Rath Yatra Ahmedabad (2010)

The Ahmedabad rath yatra generally starts from the Jagannath temple , Jamalpur and goes for a 14 km journey in the city. The rathyatra passes through communally sensitive areas of the city like Kalupur, Prem Darwaja, Delhi Chakla, Dariyapur and Shahpur.

We saw tight security put in place across the route to maintain communal harmony. The route was really crowded and we struggled to find a place to watch the yatra. Luckily we were able to reach a terrace where there were some other TV crew members covering the event (thanks to the bank manager of a bank located in the building, who suggested the spot and also allowed us). Though we could get only a downward angle for the camera, we were at least able to view it at ease.
So here it goes..

1. Langars everywhere, distributing free water

2. Langar.. distributing free eatables (prasad)

3. People flock to get prasad as a truck passes by

4. A vehicle belonging to some local association distributing sweets. People as well as the policeman on duty asking for it

5. Jubilant crowd posing for the camera

6. Children dressed as Krishna..

7. Oh boy !! becoming Krishna is so difficult. Seems the kid dressed as Krishna not enjoying it at all 🙂

8. A child covers himself under his mother’s dupatta to hide himself from the strong sun

9. Acrobats performing in the procession

10. Many akharas participated in the yatra. I don’t know the relation between Lord Jagannath and akharas, but the display of muscles went on for almost half an hour. A small boy aspiring to be muscular and strong posing for the crowd

Edit: The akharas are related to Lord Balrama (Thanks Manisha for clarifying it). Balarama trained both Bhima and Duryodhana in club-fighting.

11. A man watches the instrument being used by a kirtan mandali

12. Flags indicating that its time for arrival of the three raths

13. The first rath, of Lord Jagannath arrives.. (A small video here)

14. The rath is pulled by hand using a rope by devotees

People watch as the devotees pulling the rath pass by amidst heavy police security

15. The second rath belonging to Lord Balrama and the third belonging to Lord Subhadra passes by

16. Heavy security measures were taken by the administration. Over 14,000 policemen and 4500 home guard jawans havebeen deployed across the city. Four Bomb Disposal Squads (BDS), nine Quick Response Teams, and 27 mobile police control room vans have also been deployed. A bomb disposal squad and an ambulance in the procession.

17. Rapid action police force personnels watch a group of people passing by

18. This is our spot from where we saw the event. This place also had CCTV and policemen as a part of security measure. And because of them we got free tea as well 😛

19. A media crew member watching the live feed on his laptop covering himself from the harsh sun under an umbrella

20. Jhatpat pan masala had a stall to distribute free pan masala satches. Observed that some children were also able to get it.

Now having seen how it is, next year I may try going inside and walk along the yatra route 🙂


Heritage of Ahmedabad Series – Crafts (part – 1)

A new series on the blog – Heritage of Ahmedabad dedicated to 600 years of existence of Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad has a rich heritage including the old temples, mosques and crafts.  I present here the first in the series of Heritage of Ahmedabad – The crafts of Ahmedabad – part 1.

1. Mata ni Pachedi – A rectangular piece of fabric offered to the goddess. Hand painted fabrics are now used for interior decoration and sold in the range of Rs 10 k to 30 k. The goddesses are satisfied with block printed ones as they are cheaper. (want to know more about it?)

A design at a very early stage of preparation. It takes almost a month for a design to be completed. Only 5 families are left with the know-how of this craft.

As this craft is preserved by the family system, it is necessary that each member of the family knows the craft well.

Including this small child of just 6 years. He is all focused on filling color to the design while his mother looks at his budding skill affectionately. It is generally expected that children will carry on the age old tradition of the craft as a livelihood.

Final product (hand made ones). Small sizes are also sold.

2. Applique Work – Its basically cloth wear design where a piece of cloth is stitched on the other making a design (know more).

An old lady old lady is making small quilt for babies.

A girl stitches cloth pieces making a design on a ladies dress

The place makhwana ni chali has a large number of women who know this work. Seen an old woman stitching a design on a hot afternoon outside her house.

3. Roghan Printing – This moghul art of printing papers/cloth with the help of a special paint called Roghan, prepared from castor oil and chalk powder (more here).

