The Heritage Walk helps residents appreciate the cultural development and history of the area in which they live. It gives them a sense of respect and responsibility towards restoration and conservation of their heritage, Debashish Nayak, Honorary Director, Oriental Studies and Heritage Management Resource Centre, Gujarat Vidyapeeth told Ritu Sharma in an interview. Edited excerpt:
What was the idea behind the Heritage Walk when it was conceptualized?
The idea of the Heritage Walk was mainly to make the citizens aware of the historical area in which they live. These places are taken lightly for being more familiar and thus, tend to be neglected. Once they participate in the heritage walk with proper explanation, a sense of respect and responsibility is created and thus, the area is restored, protected and cleaned.
What were the challenges faced in starting and continuing this heritage walk?
There are many challenges. Most important was the acceptance of the walk by the municipal corporation which eventually helped to maintain and improve it. The other was working with the local community whose homes were regularly visited on foot. The third was identifying the route. It should not exceed 2 km. Exceptionally stunning starting and ending points to make the Ahmedabad Heritage Walk a success. The walking path should never be a straight line. Its twists and turns, including the ‘secret passage’, retain the surprising elements till the end. Also keeping the route garbage free was another challenge.
How far has it been in achieving the idea or goals behind the Heritage Walk?
When we look back, Ahmedabad Heritage Walk has all the criteria to become a successful walk and hence it has proved to be.
How do you see the changes in the Heritage Walk over the years?
During the year, the Heritage Walk Route remained more or less intact; Only that ‘familiarity’ factor dampened the enthusiasm of the community. But several projects were implemented along the route and one of the most successful heritage walks run by a municipal corporation is known for the commitment of volunteer guides and national pride.
What challenges do you see ahead to keep it going?
The challenge is to keep the spirit of the Walk alive and maintain community connectivity.