This charming boutique B&B isn’t too far from other heritage sites in the area. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to walk the narrow lanes to the property, and that the stairs up to the rooms can be a bit cumbersome. It also has sister properties Dodhia Haveli and Deewanji-ni Haveli in the area (00-91-99789-10730; www.frenchhaveli.com, email@example.com; 1824, Khijada Sheri, opp Jain Derasar, Dhal ni Pol; from ` 3,500).
Ahmedabad’s crumbling heritage buildings are turning into boutique homestays with a little help from NRIs
It took Chandrakant Dodhia, a 70-year-old Nairobi-based businessman, exactly seven minutes to seal the deal. Dodhia, an art connoisseur with a vast collection from around the world, was bowled over by the dilapidated haveli in the old city of Ahmedabad, and as luck would have it, its owner was desperately looking to sell it. Had the businessman not stepped in, the Dodhia Haveli—as it has been christened after restoration—would have likely made way for matchbox apartments. “My haveli is my most cherished possession; it’s a piece of art that will be passed down the family tree as an heirloom,” Dodhia said with affection, from a continent away.
Several French travellers since mid 17th century have penned down the urban, economics and industrial history of Gujarat and Ahmedabad. The connect between the European nation and Ahmedabad has since been growing deeper, with French setting up multiple educational institutes in the city known for its trade and business.
Refer Original Article :-
One hundred and fifty years. That’s how old the French Haveli is. So named for the French architects who helped restore the house, the Haveli is a soulfully-decoreated heritage home, layering its traditional structure with colours, vibrancy and a homey feel. Set in the midst of a historic community called the Pol, the Haveli’s continued presence and restoration asserts that cities like Ahmedabad will not lose their rich culture and history; they will find other way of letting them live on.
In Incredible India, a ‘French Haveli’ among traders can win credibility, and commerce. A homestay enterprise, so named, has given an old haveli (mansion) a new lease of life on a narrow lane of Ahmedabad’s walled city, thanks to entrepreneurs Deepali and Rajiv Patel.
With its strikingly eclectic façade, the haveli combines Gujarati and European architectural styles, showcasing wooden columns, frescoes on wood, ornate stucco work, pediments, entablature and cornice mouldings.
“The name French Haveli is intriguing, but it has nothing to do with French colonial history—it was the traditional haveli of a Jain family built a century ago in Dhal ni Pol, an area with many Jain jewellers and mercantile families,’’ says Rajiv.
In the early 2000s, the local municipality flagged off programmes for the renovation of the historic city centre as part of an Indo-French collaborative project along with a visiting team led by Pierre Cadot and other French architects sharing their expertise with Indian counterparts.
The French team restored the haveli and lived in it till 2005. It became a residency named as Arts Reverie—run by art consultant Anupa Mehta, along with Jeremy Theophilus and Barney Hare Duke—for artists and other creative professionals.
“When she (Anupa Mehta) told us,” says Rajiv, “that she had other pressing commitments, Deepali and I decided to take over. Though my main business is real estate and construction, I have been involved for the last few years in heritage activities like the restoration of havelis, improvement of the centuries-old pols (housing clusters) and heritage walks as part of my social responsibility initiatives.”
Deepali has a passion for interiors and creative enterprises, so running the haveli seemed a pleasing project for the husband-wife duo.
“We named it the French Haveli, as it is famous here as the place where the French team stayed and worked,” adds Rajiv.
The municipality launched a heritage homestay policy for the walled city, and Gujarat Tourism followed suit. Two havelis in the city, including the French Haveli, have been registered under the enterprise-friendly policies. Nevertheless, Deepali says they faced challenges in converting the attractive haveli into an establishment suitable for tourists.
“In order to meet hospitality industry standards, we needed to have private baths for each of the five rooms. This was not necessary when it was a residence and then a residency. Additional baths had to be created in a way that it was sensitive to the heritage and architecture.”
She explains, “The haveli has a sunlit chowk (central courtyard) with dung floors that needed constant attention. So we paved it with stone and tiles. We installed a retractable roof on the open courtyard. Upstairs, a large gallery with verandas, was converted into a suite with a gazebo on the balcony. For water supply, we opened up an underground tanka (traditional well-like structures for storing rainwater in havelis). The well also keeps the haveli cool. Thus, tradition and modernity meet to make the haveli livable and yet character-rich for the guest.”
