The Pols Of The Walled City

Ahmedabads rich history has influenced much of how the city is planned. One such ancient feature is the Pols that still exist after 600 years
Intricately crafted wooden facade of an old Haveli in Gujarat
Intricately crafted wooden facade of an old Haveli in Gujarat

Founded in 1411 AD by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the city of Ahmedabad or Amdavad continues to marvel at everybody even now with its rich and diverse cultural life. Even though the city has seen many rulers come and go, the influence of each remains intact&ndashespecially in the older parts. This is most prevalent in architectural styles that exhibit a unique fusion of the myriad traditions introduced by the Sultanates. The beauty and heritage these lend to the city have also played a significant role in making it India&rsquos first heritage city recognised by UNESCO. One such feature that still exudes old-world charm is the Pols.   

Pols Of The Past 

This 15th city is still home to some 600 pols that organise the packet old city into different neighbourhoods based on religion, vocation, or caste. Each&nbsppol or neighbourhood has a cluster of homes wherein each family shares a thread of commonality. The&nbsppols are guarded by imposing gates with heavy doors&ndashalthough now they may only serve to make the distinction between each neighbourhood clear, in the earlier days, they were meant to protect the residents from possible sieges or raids. There is also a notice board at the gate where important daily news or announcements are pinned up.   

These pols also have exciting names, usually kept after famous people, the residing community, animals, landmarks, a deity, profession or even temples&ndashsuch as Desai Ni Pol, Kansara Pol, Fafda Pol and the list goes on.  

Inside A Pol  

The system of arranging an area according to pols is a way to create an urban organisational network that helps in the smooth functioning of everyday life. Governing is the Panch that consists of elders from a particular community. All of these pols, even if they may be home to different communities, have certain standard features.   

In every complex, you are bound to find either a mosque or a temple, a chabutara or an ornately designed bird feeder, and narrow passages that connect each house with another (a feature built to ensure accessible communication and escape during an attack). The houses in the pols are made of intricately carved wood that keeps the interiors cool during the summer months. The central courtyard also plays a role in maintaining the temperature inside these homes. Apart from that, atop every house is a tanka that runs 40ft deep.   

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