Seen here are different stencils used for printing kept on a printed paper

The workshop is situated on the top floor on a four storey building of a colony accessible through a very narrow and steep wooden staircase. Seen here a view of the colony outside the workshop.

The clips used to dry the cloth / paper after printing.

4. Chick making – Its a curtain / shade made from bamboo stripes. Its the simplest craft of India and very much in demand during the summer and rainy season (more).

A family in the business of chick making since the last 60 years. Seen below the work in progress on a roadside in Paldi.

An old lady of the family cutting the bamboo to shape for chick making.

With NID/NIFT located in Ahmedabad, craftpersons get more coverage and opportunity as compared to any other city. A picture in their album, where a tourist is seen learning the craft of chick making

More in the series of crafts may not come very soon. It will take time to shoot. Till then happy traveling 🙂

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Mata ni Pachedi

(Note: This is a special post created for ahmedabad4whc facebook group and its not a regular post of this blog)

Mata ni Pachedi (Cloth of Mother Goddess) – A rectangular piece of fabric offered to the goddess. The fabric is offered in the temples when any wish is fulfilled by the blessing of the deity.

More information about Mata Ni Pachedi can be obtained from House of MG documentation or the Kalamkari Blog. I am not going to repeat the finer details that are very well explained in these links.

1.  Sanjay Manubhai Chitara and his brother Vasant Manubhai Chitara are only a few families (5 to be precise of the same clan) that are carrying on this 300 year old tradition of painting clothes. Seen here Sanjay and Vasant Manubhai filling colors to the design.

2.  As this craft is preserved by the family system, it is necessary that each member of the family knows the craft well.  Wife of Sanjay Manubhai filling the colors to the same design.

3.  Don’t you expect the children of such families learning the craft at a very young age? Sumit, the six year son of Sanjay bhai is all focused on filling color to the design while his mother looks at his budding skill affectionately.

4.  He is the new face of the family (still unnamed). The parents are very hopeful that these two kids will carry on the family tradition of making mata ni pachedi.

5.  Traditionally, the pachedi was made in just three colours –  white, black and deep red.  Still the colors used for temples are the same but they are now made by block prints (and not hand printed). The price for these cloths starts from Rs 200. Seen here a block printed mata ni pachedi used for temple offerings.

6. The art is no longer limited to the temples, as most of the costly and finer hand made mata ni pachedi’s are purchased by art connoisseurs to be used as decoration for their drawing rooms / offices. For these creations, the colour range has gradually expanded to include orange, yellow, indigo, grey and pink. These hand printed designs sell from Rs 10,000 to Rs. 30, 000 (with marketing support from NID/NIFT/craftsmelas) depending on the cloth size and intricacies of the design. Seen here a large hand printed design along with a small one (Sells at Rs 400).

7.  As the big designs are costly people ask for hand printed smaller designs. Seen here a small design that sells at Rs 100.

8.  They have diversified to make hand printed silk stoles which sell at around Rs  1000. These stoles do not carry the image of goddess.

9.  They are felicitated with the National Award – Sanjay Manubhai Chitara in 2000, his brother Vasant in 2001 and their parents Manubhai Chunilal and Manjuben Manubhai jointly in 2004.  Sanjay Manubhai thinks that had there been support to provide the basic infrastructure required for mata ni pachedi (Table, blocks etc) along with marketing, other families would not have left this work.  He talks about a special government project aimed to revive mata ni pachedi as a art, but was never implemented.

This family has now build a new beautiful house. The market for these products is increasing and hope they continue to cash in on the rare art expertise they possess. Leaving you with a family picture. Hope every craft family can be so happy 🙂

Locate the Craftsmen here

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ek wo katal ki raat

Uttarayan is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety in Gujarat. One of the rituals associated with Uttarayan is Kite Flying. And the biggest kite market in Ahmedabad is at Tankshal (near Manek Chowk), which goes wild on the eve of Uttarayan, the eve known as the ‘katal ki raat‘ (the ultimate night). Thanks volunteer ahmedabad to make me aware of such a place by organizing a photowalk.
I must say night photography was difficult for me in a place so crowded to even walk. But the mood of the place kept us going.  So let’s go to the kite market  🙂
1. As soon as we started, people became too friendly with us noticing the camera. This worker who was just packing things up after the day’s sale, requested me to take his photo.

