people practicing the same trade. The pols formed a kind of micro-neighborhood and were meant to enhance community living as well as provide security to the occupants.

6 Chabutaras Amdavadi Haveli


8 The first look….. The Heritage Walk started around 8 O’ Clock on 7th Dec(Tuesday), 2010. It started at the gracious Swaminarayan temple in kalupur and ended at the majestic Jama Masjid, taking us through various pols, havelis, Hindu and Jain Temples, Mosques, and Chowks. The enchanting 2KM walk lasted for two and an half-hour. Swaminarayan temple The Swaminarayan temple is the world’s first temple for Swami Narayan sampradey built in 1822. The Looks: The architecture is based primarily on the regional type. Its architecture is based on teak wood, every coloured arch and bracket is bright and different, with all its colours and opulent carvings that profusely embellish every wooden bracket, column and arch. The columns follow the vertical lining as of the Corinthian order. The Structural Design of the temple is brilliant and flawless. The interiors and exteriors of the temple have been adorned with the typical Gujarati designs that depict different aspects of the Gujarati culture and lifestyle. The architectural style of the temple is commendable and truly has an unbeatable charm. Standing royally behind the huge gates across the Relief road, the Swaminarayan temple of Ahmedabad has beautifully decorated domes and galleries. A Haveli is located on the Northern side of the temple with exquisite wooden carved brackets and windows, sunshades. It is a three storied structure which is used as a mansion for the staying of Priests.

9 Few clicks of the temple
Entrance to the Swaminarayan temple

10 Kavi Dalpatram Chowk: The First stop was at the Kavi Dalpatram Chowk which is located in the Lambeshwar Ni Pol. The Chowk is a Memorial which was intended to be a tribute to the Poet for his contributions towards literature by the Gujarat Municipal Corporation and the Citizens of Gujarat. The Looks: The Memorial comprises of the façade of the original house, a bronze model of the poet in a sitting posture. The plan of the original house was detailed on the floor with coloured tiles. The statue’s work was very admirable with even the intricate detailing of the worn out shoes were represented. The artisan had wisely worked out the line of the turban, turn of the right leg, design of the kurta, etc. Chabutara: Chabutaras were found at every pol. The Looks: The First look of a Chabutara was itself very impressive. We can see pigeons residing almost all day since the feeding tower has been overflowing with granaries. The concept behind the design of the Chabutaras lies in the Gujarati styles, customs, heritage, etc. it was tough to find out a simple design in the totality. Though the livelihood of the Artisans of later India had been at the brink they have had their dedication, respect and love towards their work overwhelming, which can be lively seen even in the smallest design. There was also a small rectangular platform which was used as a feeding place for cows.

11 The Chabutara Kavi Dalpatram Chowk

12 Calico Dome: The Calico Dome found in the Relief Road was the watermark of the textile era. It was built by Ar. Fuller in The Looks: it is a dilapidated iron structural dome that failed at the centre and what now remains is just it’s reminiscence. Haja Patel Ni Pol: The next Pol was the Haja Patel Ni Pol or the Kala Pol which means Black Neighborhood. The 400 year old Kala Ramji Mandir is located in this Pol. The Etymology behind the name of the Pol is because the Statue of Lord Rama found in this temple is Black which is Uncommon, hence the Name. This is a family temple and the family lives in the upper floor. The Looks: As a common sight of all the temples, this temple also has bright colouring and tight detailing in wood. The colors used here were of vegetable dyes, hence it still pertains the charm and vibrancy. The carving and detailing of the doors inside the shrine, brackets, window detailing were breathtaking. There is a pole showing towards south which is the direction of flow of Drainage along the slope of the terrain. The drainage services was facilitated to the people by the British 100 years back. This stands second in the designing of underground Sewage system after Bombay.

13 Haja Patel Ni Pol Calico Dome

14 Shantinathji Mandir: This is located in Haja Patel Pol. The Looks: This is one of the oldest Temple with a wooden dome which looks like a blooming lotus. it is an octagonal dome with 152 joints. The Brackets and Pillar are carved with musical instruments. The doors inside the shrine is an exquisite carving out of a single log of wood. The Facades and brackets of Haveli’s in this pol have some amazingly carved wood ornaments which are unique. Harkunvar Shethani’s haveli, an eminent and influential design is an outstanding example of architecture and wooden carving. Kuvavala Kancha Doshivada Ni Pol: This pol is located right away from the Shantinathji Mandir. The interesting feature of this pole is that there are house in this pol which has the confluence of various types of architecture. Masonry- English Arches pattern above windows- Muslim Turban faces above door- Maratha Angel carving in column- European Grape carving in column- Persian.

15 British Masonry Shantinatji Mandir Angel carving

16 Jagvallab Mandir-Nisha Pol: Nisha Pol is a Jain Pol
Jagvallab Mandir-Nisha Pol: Nisha Pol is a Jain Pol. The Jagvallabh Mandir is located in this pol. it has its sanctum sanctorum in the basement. The 700-year-old marble idols of Tirthankaras, adorned with pure diamonds and rubies, were brought from the holy site of Palitana in Saurashtra. In the temple’s backyard, a 400-year-old tank is still filled with rainwater collected from the roof and conveyed by pipes to the underground cistern. There are various statues of Saint Mahaveer found throughout the temple which are marble carvings decorated with precious stones like ruby, emerald and sapphire. The pinnacle and the tower of the temple are different based primarily on the colour Used. Jain temples has white as a major colour unlike Hindu temple. While passing through the pols, one can experience the change of the typology of the pols depending on religion, workmanship, etc. After leaving the Nisha pol we were leading to another breathtaking Jain temple called the Sambhavnath ni Khadki through secret passages, Zaveri Vad, Havelis, small temples. The secret passages were less than a metre width. These passages were used to reach for other pols quickly, and also used as an element of safety. The secret passages were known only by the inhabitants of the pols.