The rooms are spread across the ground floor and two storeys. They boast Gujarati names—the terrace room is called Agashi (rooftop), Ordo is the name for a retiring room, Chabutro room faces a bird-feeding structure called chabutro that is a feature of pols, Malo (attic), the sole suite called Mahajan (respected person, also to denote guilds of merchants who donned administrative and philanthropic roles in the walled city).
The duo is also working on upgrading Dhal ni Pol with SEWA Foundation and Mahila Housing Trust, by encouraging and incubating heritage-sensitive enterprises. With the haveli attracting tourists thanks to travel portals and operators, the Patels hope it will be held as a pilot model for scores of other similar neighbourhoods.
For the first time a photo exhibition, celebrating the life in pols and organized within the Walled City by amateur photographers was held at Dhal ni Pol on Saturday. A unique group called the “Street Beat” have take upon themselves the task of documenting every aspect of life of the pols and its market and then exhibiting them for the residents of the Walled City.
The exhibition at French Haveli in Dhal ni Pol was inaugurated by director of Center for Heritage Management,Ahmedabad University,Debashish Nayak. “The exhibition is basically to show people of pols,how different and unique the Walled City is.The photographs give an alternative view of life in pols and help them appreciate it.” says Rajiv Patel of the City Heritage Center.
Thirty years after he first visited India as a student — travelling to Mumbai and Delhi, and marvelling at the Taj Mahal — Hollywood producer Gary Foster has chosen an Amdavadi pol for his second stint in India. At Dhal ni Pol, Foster made himself at home in a skylight room of a French Haveli, although he could have easily chosen to check into a five-star suite in the western part of the city But he besotted by the area’s character and enjoying strolling through its meandering four-feet lanes.
Foster is in Ahmedabad to meticulously plan his documentary on the mentally ill — a subject close to his heart.Accompanying him is Patrick Waismann, the director of the documentary.Foster and Waismann will catalogue the improvement in the condition of mentally ill patients in Gujarat’s nine mental health hospitals over a period of two years. It is a part of a WHO project called QualityRights. It is a unique initiative because it is being carried out for the first time in the world.
Foster has to his credit the critically acclaimed film “The Soloist”, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx; and blockbusters like Robert De Niro’s “The Score” and “Sleepless in Seattle” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. His filmography also includes works like “Daredevil”, “Tin Cup” and “Emperor”.
“I am in love with Ahmedabad’s Walled City,” says Foster. “I love the neighbourhood and its lanes; they are charming. The children here are wonderful and engaging, Patrick and I even played badminton with them.”
Foster felt sad that old pol houses and havelis in the Walled City were being pulled down. “How could one do this? Pulling down 200- and 300-year-old buildings would mean destroying the character and uniqueness of your city,” Foster says. “This place has nurtured hundreds of generations. It’s a 600-year-old museum of ideas. Some of the woodcraft that the buildings sport here is rarely seen.” There are thousands of people in the world who would want to come to Ahmedabad’s Walled City to experience its life, he says.
While working for “The Soloist” Foster found his purpose and associated himself with WHO’s QualityRights initiative. The film recounts the true life of a former cello prodigy who developed a mental health condition and became homeless.
“QualityRights aims to improve the quality and human rights in mental health and social care facilities and to empower organizations to advocate the rights of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities,” says Foster.“This documentary will be used by WHO to show the world how committed people, and inspired leaders in mental health programmes, can help change the condition of mentally ill patients.”Destigmatizing mental health conditions is a priority for both Foster and WHO.Foster will tour Mehsana, Kutch, Vadodara and Ahmedabad districts.
A gaggle of giggling knee-high children accosts me in Dhal Ni Pol, refusing to let me pass until I have shaken each of their hands and patted the frisky little stray pups accompanying them. It’s a small fee for their help in directing me to French Haveli, a boutique bed-and-breakfast, through the narrow curving lanes of the traditional Gujarati neighbourhood. Ahmedabad’s walled city area, set on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati River, is chock-full of these residential clusters organised along caste and professional lines. They are a far cry from the insane traffic and modern architecture that are the hallmarks of the new city.