2. A cart full of bangles passed by.

3. The narrow street of the market was fully packed.

4. What a way to wish the start of the new year. Isn’t it?

5. Kites on display. Whites and Colorful.

6. Big as well as small ones.

7.  Phirki’s.

8. Colorful threads.

9.  Accessories : Caps

10.  Accessories : Whistles

11. Accessories: Goggles

12. Accessories: Masks

13.  Long exposure shots of  a toy with lights on demonstration.

14.  We were asked by people kya aap TV9 se aaye ho ?, kaun se channel par aayega?, kal paper me chapega?. I generally replied – we are students doing a photowalk (eh.. too boring for them 🙂 ).  But sometimes I changed my answers as well 😛 e.g. when asked once kaun se channel par aayega?‘, I replied ‘channel par nahin, internet par aayega’. Achha … he thought for a moment.. and asked me again kaun se time par aayega?.
This shopkeeper below told me  ‘main amreeka rehta hun’. Though I could not relate to why it was mentioned, Achha.. I asked “amreeka me kahan rehte ho?” . Bhuj.. came the reply. 😛

15. People were filled with joy.  A few of them asking to take their photographs (mera photo phado :P)

16.  If you purchase Kites in this market, this is how you have to carry them in the crowd. Some pics of people carrying Kites.

17.  A kid reaching out to a Phirki.

18.  Happy with sooo many kites or shy? or both 🙂

19. Her name is Alvira.. I loved her smile. Her family sells kite related products. I noticed a large number of muslim shopkeepers’ and I wondered the role of business and festivals in religious integration.

20. aww…the only kid who feared the camera… her mother tried to help but … 🙂

21. Any market in Ahmedabad has to have many food stalls. Got a chance to click a few of them.

22.  The joy of photography

and the joy of sharing

23. On our way back we spotted people making manjha (not a part of that kite market)

24. It ended with a mid-night buffet at TGB…  had to be called the ‘katal ki raat’.

You may like to visit my earlier post on The International Kite Festival if this post has provoked your interest on kites even further. Explore. 🙂
Happy Uttarayan and best wishes for the coming year.

Lothal: Remains of our glorious past

Distance : Around 85 kilometers from IIM. Towards Rajkot.

Time to visit :  The remains are open to visit anytime. However, the museum opens from 10 AM-5PM.

Imagine life in 2500 BC.  Trade, a  port, a dockyard, planned houses, bead factory, sewage and drainage systems and cemetry. A totally planned city.  You can just stand here at Lothal and imagine the glory of Indian Harappan Civilization.

1.  This was a early morning bike trip planned just a few hours earlier. On the way we stopped at a dhaba where a sleepy boy was interested in us but was too shy to talk.


2. It was relaxing to see the entrance after a 85 kilometers drive.


3. A local tempo just goes behind the shrub as I try to capture it. It is an interesting vehicle with the driver having a seat like a motorcycle but with a carrier on the back.


4. The remains become visible from a distance. I took a Wikipedia printout on Lothal to relate the ruins to the information.


5.  A local woman taking out grass near the remains for their cattle as the birds wait to eat the worms that will be exposed.


6. You will not find any info explaining the parts of the remains near it. For me Wikipedia also did not help much. It was this painting in the museum (the only object you can click inside museum) that made me understand most of the remains.


You will notice a dockyard, a warehouse, a bead factory and the city in the painting. The river shown in the painting has changed its course and no longer flows here. And if you are wondering which river, it was Sabarmati.

7. The dockyard


A statue immersed in the dockyard water probably did not dissolve


Just experimenting with cracks on the ground


8. Remains of the warehouse


9. Well and the drainage system along it



10. Some no-idea-kya-hai structures 🙂 (Update: found them now)

This one may be a wall inside a house with a drain flowing below it (Update: This is a cooking block)

This one may be either a structure for hot water or to segregate solid waste (Update : This is a pot furnace of the kitchen)

11. Remains of houses at the lower town


12. Imagine these bricks made in 2500 BC. So well made and so strong.. unlike what we make now 🙂


13. Some picturesque terrains



14.  The museum. We waited for it to open. I suggest to plan your trip such that you can see the museum. It’s small but really good.


