April 15, 2009 3:16:11 am
House No 3044 -the place where the story begins; the place that the protagonist has fond memories of. It is the place where the child narrator of the book,Memories of my Pol in old Ahmedabad,lived.
The once popular spot at Khadia,Desai ni Pol,one of the first pols to be restored,has come back into the limelight with a pocketbook on the pol,published by the Heritage Cell of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
Going back to her childhood days,75-year-old Pratima Mehta,the author of the book,gets nostalgic. She sits in her present home at Bhima Mehta Bungalow and talks about her family and those happy days she spent in Desai ni pol. My grandfather,Dahya Ijjatram Mehta,a barrister and a Diwan of a few princely states,built the house in 1896 and we stayed with our parents,uncles,aunts,cousins and others. We stayed with many other families, she said.
Mehtas house is a 21-room house built in a typical Victorian style with some local modifications. A big chowk (courtyard) welcomes the visitor. Each room is decorated with toran (wall hangings) to complement the carved hinchko (swing) placed in the middle of the courtyard. The rooms are joined together at the
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diwaankhand (big hall). The walls of the house are decorated with ghoklas,paintings,family portraits,etc.
About the diwaankhand,Mehta said: I was very young when Swami Vivekananda had visited our house. My grandfather used to have many important visitors who added to the beauty of the house.
The chokhtu (open space) in the front of the house is for the birds to have water. Pols are known in history to have a unique system of water storage in a tanku (underground water tank) that collected rainwater. It was covered with a copper lid. The rasodu (kitchen),paniaru (water room) and pooja (prayer room) were all located on the south of the house. The storehouse called ordos contained kothis that stored grains for the whole year.
Desai ni Pol shared a close association with the nearby haveli of Sir Chinubhai Baronet. Chinubhai had,in one of his speeches,regarded the pol as a symbol of joint family
culture. Desai ni Pol had over 100 families staying together. Pol houses show the historical importance of a city. They are our virasat (heritage). Pol houses of Ahmedabad show us the true culture,heritage and values of an Amdavadi. Pols kept families together,people together. Today,they serve as gathering spaces,platform for plays,music and many other cultural activities that bring people together, she said.
Mehtas book is due to be released on April 18 on the occasion of World Heritage Day. The book was conceptualised by the Heritage Cell that worked with Mehta and her family to bring out the book with a motive to underline the importance of pols and instill among people a sense of preservation.
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