The Walled City of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, has been declared India’s first World Heritage City. I got to experience this maze of a citadel last night

The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO made the announcement late on Saturday night following a meeting in Poland’s Krakow. “Thrilled to announce! Ahmedabad has just been declared India’s first #WorldHeritage city by @UNESCO,” India’s permanent representative to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj tweeted. And I am back in Ahmedabad after 25-odd years. Last night I went on a heritage walk that starts at Mangaldasni Haveli and goes through Sheth ni Pol, Chabuthra or Bird Feeder, Swethamber Jain Temple, Harkunwar Sethni Haveli, Fernandes Bridge, Silver Refinery, Old Stock Exchange, Rani nu Hajiro, Manekbaba’s Temple and ends with a 600-year old tradition at Badshah nu Haziro. The photos below were shot during this walk. Click on them to enlarge and view as a gallery.

Common area of a Pol: All houses have a platform right out onto these common spaces. These platforms where the residents sit and chat are called Oatla.

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.‘Pol’ architecture is an interesting evolution in urban living space.

Pols were originally made as a protection measure when communal riots necessitated greater security probably dating from 1738 during Mughal-Maratha rule (1738-1753) in Ahmedabad. A typical pol would have only one or two entrances and also some secret entrances known only to people residing in a pol.

Amir Banubhai and Sheru Banubhai carry on the tradition their ancestors have spun around the tomb. In the time of the Sultans, drums were played to announce the opening and closing of the gates, estimated to be about 12-16 in number, enclosing 189 bastions and over 6,000 battlements within them. It was planned according to an Indo-Aryan tradition, though the Sultan was from Persia, to ensure security in the kingdom. For the last 600 years, his family has paid homage to Ahmed Shah by uninterruptedly and devotedly playing nagaras or drums and shehnai twice a day, around 8.00 a.m and 11.00 p.m.

Drums of different sizes are strewn around the room, a goblet-shaped drum making a crisp, iridescent sound. Its cousin, a darker-sounding one, is expensive, made by stretching animal skin over a thick copper bottom and placed over a circled piece of cloth called chuttha. – Nidhi Dugar in The Hindu

In this beautiful city garbage seems to be a hidden issue that is not addressed. While the main roads and river front are gleaming, the side roads are dumps that are not seen. The city needs a clean up.