Footprints

Everything changes,
Nothing stays the same…
Like footprints in the sand.

footprints

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Ahmedabad – Part XIV: Sabarmati Ashram

A visit to Ahmedabad will be incomplete without a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram, one of the residences of Gandhiji (Mohandas Karamchand Ghandhi) on the banks of Sabarmati River. He stayed at the ashram from 1915 to 1933. The ashram is a witness to many important historical events connected with the Independence movement of India.

The Ashram was originally established at the Kocharab Bungalow of Jivanlal Desai, a barrister and friend of Gandhiji, on 25 May 1915. At that time the ashram was called the Satyagrah Ashram. But Gandhiji wanted to carry out various activities such as farming and animal husbandry in addition to other pursuits which called for the need for much larger area of useable land. So 2 years later, the ashram was relocated to an area of thirty six acres on the banks of the river Sabarmati, and came to be known as Sabarmati Ashram.

When you enter the ashram, the first thing, which attract your attention is the ‘three wise monkeys’. “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”
“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”

The ashram now has a museum, the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalya, built in 1963 and designed by the architect Charles Correa. The museum was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru on 10 May 1963. The museum contains a vast collection of manuscripts of Gandhiji’s writings during his stay here. It holds many photographs and other artefacts connected with the life and works of Gandhiji.

The museum
The museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
Inside the museum
My life is my message - M K Gandhi
My life is my message – M K Gandhi
Inside the museum
Inside the museum

The main attraction of the ashram is Gandhiji’s own cottage which is known as “Hriday Kunj”. Here visitors can see the things which Gandhiji used – a writing desk, a khadi kurta, a yarn spun by him etc.

“Hriday Kunj”, Gandhiji's own cottage
“Hriday Kunj”, Gandhiji’s own cottage
Interior of the “Hriday Kunj”
Interior of the “Hriday Kunj”

Another important structure in the ashram is Vinoba Kutir. This cottage is named after Acharya Vinoba Bhave who stayed here. It is also known as Mira Kutir after Miraben (Madeleine Slade, daughter of British Rear Admiral Sir Edmond Slade) who later lived there following Gandhiji’s principles.

Vinoba Kutir
Vinoba Kutir

On the right hand side of ‘Hridaya Kunj’ is ‘Nandini’, the Ashram guest house, where guests from India and abroad are put up. Many well known personalities like Reginald Reynolds, Deenbandhu Andrews, Henry Polak, Kallenbach, Dharmanand Kosambi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Badshah Khan and Rajaji stayed here.

The guest house - 'Nandini'
The guest house – ‘Nandini’
Views inside the ashram complex
Views inside the ashram complex
Views inside the ashram complex
Views inside the ashram complex
Views inside the ashram complex
Views inside the ashram complex
View of River Sabarmati from the ashram
View of River Sabarmati from the ashram
Steps leading to the river and the promenade
Steps leading to the river and the promenade
The promenade along the river
The promenade along the river

It was from the Sabarmati ashram that on 12 March 1930, Gandhiji marched to Dandi, 241 miles from the ashram, with 78 companions to protest the British salt law, which increased the taxes on Indian salt in an effort to promote sales of British salt in India. This mass civil disobedience in turn led to the jailing of some 60,000 freedom fighters by the British Raj over the following weeks. Subsequently the ashram was seized by the government. Gandhiji later asked the government to give it back but they refused to do so. On 22nd July 1933, Gandhiji disbanded the ashram, which then became a deserted place after the detention of so many. On 12th March 1930 Gandhiji had vowed that he would not return to the ashram until India had gained independence. Although India was declared a free nation on 15th August 1947, Gandhiji was assassinated on 30th January 1948.

