Gujarat government’s “Khushboo Gujarat Ki” campaign, for the first time since its launch five years ago, has turned the focus on the state’s Islamic heritage that gave shape to cities like Ahmedabad, which was named after its founder Ahmed Shah. Run by state tourism department, the campaign – starring superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who is also Gujarat’s brand ambassador – zoomed in on four tourist destinations: Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Kutch and Velavadar. In Ahmedabad, it focused on Sarkhej Roza and Jama Masjid. However, the iconic Sidi Sayed mosque, whose stone lattice window has been unanimously adopted as the symbol of the city, is yet to feature in the tourism campaign film.
After promoting Buddhist destinations, the state tourism department, which has some 16 Khushboo… films to its credit, has turned to Jama Masjid in Ahmedabad and Sarkhej Roza, a monument dedicated to the village by the same name near Juhapura, which has the mausoleums of Sufi saint Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh, Sultan Mahmud Begada and other royals. Both were built in the time of Sultan Ahmed Shah, the founder of the city, in 1424. Bollywood film D-Day was shot at Sarkhej Roza.
Creative director Piyush Pandey, along with Bachchan and filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, camped in Gujarat in different destinations since January 26 and shot for the new ads. “Starting from the vintage car museum in Ahmedabad to Law garden and Sarkhej Roza, the team moved to the walled city area in Ahmedabad. They shot Dalpatram Chowk, Kalupur (Swaminarayan) temple area and Jama Masjid to showcase Ahmedabad as a heritage destination,” said a senior tourism official.
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However, the tour skipped the intricately carved lattice stone window of the Sidi Sayed Mosque in Lal Darwaja area. This mosque was built by a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. The lattice work of the tree is the official symbol of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and its replica is Ahmedabad’s most popular souvenir. Asked about the exclusion of this monument from the current campaign, the tourism official said, “It was not part of the shoot. Certain things may be added later on as well.”
City-based heritage expert and architect Debashish Nayak, who curated the “heritage walk” of Ahmedabad currently being run by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, says, “The shoot in Ahmedabad focused on the heritage walk that begins from Swaminarayan temple, passes through Dalpatram chowk and ends at the Jama Masjid. So, the walk goes from a temple to a mosque. However, it looks like it was the first time Islamic architecture has made its way into the ad campaign.”
Bachchan also shot at Dasada and Little Rann of Kutch and visited the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on January 30. From there, he is learnt to have gone to Velavadar in Bhavnagar, which has a black buck sanctuary. Vipul Mitra, Gujarat’s principal secretary of tourism, who was present at the IIM-A interaction, said that the new ads were part of seven films in this leg of the ad campaign and the focus would be on featuring little-known destinations. The team, along with Bachchan, went to Zinzuwada and Kharaghoda wetlands, that are popular bird watching destinations, to shoot. “Zinzuwada is the best place for bird-watching and spotting wild ass, which is a rare species found here. He (Bachchan) also managed to meet people from the Mir community – a nomadic tribe – during his stay here. He, however, chose a cottage that had a clear view of the open sky and opened out to a garden,” said Mujahid Malek, owner of Rann Riders in Dasada, who played host to the ad campaign team.