It was a wonderful short break to Ahmedabad, drawn by the annual meeting of our Society. The meeting provides a platform for meeting old friends, catching up with old students and see the local sites, at whichever the year’s venue is at. So, in the past few years it has taken me to Khajuraho, Pune, Vellore …… And this year it was the turn of Ahmedabad.
Between the social and scientific commitments, I took a morning off to see a bit of Ahmedabad. The first stop was the famous step well, at Adalaj. This was built in 1499 by Muslim king Mohammed Begda for Queen Rani Roopba, wife of Veer Singh, the Vaghela chieftain. The step well is intricately carved and is five stories in depth and such step wells were once integral to the semi arid regions of Gujarat as they provided basic water needs for drinking, washing and bathing.
The disappointment was that you don’t get to see the water at the bottom, as it is covered and dark. However, it was also nice to see that the gardens were neatly maintained.
The next stop was the Hutheesing Jain Temple, a fine example of Jain architecture. Built in 1848, this beautiful two-storey structure and is dedicated to the 15th Jain tirathankar, Dharamnath.The temple was beautiful inside as well, but photography was not allowed. The site also has a temple at the base of a beautifully proportioned tower like structure.
The final stop was to see the newly built embankment along the River Sabarmati. There are many Indian cities with rivers flowing through them – Delhi and Agra along the Yamuna, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Patna along the Ganges, Lucknow on the Gomti, Pune at the confluence of the Mule and Muthe, Chennai on the Coovam to name a few. Most of these are polluted, sewage drains and have been deteriorating at a rapid pace. It was wonderful to see the clean, free flowing water of the Sabarmati and the embankment, which is complete on one side of the river. You can walk more than 3 Km along this and I hope in time to come it will look more colorful and attractive.
Driving around the city, one gets an overall impression of wide, well maintained streets. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors run along many of the roads and are being built along many others. There are malls and shopping complexes and little evidence of juggis, at least along the newer parts of the city. Signs of the “Rising Gujarat’ ??