Ahmedabad – Part XIII: Dada Hari Vav

This much neglected but aesthetically built vav or stepwell is situated in Asarwa area of Ahmedabad city. When it was built in 1500 AD, Asarwa was a village by itself, which has now become an area of the city of Ahmedabad. The stepwell was built by Dhai Harir, a household lady of Sultan Mahmud Begada. She was believed to be the superintendent of the royal harem. Behind the stepwell is the mosque and a tomb built by Dhai Harir, where she was buried.

Built in sandstone this octagonal stepwell is five stories deep. Each floor is built on intricately carved large numbers of pillars and spacious enough for people to congregate. There are air and light vents in the roofs at various floors. From the first storey level, three staircases lead to the bottom level of the well. At the level of the ground, it is 190 feet long by forty feet wide. At the east end, from a domed canopy, a descent of few steps leads to a covered gallery. Built along a east west axis, the entrance is from the east and the two spiral staircases in the west. These spiral staircases are now closed.

The air and light vents in the roofs at various floors and at the landing level are in the form of large openings. From the first story level, three staircases lead to the bottom water level of the well, which is considered a unique feature. The top part of the well is vertical and opened to sky. The carvings of flowers and symbols of Islamic, Hindu and Jain gods are carved at various levels of the well.

The first gallery of the well bears two inscriptions, one in Sanskrit and one in Arabic. As per these inscriptions, the well was constructed in 1500 AD during the reign of Mahmud Shah by Dhai Harir Sultani. The name later corrupted into Dada Hari.

Dada Hari Vav
Dada Hari Vav
The domed canopy at the east end
The domed canopy at the east end
The ceiling of the domed canopy
The ceiling of the domed canopy
Steps towards the gallery
Steps towards the gallery
Interior view of the stepwell
Interior view of the stepwell
The bottom of the well - there is no water
The bottom of the well – there is no water
View from the bottom
View from the bottom
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Inscriptions in Arabic from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Arabic from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Sanskrit from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Sanskrit from the first gallery
View from top
View from top

Behind the stepwell is the 16th century mosque built on a platform. The mosque is a 5 domed structure with 2 minarets (which collapsed long ago). The mausoleum contains the tomb of Dhai Harir Sultani. The tomb is beautiful structure with stone carved lattice windows.

The mosque behind the stepwell
The mosque behind the stepwell
The qibla inside the mosque
The qibla inside the mosque
Mosque - architectural details
Mosque – architectural details
Mosque - architectural details
Mosque – architectural details
The mausoleum of Dhai Harir Sultani
The mausoleum of Dhai Harir Sultani
The door to the tomb
The door to the tomb
Mausoleum - architectural details
Mausoleum – architectural details
One of the lattice windows of the mausoleum
One of the lattice windows of the mausoleum

Mata Bhavani’s well
This is another stepwell which is located about 200m north of Dada Hari’s. This well is several hundred years older and is used as a Hindu temple now.

Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2017 – A Photowalk

This year’s festival was a very special event as the precinct got back the black horse statue that gave the area its name. In January 2017, ‘Spirit of Kala Ghoda’ – the 25 foot high equine statue was unveiled. The bronze sculpture has been crafted by Shreehari Bhosle and designed by architect Alfaz Miller with inputs from sculptor Arzan Khambatta. An initiative by Kala Ghoda Association, this statue has finally returned to the area the symbol that once defined it but of course without the rider. The Kala Ghoda art precinct derives the name from the equestrian statue of King Edward VII seated on a black horse (kala ghoda).

The main theme of the art installations of this year was horse. The spirit of horse was interpreted in different ways. Many of these installations were interactive and were accepted and enjoyed by the overwhelmed visitors.

