Oh hi! I see you are back for more knowledge on Ahmedabad. If you’ve just joined in the bandwagon, you could either read this post as a fresh one (without reading the others) or you could choose to travel the entire journey of the Heritage Walk with me by clicking on the category and reading the first 3 posts to give you a feel of what these posts are all about. Today, I am here to tell you a bit about Manek Chowk. Let’s dive into the glorious history of this place, shall we?
Post 4 – Manek Chowk
As we walked through the Pols I lost my sense of direction. The winding narrow streets took us from one Pol to another and I barely realized when we stepped out of the Pols onto the main road. Finally, I noticed the familiar structure of the Ahmedabad stock exchange and that’s when it dawned upon me where we were. In no time, we huddled around Mr. Girish at the very famous Manek Chowk.
Mr. Girish started by pointing out that this Chowk (city square) was named after a powerful Hindu saint, Baba Maneknath. He also told us an interesting story about the powers of Baba Maneknath but that’s beyond the point of this post so I will leave it out. However if you wish to read about it, click here.
Manek Chowk is a bustling square almost at the center of the city today. However, judging by its proximity to the Sabarmati river, I am guessing that at the time the city was built this might have been closer to the borders, if not the border itself. Ahmedabad, like I mentioned in my earlier posts, was always a strategic location for trade and commerce. And Manek Chowk is essentially a market where trade was practiced from the time of its inception till date. Today, the city square is a vegetable market in the morning, a jewellery market in the afternoon (one of the biggest jewellery markets in the country with an estimated annual turnover of Rs. 3 million) and a food court in the evenings until late night.
There are many adorable things about Gujarat and its people. And these people have their flaws too, like the rest of us. But if there is one thing these Gujaratis know well, it is ‘celebrating life’ in every possible way. The colourful festivities are exceptional, the food is rich and tasty and their culture is vibrant. And Manek Chowk is where you will get to taste the most amazing Gujarati food. As I write that line, I am ashamed to admit that I myself have never visited the place to explore its million food stalls that relentlessly serve customers until the wee hours of the morning. (But that’s maybe because I always got amazing meals at home and in the homes of other Gujarati neighbours – again beyond the point!).
Fun fact (thanks, my flight trips to the city): As the captain of the flight announces your descent in the city of Ahmedabad, he will mention the local weather, time, temperature etc. Along with this, he will definitely mention that you must visit Manek Chowk for some amazing street food. That’s how famous the food here is.
To the west of Manek Chowk is the Badshah no Hajiro (meaning tomb of the king) where the male members of the royal family and court were buried. Mr. Girish pulled another leaf from the history books saying that the workers in the palace requested Ahmad Shah to be given permission for burial next to him. And the tombs of these faithful workers of the palace are seen right in front of Badshah no Hajiro. Right opposite Badshah no Hajiro, to the east of Manek Chowk, is the Rani no Hajiro (tomb of the queen) where the female members of the royal household were buried. Today, the streets leading to Rani no Hajiro are used as a cloth market where you will find the most traditional costumes for Garba (google navratri if you would like to see pictures of what I am talking about).
We walked to the Badshah no Hajiro and I was stunned by the presence of an intricately carved mausoleum right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Manek Chowk, yet somehow peaceful and serene. An example of the fine carving is the picture featured with the post. It was a quick click as we kept walking so it doesn’t entirely do justice to the grandeur, which you have to see to believe.
I have always been a huge fan of the Mughal era as there is so much grandeur in their way of life and the tales that live on are full of bravery and anecdotal brilliance. Each Mughal emperor had something unique about his life that is talked about till date. I might soon do a series of posts on the Mughals (I could talk about them for hours) but for now, I mentioned them to point out the similarity between them and the grand ways of life of Ahmad Shah. Though not a Mughal himself, he seems to have shared the same taste in things.
With a smile on my face and a mental note to visit this place exclusively when I visit the city next, I trotted to join the rest of the group, not knowing that I was to be stunned yet again by the sheer beauty of one of the oldest mosques in the city of Ahmedabad. More about that in my next post.
I would be happy to know your thoughts on this post and the series. I shall be back with the final installment on the Heritage Walk series featuring the Jumma Masjid. I hope you will follow me into the sprawling courtyard of the Jumma Masjid and continue to explore this city.