Happy Travelling.. btw did u notice the Wikipedia printout? 😛
Want to read more on Lothal? Here…

Night Heritage Walk – Mangaldas ni Haveli

Timing: 10 PM to 11 PM

Place: Starts from Mangaldas in Haveli, Lakha Patel ni Pol, Manek Chowk. (The owners of House of MG)

Fee: Rs 50 increased to Rs 200, I am told (Cards not accepted)

I had heard about this walk since a long time and wanted to go for  it. I was told that this walk introduces the night life of Ahmedabad. There is another walk that happens daily in the morning, which introduces the architectural heritage of Ahmedabad (More info in my earlier post).

Well, this walk also tried to attempt all that the morning heritage walk does during the day time. But the problem during night is, it is very difficult to appreciate architectural heritage due to low light conditions.

The routes of morning and night heritage walk are mostly separate and only merges towards the end.

1. Mangaldas ni Haveli (The Bunglow of Mangaldas) is around two hundred years old and has been renovated recently.

2. This place has been opened for tourists and has a cafe and a shop that sells ethnic Gujarati stuff.

3. The houses built during those periods used wood brought from Burma. It seems they are really long lasting.

4. The walk starts to show the kind of architecture which is unique of Ahmedabad, described in detail in my earlier post. This is an entrance of a Pol (like a small colony) during night. The structure above the entrance was used as a security cabin.

5. The guide used a torch to show the architectural details.

6. Another house that has used wood from Burma.

7. A Carving on a pillar on one of the houses.

8. The guide explaining “Ol” , A typical market where the owners live above the shop situated on the ground floor.

9. Khestrapal Temple statue. It is claimed that this statue is made from butter with an outer covering of silver foil. Since the last 200 years this statue has not melted.

10. The gate of Badshah-no-Hajiro , the tomb of Badshah Ahmed Shah, the founder of Ahmedabad. Earlier in the walled city drums were played during night to signal closing of the gates. A family whose forefathers guarded the walled city still lives here (The place above the board of Badshah-ka-Hajira in the pic) and plays the music at 11 PM everyday…. A tradition kept alive for 600 years.

You can listen to a short audio clip here of the drums.

11. The masoleum light at the Badshah-no-Hajiro.

12. The walk ends at Jumma Masjid, reflections of lights in the pool at night.

13. This is very close to Manek Chowk eateries. They remain open till 2 AM in the morning. I was so involved in eating that I forgot to take a pic of this location ;). So will update it next time.

Overall, this walk is not as good as the morning heritage walk which i will highly recommend as compared to this one. But if you think you can never be able to get up so early in the morning or  you are generally busy during mornings, this is a good option.

Happy Travelling 🙂

Sarkhej Roja: A heritage neglected

Distance: Around 10 Kilometeres from the IIM Campus. Find SG Highway and turn left.

Sarkhej is known for its architectural creation which comprises of Islamic stylistic influences from Persia with indigenous Hindu and Jain features to form a composite “Indo-Saracenic” architectural style.

1. A Masoleum and a Mosque was constructed in the honour of Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh, a Sufi saint and a friend/advisor to Sultan Ahmed Shah (The founder of Ahmedabad). The sufi saint was believed to possess miraculous powers. Seen below is the tomb of the masoleum.


2. The pillars of the mosque.


3. Below is the mosque as seen from inside. Few mosques allow women to participate in offering prayers with men, but few like this allow women by giving them a separate section. (Notice the elevated portion on the left)


4. Islamic architecture is famous for the stone jalis. Just before the sunset, light entering through the jali at another maseleom in the Sarkhej Roja compound. This masoleum was built for the family of Sultan Mahmud Begada.


5. Another wall with  stone jali.


6. Children playing in the Mosque compound. Numerous families come to visit Sarkhej Roja. The complex is generally poorly  maintained in terms of cleanliness.


7. Sunlight falls on the walls of the Sarkhej Roja Masoleum and Mosque compound and reflected in the dirty water of the pond. People living around Sarkhej Roja use this water and the vicinity for their daily morning chores.Hence, this side of the complex remains dirty.


8. A little zoom of the reflection on water.


9. Sunset over the ruins of queens place and the entrance to the pond.



10. Another masoleum which is a part of Sarkhej complex (HDR image)


11. Beautiful sunset over this masoleum.


I advise visiting this place during sunset.. the hues on the walls are amazing.

Happy travelling 🙂