The Heritage Walk of Ahmedabad offers a tour of temples, quaint little houses and other historically significant landmarks in the city
Walking past birds feeding on fruits and grains strewn on parapet walls, sidewalks and amid typical Indian morning sounds such as the whistle of the pressure cooker and the drone of the mixer grinder, one reaches the multicoloured Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Kalupur. The temple built in 1822 AD is the starting point of the Heritage Walk of Ahmedabad. It was started in 1997 until the lockdowns suspended it last year. The sprawling complex—with extensive Burma-teak work and richly embellished arches, brackets, and also columns—is dedicated to the main deity Naranarayan.
Considering UNESCO has declared Ahmedabad a World Heritage City, the first city in India to win this honour, one has to contend with big groups on weekends during the heritage walks. These walks are fondly called Mandir Se Masjid Tak, given that it starts with a temple and ends at a masjid. Three hours seem inadequate to take in the sights and sounds on the itinerary in this 600-year-old walled city by the river Sabarmati.
From here, the walk takes you through narrow lanes lined closely with simple houses and heritage homes to reach Kavi Dalpatram Chowk (meaning square). Here is a bronze statue of famous Gujarati poet Dalpatram Dahyabhai, seated with one leg folded and a book on his lap signifying his fondness for literature and reading. Behind is a facade of the house in which he once lived, recreated as a tribute. The lifelike statue is immediately surrounded by selfie-seekers! One encounters many ‘pols’ along the walk—a very characteristic feature of the city which is also called Amdavad by several people. A pol is an urban residential cluster with traditional houses created to be self-sufficient and hence also includes a central community area, place of worship, bird-feeders (chabutras), etc.
The next stop is Khara Kuva Ni Pol, called so because of the Khara Kuva or saltwater well once located here. A walk up a few steps to reach the small Kalaram Mandir which has a black Kasauti stone (a stone then used to check the purity of gold) idol of Ram flanked by Sita and Lakshman. The black signifies the dust and dirt that Ram gathered during his years of exile in the forest. This is perhaps the only Ram temple without Hanuman. Apparently, Ram was still in Naimisha forest and had not yet met Hanuman at that point of his vanvaas.
The penultimate stop was the celebrated Manek Chowk spilling over with stores on the sides and carts selling a vast variety of dry fruits and spices. The air is redolent with heavenly aromas of street food such as dhoklas and khakras. One of India’s largest jewellery markets, it turns into a bustling foodie paradise by night. The walk ends at the iconic Jama Masjid, the majestic 15th-century mosque which reflects Indo-Islamic architecture. It has an imposing archway, beautiful specimens of Arabic calligraphy and sandstone structure. While the walk seems tightly-packed, it does present Amdavad in a nutshell where everyone wins.
Walk timings: 7.45 am - 10.30 am
Cost: Rs 200 for Indians, Rs 350 for foreign nationals
Book tickets on: Heritagewalkahmedabad.com