We 'did' Ahmdebad today. We visisted Temples, Mosques, a step well, a textile museum, Gandhi's Ashram
and I went to a party in the evening.
We start and end with temples. I visisted Dipak's local Jain temple
yesterday morning when I arrived. We visited a larger Jain temple (Sheth Hathisinh) in town today. This
is the largest Jain temple among the 400 Jain temples in Ahedabad. It was construted in only two years,
around 160 years ago by employing thousands of skilled workmen. Interestingly, the workers were not
Jain, but followers of Hinduism, so the architect allowed them to construct a small Hindu temple on the
same site so that that they would be able to worship at work, rather than travelling home.
We ate lunch at the temple. Jain's have a relatively strict diet. In addition to being vegetarian (which
in India includes no eggs), they also mustn't eat any root vegetables (including potatoes, carrots etc.),
they should drink boiled and filtered water, and should avoid eating if possible after night-fall.
We also visisted an extremely colourful Hindu temple which had some beautiful painted carvings. It
was the first time that I had seen this sort of work, previously, all the carvings (mainly on Havelis) that I
have seen was unpainted. The colours were typically Indian in style i.e. very much there!
Diapk also took me to the Raj Babri mosque with its 'shaking' minarets.
When one of the minarets is shaken, the other vibrates in sympathy. One of the minarets was taken apart
by an inquisative Englishman, determined to find out how it worked, but he was unsuccesfull.
Unfortunately, they are about half the height that they were due to Earthquake damage.
Step wells were created in order to provide weary travellers with a cool place
to rest and water their animals. They are unique to Northern India. They are constructed as a series of
levels down to a well at the bottom. The construction allows animals to be led down to the water. As they
are covered, they are cool at the bottom despite the intense sunlight. Unfortunately, most of them are dry
due to the extensive industrial use of water in the town that has significantly lowered the water table.
We visited the Calico museum which has an extremely impressive collection
of antique textiles. They show many different styles of weaving and dying. There were examples where
weaving was done with threads pre-dyed to specific lengths before being carefully aligned and the
material created. Tie-dying, silk and cotton mix and other unique skills were on display but unfortunately,
tey do not allow photographs to be taken. The museum also had a wonderful collection of miniture
Gandhi set up Ashram's, communal living areas in Ahmdabad. His first is
almost directly across the road from Dipak's house, but one of the most famous is in the middle of
Ahmedabad. This is where he started on the 'salt march' which was a protest against the tax enforced by
the British on the use of Salt. What do I take pictures of in this place of immense cultural significance?
Squirrels (or they could be chip-monks, I'm not sure). Still, you've got to admit that whatever they are they
are very cute!
Ahmddabad has several universites and colleges in the town. IIM, the
Indian Institude of Management studies is one of the most prestigious.
Many foreign students are attracted to the MBA programme and attend
on exchange programmes. I met up with some of these guys in Jaisalmer
and it was great t'see 'em again. There was a roof top terrace party
this evening, which they kindly invited me to. It's good to see that
students are basically the same all over the world! They certainly
know how to have a good time!