Kala Ghoda Art Festival – 2017 was held from 4th February to 12th February 2017. Some pictures from the festival…

‘Spirit of Kala Ghoda’ – the 25 foot high statue installed recently
‘Spirit of Kala Ghoda’ – the 25 foot high statue installed recently
A closer view
A closer view
One of the installations
One of the installations

kala-ghoda-arts-festival-2017-4

One of the installations
One of the installations
A closer view
A closer view
One of the installations
One of the installations

kala-ghoda-arts-festival-2017-8

Youngsters are having a nice time during the festival
Youngsters are having a nice time during the festival
One of the installations - Wish Loom, made from textile waste
One of the installations – Wish Loom, made from textile waste
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations - Celebration of dreams
One of the installations – Celebration of dreams
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations - rocking horse, a big hit among the visitors
One of the installations – rocking horse, a big hit among the visitors
Again a horse
Again a horse
One of the installations - you could see visitors crowding for selfies
One of the installations – you could see visitors crowding for selfies

kala-ghoda-arts-festival-2017-18

One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations - horse from charcoal
One of the installations – horse from charcoal
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
From the festival grounds
From the festival grounds
From the festival grounds
From the festival grounds
A perfect pose
A perfect pose
Oh horse again
Oh horse again
Bollywood moments
Bollywood moments
One of the installations
One of the installations

kala-ghoda-arts-festival-2017-32

One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations - effect of light
One of the installations – effect of light
One of the installations - effect of light
One of the installations – effect of light
One of the installations - "Breathe"
One of the installations – “Breathe”
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations
One of the installations

kala-ghoda-arts-festival-2017-41

kala-ghoda-arts-festival-2017-42

‘Spirit of Kala Ghoda’ – the 25 foot high statue installed recently

Ahmedabad – Part XII: Kankaria Lake and the Dutch Tombs

Kankaria lake, formerly known as Hauz-e-Qutub is situated in the south-eastern part of the Ahmedabad city in the Maninagar area. This polygonal lake was built in 1451 by Sultan Qutbuddin. At the centre of the lake is a garden called Nagina Wadi (which means beautiful garden in Urdu). In 2008 the lake front was revamped and developed around it with many public attractions like zoo, toy train, tethered balloon ride, water rides, food stalls etc.

Kankaria Lake
Kankaria Lake
View of Nagina Wadi in the centre of the lake
View of Nagina Wadi in the centre of the lake
The tethered balloon ride
The tethered balloon ride
The toy train around the lake
The toy train around the lake

Another important attraction around the lake is the Dutch and Armenian tombs. They are located on the One Tree Hill embankment, announcing the strong trade presence of the Dutch East India Company in the city of Ahmedabad. In the 17th and 18th centuries Dutch traders from Holland came to Gujarat. They used to trade cotton cloth, yarn and indigo. Surat was the main centre of their trade but a small number of them lived in Ahmedabad. These tombs were built in their memory. The tombs were built in Saracenic style with domes and pillars. The dates of the tombs are ranging from 1641 to 1699. The Armenian tombs belonged to the brokers in the Dutch factory. The inscriptions in some of the tombs are in Dutch and Latin.

The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs - the damages are due to the earthquake
The Dutch Tombs – the damages are due to the earthquake
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs
The Dutch Tombs

Ahmedabad – Part XI: Raj Babri Mosque and the Mausoleum of Bibiji

The Raj Babri Mosque was built in 15th century during the rule of King Ahmed Shah and is famous for its shaking minarets. The mosque originally had two shaking minarets out of which only one remains today. One of the minarets was dismantled by an inquisitive English man in an unsuccessful attempt to find out how it worked. The remaining minaret stands 40 feet high with carved balconies and windows along with a narrow staircase from inside. Its lower parts are richly carved with floral ornamentation of varied patterns.

The Raj Babri Mosque
The Raj Babri Mosque
The Raj Babri Mosque - frontal view
The Raj Babri Mosque – frontal view
Details of the minaret
Details of the minaret
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Inside the mosque
Inside the mosque
Inside the mosque
Inside the mosque
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
View of the mosque from outside
View of the mosque from outside

The east of the mosque is the mausoleum of Makhduma-i-Jahan or Bibiji, mother of Sultan Qutbuddin Ahmad Shah.

The tomb of Bibiji
The tomb of Bibiji