Published on February 26, 2021

Articles to commemorate Ahmedabad’s Foundation Day

Ahmedabad: One can marvel at the dragon-shaped wooden supports at Harkunvar Shethani ni Haveli signifying the city’s trade links with the East, or the cherubic figurines from the British Raj on several houses in Khadia –but what symbolizes Amdavad? The city, which will turn complete 610 years of its foundation on Friday, is also a treasure trove of tales spanning six centuries – from the Sultanate era to Mughal and Maratha periods to post-Independence.

A project initiated by the Ahmedabad World Heritage City Trust (AWHCT) under the aegis of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) aims to create a cultural map of the city that can delve deeper into the intangible heritage of India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City.

AMC officials said that about 17 teams – some of which have come from Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur – are engaged in the project and each will bring out a different facet of the city’s way of life over the centuries. While some are established architectural firms, some are groups of enthusiastic students.

What have they found so far? Aditi Dalia and Gati Shah from the HCDC team worked closely with the family of Vasantrao Hegishte, who, along with his friend Rajabali Lakhani, laid down his life in 1946 for the sake of communal harmony. “The 150-year-old house in Raikhad gives us a peek into the life of that time and also feels part of the city’s history – few might know that it has a secret space beneath the floor, where freedom fighters used to hide,” said Dalia.

She also points to the book store on the ground floor of the structure, which has been passed on from one generation to another.

Another team, Dharatal Architects, is exploring Desai ni Pol. “The residents remember prominent residents and havelis of yore. For example, the KC Mehta Haveli hosted Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi among other prominent visitors and residents of the city,” said Nishant Upadhyay, founder architect of the firm. “We also got tales related to Chinubhai Baronet and how he brought the city’s first drainage line to the area.”

The group recently organized a public meeting in the pol to share their findings in a form of vaarta (tale).

Revitalizing heritage

Ahmedabad: When inquisitive minds from across India come to the city to understand conservation architecture, what better way to teach it than within the Walled City’s built heritage? This was the idea behind the Conservation Site School started by the Centre for Heritage Conservation (CHC) of Cept University. The school organized its first major event, Open House by Tutin Aryanti, an architecture education scholar from Indonesia, on February 20.

Prof Jigna Desai, executive director of CHC, said the idea is to revitalize the city’s heritage. “We will conduct two workshops – one on LIDAR scan techniques and another on non-invasive structural analysis – at the same site. It will not only take students right inside the city’s heritage but will also give them a perspective on its needs and challenges,” she said.

The initiative also aims to improve local participation. One organizer said the event on February 20 saw great support from locals who not only provided amenities, but also welcomed use of one of the few surviving wooden mosques of the Walled City so it remains abuzz.

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