Ahmedabad celebrated its 607th Foundation Day on February 26, 2018, and this year’s commemoration was dedicated to the countless anecdotes about the city.
All Amdavadis know the story about a rabbit chasing a dog near the banks of the Sabarmati River – a scene that apparently led Ahmed Shah to establish the city here. But Ahmedabad has many more interesting stories since the days of its foundation, which are actually verifiable! Called upon to deliver these stories was city-based senior dentist and author Dr Manek Patel, on the 607th Foundation Day of Ahmedabad on 26th February, at Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust.
Patel, a self-taught historian and heritage revivalist, who is also the founder of the Ahmedabad Foundation, has drafted five books on the history and historical icons of Ahmedabad. Amongst them, the most famous is his 600-page book Aa Che Amdavad, which narrates untold stories about the World Heritage City. He has been writing about Ahmedabad since years, through columns for the dailies Gujarat Samachar, Divya Bhaskar and Nav Gujarat Samay. On this eventful occasion, the Hiralal Bhagvati Hall teemed over with the literati of the city.
In the presence of local luminaries and heritage admirers, Patel spoke about how various areas, edifices and organisations in Ahmedabad came into existence, and who the philanthropists and brains behind them were.
Here are a few fascinating facts that he touched upon during the session:
– The iconic symbol of Ahmedabad Chabutro (Pigeon-Tower/birdfeeder) was first made in 1896 in the Bhadra area of Ahmedabad by Bapalal Modi, a grocer who adored birds. Today, there are more than 250 such chabutra within Ahmedabad.
– The planning of what-we-know-as Relief Road was done in 1920, but due to some legal disputes, the road was inaugurated under the name of Tilak Marg. It is fondly called as ‘Relief Road’, however, because of Relief Cinema, which sits in its neighbourhood. The theatre was established in 1947-48 by Dayabhai Shah, who borrowed land from the famous surgeon Motibhai Patel to build it. The first film screened there was Raj Kapoor’s Dastan. Sadly, the old theatre screen was shattered in 2014.
– In 1899, the Gaekwad of Baroda had donated more than 2600 acres of land in the Rancharda area of Ahmedabad to establish the Panjrapole there.
– The signature food of the city, the Gujarati Thali, was first introduced in 1905 at the Chandravilas Restaurant for only Re 1. Its most famous dish was the Dal, and Chandravilas also pioneered the concept of Fafda Jalebi in the city. Customers would wash their hands in a bucket kept under their table.
– Vastrapur area is named after its founder Vastaji Thakore. The old Vastrapur locality is still dominated by ‘Thakore’ community.
– Bopal area was established in 1316 by Santaji Thakore, and was named after Bopala Desai’s dairy farm, which existed in the neighbourhood.
– During the 1973 Sabarmati floods, villages near Khanpur vicinity were drastically affected, and affected families were shifted into the 2248 houses of what is today known as Juhapura area. The area is called so because it was established by Juhaji Thakore.
Besides this discourse, paintings of the famed ‘Darwaja’ (old city gates) by senior artist Natu Mistry were also put up on display. It was a wonderful evening planned at Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust to commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of Ahmedabad.
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