It is with the purpose of having guests experience communal life in these pols, that the Threee Foundation restored this century-old haveli. Its name is a nod to the Indo-French partnership that jump-started the conservation of many such houses. I happened to be their first guest after the refurbishment, when the lime stucco facade (an eclectic mix of colonial and traditional elements) was still getting its final pats and taps. Distressed cerulean doors, yellow relief walls, and Jaipur print bed linen—the chic contemporary aesthetic of the interiors nimbly squares off with the 17th century architecture, which remains untouched.
My favourite part of the haveli was the naturally illuminated chowk, or central courtyard. I loved walking barefoot on the stone floor that draws its coolness from an underground tanka built for storing rainwater for the parched Ahmedabad summer months. Most visitors find their way to the jhula overlooking the entrance, a characteristic feature of several old Gujarati homes. The spot is conducive to long, spirited conversations as well as quiet recuperation with a book. The chowk leads up to the rooms built over two levels. The mosaic flooring of several of these has been retained; the entrance to one spells “Welcome” in English.
While the haveli offers a micro-lesson in heritage conservation, I chose to delve deeper with a long walk around the pols (the owners can organise this). Guests with other interests can spend time discovering the haveli’s nooks, or rent a bicycle and head out to Manek Chowk nearby to get a taste of Ahmedabad’s gastronomic cache. Or simply, try to keep up with the full-throttle chatter of the young ’uns who keep slipping in and out of the haveli’s always-open doors.
French Haveli has five compact rooms, including Mahajan Suite. I stayed in Agaashi, the terrace room, with two queen-size beds and en-suite bathroom (Malo and Chabutro rooms have bathrooms on the outside). Agaashi’s sun-kissed private balcony, lined with bougainvillea creepers, affords a nice view of the pol’s Jain temple. Meals are simple. Mohanbhai, the haveli’s shy caretaker makes excellent masala tea (1824, Khijda Sheri, Dhal Ni Pol, Astodia; +91-79-2217 0629, 99789 10730; frenchhaveli.com; doubles from ₹3,500).
Ahmedabad is 560 km/8 hours north of Mumbai. The two cities are connected via several daily flights, buses, and trains. Shatabdi Express, which departs from Mumbai at 6.25 a.m. every day except Sunday, and the afternoon Karnavati Express are both convenient options.
Refer Original Article :- NetGeo
We have a long memory, when it comes to arts and heritage of Ahmedabad. But a few people like Anupa Mehta, take the pledge to preserve the deep-rooted fortified old legacy of ‘pol’ in the city. For six years, Mehta, a city-based author and art critic, nurtured an artistic project Arts Reverie, set in Dhal ni Pol, one of the several pols of the old city. It is a restored haveli of 1920s located in the heart of the city. It was a project of Arts Reverie Consultancy Services Private Limited that was spearheaded by Mehta and Barney Hareduke. However, it will now make way for a new initiative by Deepali Patel.
Deepali Patel, an aspiring entrepreneur, art and design enthusiast working with Rajiv Patel of City Heritage Centre on the restoration projects in the old walled city. The Centre is a community-based resource centre that helps in ‘preserving, sustaining and promoting their architectural and cultural heritage’.
Enthusiastic Mehta, commenting on the hand over said, “We entered the heritage space with an arts project at a time when people were still sceptical of its potential. Nearly 300 artists, tourists and arts-lovers with an interest in the creative industries have visited the pol over the last six years.”
”It has been a very satisfying experience. We are glad to be handling the building to someone who will create similar legacies,” added Mehta. Deepali, who has taken over the project with the initiative to run an ‘incubation centre’ for home-stays under the THC home-style banner, said “We will help the residents of the walled city of Ahmedabad to create home-stays in their heritage homes.”
”The main motive of the project is to foster the old, walled city of Ahmedabad and give the opportunity to arts-lovers to cherish its beauty through home-stays,” added Rajiv. Meanwhile, Arts Reverie will continue to run art projects in other parts of the city.
Refer Original Article :- DNA