17 Sambhavnath Ni Khadki: This temple is located between the Nisha Pol and the Doshivada Ni Pol. The looks: The temple is built of stone coated with lime. This is one of the classic example of Jain architecture with tampered towers, numerous flags, cylindrical base and the tower raising above smoothly and abruptly unlike stepped towers of S.Indian Hindu temples. The temple is a two storied structure. The basement storey has a big idol of Lord sambhavnath, The idol is surrounded by various other Jain gods and Saints made of marble and precious stones. The shrine is reached through a steep stairway and number of chambers. The idea behind the locating of the God at the basement is “no pain no gain”, which means hard work is needed to reach God. There is also a mirror at the ground floor which shows the reflected image of the God for the unable people to see. The temple has a 25’ deep tank which has a capacity of 1100 litres of rain water storage capacity. The water is collected from the roof through the walls to the tank through pipes made of copper. There are numerous landmarks like Havelis, Temples and Chabutaras are located en route the walk through Doshivada Ni Pol, Astapadji Mandir, Harkunnar Shetani ni Haveli. After passing these landmarks we come to the commercial street of the place, which is located below the Gandhi road situated on the Fernandez Bridge. We can see bustling activities and all kinds of shops selling local foods to electronic goods.

18 Chandla Ol: This is found in the commercial street
Chandla Ol: This is found in the commercial street. The first floor is used as shopping complex while the above floors are used as residences. The famous Bhandini works, Stone works, Painting with Vegetable dyes are famous here, and is always a bustling tourist spot. The Heritage Walk then leads to the Muslim areas. They were standalones. while the Hindu and Jain Pols Blended each other perfectly. The looks: The transition of architectural elements were notable like the arches, introduction of domes, colours, patterns, etc. Stone was predominantly used. Majestic interiors the Arabic and Islamic carvings were additive features. Muharat Pol: This has the old stock exchange building which has been shifted base 12 years before. This is a 3 storied structure which was not put to proper use since then. It has a very bad stance because of poor maintenance. Manek Chowk: This is the second largest market in Gujarat. This transition of the space with respect to time was mind-blowing. During the early morning hours it is used as a vegetable market, after that it is a jeweler market, while during nights it is a big eatery area. Large number of eat-outs are found catering to all the type of taste buds. The manek Baba’s mandir is located here.

19 Manek Chowk

20 Rani-No-Haziro: This is a tomb for the royal ladies of the king’s family. The looks: This was a translated version of an old Hindu temple, which can be noted by the columns and its decoration. The hanging bells in the columns the lotus carving depicts Hinduism. There are many chambers inside the tomb which has a number of bodies buried. Jumma Masjid: This is the majestic Jumma Masjid of Ahmedabad built by Ahmed Shah in This is one of the biggest mosque in Ahmedabad, which has become a prime tourist spot. The looks: The Jumma Masjid is built of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture, since it had been built by the elements of Hindu and Jain temples. The gateway has a pointed arch which is about two storey high flanked by pediments on both sides. The Mosque is entered through western or northern gateways. The northern gateway is entered through a washing area, which means you should be clean before entering the mosque. After entering one can see a vast open space with a water pool at the centre which is also used for cleaning purposes. The mahrib is located on the western side which is an essence of all three architecture. It has 256 columns, 15 large domes, 252 smaller domes, 76 pilasters. The domes differ is size. The largest dome is about 15M in diametre and the smallest is 5M. The mahrib is usually round in shape but in this mosque it is square in shape. The women’s chamber is located on the northern side of the mahrib which is covered with stone screens carved wonderfully. The jalis are made of single stone which looks like trees.


22 Understanding the Environment
The fruitful consequence of the heritage walk yielded a varied perspective of architecture “fortified community living”. It was appealing to The Senses, The varied Socialistic themes were well defined But The Technology took the backseat. The environment can be classified into two types, Static environment(Pucca) Kinetic Environment(Kucha) The Static Environment talks about the Immovable things ie. The Built environment. The Static Environment holds the key to the actual History of the place. This also determines the physical, socialistic, and environmental aspects of the place. This mainly depends on the climate, geography and the religion of the people dwelling. The Kinetic Environment is the Movable or Temporary structures ie, Small petty shops, thatched dwellings, etc. Addition or alteration of any of these structures can alter the view of the city.

23 The Organic city of Amdavad has emerged over 6 centuries
The Organic city of Amdavad has emerged over 6 centuries. The wear and tear of the city environment can be well seen on the image of the city. It had emerged through the ages but still intact. The buildings has seen very less damage as compared to the present age buildings. Even the old city met very little damage during the 2003 Earthquake. Visualization Very little alterations had been made to the buildings, but the façade of the buildings had been held hidden by advertisements, shading elements, etc., which was affecting the Aesthetics of the building. Service lines, wires, etc were chaotic and were an unwise organization. Petty shops uses up most of the open grounds and small shops erected were totally out of place.

24 The city emerged itself hence the houses and streets were unorganized
The city emerged itself hence the houses and streets were unorganized. Streets were very intriguing and only the inhabitants can know the real setup. We can see no straight lines, no minimalism and no simplicity in the designs unlike this age buildings.


26 The aftermath…… The reason behind the design of the city may be the following reasons, Security reasons The Physical and Climatic reasons Communal diversity

27 And the heritage walk ends here….
Thank you

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