A quiet sunday afternoon in the pols

The modern city of Ahmedabad was founded, on the banks of the river Sabarmati, by Ahmed Shah Abdali in the year 1142AD or thereabouts. Over centuries the city has changed much, as most cities are wont to, now spanning a good 20 kilometers or so from one end to another; The 52 gates (or Darwaze), which at one time stood sentinels to the outermost periphery of the city's walled defences, now lie battered and buried in the very heart of a city bursting at its seams.

Given the harsh climate (often over 45 degrees celsius in the summer with only a month or so of monsoons in a year) and the lay of the land (leeward side of the mountains and all that) the city has evolved, over centuries, into a tightly woven warp and weft of intertwining, narrow streets called Pols with tightly packed houses bordering each side of the street; the architecture and street planning especially suited to battling the mostly harsh, arid climate. The newer, sattelite townships that have sprung up in recent years, of course, bear no resemblance to the Ahmedabad of old, but that is another matter entirely. The pols have always harboured vibrant, tight knit communities and even today continue to be the throbbing center of commerce and trade in the city. That apart, the way of life as typified by the pol is rapidly on the decline even as several organisations including the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Alliance Francaise have been working for years to restore the pols to their former glory and have the entire walled city declared a World Heritage Site.

Sunday afternoons in the pols, though, tend to be a mostly quiet affair with most of the shops downing their shutters and most people prefering to sit out the afternoon heat in the relative comfort of their homes. This picture was taken on a typical pol sunday as I sat outside a closed shop smoking a cigarette, looking out at the world and it struck me that here in the pols, despite the outward degradation, not much has changed since the days of Ahmed Shah...


Nikon F75, 28-105mm
Fuji 400ISO
2005, Near Fernandes Bridge, Off Gandhi Road, Ahmedabad.


alexandra at: July 08, 2005 8:39 PM said...

What a wonderful scene and the history lesson? Amazing. I love to hear about the history of places and people, it really gives context to some shots, like this. Thanks, Sahil. :-)